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Review: Angel Armor Ally One, a Concealable Armored Panel

This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT Issue 7

Armoring Everything…OK, Not Everything

Most tend to think of armor in terms of military men and women overseas, stateside law enforcement, and maybe a smattering of King Arthur cosplayers — we won’t judge you. To be fair, walking down the street with an EOD bomb suit here in the continental United States is the opposite of the intent of this magazine (it is named CONCEALMENT, after all … ).

How about something that’s lightweight, portable, easily concealed, and actually offers some ballistic protection? Right up our alley. Today we’ll talk about just that — and it doesn’t even break the bank.

Enter the Ally One from Angel Armor

At first glance, it looks like a separator for a Trapper Keeper. In actuality, this plain-looking 10×13-inch panel conceals a 9×12-inch piece of armor offering NIJ level IIIA protection. It also weighs under a pound and is only ¼-inch thick.

The size of the Ally One makes it suitable to stuff inside briefcases, clipboards, laptop bags — you name it. Unfortunately it’s just a wee bit too large to fit into a standard notebook, but it’s pretty close. We could classify the Ally One as semi-rigid; you can definitely bend and contort it, but not easily. This attribute comes in handy later in the article.

Why Would You Want It?

There’s a good argument to be made that time spent lifting armor in front of your face and vitals would be better served with movement and the drawing of your own weapon for the best response. However, there are several examples of people (especially historically in law enforcement) shielding themselves with clipboards and other items in their immediate vicinity. There’s nothing that prevents you from shielding yourself during your drawstroke.

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With that said, Will Petty, longtime law enforcement academy instructor and owner of Centrifuge Training, had this to say about using an armored clipboard:

“The majority of law enforcement has moved to electronic ticket writers, replacing the bigassed clipboards. We just don’t carry them anymore. There are going to be times when the ability to effectively run away and/or fight back are going to be severely limited, such as the case with your kids. All armor does is buy time, and if something like this can give it — it’s a no brainer.”

Another law enforcement officer who does plainclothes work with narcotics explained to RECOIL that it wasn’t terribly uncommon to shove a hard plate or soft armor panel into a bag or backpack. And the Ally One has a smaller footprint.

Armor-Panel-091

Remember: just because you have it doesn’t mean that you have to use it. If the determination is made that going for your gun is the best course of action, by all means do so.

There are times when the carrying of a weapon such as a concealed pistol may be restricted. The rule of the day is to run away, but you may as well have something that can protect your meaty bits between your body and the hot flying metal.

We also found that the Ally One made for a decent internal frame for smaller soft backpacks, giving them some more structure for carrying heavier loads.

Let’s Break It

The Ally One’s NIJ Level IIIA rating will largely protect against threats seen domestically. That is, pistol calibers up to .44 Magnum and most shotgun loads. If you’re looking for rifle protection, you’ll need something heavier. Like carrying a subcompact frame instead of a Desert Eagle while you’re shopping at the local Whole Foods Market, some compromises have to be made for the sake of concealment.

What better way to test armor than with a big ol’ box of murder?

What better way to test armor than with a big ol’ box of murder?

While we could simply take Angel One at their word, we decided to put it to the test.

Since we imagined this would mostly be used inside an item rather than directly worn against the body (duct tape, anyone?) we started by hanging it from a stake in front of our target backer. Think businessman holding his briefcase in front of his body by the handle. This allows the armor some resistance, but nowhere close to how it would be against your skin.

Two rounds 124g+P 9mm didn’t even phase it — barely a mark on the surface. The projectiles seemed to hit and deflect rather than be caught in the layers of armor.

We hung the Angel Armor from a stake to simulate holding a briefcase in front of your body.

We hung the Angel Armor from a stake to simulate holding a briefcase in front of your body.

We saw the same with .45 ACP, albeit with more backface deformation. Due to the Ally One’s flexibility, we were able to press everything back in place and try again.

Did we mention that we were hitting everything in the center of the plate for maximum stress on the armor? Yes, we were doing that.

A military 12-gauge load of 00 Buck fired from a suppressed Benelli M4 sent the whole panel flying from the stake and entirely through our thick foam target backer. We were sure we finally killed the panel. But no, upon inspection, not one of the nine 0.330-inch pellets completely penetrated the Ally One. You might not be happy, but you’d be alive.

We picked out the embedded 12-gauge wad and several flattened pellets and gave it another go. No dice. The Ally One held its own once again.

While there was deformation, there wasn’t any penetration.

While there was deformation, there wasn’t any penetration.

Here we reached an impasse. We wanted to destroy the panel, but we didn’t want to ramp it up to rifle calibers it wasn’t rated for. How about a whole lot of .45 ACP all at once? There’s nothing better for that job than the Trailer Trash Uzi itself.

The power of the 12-gauge blew the entire panel through the backstop.

The power of the 12-gauge blew the entire panel through the backstop.

An entire magazine from a full auto MAC-10 was dumped into the Ally One. All in the center. And some finally made it through. We would argue that if someone is dumping a submachine gun into you from 2 feet away, you have larger problems than this panel was meant to solve.

Very impressive indeed.

The Bottom Line

Currently Angel Armor is set up for military and law enforcement sales, so you’ll have to contact them directly regarding individual purchases. If you’re in the market to armorize some otherwise mundane items such as a briefcase or luggage, this is one of the better options that we’ve come across in terms of weight and thickness.

The panel finally admitted defeat at the hands of a subgun at close range. After some minor surgery we discovered it still caught a truly impressive number of projectiles before failure.

The panel finally admitted defeat at the hands of a subgun at close range. After some minor surgery we discovered it still caught a truly impressive number of projectiles before failure.


Make: Angel Armor
Model: Ally One
Ballistic Rating: NIJ Level IIIA
MSRP: $149
URL: https://angelarmor.com/

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