This a guest post by Andrew Betts
It's autumn. Trendy WASPs everywhere break out their Ugg boots and flock to Starbucks for pumpkin flavored coffee while their skinny jeans wearing boyfriends quiver with anticipation at the prospect of picking up a sixer of pumpkin flavored beer from the Trader Joe's. Everything gets infused with pumpkin this time of year, whether it makes sense or not, so why not a pumpkin flavored armor test?
Alright, that is obviously not intended to provide any empirical data, but it is illuminating. The armor that was used in that test is Level IIA armor, which is the lowest threat level available and it was made in 1995. Despite that, it was still able to stop the ball from the first shot. On the other hand, it looks like it still would have caused significant injury just through back face deformation. A pumpkin is not NIJ specified modeling clay, but based on the way the pumpkin was virtually launched by the impact, it seems safe to conclude that some significant injury could have occurred.
This is why soft armor is typically not rated for shotgun threats. The velocity produced by most shotgun ammo falls well within the range that most soft armor can stop but the mass causes an impact so severe that even Level IIIA vests (the highest soft armor rating) will typically fail the NIJ back face deformation standards.
That means that if you choose to include soft armor in your home defense plans, you should be aware that a hit from 12 ga will likely be stopped by the vest, but it also has a good chance of taking you out of the fight, possibly with life threatening injury due to blunt trauma. Conversely, if your primary home defense gun is a 12 ga shotgun and people have told you that it won't penetrate soft armor, that may be true on the face of it. If an intruder is wearing soft armor and you hit them amidships with a round of 00 buck, there is a very strong possibility that will still adjust their attitude.
As always, nothing is guaranteed once the shot cup leaves the barrel, but it is nice to know what the likely outcome will be.
Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.