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US Palm and Armor Express: Body Armor self test

US Palm recently posted this video. Watch it and then we’ll cover some details.

That is Matt Davis of Armor Express. He is demonstrating his confidence in the ballistic capabilities of the Level IIIA panels Armor Express provides to US Palm (a Scottsdale, AZ based manufacturer of excellent loadbearing gear, AK magazines and other gear). It was, according to US Palm, a panel picked randomly from their inventory (US Palm uses Armor Express panels exclusively). Armor Express is, FYI, the manufacturer of the body armor that saved Oak Creek Police Department Lt. Brian Murphy when he responded to the active shooter murders at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin last year.

It’s not the first time he’s shot at himself to demonstrate the quality of the armor built by this family-owned business. Remember this video? Go to 00:36. Watch the (completely understandable) reaction of his father.

To say this implies a high level of confidence in the product is a gross understatement. As you can imagine, controversy over whether Mr. Davis should or should not have done this (and US Palm made it public) has been significant, which is a little surprising. It’s by no means the first time he’s done it. Comparisons have been made to placing live photographers downrange during live fire training, though personally I believe that’s a case of comparing apples to oranges. Statements have ranged from ‘You can’t fix stupid‘ to ’How’s he walkin’ around with a bucket of balls like that?’

It’s not the first time brave, confident and/or arguably foolish men have volunteered to test body armor. I remember as a rookie in the 90s, hearing about Richard Davis (Second Chance body armor) shooting himself in the chest with pistols provided by local police agencies. Going further back, there are pictures of NYPD officers in the 20s allowing other officers to shoot them within just a meter or two for similar demonstrative purposes.

There are those who would argue the sort of demonstration Matt made was unnecessary, with undue risk. Others would say it’s commendable; he asks others to trust their lives in his product, why shouldn’t he?

Personally I find it reassuring and convincing as hell.

Your thoughts?