When looking at personal protection, typically the focus is on concealed carry handguns and all the gear associated with carrying a handgun. In the last few years, there has been an increase in options for body armor on the civilian market. At first, I will be honest and say I didn’t really understand what the point of having body armor in a bag would be. I kind of said it was for paranoid people but decided to buy a set of backpack armor inserts for testing. I’ve had them for the last few months and finally have enough data to take a closer look at these armor panels. Let’s dive deeper into Premier Body Armor’s Backpack Armor Insert and see what it does.
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For my bag, I will typically use my First Spear Comms Pack backpack that I previously wrote a review on. For most backpacks, Premier has custom made armor inserts that’ll fit your specific backpack, but for mine, I decided to go with the large universal armor insert since mine’s not a mainstream option. The large universal insert weights 1.76 pounds and is only .22″ thick. When I first got the armor insert in the mail, I thought this was a cushioning pad but it ended up being the entire unit.
Premier offers all their backpack armor with level IIIA armor rating which is rated for most handgun calibers including .357 SIG and .44 Magnum. Premier offers their armor inserts in a number of colors and patterns for individuals to pick from to help blend with their backpack colors. If you decide to order armor inserts, its important to correctly order the right size inserts for your bag. It seems like a very simple thing but I know a couple different people who either ordered too large or small for their specific bag. MSRP for an armor insert is dependent on the size, but my large universal plate was $229.99.
So I ended up purchasing a flat dark earth colored insert for my bag, but I also picked up a second black armor insert to test out. One of my biggest worries when buying armor or anything like that is how expensive it is where I can’t financially buy multiple sets to test one and keep the other for myself. Premier was running a sale so I decided to pick up two so I can abuse one for your enjoyment.
I wanted to test out a number of different calibers to see what the armor insert could take before it failed. I used all ball round ammo from 7 yards away. For the test, I shot the armor insert with 2 rounds each of these calibers: 95gr Federal American Eagle 380 Auto, 115gr 9mm, 165gr .40 S&W, 158 gr .357 Magnum, 125gr .357 SIG, 230gr .45 Auto, and 240gr .44 Magnum. To not disturb the plate or create pinching, I put the armor insert against a soft backer to just keep it held up before shooting it.
To make testing as fair as possible, I kept each shot spread out so I wouldn’t compromise the overall integrity of armor insert. After firing 2 rounds of .380 Auto as well as 9mm, there wasn’t very much deformation at all. The armor insert help up surprisingly well with no major bulging in plate even after taking 4 shots. Once those were completed, I fired the .40 S&W rounds as well as the .45 Auto ball rounds. In both cases, there were slight small bulges from the impact but if you looked at it quickly, the plate would still look normal.
The plate was fairly unphased for most of the testing right up until I started hitting it with the faster SIG rounds and magnum cartridges. Both the .357 SIG and .357 Magnum sent the armor insert sailing off the its backing with some fairly substantial deformation. There was no penetration which means the plate did its job but you would most likely have some bruised or broken ribs after absorbing the energy from a forceful hit. The .44 Magnum was much of the story with some substantial deformation but did not penetrate the plate. I can gladly report that all the calibers I fired at the armor insert did not penetrate and stopped inside the kevlar layers.
Pushing the Limits
Now you guys should know me well enough to know I can’t just stop there. This armor insert survived 14 rounds of various pistol calibers and was still holding up. My caveman brain couldn’t handle the fact the armor insert kept taking abuse and stopping rounds, it was starting to aggravate me honestly. I had the brilliant idea to shoot it with what I thought was a 300 Blackout subsonic round (it turned out to be a supersonic round) to see how it held up. Well kids, shooting a pistol rated plate with a supersonic 30 cal rifle round does the trick at defeating it. Shocking news I know, and I felt like a complete idiot.
After that, the flood gates were open to see what else I could fire at it and the winner was my 4″ 500 Magnum, which also defeated it. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise since it has almost triple the energy transfer of a .44 Magnum and is basically a screaming freight train at close distances. I’m fairly sure it would defeat some rifle armor as well (which will be tested in my next body armor testing.)
So after a full day of shooting, what are my final thoughts? I’ve carried my other armor insert for a couple months and I will honestly say it adds more cushion to my back when I have my backpack on my body. It adds next to nothing for weight and gives me some peace of mind if I ever find myself in a terrible situation with no other alternatives.
As far as stopping rounds, the backpack amor insert does exactly what it is advertised to do. It stopped 14 rounds of various ammo without failing which is a win in my book. At the beginning, I was skeptical of its stopping power, but I can happily report it does a great job at stopping pistol calibers at a close range. I’m curious what you guys think of having body armor inside your bag. Is it silly to add some protection to your body in every day life or is it a smart investment? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. If you have questions about armor or shooting in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.
Premier Body Armor’s Backpack Armor Insert -The Firearm Blog is written by Matt E for www.thefirearmblog.com