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As strange as that may sound, there is a very good chance that you, or one of your fellow officers, will go on duty tonight wearing body armor that may provide far less ballistic protection than expected.
Modern body armor is designed to protect the wearer from deadly high-velocity handgun rounds using a sophisticated combination of bullet-stopping materials, strategies and tactics.
From the moment a bullet tears through an officers uniform shirt at supersonic speed, it engages several different layers of an amazing ballistic sandwich engineered to take on many different roles during an extremely violent ballistic event that takes place “from beginning to end“ within 3 nanoseconds. All in a distance of less than two inches. A nanosecond is one-billionth of a second (1/1,000,000,000), so all of this interaction with the bullet and the vest is happening very very quickly.
In fact, Safariland™s body armor engineers use ultra-high speed digital photography to slow this incredibly destructive event down to the point where they can study, frame-by-frame, how each layer of material and individual vest component interacts with the bullet during each phase of the ballistic event. Unimaginable forces are created by these devastating impacts, and they are being transmitted through, and absorbed by, your vest's ballistic panel and your upper torso.
Concealable body armor is designed to both stop bullets and reduce serious injury in a multi-step process:
- Armor panels must first slow and deform the projectile, blunting its tip and increasing its footprint.
- Since bullets also spin and violently twist anything in their path, engineers then seek to engage and entangle them with as many high-strength ballistic fibers as possible. That blunting and entangling action catches the bullet in a net-like fashion, ultimately slowing and stopping it.
- In addition, the vest panel must keep the bullet and the back of the vest panel from protruding (in a net or trampoline-like fashion) deep into an officer's muscle tissue and chest cavity (called backface deformation). Currently the new NIJ Standard and federally mandated backface limit is 44mm or 1.73 inches.
- Finally, the panel must also absorb and dampen the resulting shock wave, which by itself is capable of tearing skin, breaking bones and damaging organs (backface trauma injuries).
The resulting multi-material (hybrid), multi-layered vest panel designs (ballistic sandwiches) are often patented and considered closely guarded trade secrets. Safariland alone offers many patented constructions and innovative approaches to solving these ballistic protection challenges.
Unfortunately, these highly sophisticated panel structures are usually directional in nature. That means if they were shot from the opposite or back side, the complex methods they use to stop bullets and protect officers become all but useless.
So, wearing vest panels in the proper strikeface/body-side orientation is a serious life and death issue. Federal requirements are already in place to make sure all NIJ compliant
vests are properly labeled to indicate which side is which. Unfortunately, many officers still don't take the time to read the labels and double-check their vests.
So, the next time you wash your vest carrier and head back to work after a few days off, take a moment to read the label on your vest panels to be absolutely sure the strikeface side of your panels are facing the bad guys. It could save your life.
August 3rd,2010 Body Armor
There are not many shooters among us who neglect their firearms after a hard day's shooting. Whether they get cleaned that day (best case scenario) or a few weeks after they've been used, the fact remains that they eventually get the care and attention they deserve. For many of us, there's always that tinge of guilt hiding in the back of the brain that keeps reminding us, "Your guns are dirty you're neglecting them ¦why exactly do you hate your guns so much, what have they ever done to you" and so on. The question is though, if this much attention is paid to the firearms, why neglect what houses, protects, and makes your handgun available, the holster
Although made to work in the worst environments around the world, even the best holsters (Safariland, of course) need some care and respect before, during, and after use. This doubly applies when working in extremely wet, sandy, or hot environments. There are a few rules to always keep in mind when caring for your holster:
- Always keep it out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time. This obviously does not mean it can't sit on your waist while you go about your business, whether on duty, out hunting, or for a day of competition shooting at the range. I'm talking about leaving it on the dashboard of your car or even in the trunk in an Arizona summer. All of these situations exceed 140°, which is a no-no. And did you know that the temperature in the dashboard of a vehicle or direct sunlight through the glass window can exceed 190° Fahrenheit? If a Safariland holster is exposed to these kinds of temperatures, visually inspect the product and if deformation has occurred, discontinue use immediately.
- Keep it clean of debris. This applies to both the interior and exterior of the holster. The SafariLaminate™ or STX finish makes this extremely easy to do on the outside. A quick wipe down with a clean cloth and warm soapy water will do. The interior, especially when covered with suede (which is often the case), can also be cleaned with warm soapy water. It can then be washed down and sprayed with any easy to find silicone spray for best results. Obviously, make sure there is never any large debris in the holster as this will affect holstering and possibly cause an accidental discharge.
- Let it dry. Although Safariland holsters will work under wet conditions, it's best to let it dry when given a chance. If your holster becomes submerged or soaked with water, the following steps should be taken to bring the holster back to satisfactory working condition.
- Remove the holster from wet conditions and ensure all excess water is drained from the holster.
- To enhance quick drying of the suede interior, use a towel or piece of cloth to pull through or dab the inside of the holster until contact dry.
- To fully dry the suede interior while concurrently drying the rest of the holster, place in a dry location and let air dry for 24 hours or accelerate the process with cool air from a fan or other cool air source. DO NOT use an oven, microwave, hair dryer, heat gun, or any other heat source.
- Spray a shot of silicone spray inside the holster on the suede.
- Specific products will need specific care. If you have an SLS™, ALS®, or other acronym titled Safariland holster, other care may be needed for its distinct retention device, such as re-lubing the retention mechanism, then locking and unlocking until the lubricant is fully in place. It's best to check your manual if you still have it, visit our website, or call our Customer Care department at (800) 347-1200.
In short, when in doubt, just think about giving that holster of yours the same love and attention your firearm gets.
July 27th,2010 Duty Gear
Few, if any, officers are overjoyed when coming into contact with OC Spray (oleoresin capsicum). The taste and intense burning sensation in the eyes or face is unpleasant to say the least. Regardless, in essentially every training course on OC Spray, students are regularly exposed to OC or worse.
For example, the United States military has used a time honored and progressive educational approach to introduce recruits to gas warfare. It begins with classroom instruction, equipping them with protective mask and, if necessary clothing, and then having them practice getting in and out of that equipment prior to entering a gas house where they are exposed to various chemical agents.
Why do instructors do this to their students? Well, in the case of the military, recruits that pass in and out of the gas house gain confidence in their ability to survive should they ever be exposed to gas warfare on the battlefield. Similarly, officers who work in the criminal justice profession will likely be exposed to OC spray at some point. Unfortunately, OC doesn't take sides and because it takes the form of a spray, it tends to drift everyone and affects everyone, be it Good Guy or Bad Guy.
In a worst case scenario, such as this news event in Winnipeg, Canada
shows, law enforcement officers may not be the only individuals to have an incident with OC Spray. The most common area affected by OC is a person's vision. However, breathing can be affected too whenever OC enters a person's lungs. If you aren't prepared for the effects of OC, the delay in combat can give a combatant enough time to flee or worse.
In early OC training for officers, officers were sprayed in a manner that would affect mostly their vision. Once blinded, they were directed to water by a fellow officer so they could begin to decontaminate by applying copious amounts of water in hopes of eliminating, as quickly as possible, that intense burning/stinging sensation in their eyes, as well as on their face. This was the state of OC training in those early days, which was good for exposure, but not for officer survival. Officers often believe that once blinded they were helpless and had to be guided to safety. Again, this belief doesn't build the kind of confidence officers have to have in order to survive on the job.
Today, many trainers have created specific learning objectives for OC training whereby officers learn how to fight through OC induced blindness by rapid blinking. Officers then learn how to transition to performing various empty-hand skills like punches or knee strikes and/or using less-lethal technologies like a baton to protect themselves, as well as their firearm, from an attacker. This dry-runpractice leads to the actual spraying and demonstration of skills for self-defense and, when possible, subject is taken into custody.
It is not a case of if officers will be exposed to OC spray either directly or indirectly but rather when it will happen to them on the job. Consequently, officers have to learn how to survive
in an actual OC environment that they or someone else has exposed them too.
July 20th,2010 Less Lethal