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Good place in MN to get a vest?


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  • Good place in MN to get a vest?

    This general question has probably been asked a million times, but I'm looking for answers specifically in the MN area. Where can I find a IIIA vest for a decent price? I'm currently just a reserve officer right now, so I don't get a uniform allowance or any of that, so I don't mind it being a used vest. Where are some good places to look?

  • #2
    Get yourself measured for a vest. There are measuring charts online that will show you how to measure your body properly. You need to have a vest that fits properly. Once you have that, you can then order one. Look around online and find some armor from an online vendor. Make sure that the armor adheres to NIJ Standard 0101. You will see 0101.03, 0101.04, or 0101.06. They're just newer editions and 0101.06 supersedes the previous standards.

    For IIIA rated armor that meets certification, you're looking at just shy of $500 for new armor. That's actually not a lot because my current IIIA armor cost about $1200, but mine is pretty lightweight. Less expensive armor is bulkier and heavier.

    I would also call the local LE stores like Streichers, Aspen Mills, Keeprs and UU to see what they can order for you. Sometimes it's more than what they advertise. Sometimes not, which is why online works well enough when you do your sizing.

    In buying used armor, keep a couple things in mind:
    -Armor is warranted for 5 years of use. The assumption is that the armor is being used on a full-time basis. The data shows that armor starts to break down after 5 years of full time typical patrol or tactical use. This is due to the bending, moving, folding, sweating, body heat, and environmentals (humidity, rain, sun, snow, etc). The armor itself does not have a shelf life simply because of time. If you buy vest and put it on a shelf, it will be just as effective 10 years from now as it is when you first bought it.

    -Body armor ratings are dependent upon the manufacturer doing the proper testing. Some companies don't. This is your life, so don't buy anything that doesn't have the proper certification.

    -Never buy any used armor that has received any kind of hard impact like a bullet, or from a major car crash. Also, never buy anything that has been pierced by anything sharp.

    -Don't buy armor that has been exposed to the environment in excess. I had a separate concealable armor Level II vest that I was issued in the Army. We used these in Iraq when we did stuff on bases that weren't directly combat related. The vests got pretty ripe with stink, and we would "sanitize" the vests by laying them out in direct sunlight for a couple hours. It worked well for stink and bacteria, but it also broke down the armor very quickly. We basically wore out the vests in 16 months.
    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
    -John Adams

    Disclaimer: My statements are personal opinions, and in no way reflect those of my agency.


    • #3
      Good Place In MN To Get A Vest?

      Streicher's Days is August 13-16, 2014. If you go during the right time, they may even have chow one of those days. Check that back room. Sometimes there is factory seconds, blemishes, clearances, whatever. Also, check Uniforms Limited in Saint Paul. Sometimes some people post for sale stuff inside the store. It is possible that KEEPRS has something like that, too.


      • #4
        Look at Kiesler's website. They sell used armor for $55 and I purchased one from them when I was a reserve a few years ago. I gave them my specifications and they were able to pretty closely provide me one that fit great. It was in great shape too. Being a reserve is a tough position when it comes to this. I wouldnt break the bank for a vest as a reserve because once you become sworn, one will be provided for you through the doj vest partnership in most cases. It is good that you want a vest as reserves can be exposed to threats just as sworn officers are but dropping 500-600 bucks for a vest seems like too much for a volunteer or low paying reserve to have to do. Get a gently used one from here or a place like this or talk to the officers you work with and see if maybe they have an extra one laying around.
        - Bluecrew
        "The opinions and or comments expressed on this forum (officer.com) are solely those of the individual "Bluecrew" and do not express the opinions or ideas of any of the department(s) that employ said individual."


        • #5
          I was at Streichers a few weeks ago ordering my new vest. I got the newest IIIA version and it was just shy of $1300, very glad my department pays 100% of that. As Reedo said, the more expensive armor is much lighter and more comfortable to wear because of molds to your body better. They had boxes of clearance vests, not sure if any are IIIA though, or what size, but it's worth a shot to call and ask.

          Have you asked your department about the body armor grant? Not sure if this applies to reserves, but it can't hurt to ask and have part of the cost covered.


          • #6
            Check out bulletproofme.com they have a huge selection of both soft armor as well as rifle plates and helmets. I ordered my plates from them and they were excellent to deal with. I will never willingly give Streicher's my money, I would rather go to Keeprs or Uniforms Unlimited.
            In Valor there is hope


            • #7
              Awesome, I will definitely take a look at all of these options! Thanks a lot!


              • #8
                I don't know if this is appropriate or not, if so, just delete my post. I looked for a vest and like you, didn't want to spend a lot, but I didn't want to go cheap either in case I needed it. In my search I found NatMil. They are level IIIA and stab resistant. Since I'm an FFL, I signed up as a dealer. I've only sold one vest, my own, and haven't been shot so I can't comment first-hand on the performance. I did see the independent tests and the videos tests (they're on YouTube) though it appeared to be pretty decent.

                They use Ultra High Molecular Weight PE (UHMWPE), the only negative things I've heard about that material (and it was on the Internet so take it with a grain of salt), is that is can break down if it's exposed to 180+ degree temperatures for extended periods of time. Being that I'm Reserve and that I don't leave it in my car, I figured that was good for me. The price point was something like $250 when I got them, may be cheaper now. I got the AV-04 model. I'm sure you can find someone that sells them online or you can order one from me.

                If you have any questions about them, let me know. I'm not an expert by any means, but I can give you my personal experience with it.


                • #9
                  I ended up getting a slightly used level II from a State Trooper, but I am definitely going to check out that NatMil site and take a look at the ones they sell as well! I appreciate the post!


                  • #10
                    Will, I have a new one with cover. It's actually 15 years old, but I never wore it... got it just before I retired. It's XXL. PM me with your phone if interested.


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