As civil unrest continues to rise across the United States wearing concealable soft body armor is a way to protect you from the rioting and crime that is increasingly on the rise. Whether you are just going to the local store, driving through unfamiliar territory, or traveling while on vacation, people are looking for common-sense safety solutions. Spartan Armor Systems™ is one of several companies that offer concealable body armor to the general public for these uncertain times.
Damien Black, CMO of TK Armor Systems, LLC is doing business as Spartan Armor Systems. He sat down with CDN to answer questions for civilians who wish to purchase concealable body armor.
Is it legal for the average person to possess body armor? Are there any restrictions?
Yes, your average U.S. civilian can purchase body armor but with a few caveats. While each state’s laws vary in their language slightly, the general rule is that you can buy body armor so long as you don’t have a violent felony on your record. There are several states that apply larger penalties for anyone who commits a crime while wearing body armor (Virginia for example). Connecticut is the only state where it is more difficult to buy body armor as it must be purchased face to face at a store, CT residents cannot buy body armor online. More info here.
There are a lot of companies selling body armor. How does Spartan Armor differentiate itself in the marketplace?
Spartan Armor Systems™ differentiates itself by providing a higher-quality product at competitive prices. Where our competitor’s plasma cut their steel armor, we use laser cutting to maintain the strength and integrity of the steel plate. We’ve taken the time to formulate a special anti-fragmentation coating called Encapsaloc™ where other companies use truck bed liner. We even focus on details such as using screen printing on the front of our soft armor where our competitors just use a sticker.
We also have a superior cataloging and tracking method for our products. Should there ever be a situation where the integrity of a piece of armor is called into question, we can quickly determine which customers received armor from that batch. While we’ve never experienced a recall, we have seen the chaos that is caused by our competitors when they had to recall large quantities of body armor.
There are many more things I could list, but I want to make sure to mention our heavy focus on customer service. Body armor is a product that can be intimidating for your average consumer as there are many options and lots of data to sift through. We work hard to make sure our customers are paired up with the right body armor products and that they are satisfied with their purchases.
What is the difference between soft and hard body armor? What do you recommend for the average person?
Soft body armor is lightweight and easy to conceal so it’s the most practical for wearing on a frequent basis. Soft armor is flexible and thin, so it doesn’t impede mobility or become uncomfortable while sitting or bending at the waist. However, hard body armor does offer protection against knives where soft armor doesn’t, so there is a bit of a tradeoff. Soft armor such as our Flex Fused Core™ is rated at level IIIA which essentially means that it will stop nearly all handgun rounds. Based on FBI crime stats, handguns are used as murder weapons about 17x more often than rifles.
What is IIIa body armor and what is it rated to stop?
Level IIIA body armor will stop handgun rounds all the way up to .44 Magnum SJHP and SIG .357 FMJ. This means that you are protected from nearly all handgun rounds.
How would the traveling public benefit from wearing concealable body armor?
Since traveling with body armor is 100% legal, there’s no real downside to wearing concealable body armor while traveling. Body armor is a small fraction of the cost of a smartphone or maybe a couple weeks’ worth of Starbucks. This isn’t much money compared to the protection that body armor affords. With the increase in civil unrest and spikes in crime, body armor is an important means of passive self-defense.
You have a couple of vests that are available for concealment—The Spartan Armor Systems Concealable IIIA Certified Wraparound Vest and the Spartan Armor Systems™ Flex Fused Core™ IIIA Soft Body Armor and Spartan DL Concealment Plate Carrier. Can you describe the differences?
Both products are great options for discreet protection against handguns. The primary differences are the vest that contains the IIIA body armor panels and the shape of the panels. The wraparound vest is straightforward, but it also provides some additional protection on the sides of the abdomen where it wraps around the body.
The Spartan DL & Flex Fused Core™ package differs in that the soft armor panels only protect the front and back of the chest and abdomen, but the Spartan DL concealment carrier has some additional storage options such as built-in magazine pouches on each side. Both are great options for concealment so long as you’re not wearing a skin-tight shirt.
What is a NIJ rating and are your vests compliant with this?
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) created its system of protection levels to aid Law Enforcement in determining the maximum ballistic protection that should be expected of a particular body armor product. Many companies test their body armor by shooting it themselves under less than scientific circumstances.
All body armor sold by Spartan Armor Systems™ is tested by an independent NIJ certified laboratory to ensure it meets NIJ specifications. We have many products that we have gone through the additional step of having them certified by the NIJ. This is a much more stringent testing process, you can find more information about the NIJ Certification process and related products on the website.
Is this vest TSA compliant and can a person carry it in airports and onboard airplanes? What about in other countries?
Yes, in short, you can travel with body armor but only in your checked baggage. Ultimately it is up to TSA Officers if they will let you board the plane with body armor. We have a full article about the subject on the website..
How comfortable are these vests to wear? What about during hot days?
Yes, in general, they are comfortable to wear because the armor panels are so light and flexible. However, there would be a little more body heat since you are putting on another layer close to your body.
Both products feature an easy means of removing the armor panels to allow the vest to be cleaned if necessary. It’s important to note that soft armor becomes more comfortable the more often you wear it as there is a breake-in period of about 1-2 weeks. After that time, the soft armor panels will begin to conform to the shape of your body.
Are either of these designed for women as well as men?
These vests are unisex and have been worn by customers of both sexes. Women tend to prefer the IIIA Wraparound Concealment Vest because it can hug closer to the body. However, this area can still be a bit of a challenge because women’s clothing is much more fitted than men’s clothing.
How do you clean the vest?
After removing the armor panels from the vest, we recommend handwashing the vest and allowing it to air dry. We advise against machine washing or drying as some older machines may damage these vests.
What is your warranty?
The IIIA Concealment vest and our IIIA Flex Fused Core™ body armor both have a 5-year limited warranty.
What are the price points for these vests? Are there any discounts or promotions that would apply?
The IIIA Wraparound Vest retails at $499.99 and the Spartan DL & Flex Fused Core™ package is $299.99. We provide a 10% discount for Military, Law Enforcement and First Responders. Currently, a first-time customer can get a 5% discount by using coupon code “THIS-IS-SPARTA”.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Aside from concealment armor, we have a full line of body armor that can stop everything from handgun rounds up to armor-piercing .30-06 rounds. We even offer products such as our AFAK (Advanced First Aid Kit) which provides all the necessary medical equipment to field treat traumatic bleeding. The AFAK is compact and would be very easy to throw into a backpack, purse, or similar bag. This would be a great item to have in an emergency while traveling.
Wearing the Spartan Body armor – a review
Having worn body armor in the past, they tended to be bulky, uncomfortable, and quite hot during warm days. Technological advancements and new materials have changed all that. The fit and finish of the materials used in these two vests to be top-notch. They went on easily with a few strap modifications (see their sizing chart) and didn’t feel like they were interfering with normal movement.
To conceal properly I had to wear shirts large enough to cover any signs of visible printing but I am used to that. If you are new to wearing body armor then you might have to make slight adjustments to your wardrobe.
How the vests protect
The main objective, of course, is to protect vital organs and both vests did a good job of doing that for the front and rear. The Concealable IIIA Certified Wraparound Vest, however, does offer more protection on the sides as you can completely pull the flaps from the back to meet flush with the material on the front.
Compared to older varieties of body armor, the Velcro straps integrated with neoprene, were well designed, offering a good amount of cushioning and elasticity for proper positioning. Once you adjust them on your body, straps can be removed for a proper fit.
Wearing in the car while driving and around town doing errands.
They felt comfortable and unobtrusive with the right attire. It didn’t take long for me to sort of forget I had them during normal activities. Even though it was a hot day with temps into the ‘90s, they didn’t feel overly hot, or cause sweating. A problem with earlier vests.
According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 3,000 lives have been saved using ballistic-resistant soft body armor.
While these stats are for law enforcement, they have obvious applicability for civilians as well. While there are many ways a person might choose to protect themselves from violence; this is one method that is passive, unobtrusive, and puts the odds in your favor should you be the unfortunate victim of a handgun attack.
Ultimately choosing to wear concealable body armor daily is a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. Just like seat belts, they are something that you do but hope you never have to use, but will be grateful for in an emergency. For me, I will be using Spartan’s concealed body armor in the same manner and would rather have it and not need it than the reverse.
Laws do change so when flying either domestically or internationally, make sure you check the current TSA regulations as well as any states or countries you plan to visit. For now, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
While body armor is generally allowed in personal and checked luggage, the final decision for this is up to the TSA officer. Remember that body armor is NOT allowed to be worn in an airport or onboard a plane.
Having body armor in your luggage could also cause some delays at airports including more extensive screening so make sure you build in extra time in case this occurs.
While traveling on flights, it is probably a good idea to have any documentation, including product information about your body armor in case it is requested.
Spartan has a complete explanation of current rules regarding traveling with body armor. Click here.
FTC Disclosure: These vests were provided as samples for this review.