Body Armour Penetration Tests

Cobalt

Gold Member
Joined
Dec 23, 1998
Messages
17,269
This test was performed by me and a few friends. The Body Armor used was Type IIA, meaning that it will stop up to a .357 mag. It will NOT stop rifle ammo or armor piercing ammo. In any case, the stabbing was done by hand while the vest hung free.
There were several levels of penetration.

The first was no penetration;
Buck Intrepid
Ontario Tanto(10 inch, 1/4 inch thick blade)
Mission MPK
Busse BM
Busse Steel Heart II
BK&T Brute
TOPs Anaconda

The second was barely penetrated into one side with tip barely poking through;
Recon Scout
Trail master
Ontario Frontiersman
Black Jack 1-7
CS SRK
CS Recon Tanto

The third was that the knife went through the first and into the second or back side of the vest but did not poke through;

Buck NightHawk
SOG Tech II(Same as Seal 2000)
Timberline Specwar
Lightfoot Talonite Pit Bull

the fourth was that the blade went through the first side and through the second side with only the tip poking through;

Gerber Bowie 15 inch oal, 0.3 inch thick

The fifthwas that the knife penetrated both sides with the tip sticking out of the vest between half and a full inch;

Katz Alley Cat Fighter
Reeves Project II

The sixth was that the knife went through the vest like a hot knife through butter:

Lightfoot stellite 6K Predator tanto--This knife went through the vest like if it wasn't even there.

Randall #14 SS- Easily went through both sides, but I felt more drag on the blade than with the predator.

Ontario Hells Bells went through about like the Randall, penetrating so far that the stupid little cho would get stuck in the material causing snagging every time. I didn't expect this level of penetration after seeing the Frontiersman, but after looking at the blade more closely it makes sense.

Results will vary from person to person, but three average strength men all ended up with the same results.

There is no doubt that the thinner profiles penetrated better, except in the case of the Predator and the Randall. The predator is a fairly thick piece all the way to the tip and I didn't expect much after seeing how the Timberline Specwar handled. Boy was I wrong.

The Randall behaved more impresively than I expected also, go figure.

Believe it or not many knives did not penetrate well. The very blunt knives behaved as expected. The Buck Intrepid really surprised me as it just "thudded" into the vest and did not penetrate at all. Same went for the Ontario Tanto.

This may or may not surprise some of you. The Gerber Bowie surprised me. I didn't think it would go in at all after seeing how the Busse's did, but it does have a better profile.

I left a few knives out because I cannot find them right now, when I do, I'll add them to the list.
 
Cobalt,

That sounds like a rather expensive and interesting test. I was always curious what the results would be, I have heard of arrows and knives easily penetrating a vest.

Do you think some mass behind the vest might have made vest easier to penetrate. How about simulating a body with styrofoam or a manikin? How much protection do you think the vest would offer from a slash? Is this the material kevlar?

Will


 
Were the knives sharp?

I suspect penetrating and slashing free-hanging vests are only tests of sharpness ... I suspect no other quality matters and anything you put a good sharp point and edge on will do.

At the last Knifegnugen the boys found they could not only penetrate a free-hanging vest with ease; they had no difficulty slashing it either, with all of the knives they tried. They used a variety of knives, including some cheapies, but knowing those guys I expect they were all razor sharp.

-Cougar :{)
 
Cougar, all the knives were as sharp as they came from the makers. I did not change grinds in any way. I don't know what kind of body armor they used, but I can tell you that the stuff I got is about as good as it gets, is very expensive and it is armor. In any case, I don't think sharpness is as big a factor as blade tip shape. If you look at which knives in general did better, there is no doubt that the thinner more pointed styles win out. "I suspect penetrating and slashing free-hanging vests are only tests of sharpness" Slashing yes, penetration obviously no. I don't really care how sharp you can make the steel heart, it will not penetrate the way some of the other knives will. "At the last Knifegnugen the boys found they could not only penetrate a free-hanging vest with ease; they had no difficulty slashing it either, with all of the knives they tried"--What Boys? What knives? What styles??? What type of Vest??

It should be mentioned that the stabbing was done in a fencing style underhand lunge or stab, not backhand stab or overhead stab. The two latter stabs can probably cause more penetratiom. However, the point was to see which ones actually penetrated more easily in a real fighting lunge. With enough force, you can get any knife to penetrate, with the only limitation being strength.

Will, I would think that putting some mass behind the vest would have definitelly helped penetration for the knives that did penetrate. The knives that never really made it, I don't think would make much a difference. Will, I didn't want to simulate a body and make it easier to penetrate, because I was originally under the impression that all the knives would penetrate, so I figured that making it harder to penetrate would show me different degrees of penetration, which it did. You will not penetrate this vest with a slash. The vest has shock protection as well as penetration protection, so it is pretty tough.

Will, I could probably try putting some mass behind the vest and see what happens, but I already know it will only make penetration easier. Anything that helps brace the vest will assure that the energy and momentum of the impact is not dissipated through the vest, but instead will be completely at the point of entry and the knife will definitelly penetrate further.
 
Yet one more reason why knives might have an advantage over guns at extremely close range (arm's length or closer). Thanks for the info.

"In 1998, in Dahlonega, Georgia, two cadets were practicing defensive tactics when one convinced the other to take a power stab at his torso in an experiment to see just how protective his new body armor was. The knife rammed right through the kevlar and killed the man." - Military Knife Combat (Hochheim)

The part about slashing vests really suprised me, but now that I think of it, it doesn't seem that suprising.



------------------
"I am not, really."
 
Well although most attackers can't afford real body armour(unless he/she is a government offical, then your screwed just put the knife down) what if your attacker has a trauma plate. Pretty much screwed, better just go for the troat or face. Mykl

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Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me.
 
You really don't have to stab at center mass!
There are a hell of alot more targets to
choose from anyway's.
Who knows maybe you could rip right through
the trama plate also.

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"ALWAYS WATCH YOUR SIX"

[This message has been edited by jacko (edited 06-16-2000).]
 
This is one of my favorite short, stupid knife stories. It was nominated for the Darwin Awards and is similar to the Hoch story given above. Maybe they are actually both versions of an urban legend?

"MOSCOW, RUSSIA - A drunk security man asked a colleague at the Moscow bank they were guarding to stab his bullet-proof vest to see if it would protect him against a knife attack. It didn't, and the 25-year-old guard died of a heart wound."
 
What would be even more interesting to people who wear body would be the performance of some off-the-shelf kitchen knives, and a $1.98 icepick.

Bullets punch their way through things. Knives cut their way through. Kevlar is fabric, and fabric can be cut.


------------------
- JKM
www.chaicutlery.com
AKTI Member # SA00001
 
Cobalt --


Were any of the tantos -- particularly the Stellite tanto that did so well -- chisel ground?

Joe
 
Although it might be possible to stab through the steel trauma plates, you would really have to power through to get any kind of penetration. Not to mention that if the BG you're stabbing has got high level bodyarmour, then he might have a ceramic insert and you can forget about stabbing through that! Circumvent the entire issue and stab him in the sides instead or the lower abdomen. Or high in the chest, down behind the collar bone and soforth. The traumaplate only covers a fairly limited area on the chest. It is designed to protect you from a shock or penetration to your vitals such as heart and lungs. You can still reach the lungs if you stab down behind his collar bone. Ofcourse if you don't want to kill the sod, you can always just go with the limb and joint destruction and disable him. No real reason to kill him and go to jail yourself is there
smile.gif


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Regards
Joshua "Kage" Calvert

"Move like Water, strike like Thunder..."
 
British Police are given the choice of Bullet or Knife vests.

The Russians had a pistol that fired a fast tiney bullet to defeat Kevlar vests.

Razor sharp will cut Kevlar fabric. A spear point will focus all the forces to pierce. Double edge will cut and increase the opening which will allow the rest of the blade to follow through. Slim stiff blades give the least resistance.

F/S knives do the job well as do sharpened screwdrivers. Al Mar's Shaddow Attack II is my knife buff choice of a vest opener.

Our Police were sick of being punctured, whilst wearing bullet proof vests - by kitchen knives.

All vests give least protection through the side/armpit.

Big knives are just as good on smashing attacks, Kukri style. You might not have to kill the guy to put him out of action. Stick anything in the body cavity and the chances are that it will be leathal/at least as leathal as a bullet.

Years of old, daggers had serious pommels. These were so that the blade could be pushed through the armour of a grounded knight. The whole body weight cound be used over the stought spear pointed blade.

Vests should only compliment your running shoes. String vests keep you more alert.
 
If you really don't want to kill him strike him in the groin then nail him with the pommel in the head and call an ambulance and police.

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Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me.
 
Cobalt,
What happened with knife tips and edges near the tip on knives which could penetrate and which couldn't. Another words, the fail of penetration was a result of tip/edge deformation or something else, for ex. simple lack of force to be plunged into kevlar? Did you noticed any tip or edge deformation, bent, chipping etc. against kevlar?
 
In most FMA blade arts they train weapons, vision, mobitilty as the target hierarchy, which translates into hand/wrist/arm first, eyes second, legs third. Best killing targets: neck and clavicle area. Yuk, I just creeped myself out.

I guess my point is that armor vests are not very good defense against a trained knifist, whatever knife he is carrying. If I were attacked by somebody wearing a vest, it wouldn't occurr to me to try to punch through it anyway. So I guess the motto is: wear the vest for protection from bullets, for all other weapons, pretend you are naked.
 
"Cobalt --
Were any of the tantos -- particularly the Stellite tanto that did so well -- chisel ground?
Joe"

Yes, the Timberline SpecWar and the Lightfoot predator were both chisel ground. The lightfoot tanto seems more of a traditional style with a rounded transition rather than the sharp change in angle. When I say that the predator went through like butter I mean it. It went through like if the vest wasn't even there.

James, I will try some of the cheaper knives and also some of the more expensive kitchen knives. I'll have to wait until my wife is at work and I happen to be home, since she may not be to happy with my testing.

Sergiusz, there was no damage to any knife during this testing. I was worried about the thinner blades like the Ontario Hells Bells, but none suffered damage. The knives that didn't penetrate mostly had so much material near the tip that they did not incur any damage.

The point of this test was not to make sure that all the knives penetrated, but more to see which knives can easily penetrate the vest, and only a few easily penetrated. Yes, if I did a full power swing I probably could have gotten more of the knives to penetrate, but that wasn't the point of the test.

Wow all this killing stuff. My point was not to show how easily a vest is defeated since most of us already knew that. It was to see which blade styles worked best at a decent level of force. However, the comments are interesting.

 
"... as sharp as they came from the makers ..."

That answers my question.
smile.gif


"What Boys? What knives? What styles??? What type of Vest??"

I think the posts about the Knifegnugen vest slashing were all on the old Mad Dog forum at Knifeforums.com ... not sure whether they're still accessible or not. Jim March was there ... I don't remember who else ... I have a feeling Walt missed out on the vest-slashing because of ... um ... traffic difficulties. Attila? Donna? Some of them will probably see this thread and post the details....

I would like to think everybody knows bulletproof vests give no protection from knives -- I've been doing my bit to spread the word for years now -- but there still seem to be a lot of people who haven't gotten the message, especially about trauma plates (knives penetrate vests with hard trauma plates, too).

I'm not sure I understand the usefulness of finding out some knives penetrate with less force than others. It's difficult to do anything with less than full force in a fight even if you try, however cool you may be.


The Knifegnugen test was unusual only in that they slashed it as well as stabbed it. There are numerous reports of testing vests all over the net ... there are a few reports of people having some difficulty, apparently because of very dull knives, and one fellow who failed to penetrate a vest -- but after I told him to sharpen his knife he was able to penetrate it. Most of the tests weren't done with free-hanging vests.

There is one vest on the market that does apparently offer some protection against knives -- it's marketed for prison guards, has a layer of mail, and weighs about thirty pounds. I'm not sure whether it can be penetrated ... my guess is it probably can be, with a powerful thrust from a narrow blade.

Many of the vest merchandisers make vague claims implying their trauma plates can stop a knife, but with that one possible exception that seems to be all hype. There are numerous reports of penetrating trauma plates with ease.

-Cougar :{)
 
"I would like to think everybody knows bulletproof vests give no protection from knives -- I've been doing my bit to spread the word for years now -- but there still seem to be a lot of people who haven't gotten the message, especially about trauma plates (knives penetrate vests with hard trauma plates, too).
". Cougar, all they have to do is read the label. If the vest is legit and a good one it will say it on there.

"I'm not sure I understand the usefulness of finding out some knives penetrate with less force than others."--That's too bad for you then. You should own just chisel point knives then since penetration is not an issue for you.

"It's difficult to do anything with less than full force in a fight even if you try, however cool you may be."--Again, if you read what I stated several times, I wasn't thinking tactically, everyone else was. But since you are on the tactical point, let's go there; Full Power? do you really think your oponent is going to just stand there while you load up, gungadin? Have you ever heard the words "smooth is fast" ? A good fighter will be moving away at the time of the strike taking away most of the power of the thrust. If you are on your back getting your proverbial butt kicked and you pull it out and thrust from close in, that's not full power, so let's get real here.

Cougar, ignore this test since you obviously cannot learn anything from it.
 
Regarding, use/interpretation, there is a similar medium used on all blades and thus you can rank their penetration abilities on that specific medium and maybe even extend to other similar materials (which is very error prone though).

As Cougar noted there will be some bias towards the makers with better sharpening abilities, but on the other hand a lot of people are interested in NIB abilities.

-Cliff
 
Cobalt, I have one question more. Did you have impression the same results could be obtained with each vest in this protection class or could depend on particular model: fiber quality, kevlar fabric's coil, properly (or not) directed layers, etc., etc.?
Do you have a possibility to bang tested vest with 9 mm Luger 124-grain hardball shooting it from at least 4" barrel for comparison?

I'll explain why I'm asking. Recently I have meet a lot of smoke around some body armors, more or less similarly like around certain manufacturer knives
wink.gif

At IWA'2000 gun show (Nuremberg, Germany) I have asked some body armor manufacturers: "Could Russian 5,45-mm pistol round (by A. Denisowa) shot from PSM pistol barrel (85 mm long) penetrate body armor?" The answer was the same at three booths: "Yes, it can because it is whaaaat a round!" Well, I asked, could it penetrate your armor also?" No, they said, because it is whaaat an armor!
No comments on their reliability
biggrin.gif



[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 06-18-2000).]
 
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