Law enforcement professionals and soldiers wear body armor because they work in environments where they expect to get shot (at). Knowing the risk, they'd be silly not to wear it, right? In today's world, it's sad to say, there are plenty of other places that carry an increased risk of being shot at; heck, anywhere in public is getting to somewhat of a reality. We've seen mass shooting attacks in churches, schools, restaurants and more. Given that unfortunate reality of life, a number of companies have developed unobtrusive looking soft armor products. This week I shot the heck out of one from SafetyBook and this review is about that testing and how well it performed.
As you can see from this first top right photo, the outside of the SafetyBook looks relatively like any other portfolio that zips all the way around. The faux black leather exterior with a center company "seal" and some design that makes it other than a simple flat surface. Inside is the (in this case) Level IIIA soft armor wrapped in a thin layer of blue plastic (very thin plastic). The armor itself didn't feel thick and obviously wasn't nearly as stiff as the "portfolio".
The guns used to test the unit (shown to the right, top to bottom) were:
- Colt 1911 Series 80 .45ACP
- Glock Model 23 .40S&W
- Glock Model 19 9mm
Since we had only the one test unit and were planning to shoot it with multiple shots. The ammo used for each weapon was Federal Hydra-Shok JHP. The .45ACP was 230g. The .40S&W was 165g. The 9mm was 124g. First we shot it with the .45ACP round. The SafetyBook stopped the round with no issues and we could easily feel the mushroomed round trapped inside. Next we shot it with two rounds of .40S&W - since the .40S&W is the most commonly carried law enforcement round in the U.S. today. Again, the SafetyBook stopped the rounds with no problems. We could feel them inside and later cut one of them out to examine it. More on that in a moment. Then we fired the 9mm Hydra-Shok round and the SafetyBook stopped it with no problem.
Given that all test rounds so far had been hollow-point bullets, we examined a the couple we could recover and realized that in the compressed nose of each (they had all collapsed but not mushroomed much) there was a little piece of something black. After looking carefully we realized it was a piece of the fake leather portfolio shell that the bullet nose had cut and filled with as it traveled through. That plug made the bullet act like a roundnose round instead of a JPH. Nothing really mushroomed. They flattened out a bit as you can see from the photo provided. The three rounds shown are two 9mm FMJ rounds we fired last and the one 9mm Hydra-Shok JHP we recovered. Note the black "plug" in the nose of the 9mm JHP.
During the test firing, when we shot the two 9mm FMJ (ball) rounds, we couldn't immediately see the holes in the portfolio cover. The holes cut by the spinning JHPs were easy to see, but we couldn't find the other two. We had to find the bullets in the soft armor plate, line that up behind the cover and then flip it over to find where the bullets had passed through. The photo provided shows the cover on the left; the armor slab on the right. Each penetration of the portfolio shell is circled in red. Look at the two red circles that are on the right edge and bottom edge of the company seal. They look like rub marks when you look at the portfolio, but are actually penetration points where the two 9mm FMJ rounds went through.
The SafetyBook TacONE measures just under 15" tall by 10.6" wide and about .6" thick. It weighs just under two pounds. The SafetyBook website lists the retail price at $112. A Google search for "Safetybook TacONE" revealed some being sold for less than $90 new. So shop around.
As a parent I can see the value - given the violence in our schools that we see reported on the news all too often - of providing one of these to my school age children to put in their backpack. As a retired cop I can see the value of having one in a briefcase, messenger bag, etc. It's not body armor but it'll stop many handgun rounds - and that beats hoping that whatever available concealment you have will slow the incoming rounds down enough not to hurt you permanently. As a Level IIIA armor product, it does what the company advertises it will do.
Check it out!