Armor has been a popular subject these days. Hard armor, plate carriers, and LARPing gear have become rather mainstream in the gun world. Ceramic plates have dropped hundreds of dollars in price, and steel armor can be had from dozens of vendors. While overt armor is extremely popular, I have an interest in something a little more covert. That lead me to search out a concealed body armor option.
I’m not just talking about a police-style vest you can shove under a shirt or conceal under a big hoody. Your normal vest designed for fit under uniform shirts offers a lot of protection, but we all know how obvious those vests look. I want something I can wear with most clothing options and actually not have it draw any attention throughout the day. It turns out it’s not that hard to find and not that expensive overall.
Why Would I want Concealed Carry Armor?
Why not? Why do I want ceramic plates in a plate carrier? The same reason I want yet another CZ. I’m lucky enough to live a rather safe life, at least as far as violence goes. In another life, I worked jobs repoing everything from fridges to iPads. I’ve also been tasked with courier work escorting large sums of cash from multiple locations. In both of those roles, I could see a good use for concealable armor. I can also see it as useful in instances of civil unrest, working as a cashier in a rough neighborhood, being a bouncer, so on and so forth. There are likely more uses for concealed body armor than overt plates and carriers.
The Pieces and Parts
When I started said research, I found very quickly that I wasn’t the first one to think of this. Soft armor panels are quite common, and I knew this would be the route to take. Small soft armor panels are readily available and capable of stopping handgun rounds and even shotgun blasts.
The panel I chose was the Premier Body Armor Level IIIA 10×12 soft armor panel. It’s rated to stop common handgun rounds up to a 44 Magnum. Premier has specially tested them against shotguns and SS197SR 5.7 rounds. It’s also super light and thin, which is a plus when you are aiming for concealed body armor.
Having armor is one thing, how you wear it is another. After some Googling and Binging and asking Jeeves, I found the Tru-Spec 24/7 Concealed Armor shirt. This is a moisture-wicking form-fitting shirt with a healthy dose of spandex. It clings tight to the body and offers two pockets designed to fit a 10×12 armor panel. One pocket is on the front, and the other is on the back.
The armor pockets are rigid and sewn tightly to the vest. The pockets are bordered by polyester mesh, and 2mms of foam provide comfort and support. This design keeps the panel held properly and are sewn in the right position to protect the vital organs.
Comfort and Daily Wear
It’s a tight shirt. You won’t like the design if having something stuck to your body is uncomfortable. That tight design keeps the panel clung tightly to the body and ensures it’s properly placed and supported. The tight design also ensures the panel stays concealed as best as it can.
The main issue comfort-wise is the fact where the panel sits is going to get rather warm. You’ll start sweating quite quickly. Let’s be real here. It’s a lot better than the vest most police officers wear daily, so my complaints are likely just general bellyaching. The panel doesn’t seem to rub or ride hard throughout the day. It just gets a little toasty.
The right question to ask is, how well does it conceal? Under a form-fitting or athletic cut shirt, you’ll be able to make out the top part of the panel easily. Black T-shirts, about a size up from normal, can make the panel disappear rather well.
Under a flannel, or a Hawaiin, or under most button-downs, the panel disappears pretty easily. It may poke or create a line here or there, but it won’t draw much attention. The panel disappears, and no one is the wiser.
I’m a big fan of being rather quiet and fading in and out of crowds. Plate carriers are like AR 15s, and my concealed body armor is more like my P365. Both have a place and purpose, and I happily own both. The more tools you have, the more jobs you can finish. Check out Tru-Spec here, and Premier Armor here.