Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-12-2019, 12:05 PM   #1
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Modern Body Armor

Modern firearms come in a bewildering array of model and brand names, each with their own stats. Body armor, almost as often part of the standard equipment of modern warfighters, law enforcement officers or other adventurous professions, is treated much more generically.

I want to use the tools in High-Tech, Tactical Shooting and Pyramid #3/85: Cutting Edge, where David Pulver's article 'Cutting Edge Armor Design' provides a detailed design system for modern and near future body armor, to provide distinct stats for various types of body armor common in the 2010s. I'm talking about the kind of write-up Kenneth Peters did in his article 'Modern Warfighters: Gear' in Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay, except possibly even more detailed in terms of coverage and, of course, for a wider range of specific models of body armor.

Ideally, I'd like suggestions from forumites for fiddly distinctions, like exact coverage for different models and minor DR differences between certified armor and common industry terms like Level III+. Some heavier and more expensive plate and carrier combinations will just be worse designs, but others should provide better coverage, (e.g. from the side) with four plates than more typical 'clamshell' designs.

I also want knowledgable forumites to suggest models currently in use by various military organizations and law enforcement agencies. If they have enough data to help stat them, great, but just the model name and description would be helpful. It's always good to know who is using which model, what users think of them, etc.

I'll get my friend, who is a Sergeant in the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police, to help me with real world data to translate to GURPS, but most of his data concerns British models of vests. I think he has a Safariland rifle vest now, though, so maybe he'll be useful on the US standards as well, NIJ, FBI, etc.

I think that numerous forumites have or have had jobs where they wore body armor to work, so I'm hoping there is plenty of relevant experience. In most cases, the purchase of body armor with municipal, county, state or federal funds is public information, so I am not asking for any secret, privileged or sensitive information, merely data that can be somewhat time-consuming to locate by looking through public financial documents.

Also, if anyone either has experience or is interested in the subject, by all means suggest specific models of body armor that are 'best in class' (concealable, overt, rifle protection, etc.) and exemplifies the cutting edge of what is actually available as commercial off-the-shelf body armor.

To start with, I'd like to try statting up two distinct options for patrol officers to keep in their vehicles, both of rifle resistant body armor, as most Texas LEOs acquired such gear in 2018 if they did not have it earlier.

The first body armor kit is a reasonably modestly priced offering, at $549, the Safariland Protech TAC PR Package, containing TAC PR + 4400 Type IV + pouches +ID. See this brochure for details. As an aside, this is what Galveston PD purchased for patrol officers in 2018.

From what I can tell, this is a non-ballistic plate carrier with front and rear Level IV stand-alone ceramic/aramid plates. As such, it should be fairly easy to stat, I just have to dig through Safariland publications to nail down the weight of the carrier, pouches and other items other than the plates (the weight for which is already listed at 7.6 lbs. each)

The second kit I want is meant to be bought at a similar time (2016-2018) and have a similar purpose, but instead of cost-consciousness, I want to bring a splash of luxury. Let's have the Galveston County Sheriff's Office purchase new concealable vests expressively with a view to work with the overt rifle resistant add-on body armor kept in their vehicles and let them have a budget of up to $3,000 per officer, for a modular body armour that can be used as a concealable (or at least low-profile) Level IIIA for patrol and overt Level IV rifle resistant armor with the addition of an outer carrier with plates.

Being made in Texas (or at least a neighbouring state) would be a plus, but not an absolute requirement. A representative of the manufacturer which can provide full repair and other service being located within 100 miles of Galveston is a requirement, but even if there is not one there in real life, the size of the order (ca 450 sets for GCSO, about 400+ more for Chambers and Jefferson County Sheriff's Offices) would justify any local vendor in the Galveston-Houston area being prepared to become a representative for the chosen manufacturer.

What is cutting-edge, but still made by a reputable manufacturer, so that law enforcement officers feel comfortable trusting it?

Basically, what make and model body armor would forumites wish their agency or department (or their friends', acquintances' or local LEOs' department/agencies) would purchase, if they got a donation from a fairy billionaire meant to be used to keep deputies safe from attacks like the 2016 Dallas attack or other active shooter situations?
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Last edited by Icelander; 06-12-2019 at 12:27 PM.
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 05:07 PM   #2
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (w/ 4400 Type IV Plate)

Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (TL8)
Locations: Chest (9-10).
DR: 26 (1* + 25)
Cost: $550
Weight: 17.2 lbs. (2 + 7.6 + 7.6 lbs.)
LC: 4
Notes: DR 25 plates protect on 5/6 front and rear, 3/6 sides.

This is a non-ballistic plate carrier with traditional MOLLE attachments, adjustable cummerbund for additional accessory attachment and speed donning with integrated pull-strap system. It's compatible with 10" x 12" ballistic inserts, both soft and rigid, but in this package comes with two DR 25 Protech 4400 Type IV plates (7.6 lbs. ea). The package also includes 'Police' or 'Sheriff' lettering, as well as one M4 Mag Pouch TP5A Double which fits two 30-rd magazines and a TP20 medical pouch (not counted in package weight, as First Aid kits Weight usually assumes pouch).

The TAC PR comes with channeled interior padding for comfort and airflow and is available in Black, Tactical Green, Digital Woodland, Navy, Ranger Green, Khaki, MultiCamŽ, ACU and A-TACS.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 05:49 PM   #3
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (w/ 4400 Type IV Plate)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (TL8)
Locations: Chest (9-10).
DR: 26 (1* + 25)
Cost: $550
Weight: 17.2 lbs. (2 + 7.6 + 7.6 lbs.)
LC: 4
Notes: DR 25 plates protect on 5/6 front and rear, 3/6 sides.
While not terribly useful for converting existing armor, this gives us an interesting result. If we assume sides are roughly 50% of the area of front and back, that means total coverage of the Chest is 13/18 (or 4.33/6), or right around 3.8 sf. 15.2=3.8*25*W, for a W of 0.16. Improved Ceramic has a W of 0.15, which is remarkably close. Such plates would cost $1,520 by the article - and as GURPS $ are often assumed to be comparable to 2004 USD, that implies the current cost would be around $2000, while the brochure you linked earlier gives a cost of $363 for two such stand-alone plates. I've been toying around with an idea I call Simple Armor, which gives reduced coverage (specifically, 5/6 protection to the Chest, although I hadn't considered the Side armor being more reduced) but at a massively reduced price. I was intending for 50% of the price of normal (full-coverage) armor of the same weight, but this makes it seem like 20% might not be outlandish.

Granted, the TAC PR vest is extremely expensive for nylon at TL 8 (it's about right for Nomex Optimized Fabric, but searching online for the TAC PR's material indicates it's nylon, not nomex), but it may be made of clothing-grade, rather than armor-grade, nylon, which is undoubtedly more expensive.
__________________
GURPS Overhaul

Last edited by Varyon; 06-12-2019 at 05:56 PM.
Varyon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 06:17 PM   #4
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (w/ 4400 Type IV Plate)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
While not terribly useful for converting existing armor, this gives us an interesting result. If we assume sides are roughly 50% of the area of front and back, that means total coverage of the Chest is 13/18 (or 4.33/6), or right around 3.8 sf. 15.2=3.8*25*W, for a W of 0.16. Improved Ceramic has a W of 0.15, which is remarkably close. Such plates would cost $1,520 by the article - and as GURPS $ are often assumed to be comparable to 2004 USD, that implies the current cost would be around $2000, while the brochure you linked earlier gives a cost of $363 for two such stand-alone plates. I've been toying around with an idea I call Simple Armor, which gives reduced coverage (specifically, 5/6 protection to the Chest, although I hadn't considered the Side armor being more reduced) but at a massively reduced price. I was intending for 50% of the price of normal (full-coverage) armor of the same weight, but this makes it seem like 20% might not be outlandish.
It's pretty interesting that, as with so many other pieces of adventuring gear, since 4e came out, we've seen about one TL of improvements in body armor. For prices that would hardly have sufficed for adequate pistol protection around 2004, you can buy Level III armor that is objectively more protective and 60% of the weight of what used to be considered quality issue armor.

Granted, the 4400 'Type IV' plate seems like the absolute minimum quality available from Protech, pretty much previous generation plate that, while listed as 'Type IV', actually only mentions being tested against 7.62x51mm M80 rounds, which is why I only gave it DR 25, i.e. enough to stop the rounds it's specified as tested against. If the armour truly qualifies as stand-alone NIJ Level IV, not just ICW ('In Conjunction With'), it should get DR 35 or so.

That being said, ceramic and ceramic/glass plates are getting a lot cheaper, not to mention that steel plates are becoming more and more accepted as viable alternatives. Heavier, yes, but thinner, less bulky and a hell of a lot more durable. And a lot cheaper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Granted, the TAC PR vest is extremely expensive for nylon at TL 8 (it's about right for Nomex Optimized Fabric, but searching online for the TAC PR's material indicates it's nylon, not nomex), but it may be made of clothing-grade, rather than armor-grade, nylon, which is undoubtedly more expensive.
With the plate carrier, you are paying for the padding design, plate and ballistic panel pockets, MOLLE attachments, weight distribution, adjustable straps, quick-attach and release fastenings, etc.

It's specialized load-bearing gear more than clothing, though the padding actually gives DR 1* in a fairly light package (1.88 lbs. for a size L or smaller, without any pouches attached, ca 2 lbs. with the double M4 mag pouch nearly all officers will deploy with). You could use simpler and cheaper gear, essentially just nylon straps that attach pockets for plates, but this should probably add to FP costs for wearing it, as weight distribution and padding is lacking.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 06:50 PM   #5
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (w/ 4400 Type IV Plate)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Notes: DR 25 plates protect on 5/6 front and rear, 3/6 sides.
Both coverage estimates are likely high. Total torso area for an average adult male is somewhat over 7 square feet, of which maybe five is what GURPS would call 'body'. Those inserts are around 0.8 square feet, or about 1/6 each.

Fortunately for body armor, a lot of that is on the sides or top, frontal cross-section is probably only a third of that, giving 3/6 coverage. Also, the missing area is mostly around the edges so center shooting will disproportionately hit the plate. I would still be dubious about calling it more than 4/6.

It's worse from the sides because (a) most of the armor isn't there, and (b) what armor actually is there is at the edges. I wouldn't give the sides better than 2/6.
__________________
My GURPS site and Blog.
Anthony is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 07:08 PM   #6
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Coverage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Both coverage estimates are likely high. Total torso area for an average adult male is somewhat over 7 square feet, of which maybe five is what GURPS would call 'body'. Those inserts are around 0.8 square feet, or about 1/6 each.

Fortunately for body armor, a lot of that is on the sides or top, frontal cross-section is probably only a third of that, giving 3/6 coverage. Also, the missing area is mostly around the edges so center shooting will disproportionately hit the plate. I would still be dubious about calling it more than 4/6.
Note that the vest covers Chest (9-10), not Torso (9-11). And while I agree that ballistic panels rarely cover more than a third of the torso, they generally cover most of the areas likely to be struck that count as the Chest hit location.

The 1/6 part of the Arm hit location that is armoured as the Shoulder in Low-Tech pretty much has to include some of the torso area around the shoulder, if we want to represent real world armour pieces. Neither shooter cut plates nor typical ballistic panels cover the shoulders or the area of torso close to them, but I'd argue that hits there mostly count as Arm hits anyway.

There are certainly vests that rate only 4/6 protection, even from the front, but given that 10 " x 12" is actually considered fairly decent coverage for an average male, I'm concerned that we would lack granularity to plausibly model the choice of smaller plates if we made the larger ones so unlikely to protect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
It's worse from the sides because (a) most of the armor isn't there, and (b) what armor actually is there is at the edges. I wouldn't give the sides better than 2/6.
That might be accurate, but on the other hand, even if shots come from the side hexes, it will be relatively rare for the character taking fire to be exactly aligned. A significant number of attacks from side hexes will still hit the front or rear of the Chest hit location.

Edit: That being said, I'm definitely looking to benchmark coverage of real-world vests with ballistic panels of various sizes as well as rigid plates. The n/6 system is intended to represent the odds of protecting against a typical threat, not the percentage of actual coverage, so even 'complete' coverage for the purposes of GURPS rules might not actually be complete 100% coverage in square inches, as the Armor Gaps, Chinks in Armor and critical hit results that bypass armor represent less than 100% coverage in cases where the armour will still protect most of the time, i.e. significantly more than 5/6 chance.

I'd like to hear the views of forumites as to what constitutes 'full' coverage of the Chest hit location with modern body armor (or if it exists commercially), what are typical 5/6 models, 4/6 and if any types of commercial body armour should rate only 3/6 or less protection of the Chest, i.e. less than 50% odds of a shot to center mass from the front actually hits the ballistic panels of the armor.

In principle, I have no objection to a fairly basic setup like the Protech TAC PR with 10" x 12" plates giving only 4/6 protection from the front and rear hexes, 2/6 protection from the sides. I just want to make sure that there is a sensible progression of levels of coverage, using what granularity the n/6 system affords, and that body armor which is widely issued is at least somewhat effective, even if less effective than if it had unrealistic 100% odds of protecting despite limited coverage.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Last edited by Icelander; 06-12-2019 at 07:54 PM.
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 08:32 PM   #7
seycyrus
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Default Re: Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (w/ 4400 Type IV Plate)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
...
... not to mention that steel plates are becoming more and more accepted as viable alternatives. ...
Walking the exhibit floor of the AUSA for the past few years did not provide any sort of evidence to support this contention. Not to mention, a modicum of applied experience.

Where are you getting this information from?
seycyrus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 08:43 PM   #8
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: Safariland Protech TAC PR Package (w/ 4400 Type IV Plate)

Quote:
Originally Posted by seycyrus View Post
Walking the exhibit floor of the AUSA for the past few years did not provide any sort of evidence to support this contention. Not to mention, a modicum of applied experience.

Where are you getting this information from?
Unscientific anecdotal sales figures that indicate that civilian 'adventurers' or those who like to prepare for potential adventure situations, regardless of plausibility, are buying rifle resistant steel plates + spalling protection + plate carriers when they would previously not have been able to afford (or at least not wanted to devote the budget to) any rifle resistant body armor at all.

The field of personal body armor is growing by leaps and bounds and part of that growth is rifle resistant armor becoming much more affordable. Well-funded militaries and law enforcement agencies from the richest countries on Earth still use lighter and more expensive materials like ceramic composites or advanced polyethylene, but steel rifle plates are cheap and widely available enough so that many potential threats in realistic TL8 action-adventure campaigns set in the 2010s might use them.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2019, 09:57 PM   #9
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Coverage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Note that the vest covers Chest (9-10), not Torso (9-11). And while I agree that ballistic panels rarely cover more than a third of the torso, they generally cover most of the areas likely to be struck that count as the Chest hit location.
That's why I cut the area from 7+ square feet to 5. If we put the boundary at the belt, that 10x12 plate is covering an area that's about 14-15"x16-18", with at least 2" missing on all sides. Discounting the shoulders which are part of the arms, at the top that's the base of the throat and the collar (and the shoulders, but that counts as arms), at the sides it's mostly ribs, at the base it's the stomach and upper intestines (a general problem with GURPS hit locations, not that it's easy to fix in other game systems either, is that you can miss and hit something else).

An odd thing about this is that chance of protection applying is higher when hit probability is higher, because higher hit probability means tighter groups. 'Hit by exactly zero bypasses armor' does a decent job of modeling this but is counterintuitive. Maybe combined with something else where a hit by 0 is a grazing hit.
__________________
My GURPS site and Blog.
Anthony is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2019, 03:22 AM   #10
Icelander
 
Icelander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: Coverage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
That's why I cut the area from 7+ square feet to 5. If we put the boundary at the belt, that 10x12 plate is covering an area that's about 14-15"x16-18", with at least 2" missing on all sides. Discounting the shoulders which are part of the arms, at the top that's the base of the throat and the collar (and the shoulders, but that counts as arms), at the sides it's mostly ribs, at the base it's the stomach and upper intestines (a general problem with GURPS hit locations, not that it's easy to fix in other game systems either, is that you can miss and hit something else).

An odd thing about this is that chance of protection applying is higher when hit probability is higher, because higher hit probability means tighter groups. 'Hit by exactly zero bypasses armor' does a decent job of modeling this but is counterintuitive. Maybe combined with something else where a hit by 0 is a grazing hit.
I feel that a significant number of misses in combat are going to be for psychological reasons or because the shooter lacks situational awareness. As such, I think a higher number of misses will be way off target than will miss relatively narrowly, i.e. be 6-8 inches to the side.

Obviously, I want to reflect the chance for such near 'misses' of center mass, i.e. in GURPS terms, a torso hit that hits areas not protected by ballistic panels or plates. But I don't have a problem with them occuring more rarely than purely proportional surface coverage would indicate. Basically, I think that a fairly high number of hits will hit within a few inches of the center mass aimed for and the majority of misses will actually miss badly, because they are not so much small technical errors as they are shots fired at entirely the wrong time or with a wrong idea of where the target even is.

Firstly, of course, just by (realistically) limiting vest coverage to Chest (9-10), we've already made about a third of torso hits ignore the DR of plate inserts and ballistic panels. Now, I haven't yet found reliable statistics, but that seems on the high end already for many shootings, as one can easily find that in cases where LEOs or soldiers suffered a gunshot wound to the torso despite wearing body armor, the armor often sustained multiple hits in addition to the injury above or below the vest.

GURPS random hit locations already make limb, abdomen, neck and head injuries common, so vests are nowhere near a panacea. Also, targeting the pelvis or abdomen is not penalized harshly, at only -1, so deliberately bypassing ballistic vests is easy for skilled shooters.

I note that the 10" x 12" shooter cut plates of the Protech TAC PR Package are actually greater coverage than many typical vests with soft ballistic panels. If we give that level of coverage 4/6, it might or might not accurately reflect the probabilities that the armor will stop a round aimed at center mass. But given that 4/6 coverage of Chest is really 4/9 coverage of Torso, in terms of the odds of providing protection from a random Torso hit, this level of protection will fail more often than it works. Is that in line with testing and/or real world experience?

It would be quite useful if we could get a good idea of what realistic 4/6 Chest coverage amounts to in square inches, for typical cuts of rigid armor plate as well as for typical soft ballistic panels. If we can benchmark that, we can have armor that seems to have significantly improved coverage (5/6 and possibly 6/6) and possibly smaller plates that protect only the vitals and maybe the Chest on 3/6 or 2/6.
__________________
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Last edited by Icelander; 06-13-2019 at 03:26 AM.
Icelander is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
body armor, cutting-edge armor design, modern firepower

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:32 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.