Why is The Number Zero for Hexar?
In the recent certification test Hexar's V-50 was 3502 Ft./Sec. against the M-80 Ball round, which is a 147 Gr. Full Metal Steel jacket lead core round traveling at 2780 Ft./Sec. +/- 30 Ft./Sec.. This velocity of 2780 Ft./Sec. for this round is called reference velocity, and it's where the armor should present a ZERO percent chance of penetration. Believe it or not though when they do the V-50 in the certification test, the probability limits equation that they plug the data points in often determines that there is a slight chance for many soft & hard armor systems of penetration at reference velocity. Typically you can pass with as many as 5 of these predicted shots out of 1000. We call these fluke penetrations, and that's why we say ZERO is better!
A super high V-50 like 3502 Ft./Sec. also predicts that it can address other threats in the level 3 and 3+ range, and not all rifle rated armor can. For example, UDPE (unidirectional Polyethylene) and steel plates can't defeat the green tip M855, which is a common round fired from an AR15 that has a steel tip. Further the UDPE and steel hard plate can't defeat the 7.62mm x 39mm BZ (AK-47 round with hardened steel core), the list goes on, but Hexar with it's massive V-50 gives you supreme confidence in ZERO!
So What Exactly is a V-50
As stated above a system can pass even if there is a small chance of penetration at reference velocity! The regressive V-50 test is a modified military style V-50 test where they start their first shot at reference velocity; so for a given example, a .44 magnum level III-A round, they would start the first shot on a panel at 1430 Ft./Sec. +/- 30 Ft./Sec. (Reference Velocity). After that shot, which presumably will be defeated, they will increase the velocity by about 75 Ft./Sec., and continue increasing the velocity shot after shot until the tester sees a penetration. Once they achieve a penetration the tester will lower the velocity, and if it's a partial they will increase the velocity, or lower the velocity further if it's a penetration. They fire 12 shots on a soft panel, and during the certification test they shoot 10 separate panels yielding 120 shots total. They plug the numbers into a probability limits equation, and behold, they have a number where that particular round, against that particular ballistic armor package represents the velocity where there is a 50/50 chance of penetration. And the higher the number the better. These data points can also be used to determine the velocity were there is a 5% chance of penetration, and the chance of penetration at reference velocity, which is the definition of the fluke penetration. Ideally you want that number to be ZERO
As stated above a system can pass even if there is a small chance of penetration at reference velocity! And that's why Hexar Titan with it's massive V-50 and it's zero percent chance of penetration at reference velocity is the ultimate in confidence!
I Have noticed That SAS Advertises NIJ Certified Armor, and Independently Tested Armor, What's the Difference?
It's pretty simple, NIJ Certified means that a company has quantified a ballistic system, and has submitted it through the voluntary NIJ 0101.06 protocol. Its a lot of testing, and if the company passes, their product is then listed on the certified products list (CPL at www.justnet.org) , and the model will undergo audits periodically. For grant purposes you will need this certification to get a government subsidy, and most department purchasing divisions require it because the procurement process in this day and age is largely a paperwork
battle between companies vying for business.
Independently tested ballistic armor is submitted to an NIJ certified lab instead of submitting through the NIJ, and it's usually a single panel or a spread of panels tested against the threat level you wish to claim the system addresses. With respect to our premium light weight system the Razor Light 3-A or RZLIIIA, we submit the panel comprised of Dyneema SB117, and test it against the .44 Magnum, and then present test data showing that the blunt force signature (trauma determined by the indentation in the clay backing) to be less than the 44mm mark allowed. At the weight we advertise we rely on DSM's advertised V-50 data to back the system. Additionally when we receive a "lot" of material from DSM we submit a panel for confirmation of repeatable performance. We also do in house testing as a final confirmation. Generally speaking we are at the same weight as other certified systems. So a proper independently tested system, with proper QC protocols in place produces a good product that you can depend on.
One of the statements that we have heard when making sales proposals to departments is that they usually want NIJ certified systems, and the reason they claim is they believe the NIJ makes sure it works. Unfortunately, that is a major misconception, the NIJ doesn't do that; they quantify, record, and publish a list. The truth is the accredited certified laboratory makes sure it works!
So independent testing and proper QC protocols by the company is a perfectly viable approach to selling reliable armor!
So Which Is Better NIJ Certified or independently Tested Armor Systems With On Going QC?
It's not really an issue as to what's better, both can be good, both can have problems. With the NIJ they typically follow a shot placement pattern that allows manufacturers to place through stitching (Stitching through all the layers) in places that "frame" the bullet impact point, so the blunt force signature in the clay is shallower and thus transfers less energy to the body. However, over time with wear & tear these through stitch marks can become vulnerable, and since the NIJ doesn't test those areas, no one really knows if that area is vulnerable or not. We have personally witnessed "through stitch" marks being penetrated at the lab, and that's why on our independently tested models we are not as concerned about trauma, and has the "through stitching" at the 1/2" edge because there is no real expectation that this area will stop a bullet. This preserves the areas where you do expect it to stop the bullet with unadulterated material. Our belief is that framing a designated NIJ impact site with "though stitching" in areas where you want the bullet to be defeated with a zero percent chance at reference velocity is NOT the best way. So we apply through stitching on the edges instead of framing the bullet, which makes the armor more durable, and thats more important to us than a reduction of a few millimeters of Blunt Force Trauma (BFS).
However, as things go we don't decide what paperwork is required by municipalities, and most of the purchasing people as well as department decision makers don't really consider this issue, and want a certification paper. So that's why we offer both. If it were me choosing what to wear I would take the philosophy of no stitching in fair hit zones on the vest, and make sure the stitching is at the edge. The exception to this philosophy is when you use plain woven fabrics as they are largely unaffected by through stitching and/or use multi-stitch architecture. This is where we stitch thinner packs to frame the bullet for lower trauma, and sandwich it between other thinner packs, and the "through stitching" is then placed on the edge. This is a viable method, and we do this for our Razor Light 3-A. With over 30 years in the business the founder understands armor design, and you can comfortably rely on this experience when you purchase and wear SAS Armor!
What is your 12 Year Extended Warranty About?
For some systems we offer this warranty, and it involves an inspection between the 5th and 6th year. During this inspection we open the unit up and see what kind of wear patterns have developed, in some cases we see perfect armor, and in others we see wear patterns attributed to wear caused by friction with interaction of the bottom edge of the armor and the duty belt. Essentially if we can refurbish it, compensate worn exterior layers we do that, and make a new carrier for a reasonable cost, which is outlined in our warranty. However, we have also seen over 30 years armor that we don't want to touch, because it exhibits too much wear and tear. Most of the time its serviceable which can save you money!
Why Do Most Companies Only Offer a 5 Year Warrantee?
You have to think of this like a car warranty. They usually offer 5 years or 50,000 miles. That doesn't mean the car is no good after that, it simply means they are no longer liable for any adverse performance issues after that point.
Factually, armor that is well taken care of, or just sits on the shelf for the day its actually needed will work well past 5 years. The motivation for new armor every five years is honestly based on liability from a legal point of view, and every five years there is a generational improvement with armor as well as many other products, so getting the newest lighter system is desirable.
Our studies over 30 years shows that plain woven fabric worn on a day to day basis has a 10 - 12 year life span, while laminate type armor often begins to degrade at about the 5- 7 year mark based on daily use depending on the laminate materials, how they are constructed, and how it's cared for. However, If it sits on the shelf at room temperature, its life span is quite long, but as stated above, eventually maybe you just want something better, you know, the latest and greatest!