What To Do with Old Ballistic Vest Panels? Here's a Few Options - ITS Tactical
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What To Do with Old Ballistic Vest Panels? Here’s a Few Options

By Eric S.

So what do you with your old ballistic vest panels? If you have been in law enforcement or other occupation where you get a new vest roughly every 5 years, you probably have a couple of sets sitting around.

A few years ago I figured there had to be a way to use the panels I’d accumulated, as mine were sitting in the closet collecting dust.

Around that time I came across a video and photos of a Schertz Texas Police cruiser that had taken a bunch of rounds to the front from a AK-47. The article showed forensics photos of the trajectory the rounds took and had the officer been in the front seat he would have been killed.

While attempting to defeat rifle rounds would only be accomplished by an armored vehicle, it doesn’t take much to send pistol rounds through the windshield, windows and doors. I came up with a simple solution that got my vest panels out of the closet and into my cruiser. We’ll also talk about other ways you could use this concept in the civilian world. The photos presented here are older, but the concept remains the same and I still carry this system with me today.

About “old” Vests

Let’s talk about “used” vest panels before we go any further. What were talking about here are your vest panels that you have cared for, cleaned properly, and maintained like you’re life depended on it (because well, your life did depend on it). I’m not advocating running out to the nearest surplus store and buying panels out of a pile of Vietnam web gear. If that is the route you want to go because you don’t have your own panels then you do so at your own risk.

Body Armor

Properly cared for ballistic panels will last for years if maintained correctly. I’ll give two examples: A few years ago one of our firearms instructors took his old issued vest (from the mid 80’s) to the range and it stopped everything it was rated against. Our training section also had an old vest they used during knife defense classes that they tried to sick a ice pick through. The old vest stopped it every time.

The Concept

Body Armor UsesAll we’re doing is making a bag to hold the ballistic panels. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or made out of 10,000 Denier Cordura with quadruple stitching.

It should at the very least have handles to make it easy to carry and stitched well enough that it wont fall apart if you need to use it. As you can see in the photos of the bag I have, there isn’t much to it.

This bag was made by a local Sailmaker. I took my ballistic panels in and gave them a basic idea of what I wanted done.

I lucked out as they did a fantastic job with a heavy Cordura type material and heavy stitching. I had two sets of handles made; one set for the top and one set to hold like a shield. The top is secured with heavy Velcro to keep it closed. As you can see in the photos I have both my panels in the bag. Two panels might be an overkill but in this case more might be better because having to deploy it means the crap has hit the fan.


Body Armor UsesThis idea is pretty simple and can be used in multiple ways. From throwing it up on the dashboard, holding it against a door, or tossing it to someone pinned down. I keep mine on the passenger seat in my cruiser or take it with me when doing surveillance.

You could keep it at the office or classroom (if you’re a teacher). During the Virginia Tech shooting, students and teachers attempted to hold the doors shut with their bodies.

Cho shot through the doors because he knew victims were behind them. If I were to design one for a school setting I would have two separate panels that folded out to give you extra height protection; in effect, a soft shield.

Body Armor UsesThere is no reason you couldn’t apply those same ideas at home. Also look at the news footage of the recent tornadoes. You could use this as added protection against flying debris for you or your family while your in your safe room. Think outside the box.

Make one with adjustable handles and you could hang it behind the seat of your cruiser for extra protection. Yes, officers miss guns on prisoners and yes prisoners can slip their cuffs to the front.

You could also keep it in your TFDV (tactical family deployment vehicle) to help protect your family if the need ever arises. Everyone else has a swagger wagon right? Looking at the recent article on SSG Peoples who confronted the bank robber in Sarasota Florida, he surely could have used something like this.

Bad things tend to happen quickly and without warning. You may not have time to deploy this concept in certain circumstances, but having something like this at your disposal could come in handy. It surely beats having your ballistic panels siting in your closet or garage doing nothing for you.

Please leave us your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. Stay safe out there!

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