April 04, 2008

Dear Shrieking British Media Harpies...

The bulletproof hoodie that has so many of you up in arms today is more than likely a cynical fraud by a company that obviously knows how to play up the easily excitable U.K. press, but who doesn't have much of a chance of following through with a product that can do what they claim.

According to the company's web site:

Bladerunner have now created " The Defender Hoodie " which is BULLET PROOF throughout the main body area.

This Hoodie is rugged and tough just like a normal Hoodie but this one has a removable Inner Shell that gives you Balistic Security at Level NIJ STD 0101.04

Number 1: Never trust your "Balistic Security" to a bunch of over-zealous fashion designers that can't spell "ballistic."

Number 2: There is no such thing as "bullet proof," just bullet resistant, a fact that any responsible armor designer will tell you that Bladerunner blows right past in a bit of self-promoting puffery.

Number 3: NIJ STD 0101.04 is not an armor level. It is a testing specification published by the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice to determine the classes or types of armor protection.

Type I body armor--which I suspect the "bulletproof hoodie" will be if it meets any NIJ standards at all--will only stop low-velocity ammunition, and is generally regarded as being obsolete for all practice purposes. Types IIA, II, and IIIA provide increasing resistance to penetration from handgun bullets.

Types III and IV are designed to protect against rifle rounds.

Of course, if the edgy fashion designers at Bladerunner want to put their products up for real-world testing, I can easily find some police officers and civilian shooting instructors here in the United States that would enjoy helping test these claims with common .22LR, 9mm, .38 Special, 40 S&W, .45ACP and .357 Magnum ammunition.

My email address is in the right column of this page under "email me." I look forward to hearing from you.

Via Ace, who isn't buying this, either.

Update: I sent Bladerunner an email leading them back to this blog post. Barry Samms of Bladerunner responded via email with a curt "who are you to be calling me a fraud, I suggest you choose your words a bit wiser before emailing us."

I suppose that was meant to be intimidating, but you'll note he didn't refute a single point I made, nor did he seem willing to offer his product up for real-world testing.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 4, 2008 12:27 PM

In 1981 I was assigned to a Central American country in civil war. My Mom bought me a "Second Chance" vest. The most interesting part was the book that came with it, featuring pictures of policemen who had been shot with handguns or shotguns. The impact mark was a dark purple welt surrounded by a round brown bruise.

The guy that owned the company would visit police departments and do a live demo. He would don a vest and invite an officer to shoot him at point blank range with his service revolver. At one dinner, someone asked about an ice pick. He sent a waiter to the kitchen to fetch one and asked a female officer to do the honors.

The vest provided zero ice pick protection. The owner fell on the floor dead.

Spontaneous product demonstrations proved to be 90% of a good idea.

Posted by: arch at April 4, 2008 01:35 PM

Arch, are you sure of that story? Last I heard Armor Holdings bought Second Chance, but Richard Davis was still alive.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 4, 2008 02:15 PM

Fashionista ballistic gear = bad idea.

Consider this a Darwin seperator and leave it at that.

Posted by: Dave P. at April 4, 2008 03:17 PM

Yeah, I've heard that story but it seems to be basically an urban legend. Certainly the guy would know the vest would do squat against a piercing attack like that. But the prodcut in question, even if serious, is no breakthrough. You have been able to velcro in protective panels to any garment since the ballistic vest was first marketed.

Posted by: megapotamus at April 4, 2008 03:48 PM

My ex-brother-in-law when he was a deputy, was looking to buy a lighter vest for use while he was on escorts and such on motorbike duty.
One of those he considered buying looked for all the world like a t-shirt with mesh sleeves and tails. It was a bit lighter than my sister wanted (she'd have had him in IV at all times, of course) but like he told her, He was unlikely to get shot at escorting a funeral. I forget the brand (He did have a Second Chance catalog, but I can't say for sure that was the one we were looking at) but I recall it had some edged weapon resistance.
A "bullet proof" hoodie would be rather easy to make though. Be a touch warmer than a regular hoodie, but then so is any vest under a regular hoodie. But like you point out, no legit manufacturer is going to call it "Bullet Proof". The company's lawyers would soil themselves in reaction to the claim.

Posted by: JP at April 4, 2008 05:15 PM

I'd suggest sending one to the box of truth!

I'm sure they'd test it out really nicely!

Posted by: Scott at April 4, 2008 09:10 PM


No, I'm not sure. A cop in New York told me.


Posted by: arch at April 6, 2008 01:03 PM

Well I suggest that you offer the company a way of saving face by recommending an independent, unbiased real world tester, such as the Box of truth guys or those clowns on myth busters.

Either should be able to do a good test and let the world see the results.

Posted by: nosmo at April 6, 2008 07:40 PM

I Britains urban youth beleive this tosh and happily shoot each other we all mummy and daddy(optional) get to sue the company...happy days!

Posted by: thud at April 8, 2008 05:02 PM

As one who owned 2nd Chance armor in the 80's, I can say the company made clear that edged and pointy weapons were not stopped by soft armor, so I find it hard to imagine that Richie Davis (who on several occasions DID model his armor while being shot) would ever be that foolish. Last I knew, he was still alive, and his son had started another body armor company.

2nd Chance was acquired by another firm just a few years ago, when they went bankrupt. They had switched from Kevlar to Zylon, and unknown to them Zylon deteriorated over time much faster than does Kevlar. A really, REALLY bad idea when you are making body armor. NIJ issues a "recommend replacement" advisory, and Armor Holdings bought the remains.

Posted by: 1charlie2 at April 10, 2008 06:28 AM