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        Will Green Tip ammo penetrate Body Armor?

        Will Green Tip ammo penetrate Body Armor?

        Green tip ammo, officially known as the 62gr M855 round, has long been associated with speculation about its ability to pierce body armor. However, that’s far from the truth, and the shooters of today would do well to disregard the hearsay and misconceptions that have unfairly tarnished its reputation as a round too dangerous for civilian use.

        The M855 green tip features a steel tip over a tungsten-composite or lead core, encased in a full copper jacket. While it is true that this round can penetrate a steel helmet at 800 yards, it is essential to clarify that it is not classified as an armor-piercing round by the ATF.

        Originally designed with the intention of enhanced penetration compared to standard FMJ rounds, the M855 green tip has been criticized as a "big bad body armor breaker." Yet, recent tests have shown that this reputation is not entirely warranted. In fact, it failed to penetrate a BulletSafe Level IV vest during rigorous testing, demonstrating its limitations against modern body armor.

        For hunters, the green tip is unsuitable due to its lack of expansion, causing minimal tissue damage and limited blood loss in animals. Similarly, for self-defense purposes, its tendency to over penetrate makes it less than ideal for close-quarters encounters. Additionally, the 1-in-9 inch twist rate might reduce its performance in short-barreled weapons.

        However, it is crucial to understand the original purpose behind the design of the M855 round. Invented in the 1970s and initially designated as the SS109, it was primarily focused on flight stability and penetration of light barriers, such as wood, glass, sheet metal, and heavy clothing. The development of body armor-penetrating rounds was not a priority at the time, as the first SAPI plates capable of stopping rifle fire only became available in the early 2000s.

        Despite the green tip's limitations and lack of true armor-piercing capabilities, it has faced unwarranted fear and scrutiny. In 2015, the ATF attempted to reclassify the round as armor-piercing, sparking nationwide concern among gun owners. However, passionate responses from responsible firearm enthusiasts highlighted the inaccuracies of such claims and the potential infringement on Second Amendment rights, leading the ATF to withdraw their proposal.

        Apart from the armor-piercing debate, there are other reasons why certain firing ranges prohibit the use of green tip ammo. It has been observed that prolonged use of this ammunition on steel targets can gradually degrade the steel, making it thinner with each hit. Additionally, the steel jacket of the M855 can produce sparks upon impact, posing a fire hazard.

        If green tipped ammo is no good for piercing armor, can’t be shot at the range, and can’t be used for hunting, then what is it good for?

        Long ranged shooting. That is, as long ranged as a 5.56x45mm can go. An M855 has impressive ballistics thanks to its steel core and is more accurate than a standard FMJ at ranges up to 800 yards. It also maintains supersonic flight until the same range, while ordinary FMJ rounds begin to lose supersonic velocity after around 650 yards of travel. A green tip’s round also tends to have less drop, giving it a flatter and thus more accurate trajectory.

        While many state that green tip ammo is great because it’s military-issue, NATO militaries use the M855 ammo not only because of its impressive accuracy but because their hands are bound by the Hague convention on expanding ammo. The 1899 Hague Declaration stated:

        “The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions.”

        This means, in essence, that the average civilian who is unbound by the articles of the Hague can purchase better, more destructive ammo for self-defense rather than rely on what the governments of NATO give to its soldiers.

        While it is evident that green tip ammo is not the ultimate armor-piercing round as believed by some, it does find its niche in long-range shooting. With impressive ballistics and increased accuracy compared to standard FMJ rounds at extended ranges, it caters to the needs of precision shooters looking to engage targets up to 800 yards away.

        In conclusion, the M855 green tip ammo's negative reputation as an illegal bullet is undeserved, as it is not officially classified as armor-piercing by the ATF. Its limitations in hunting, self-defense, and close-quarters scenarios are apparent, but its strengths lie in long-range target practice. By understanding the true capabilities of this ammunition, hunters and shooters can make informed decisions based on facts rather than misconceptions.

        Accessories for your bulletproof vest

        Accessories for your bulletproof vest

        The versatility of MOLLE webbing allows those who wear plate carriers to put on a wide variety of attachments, allowing quick access to tools without having to fumble around looking for items in rucksacks, waist bags, or fanny packs. Tactical accessories include items ranging from essential to situational, and great care should be taken to ensure they are easy to reach. 

        Mag pouches: used for storing your magazines. A good number of these should be kept on your plate carrier, as they will be essential in a firefight. However, keep in mind the old military adage that “pounds equal pain” and that an excessive number of magazines in an normally peaceful environment such as a shopping center in the wealthy part of town will be both unnecessary and bad for your back. However, carrying 12 magazines while pulling security for an international company operating in a middle eastern hotspot may be necessary, since engaging a large number of enemy combatants is a realistic possibility. 

        Drop pouches: Used to catch empty magazines during tactical reloads, a drop pouch is a range accessory. There is no need to wear one on duty, since the precious seconds spent carefully tossing your empty magazine into your drop pouch can instead be spent engaging a threat. When performing tactical reloads in the real world, just drop your magazine. There’s a man trying to kill you on the other side, and he would like it very much if you turned your attention away from him just to toss away your empty mag for cleanliness’s sake. 

        IFAK: Your individual first aid kit is a necessity, whether your kit is for security, law enforcement, or private contract work. The first aid kit should contain essentials such as bandages, disinfectant, cotton balls, scissors, and a tourniquet; essentially everything needed to stop the bleeding from a gunshot wound. The first aid kit is not a field surgeon’s bag, you are not a medic. It is meant to stop you or one other person from bleeding out. It does not necessarily need to have aspirin for headaches or tums for an upset stomach. The IFAK should be easily accessible and should not require the wearer to contort his or her arm in a position that would be impossible for an injured individual to pull off. 

        Radio: Your radio should be easily accessible in such a way that you’d be able to queue it with one hand. Usually placed on the shoulder strap of your vest, it would be a bad idea to place your radio on your hop or any other body part that moves while you’re moving. 

        Multitool: An optional, but sometimes necessary accessory. You’ll never know when you’ll need a screwdriver to tighten a loose bolt on your weapon or a knife to cut off the excess tail of a zip tie. The modern multitool also has scissors for cutting bandages, pliers for utility work, and a bottle opener. Try not to go anywhere without a knife of some sort. You’ll never know when you might need it. 

        Hydration: This is a must. If you’re spending any good amount of time in the outdoors wearing what is essentially a weighted vest, a canteen pouch on your vest or a CamelBak on the back would be a great option. While many hydration packs come with backpack-type straps, some are outfitted with MOLLE webbing to be attached to the backs of a MOLLE-compatible tactical vest. 

        Flashlight: If you work security, you might be required to patrol dark parking lots or dimly lit alleys. Flashlights are also needed for peering into corners or under vehicles. It’s also useful for signaling others and can work as a nonlethal self-defense tool in a pinch. A modern tactical flashlight is small enough to conceal in its own pocket or secured by a clip on a MOLLE strap. 

        Pen and paper: Note-taking is essential when working any job that requires you to have attention to detail. Working a job that requires you to be out in the field with a rifle and armor is no exception. Police officers may need to jot down details of a crime as well as potential witnesses and suspects. License plates of offending vehicles and street maps may also need to be noted. 

        Armor plates: Your tactical vest is little more than a front-facing backpack if it isn’t packed with armored plates. BulletSafe offers lightweight IIIA bulletproof panels for stopping pistol rounds up to .44 magnum as well as rigid, heavy duty Level IV plates capable of defeating rifle fire up to .30-06 AP. Regardless of which you choose, know that BulletSafe’s materials are NIJ certified, guaranteeing high quality protection. 

        Can a bullet proof vest stop an AK-47?

        Can a bullet proof vest stop an AK-47?

        The short answer is “it depends.” The question itself requires a bit of nuance, as there are several things that qualify as a “bulletproof vest” and not all of them are rated to stop an AK-47. The question shouldn’t even be “can a bullet proof vest stop an AK-47.” Rather, it should be “what kind of vest can stop a 7.62x39?”

        Currently, there are several firearms which use the AK-47’s 7.62x39mm round. While the most famous of these is the AK-47 itself, this Soviet round is also found in certain variants of the CZ 805 BREN, IWI Galil ACE, SKS, Robinson Armament XCR, and even AR platform rifles. If a particular vest can stop a round from a Galil, it’ll stop a round from an AK-47 just as well. 

        The appended “x39” to the AK-47’s ammo designation is important to distinguish it from the 7.62x51mm NATO and the 7.62x54mm Russian rounds. Some sites erroneously state that the AK-47 shoots full-sized rifle cartridges like the 7.62x51mm NATO when in fact, the Soviet rifle uses 7.62x39mm Soviet ammo.

         

        When it comes to the issue of protection, not every type of body armor is guaranteed to stop the 7.62x39. For example, the Level IIA and IIIA soft armor vests typically used by personal protection officers and police are normally only rated for pistol rounds, vulnerable to anything larger than a .44 magnum. 

        For example, in 2022, a Las Vegas metropolitan police officer was killed while investigating a domestic violence incident. The suspect was using an AK pistol chambered in 7.62x39mm, which defeated his body armor and tragically ended his life. 

        In the same way, the US military’s flak jacket – a Vietnam era relic that might pass as modern body armor in the developing world – was never meant to protect soldiers against direct enemy fire. This 10-pound vest, twice as heavy as a modern IIIA vest, could not even stop large caliber pistol rounds which modern soft armor can do with ease. Accurate fire from even a poorly maintained SKS would kill a Vietnam-era soldier in full kit. 

        An extremely unsafe test of a bulletproof plate against an AK-47.

         

        Only Level III and Level IV plates can stop rifle rounds of any kind. These plates are made of rigid materials like steel or ceramic materials blended with aramid fibers and bonded with resin. The resulting material is a hard but lightweight plate capable of defeating intermediate rifle rounds at Level III such as the 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39, and 7.62x51mm NATO, while Level IV plates are rated for larger caliber rounds such as the .30-06 AP, also known in the military as the M80. 

        No longer issued flak vests, modern US military personnel are equipped with IBA and IOTV armor. These modern protective vests are built to be used together with Level III and Level IV plates, meaning they are resistant to most enemy small arms calibers .30-06 and below. 

        Sergeant Joseph Morrissey, who deployed with the 82nd Airborne to Afghanistan in 2012, was on the receiving end of a five-round burst of AK-47 fire delivered from only 30 yards away. He was back on patron in just 48 hours, since his IBA was outfitted with life-saving plates of rigid armor. 

        BulletSafe sells both soft IIIA vests for pistol caliber threat as well as top of the line Level IV plates for the highest levels of small arms protection. 

        Level III vs. Level IIIA vs. Level IV Body Armor

        Level III vs. Level IIIA vs. Level IV Body Armor

        Some people who are new to body armor might be confused about the differences between all the different levels. Some might assume that as long as they’re wearing body armor of any kind, they should be safe against all types of bullets. Others assume that Level IIIA armor is more powerful than Level III armor because the added letter makes it seem that way. Both these assumptions are wrong.

        Bulletproof protection levels are determined by the National Institute of Justice, which subjects vests to rigorous testing to determine their resistance. While any company can claim to make bulletproof materials, the NIJ will determine if the user will still be alive after being shot, by measuring the amount of back face deformation. A “dent” in a vest is acceptable, but too much deformation will punch deep into a victim’s chest cavity to the point of death. Just because a bullet is stopped does not mean the vest is a life saver.

        In the world of bulletproof vests, the NIJ classifies armor according to type, beginning with Level IIA at the bare lowest bulletproof rating and ending with Level IV at its maximum strength. Here at BulletSafe, we don’t bother with the lighter Level IIA vests, which are rated to only stop small and medium caliber bullets like 9mm and .40 S&W. Our most popular product, the VP3, is rated to stop Level IIIA threats, while our Tactical Plate Carriers come with Level IV plates for maximum protection.

        Level IIIA products like the VP3 are rated to stop most pistol caliber threats ranging from .22LR all the way up to .44 magnum, while Level IV products such as the plates in the BulletSafe Tactical Plate Carrier are hard armor capable of stopping rifle rounds from .223/5.56x45mm to .30-06 AP.

        Now, there may be some confusion about Level IIIA and Level III. While both seem similar because of their nomenclature, the two armor types could not be more different. Level III armor, despite its name, is the more powerful of the two. Level III armor is much like Level IV both in terms of its ability to defeat rifle fire and its construction as a hard armor plate, meant to be worn as part of a plate carrier system.

        Level IIIA, on the other hand, is almost always soft lightweight armor meant to stop pistol rounds. In some cases, helmets such as the MICH, ACH, and PASGT are rated at a IIIA level, but just like IIIA vests, they are not meant to resist rifle fire.

        IIIA vests are usually used by law enforcement professionals, as 9mm and other pistol rounds are a more common threat than large caliber rifle rounds on the streets of a bad town. Level IIIA vests also weigh less than the heavy Level III SAPI plates used by United States military personnel in modern IOTV armor. Since our service personnel in tan and green face more considerable threats than the men and women in blue, they are expected to have better protection. The “bad guy” weapon of choice around the world is the AK-47, which would punch straight through a civilian cop’s IIIA vest, while a Level III plate would stop both the AK’s 7.62x39mm or a full sized 7.62x51mm round from an Iranian G3. Level IV armor, also found in military use as ESAPI armor, is rated to stop all rifle fire up to and including the .30-06 AP round, a large, hard-hitting round famous for being used in the .30 caliber M1919 machine gun and M1 Garand from World War 2.

        What bulletproof topics would you like to read about in the future? Tell us in the comments below!

        Homemade Bulletproof Vests

        Homemade Bulletproof Vests

        Bulletproof vests are typically worn by the military, law enforcement professionals, and security personnel, and nowadays companies like BulletSafe offer the same protection to ordinary civilians. However, in some places, people who needed ballistic protection either couldn’t access it or took one look at professionally-made bulletproof vests and thought “eh, I can do better.”

        Homemade bulletproof armor is typically unwieldly, ugly, and of questionable effectiveness. Usually created by people with a mix of ingenuity, desperation, insanity, and a great amount of faith, homemade bulletproof vests should never be relied on if there are professional-grade products readily available.

        The definition of “bulletproof”

        The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “bulletproof” as “impenetrable to bullets,” but fails to mention that there is some nuance to this term. A vest capable of withstanding a direct hit with a .22LR will not be able to survive being hit by a .50 BMG. When it comes to bulletproof materials, composition matters.

        Bulletproof armor comes in four general levels defined by the National Institute of Justice or NIJ. With Level IIA (handgun protection up to .40 S&W) at the low end and Level IV (large caliber rifle protection up to .30-06 AP) at the highest level, NIJ certified armor undergoes rigorous testing to determine its safety. Homemade armor, obviously, is not held to the same standards. Some of it could even fall apart after vigorous jumping before it even gets hit by the first bullet, just like…

        Egyptian Mosireen Soda Can Armor

        Mosireen (Arabic for “Insistent”) is a volunteer activist group formed during the Egyptian Revolt of 2011. Dedicated to the dissemination of truth and exposing the horrors and violence perpetrated by their oppressive government, the group has frequently found itself on the receiving end of violent crackdowns by Egypt’s National Security Agency.

        In 2013, a thousand protesters were gunned down near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo to end a peaceful sit-in. Unfortunately, in a nation where the people have no weapons to fight back, anti-government protesters have had to rely on jury-rigged homemade solutions for their own protection, such as this “bulletproof” vest made from soda cans and glue.

        With materials easily obtainable from local hardware stores and restaurants, anyone can make the Mosireen soda can vest by gluing together 6-10 sheets of aluminum and duct taping them to an undershirt.

        Mosireen Soda Can Armor

        The question is, of course, if it’ll actually stop bullets. According to Mosireen, the answer is maybe… sometimes… and only at distances of 8 yards or greater. The Mosireen vest is primarily designed to stop birdshot and nonlethal rounds, which wouldn’t even meet Level IIA standards on the NIJ scale. Unfortunately for Mosireen protesters, Egyptian security forces frequently pack AK-47s and sidearms along with their 12 gauges so the practicality of this armor is questionable at best.

        Clint Emerson’s Book Armor

        In contrast to the Egyptians, former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson created something with substantially more survivability that can be made with a fraction of the materials and the effort. Made of nothing but copies of his moderately thick “100 Deadly Skills” books, ceramic pool tiles, and duct tape, Emerson’s makeshift armor is surprisingly effective against 9mm rounds, but shouldn’t be relied on to stop anything heavier.

        By making a double-layered ceramic tile sandwich between two books and duct tape, Emerson created armor that can assembled in a hurry or in an emergency situation by anyone with access to common household items. Even without the ceramic tiles, the books can be moderately effective at stopping smaller calibers like .22LR and 9mm at long ranges. Ceramic tiles or not, it should still not be trusted to stop anything beyond small caliber pistol rounds.

        704 Tactical’s Ceramic Tile Armor

        The YouTuber 704 Tactical took the pool tile armor concept and made it slightly more professional-looking. His $6 DIY armor made out of three layers of pool tiles, 0.3 inches worth of copy paper, and a layer of duct tape, this DIY plate weighs 8.5lbs and is strong enough to stop 9mm rounds and 12ga buckshot.

        However, the armor comes with an unfortunate caveat. In 704 Tactical’s own words, “don’t rely on it, you’ll definitely die.” While some companies rely on ceramic plates for their bulletproof materials, professionally-made armor is always augmented with some form of ballistic fiber, and copy paper just doesn’t provide the same level of protection.

        Trojan Ballistics Armor

        Troy Hurtubise's Trojan Armor

        While the “Trojan” looks semi-professional, it’s actually the brainchild of one man. Troy Hurtubise, the Canadian inventor of the bear suit, was famous for testing his homemade heavy armor while wearing it himself. The aforementioned bear suit, for example, was hit by a 300lb log.

        Around the time of the War in Iraq, Mr. Hurtubise grew concerned about IED attacks on Canadian soldiers, so he put his efforts into creating a new suit rated to stop bullets and shrapnel. He described his Trojan Ballistics Armor as the “first ballistic, full exoskeleton body suit of armor.” The full body armor was capable of stopping 9mm, .357 Magnum, and 12ga buckshot at close range. Hurtubise even made the bold claim it could stop a round from an elephant gun (loosely defined as any large caliber centerfire chambered in .400 or greater) but no evidence was found to prove this. The suit was never tested against IEDs.

        Based on the modifications he made to the suit, Hurtubise probably intended to create a real-life Iron Man suit for special operations use. Weighing a mere 50lbs, the suit was equipped with magnetic holsters, helmet-mounted headlights, a solar-powered air conditioning system, a recording device, a pepper spray capsule, and a compartment for emergency morphine and salt.

        While the product seemed top notch on paper, Hurtubise’s marketing for government contracts was less so. In 2010, his research and development drove him to bankruptcy and later divorce. Tragically, Hurtubise died in a freak highway accident in 2018 when his car collided with a gasoline truck which resulted in a fiery explosion. He was not wearing his armor at the time.

        Hurtubise was confident that its bullet-resistant foam, a material of his own design, would be able to stop even the largest calibers of ammo, and he proved it to be at least Level IIIA resistant, but sadly the suit’s true capabilities may never truly be tested.

         

        BulletSafe

        BulletSafe VP3 vest

        Unlike these other examples of bulletproof armor, BulletSafe vests and plates are NIJ tested and approved. The VP3 vest is affordable, durable, and lightweight Level IIIA armor capable of stopping rounds up to Level IIIA, and BulletSafe Level IV plates have been shown to be capable of defeating .30-06 armor piercing ammunition.

        If you decide you need bulletproof protection at home, there’s no need to improvise. BulletSafe’s vests are sold at just $299.99 and are worn by security and law enforcement professionals all over the world.

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