Tag Archives: Body Armor

Does an M14 Really Turn Cover Into Concealment?

By Andrew Betts


If you spend enough time at an outdoor range, especially on the weekdays when the retirees are there in force, you are certain to hear someone opine that they prefer the M14 to the AR/M16/M4 because it “turns cover into concealment”. This is usually in conjunction with their opinion that the DoD made a terrible error in moving to the 5.56x45mm, rather than the much more manly 7.62x51mm. No one can claim that the 7.62mm NATO does not have more power. The cartridge contains significantly more powder and it launches a heavier bullet at only moderately lower velocity. Is that extra power actually useful for penetrating cover, though? Does it really “turn cover into concealment”?

To answer that, we took a look at a few real world objects of varying composition. The question is not whether the 7.62mm penetrates more deeply than the 5.56mm. It is widely known that 7.62mm will penetrate more deeply in some materials such as wood, while 5.56mm can often penetrate steel plate at close range better. M193 55 gr FMJ can even defeat Level III armor plates that are rated for multiple 7.62x51mm M80 147 gr FMJ (https://youtu.be/QrWtgyFQ8LU). The claim that the old guys are making is that the M14 can kill a man who is hiding behind an object that would stop a 5.56mm. In other words, does a small difference in penetration depth really translate to a difference in whether a specific object will act as cover or not? If the cartridges are compared in terms of go/no-go, will the M14 really “turn cover into concealment”?

For the first test, we will consider concrete barriers. There are a variety of concrete walls, block walls, and other concrete barriers in the urban landscape that a person might take cover behind. The concrete varies somewhat in the ratios of the ingredients but all are composed of cement, sand, and sometimes larger aggregate. Regardless of the recipe, concrete has high compressive strength and low tensile strength. That means that it works very well for applications such as load bearing walls, but not so well for a second story floor. It resists being crushed but when bent, it cracks easily. That also means that it works pretty well to stop a bullet, but it is destroyed in the process. We tested two kinds of concrete. The first is a concrete block common to privacy fences, with lots of small aggregate and air voids.

The second is a concrete paver. While not as sturdy as a poured concrete wall, the paver is made from mostly cement and sand, with little aggregate and no air voids.

In both tests, neither round was completely stopped by the concrete barrier. While the 7.62mm did look more impressive, the 5.56mm also made it through and neither cartridge seemed to retain much ability to wound on the other side of the wall. That is to say, both would likely cause a painful wound but neither were likely to penetrate deeply enough to have a high probability of causing incapacitation. A bad guy on the other side of either of those barriers would have an awfully bad day to be sure, but he would likely have the opportunity to make your own day much shorter. To sum up, it is a very close race with little practical difference between the two cartridges.

Of course, an 8” thick, poured concrete wall with rebar reinforcement is likely to stop both rounds cold, but it is also outside our ability to test. There are almost infinite variations on the thickness and composition of concrete structures and some will certainly stop both cartridges while others will not stop either cartridge, as seen in the above tests. It would take substantial resources to conclusively identify exactly what sort of barriers could be penetrated by which cartridge and at what distance. For our more general and limited testing, the conclusion is that both cartridges can penetrate some concrete barriers. There may very well be a special Goldilocks barrier that is just thick enough to stop the 5.56mm but not the 7.62mm. From what we can see of this testing, it seems likely that such a barrier would also bleed so much energy from the 7.62mm as to render it nearly harmless, though. Both cartridges failed to fully penetrate a single water jug in this test so if the thickness of the concrete were increased to that magical point where 5.56mm was stopped but 7.62mm passed through, the 7.62mm would be even less energetic than was seen in this testing, which means a very minor wound.

Next, we will consider one of the few components on a motor vehicle that actually has a good chance of stopping a bullet: a brake rotor. Other than the drive train, the brake rotors (or drums) are one of a very few places where there is actually enough thick metal to have a reasonably good chance of stopping a bullet. Frame rails will usually stop handgun rounds but are unlikely to stop any rifle round and it is common knowledge that the body does next to nothing to stop a bullet. Conversely, the engine and transmission should stop nearly any man portable weapon short of an AT-4. Will the brake rotor be just thick enough to stop one cartridge, but not the other?

In this case, several rounds of both the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm were stopped. It is true that the 7.62mm looked to be a bit closer to getting through, based on the slight cracks on the back side of the disc, but the bottom line is that a person hiding behind that object would not have acquired any extra face holes from either cartridge.

Wood is one of the materials which 7.62mm is said to penetrate much more deeply than 5.56mm so we compared the two cartridges’ ability to penetrate a modest sized log.

On the one hand, the 7.62mm penetrated almost twice as much wood as the 5.56mm. On the other hand, both were stopped and you would need to find a log that was more than 2 ½” thick but less than 4” thick to be able to stop the 5.56mm but not the 7.62mm. Aside from the obvious problem that few people would consider a 4” stick to be “cover”, the difference here underscores something we have long suspected. It is true that 7.62mm can penetrate more deeply, but the difference is unlikely to make any substantive real world difference. That is to say, there are very few objects that are just thick enough to stop a 5.56mm but not thick enough to stop a 7.62mm. Most objects are either thick enough to stop both or thin enough to stop neither.

We did find one material that was soft enough to underscore the difference in a very definitive way: water. This is a test using a 55 gallon plastic drum filled with water as the barrier.

Finally, here is an object that very clearly stopped one bullet but not the other. If your target is taking cover behind a 55 gallon plastic drum full of water, 7.62x51mm can punch through it, while 5.56mm will probably be stopped. In the high speed video, it seems that the 7.62mm was not really moving along that quickly after passing through the barrel, though. It is possible that it would not be capable of doing much wounding after getting through the barrel, but we did not test for that, so the nod has to go to the 7.62mm for getting through.

It is also worth noting here that projectile construction could make a significant difference in any of these tests. If the rounds were changed to bonded soft points, it is possible that both rounds would have made it through the water. If the 7.62mm were a Hornady 155 gr AMAX, it is unlikely it would get through the barrel. There are a wide variety of bullet weights and designs available for both cartridges and some of them will substantially change the performance on these objects. We chose M80 and M855 because they are the commonly issued FMJ ammunition for their respective rifles. We chose a 16” barreled AR15 because it is a good compromise length and we did not have the time to test 11.5”, 14.5”, and 20” barrels. We also did not test at greater distance, where the 7.62mm is likely to have a larger advantage because hauling the test materials 200 yards down range is difficult, bothersome, and disruptive to other shooters. There are a variety of conditions that were not tested and those conditions could give more of an edge to one or the other cartridge.

Overall, most of the tests showed very little difference between the two cartridges. In every test but the water barrel, either both penetrated the test object or both were stopped. Ultimately, it does not appear that there is any evidence to support the unilateral claim that 7.62x51mm “turns cover into concealment”. There may be some very specific circumstances where this is true, but they appear to be the exception, rather than the rule. To be sure, this concept deserves quite a lot more testing. It would be nice to see the differences at range and through a variety of other materials such as live wood and poured concrete. Some day we may continue testing. It seems that the M14 is likely to develop a real, substantive advantage as range
increases because the greater mass and higher ballistic coefficient can carry more energy further down range. On the other hand, this sort of testing only compares a single round of one cartridge to a single round of the other but 7.62mm weighs twice as much and that means a person is likely to have twice as much 5.56mm. In that light, one round of 5.56mm may be just about as good as one round of 7.62mm but two rounds of 5.56mm are far better than one round of 7.62 in nearly any circumstance. The real take-away here is that nothing in the world of firearms and projectiles is nearly as simple as “A is better than B” and it appears that the statement “The M14 turns cover into concealment,” is more often false than it is true.

Related  further reading of 762 penetration


Body Armor: Vietnam Use and Development

Again today we have  a post from Moore Militaria.  This time about body armor and its development.   You can buy all your Vietnam war super accurate and authentic reproductions uniforms and real gear at http://www.mooremilitaria.com.


helo 1

Body armor and flak jackets have been something sought after by armed forces around the globe to protect their troops from arms fire and shrapnel. Developed to prevent death and lessen injuries, body armor has been used in war combat since as early as world war one. Even from the first mediocre attempts at development, body armor has seen generations upon generations of revisions and weight reduction to provide the most efficient way of stopping rounds. This article however, will focus mainly on the creation of body armor for the Vietnam War for pilots and ground infantry.

Armor in the Air

early war aircrewDuring the Vietnam war, one of America’s top strategies in combat was high air mobility. Army pilots often conducted low flying reconnaissance, rescue, and insertion missions which made the pilots vulernable to small arms fire. As hostilities increased, so did casualties to pilots and aircrew. The only protection these pilots had from enemy fire was the M1952A Fragmentation Vest from the late Korean War era. These flak jackets (the M1952A) which provided no real protection from small arms fire and were also standard issue to US Army infantry at the time.

As information came in from the field, a new hard face composite was looked at to replace the previous DORON plates. This new lightweight (relatively speaking) ceramic composite was made into chest shields and issued in the TRECOM Aircraft Armor Kit from Natick Laboratories.  Despite the protection offered from the new shields, both the Hard Face Composite and Doron shields where too uncomfortable for pilots to wear for any length of time, and as a result saw little usage in the field. Another side experiment by Natick used a curved torso shield made from 13 ceramic tiles bonded to a reinforced plastic shell. The shell then rested on the seat between the pilot’s legs. Defense Advanced Research Projects testing found that the new system reduced the weight to the pilot, but it interfered with the operation of the aircraft and was quickly scrapped.


Natick Labs continued working on prototypes for new armor to be used in helicopters and soon came up the experimental T65-1 cloth back carrier that was mated to a prototype curved front torso using female snap fasteners. Padded shoulder sections helped distribute the armor’s weight and a cloth wrap around straps with a Velcro fastener held the vest in place. Natick Labs members and AMC armor team members visited Vietnam in 1965 to obtain reception of the concept armor and found that combatants responded well to its use. The only drawback from the field was that aircrews stated the plates were too large and not ergonomic making them uncomfortable. Pilots and aircrew both overwhelming stated they would sacrifice protection and risk increased exposure to small arms fire for comfort. As a result, the HFC vest was reduced in size by 3 inches and made more contoured in the shoulder and arm area. Coupled with the T65-1 cloth back vest, this Aircrew Body Armor set became the infamous “chicken plate” that would serve Army aviators for the next 30 years.

AC Vest 1  AC Vest 4

Infantry Armor in the Field

The first use of efficient body armor by US infantrymen was the USMC-M1951 vest. The vest, like all of its contemporaries, offered protection against shrapnel and fragmentation, but did not offer any protection against small arms fire. The Marines and the Army both developed body armor of roughly equal efficiency, but their development paths would follow different routes. The Army would introduce the M52 and soon M52A which would feature “soft” armor made of ballistic fabric. The Marines would use hard Doron plates that would give their armor a rigid quality.

The Marines

The USMC M-52 Fragmentation Vest had three primary variants with minor modifications during the Korean War. Design improvements were quickly incorporated and by the third model, you can clearly see the basis for the M-55 that would serve throughout the Vietnam War and well into the 1980′s.

M-52 Type ISAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420M52 Type 3
Based on the final M-52 design as shown above, the M-55 series was born. The basis of the M-55 was a cotton shell with zipper front and 23 Doron Plates in the main body with ballistic fabric in the shoulder areas. The vest also included a rope ridge sewn into the shoulder area to help prevent a rifle butt or sling from sliding off of the face of the vest. The first version had a single, small pocket on the left chest area. In 1967 the vest was modified and a “second” version was introduced with large pockets located on the lower front area on each side of the zipper. The pockets were nylon and offer a contract to the cotton fabric of the shell. The final version of the vest included a body made of nylon to match the pockets. This change was aimed at addressing wear issues with the cotton body of the vest. Of note, there are versions with a single rope ridge as well as a double rope ridge (as shown) on each shoulder.

M55 1st pat M55 2nd Pat M55 3rd Pat

In the later part of the 1960′s, both the Army and Marines recognized the limitations of fragmentation vests and the benefits of being able to field armor that would actually stop a .30 cal AP round. They both looked to the success of the Aircrew Body Armor and used the ceramic plates as a basis for infantry armor. The Marines developed a carrier made of rough ballistic nylon in ERDL camo print. The carrier had an integrated “haversack” on the back and pockets to hold the ceramic plates in both the front and back. This system, like the Army Variable Body Armor, was deemed insufficient for several reasons, primarily weight, but it did help to pave the way for the Interceptor Vests of the 1980′s. As a result, the standard M-55 would carry on for another 15 years before technology would allow the weight reductions necessary for a Grunt to have bullet proof armor in the field.


The Army

The standard Army infantry vest at the beginning of the war was the M1952A from the late Korean War era. It would be the most commonly seen fragmentation vest in Army use through 1966. The vest is easily distinguished by its brown color, lack of a collar, and epaulettes on the shoulder. It features a zipper front with nylon over flap. This style of vest would remain popular with vehicles crews as the lack of a collar make it more comfortable to wear with a helmet.
M52 S

When looking at ways to improve the vest, the first thought, aside from more effective materials was to increase the area of protection. The new vest was very similar to the M52 in basic design: zipper front, two pockets, lace sides, etc. but it featured a collar. Hence they were labeled as Armor, Body Fragmentation Protective, With, 3/4 Collar. The first six months of production saw a version with epaulettes on the shoulder. This is the first vest with the “823″ specification on the label.

Flak e 11966 Label 823 Epeaullettes

The next variation in the Army Flak Jacket came when they decided to simplify production of the vests and dropped the epaulettes on the shoulder. The resulting vest is the iconic Army flak vest of the Vietnam War. At this point, no other changes were made and the spec tag still retained the 823 designation. The vest would continue production in this manner through 1968.

DSC022961968 Label 823

There were some minor issues with the design, chief among them a tendency for the armor to bunch up inside the vest. As a result, in late 1968, an improvement was designed into the internal ballistic filler in an effort to prevent bunching. The new model was cosmetically identical, but featured a different contract specification number to reflect the change in material. These changes would take place in the production year of 1969 ending the 823 contract series production and replacing them with the 122 series as the code for the new anti-bunching inserts. At this point, it was still referred to as Armor, Body Fragmentation Protective, with 3/4 Collar Fragmentation and featured the zipper front.

1969 Label 122

The final changes to the 3/4 Collar Flak were ordered in late 1969 for production to start in 1970. The vest would retain the 122 designation and the new anti-bunching inserts, but they would change the zipper front closure to a velcro closure. The thought process was that zippers could be damaged in combat by shrapnel or fragments making the vest difficult to remove from a wounded solder. This was the first cosmetic change since the epaullettes were removed at the end of 1966. These vests began production in 1970 and had a nomenclature change as well. At this point, the vest was renamed Armor Body Fragmentation Protective Vest with 3/4 Collar, M-69.

M69 Dec 12 11970 M-69 Label 122

While production and design improvements were being made on the 3/4 Collar vests, there was still a push to apply the technology from the ceramic plates of the Aircrew Body Armor (chicken plate) for infantry use. The concept was a bullet proof vest for infantry use was intriguing and the need for it became more apparent as casualties grew in Vietnam. The result of Natick’s efforts was Variable Body Armor. The armor set consisted of a nylon felted vest with a front and rear ceramic plates. It was named Variable Armor as the carrier could be worn alone for protection from fragments, the plates could be worn alone utilizing Velcro and buckled straps, or the plates could be worn in conjunction with the vest carrier to provide maximum protection. The system did provide protection from .30 cal AP rounds, but due to its weight at 20 pounds and the bulk of the system it was never popular in the tropical heat and humidity of Vietnam. Variable armor could be worn with the carrier as shown or the plates could be worn together without the carrier. Due to the weight, 20 pounds, the system was very unpopular with Infantry and was never widely used.

Variable 2014 1  Variable 2014 6


Review: HSGI Woosatch

Article submitted by Daniel Martin.


I had a chance to get out the past couple weekends and put a few miles on a new plate carrier I picked up from High Speed Gear Inc. (http://www.highspeedgearinc.com ).

Ive been searching around a while to find a carrier that was comfortable enough to wear for a period of time in the summer without roasting you in the hot temperature’s and humidity.

I came across the HSGI Woosatch-A so I pulled the trigger and ordered one. The initial impressions when I pulled the rig out of the box was it seemed about like any other carrier I have tried so I gave it a look over inspecting the construction. I will admit I was impressed with the stitching and the redundancy of the stitching, im very picky about things like this as well as where the buckles are placed and the amount of adjustability without the rig seeming deformed at its extreme points of adjustment.

I threw some pouches on it in my normal configuration with a set of large SAPI plates  and went out to give it a test run.


HSGI Woosatch


Everything worked as expected, and felt a lot like some of the other rigs I have ran in the past.

One note I will make is I also purchased the shoulder pads which are absolutely essential if you intend to run plates in these rigs as the shoulder straps are very thin. The added padding helped a lot but didn’t bunch up my shoulders when shouldering a rifle.


This carrier does have an internal bladder pouch for running a hydration bladder but I prefer to run one on the back as opposed to putting it in the rig. There is PLENTY of room to run the largest bladder you can find in the internal pouch.

Here is a side profile shot, This was one of the reasons that sold me on the Woosatch-A. It does not wrap around the sides like a lot of other carriers allowing breathing room in hot weather. Those looking for a little more realestate on the rig can look into the Woosatch-E which adds another couple molle loops on the sides.


HSGI Woosatch


Below is a good shot of the pouches where you can drop the plates in. I tested this rig with large SAPI plates and fitment was no issue, Also when looking at these rigs you may find some at different online retailers. If you have a chance to handle one make sure to look on the inside part that sits against your chest.

Only real HSGI carriers sport the leather patch, so you know it’s the real deal.


HSGI Woosatch


Now on to my gripes with this setup.

As I stated earlier if you run plates with this rig spend the money on the shoulder pads, they are well worth it and in my opinion should be included with the rig anyway. Even if you consider loading it down with 6-8 AR mags it will be uncomfortable to wear for more than a couple hours without them.

Also in addition there is zero padding  in the plate pouches, after a few hours in the rig it became uncomfortable on my shoulder blades moving in different positions rubbing against a hard plate, so I took an old excersize matt and cut out the dimensions of my plate to make a pad.


HSGI Woosatch


This added enough padding to wear the carrier without discomfort for longer periods of time.

To wrap things up with the price of the carrier being considerably cheaper (roughly $180 shipped) than a lot of the other rigs on the market. its very comfortable with the added padding and breathes well in summer heat. Also take into account that these are hand made by HSGI in North Carolina and the fact that they have a lifetime warranty on their gear makes this a great rig for summer or any other situation where side armor plates are not required.




The Colt 901 PART 5 Support Gear

Having the 901 for a while  and testing it,  it was time to start putting together the  gear that would support its use and was a little easier then the old mag in the back pocket nonsense. From previous articles,  you can see Looserounds  really likes the TAG Banshee Plate Carrier.  Since I see no need to have more then one PC, I decided to work up a way to use the same Banshee for  the 901 and my beloved 556 rifles.

I came to the conclusion that I would have enough ammo on the PC for most any need while being able to change it out fast if I did not want to use the 901.  After looking around and mulling it over I decided to go with the Blue Force Gear Tenspeed pouch for SR-25 pattern magazines. Two members of  Looserounds has been using the Tenspeed for a while adn find it to be a very nice low profile and slick pouch. The TenSpeed is elastic like and holds the mags snug but when you take them out, it will snap closed and lay against the PC flat.  The are not the best for a situation if you are going to be sticking mags back in the pouch in a hurry or you need to retain them on then PC under stress, but if you run most your reloads of a belt and the PC acts just as you spares or emergency rig, its great.

I purchased the double mag pouch because I feel that  40 rounds on the carrier and 20 more in the gun is enough for all but travel to Detroit.  More can be added as  you want. I am way to lazy to carry much more then  60 rounds of 762 for long without a team of mules a nap and my favorite blanket, so 60 is enough for me.

The good thing is the pouches for the 762 mags is tight enough that you can use 556 mags in it as well. They are snug still but a little less then if they are made for 556 mags. This is not a bad thing because it allows you to get them out easier, this is something not as easy when using the pouches dedicated for 556 mags. So , if I want, I can take the 901 mags out and stick two USGI 556 mags in the pC and have 90 rounds of 556.

My other choice is to take the 901 mags out, let them tenspeed lay flat and don a chest rig. I will not go into the unlimited amount of choices for 556 chest rigs out there but I will show  my choice.  I decided to use the new USMC and ARMY issue tactical Assault Panel ( TAP).


The good thing with the TAP is that it can be worn as a seperate chest rig or can be attached to the PC by hardware that comes with it. So , you can  just pull it over the PC or you can attach it with the fastex  buckle kit that is issued with it.

I think this combo give me the versatility  to go back and forth between two calibers  very easy. This works out well since the 901  is very modular.

Gear Tree/ PC Stand

A lot of people have a ton of tactical gear with no decent way to store it. It is hard to find hangers that will support the weight of plates and mags already loaded plus all the extras.  After seeing a few versions of this handy system me and my Dad put a couple of them together ourselves to hang gear on. It keeps it ready and not tangles up.

The first is the one I keep my TAG  Banshee on.

It holds the Banshee loaded with plates and armor, three 30 round mags and 3  ten round 1911 mags.  Also  it holds my warbelt with x2 ar mags, 1 1911 mag my pistol holster, IFAK and dump ouch and GPO pouch.  On top rests my ACH MICH helmet. When making them if you want it to hold a hat or helmet you have to remember to have the main support be tall enough to hang the head cover on.

The beauty is you can make them as tall and wide as you want. And they are strong enough to hold every bit of gear you own if  the gear has a way to hang off of it.  It does not cost much to make them either since all you need is a few 2x4s and some paint and nails.

Be sure to make the base well enough to keep the stand balanced when loaded down.

The base is the one part  that you can not make too small. But you do not need to make it huge.  Make it big and you can always trim it down. We always just make them a little bigger then we think we will need just to be safe.

The second lacks the helmet stand but holds a full riflemans kit MOLLE II FLC and a Source WXP. This is quite a bit of weight but the stand handles it with ease. This one was made a little smaller but with wider “shoulder” so to keep the weight even across the vest.

On a side not the MOLLE II FLC is an excellent fighting kit that is often over looked.  they can be found in coyote, ACU, Woodland and DCU all over the web at very affordable prices. They are made my gov contractors for the military> They are not  the coolest new stuff but they can take a ton of abuse and hold more then you can stand to carry.  They do not hold armor but can fit over armor carriers just fine and the vest area is  mesh so it is much cooler then a lot of chest rigs. it can also be configures as a chest rig as well as the vest system.  I will do another full article on the FLC later.

The only downside is the gear tree does not easily fit into a closet or hide as well, but it is a safer way to store you armor and it is always ready for you to don in a hurry. Nothing gets tangled and your gear is not laying in a corner getting peed on by the family cat. Another bonus is if airs out and drys faster when wet or sweaty with your manly funk.

Check and recheck your gear.

When ever you buy new gear, or change the setup of your gear, you need to test it out.  It is good to make sure there are no unexpected issues.

For example, today I found that the LaRue POD stock attachment I have interferes with my plate carrier.  Shooting with out the body armor was a non-issue, however with the body armor, getting the stock where I wanted it was not working out.  I also installed an ITW Fast Mag M16 magazine holder on my belt.  While I loved the pouch, I found that its’ rigid body got in the way when I got into the kneeling position.

As always, it is better to find out issues in practice then then find them in the fight.

Correct position of hard armor plates

I see a lot of pictures on forums of guys wearing their plate carriers with armor in them in ways that barely do them any good all the time. Usually you see the plates setting too low in the front and the back.  As can be seen in this picture you do not really need a huge plate to cover every inch of  your body, but you do need it to cover the most important inside red parts.

Here are a couple of pictures I hope will help people make sure they do not wear their armor wrong and some day have a round slip through or over a plate and cause sever leaking.


These pictures came from a poster on http://www.ar15.com