8mm Mauser vs AR500 Level III Steel Armor

By Andrew Betts

If you haven’t read our previous articles on AR500 armor, please go back and take a look at them. There is some ground work laid in those articles that will help to put this test in better perspective. This article analyzes our test results for Turkish 7.92x57mm vs. AR500Armor.com’s Level III plate. Let’s start with the test video:

These results explain why the Nazis were so brutally effective against our boys at Guadalcanal. The armor protected our GIs at longer range, but once the fighting spilled over the earthworks into the trenches, our level III plates were no match for the Nazi 8mm MP5s.*

Okay, in all seriousness, it is important to note right up front that this plate is not designed, rated, nor intended to protect against this threat. It is an unusual loading in an unusual cartridge and it is unlikely to be found on a modern battlefield, let alone in a home invasion or domestic civil unrest event, which are the scenarios for which most people are buying these plates. This test is really just an interesting look at the technical limits of the plate in question.

In overview the test results are that the armor is perforated at close range but not at 65 yards. One interesting result was that there was a great deal of fragments thrown to the side of the plate on the close range shot that perforated the plate. Normally, when a plate is perforated, the majority of the material (armor steel and bullet fragments) is ejected to the rear of the plate, with almost nothing traveling to the side. When a plate survives a hit and the bullet does not perforate the plate, the fragments do splatter radially as seen here, but the damage done by those fragments in this test was also atypical. In an earlier test, where the plate stopped two rounds of 7.62x51mm M80 ball, there was only superficial damage done to the water jug to the side. In this test, a huge gash was torn from the top of the jug to the bottom and the high speed video shows that the fragments walloped the jug with a significant amount of force.

At 65 yards, the bullet was stopped, but left a much larger impression in the plate than anything seen to date. It is possible that with more rounds fired, some may have perforated the plate, while others were stopped. The appearance of the dent indicates it was very close to getting through. This load seems to be in the vicinity of the V50 limit for this projectile. Without a larger sample size in more controlled conditions, it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions, but it is fair to say that 8mm is pushing the limits of what this plate can do. Of course, this plate is not rated for anything close to this level of abuse, either.

As mentioned in a previous article, it is tempting to declare that a plate is junk if it fails to defeat a given threat, but it is important to remember that the plate does do extremely well defending against the threats for which it was designed. If you plan to travel back in time to the Hürtgen Forest in 1944, you might consider bringing a different plate with you, but if you just want something to throw on when investigating a bump in the night, this plate could be a very good choice.

*Note: Some of the technical and historical details of this section are unverified.