New Body Armor Put to Test at SWAT Round-Up

Amid the tense competition at SWAT Round-Up in Orlando last week, one company showed off a new ballistic vest it says will create a new standard for law enforcement body armor.

Officials from Point Blank Enterprises touted their new Alpha Elite vest on the grounds of the Orange County Sheriff's Office Firearms Training Range on Nov. 13 with a demonstration in which a single panel was shot with 91 rounds from various caliber bullets from different guns.

"When (the National Institute of Justice) does testing, they do one shot at a time. You're never going to have more than six rounds on a panel." PBE Vice President Michael Foreman told during the event. "In real-life, we certainly don't think that there is an occasion where an officer would face that type of threat. What it demonstrated graphically is the incredible stopping power."

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According to Foreman, Alpha Elite was borne out of research and development for the U.S. Military Special Operations Command.

"We are the providers of the body armor to Special Operations Command, and as a result of that, we were able to bring that type of technology to law enforcement," he said.

Forman said that the technology has resulted in a "breakthrough" as far as weight, thickness and flexibility. He said that Alpha Elite is the highest performing Level 3 body armor on the market today.

Sophie Wray, Regional Marketing Manager for Life Protection Americas at DSM Dyneema, said that an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber was used to create the unidirectional material called Dyneema UD -- which Alpha Elite is comprised of.

"Over three years of development we have come up with Dyneema force multiplier technology," she said. "It's a new technology platform that has taken the polymer and created a very specific polymer, making the world's strongest fiber even stronger."

This is the first time that the fiber has been used in a ballistic vest for law enforcement, and Wray said that DSM approached Point Blank directly about using the material in a new product. The two companies had done a lot of work in the past in the military side, leading to this partnership.

"This is actually going to create a new standard for vest protection," she said. "Typically (agencies) look at performance, comfort and trauma. With this you don't have to compromise. The end-user can have it all."

According to Keith Harrison. Application Manager, Life Protection at DSM Dyneema, the biggest thing that sets it apart is the strength of the fibers used in the material.

"It's one of the strongest and thinnest packages out there," he said. "The combination of the construction and the strength of the fiber allow it to be an extremely flexible vest.

"A lot of officers wear a Level 2 because they find that the thinness and flexibility is more comfortable for them. Now they can actually go up a level in protection and not compromise the feel or the fit for their bodies. It allows them to be more protected and safer overall without giving up anything in the function of the vest."