Bicep/Upper Arm Armor

Gimme the lowdown. I've heard more than a few different versions of why Bicep/Upper Arm Armor is absolutely 100% needed (you'll get shot through your side if you don't have it), and an equal number of why you shouldn't use it (some rounds may hit it and deflect into your side). 

 

So, does anybody have the good word? Is it really as simple as saying "Mission Drives the Gear Train"? The reason I'm not accepting that totally in this instance is that how do you really define a typical SWAT "mission", which is what I'm primarily asking about? Should I just count up the number of missions where pistol only was the threat, vs. the number with a rifle threat (since our bicep armor, and I'm assuming most, don't stop a rifle threat)?

 

I've also heard there is a "study" or article out there someplace that demonstrates the "round following the bicep armor and entering side chest when it may have just passed through or missed entirely". Anybody heard of this? 

 

I'm trying to combat the "more armor is betterrrzzzz" argument, since I've already been there once with the USMC MTV and know that more, heavier armor is NOT always better if it reduces individual capabilities in the fight due to bulk or weight.

 

What say ya'll?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Original Post
If you take a round through your .... Arm hole..... Your important shit is in the same place as if you took it dead on. So your heart and great vessels have no protection but your upper arm bone (humorous). In addition if you take a round dead on in the chest it's most likely only going to penetrate one lung, from side side it can damage both.

"Tactically Dangerous Cannibal Commando."

I havent seen the study you are referring to but I can give you my own experience...

 

My agency lost two men from the SWAT team on a hostage rescue in 1999 - both Sgt. Reeves and Officer Gilner were hit with buckshot in almost the exact same spot in their upper arm/bicep area. i got on the team within about a year of the incident and all of us received a new heavy vest along with bicep protectors. I also heard from a few different sources at the time  that it was that incident that really caused the use of bicep protectors to take off among law enforcement agencies but I can't say if that is true or not.

 

i wore that vest for about 3 years during training and operations. I never really liked the bicep protectors and I always felt that they restricted my mobility, although I never thought to do a PT test or run an obstacle course (with no vest, with a heavy vest and no bicep guard, and with a heavy vest and a bicep guard)  in order to quantify any difference.

 

We had a lot of trailer parks in our county and for some reason, during my time on the team we had a a lot of call outs involving mobile homes - moving through those hallways and small rooms with the bicep guards REALLY bugged me.

 

if you asked me back then, I would've gone without the bicep guards, however our team required you wear them so it wasn't up to me. As an older (but not necessarily wiser) person, I would probably wear them. 

 

As as with most anything else, the question comes down to  " is the juice worth the squeeze?" 

"And now, from all of us here at Track of the Moon Beast, goodnight"

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It's all about the anatomy.  Notice where the 'biceps protectors' cover (roughly, the top of the shoulder to the line labeled "Adrenal glands").  Heart, lungs, aorta, esophagus, even stomach, liver and kidneys are all accessible at that level. 

 

Those organs rest much higher than most imagine.

 

A shot through the axilla ('arm pit') is high probability to be lethal.  The biceps protector is covering the same organs we're using a plate to cover from the front and back.

 

If it's worth covering with ceramic from the front and back, why is it not not worth protecting from the side? 

 

I've heard the 'they're in the way/cumbersome/whatever' argument before, as well as the 'the bullet will just track along the curve and go in anyway' thing. 

 

Armor is comparatively heavy and cumbersome.  It is what it is.  It's 'your' choice as to how much protection to use, but is the decision being made on 'awkward and heavy' or 'prevents me from doing my job'?  If the problem can be solved with more gym time and/or time under load, it could be a clue.

 

So far as 'bullets will track the curve' goes, I'm unaware of any real world examples of that.  Not that it can't happen, it's just that you're vastly more likely to be protected by the armor than have it serve as an entry path.  I'm personally aware of instances where guys were shot in the head with guns big enough to do the job...the bullet tracked under the skin, skimmed along the skull and went out the other side.  Exceredin #1 headache, but not much else.  

 

That doesn't mean I would pass up a head shot to finish a lethal force fight....        

___________________________________________________________________

Men who carry rifles for a living do not seek reward outside the guild. The most cherished gift...is a nod from his peers.

 

"He always emphasized that Cops take care of Cops, and never expect the Job, the politicians or the general population to give a fuck about you."

Our SWAT vests were purchased with bicep, throat guard and groin protection.

 

The vest are a older model Pro Tech that I have to believe they have updated.

 

Nobody wears the above protection, it was bulky, stiff.

 

It was not made with shooting or movement in mind.

 

The above listed "additional protection" is not a mandated wear item.

 

As a team we are way better PT shape than "yesterday". For us it is not a matter of additional PT.

 

Mission drives the gear train.

 

 

 

 

__________________________ Calling an illegal alien an "undocumented immigrant" is like calling a drug dealer an "unlicensed pharmacist" Don't tell my wife I am using a EO she thinks I am a piano player in a whorehouse.

I'm glad to see this being discussed here.

 

I used to run a single bicep protector on the left shoulder, since that is generally the side that was most exposed when I was in a house. That said, basically no one at my org wears them since 1) they aren't required and 2) the cool guys don't wear them.

 

Looking at it another way, for domestic LE is almost asinine that we don't wear these on tactical missions by default since they increase by almost 100% protection of your vital areas, at least in reference to pistol/shotgun threats.

 

I think the biggest perception problem with these in the LE spheres is that they are usually only part of the uparmor package, which includes shoulder, throat, back of neck, groin, and even tailbone. While I think that package makes sense for most LE SWAT missions (drive up to house, stack, enter, clear, doughnuts!), it sucks to train in and doesn't look "cool guy".

 

I never got excited about groin/abdomen armor, because a shot there is unlikely to take me immediately out of the fight. I really like armor in the shoulder straps since it better distributes the weight of the armor, and protects a pretty vital area. As I said, I used to roll with one bicep protector, since my left side was usually my bladed/ most vulnerable side, and our bicep protectors took a steel insert that was supposed to defeat 7.62x39 or the equivalent. I've got a new vest now (First Spear) that doesn't readily take shoulder strap armor, so I need to get these corrected as their standard shoulder strap won't take the weight of bicep protector hanging off of it. I understand the mentality that has everyone trying to look like CAG, but US LE just isn't running anywhere near the same mission set, has no where near the same ROE, and doesn't seem to be learning as readily the huge advantage in survivability against the handgun threat that soft armor gives us.

 

You see side sapis with some agencies too. Generally, they wear them too low to actually protect the really vital areas, as you essentially need them riding up to their armpit. That isn't comfortable for anyone.

 

Anyway, I think this rolls into your METT-T, especially taking consideration of the primary threat weapons and engagement distances you expect to run up against. Depending on how you are structured, shields can offer a lot of the same benefits, but shields also seem to be losing favor with the "cool guy" crowd too.

 

ETA - I've never heard anything about the rounds following the armor. It may have happened, but that would seem to be circumstantial vice probable, and even in that circumstance the armor would be bleeding velocity from the round.

Armor is hot and heavy.  METT-T always drives the equipment train.

 

Current thought (for fighting in Afghanistan where you may be starting between 5,500 to 10,000 feet) is to go as light and fast as possible, which makes a minimal plate carrier THE deal.  

 

If you're a SWAT or high-threat warrant-service cop, how many times have folks been shot and killed to justify wearing a complete vest with side-SAPI, DAPS, collars, over-the-shoulder coverage, pelvic, and leg armor?

Apples and oranges.

 

I've run long dismounted patrols CONUS, where the principal threat was rifle, and our gear was adjusted to reflect that mission.

 

Here, we drive up to houses, missions last about an hour, and generally speaking, no one gets shot/shot at. At least for my organization, shootings are a pretty rare occurrence on preplanned operations.

 

But I know plenty of guys at the state and local level who have walked away because of their gear. So let me ask the question another way - how many fights have been won by US LE because a guy was running a slicked down plate carrier? I'd bet few, if any. The reality on the LE side is that you have criminals learning to shoot through walls, spraying down hallways, and otherwise capitalizing on a necessarily restrictive ROE.

 

Don't confuse me for advocating for the whole uparmor suite. We're not bomb techs, our principal threat isn't frag. But to argue that US LE should be running the same gear as the guys are in OEF is to completely ignore just how different the theaters are. OEF is a rifle threat. Soft armor doesn't gain you much net protection in exchange for the weight/heat. In  most places in the US, its a pistol threat. Soft armor has a huge track record in defeating that. Bicep protectors specifically get you a lot of real estate protected, for very little weight.

 

My mentality was that they were a piece of gear that made it more likely I could eat a round and still keep fighting. I don't feel that way about other parts of the uparmor suite.

 

Things move in cycles. This generation may be one of the best read into the concept of body armor PPE because you've seen generational advancements in the space of just a few years. I first deployed with a OTV/Flak, and plates were an afterthought. You then saw the development of SAPI to ESAPI, vests designed from the outset to incorporate plates front, back, and side, to the current generations of plate carriers and stand alone plates. 

 

 

My team wears the bicep armor. We have been a team for a little over 20 years and in that time we have had two members shot. Both were shot while stacked on a door and both took the shots in the bicep armor which stopped the rounds.

 

I am not a fan of the bicep armor but the history proves the worth. I have stripped my vest of everything but the biceps. I normally run a shield and we also wear visor ballistic face shields. 

 

 

 

 

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter. You will meet them doing various things with resolve, but their interest rarely holds because after the other thing ordinary life is as flat as the taste of wine when the taste buds have been burned off your tongue." -Ernest Hemingway

Originally Posted by Middlelength:

 

I never got excited about groin/abdomen armor, because a shot there is unlikely to take me immediately out of the fight.

 

As a long-time medic and trainer, I would plead with you to rethink this.  I bring up groin armor in every class I teach.  NO ONE likes to sit in the SWAT van with that dang groin flap in the way, it sucks and I know it sucks.  BUT...

 

There is some really important stuff in that area (insert dick and balls jokes here) but I am not talking about your Woman Pleaser.  Everyone is painfully aware of what happens when one of the big arteries in your leg gets hit with a bullet.  That is why tourniquets are so popular.  What many don't know is that the artery supplying those two big blood pipes comes down the center of your body until about the belly button at which point it splits into two and passes through the groin before entering the legs.  WHAT IS IMPORTANT about that is that, unlike the legs, I can't put a tourniquet on the artery when it is up inside your body.  We call that area between the belly button and the top of the legs the "triangle of death" (think upside down triangle going from hip to hip and the third point being by your nuts).  It is a bad, bad place to get shot and I put it on par with the neck (neck armor sucks too, I know).  Anyone recall the famous scene from BlackHawk Down?  That is a groin shot.

 

If I was assaulting up a mountain in the 'Stan I probably wouldn't be wearing a groin flap.  But for domestic, run from the van and kick a door, you bet it is worth it.  BTW, ever notice how many shootings involve low wounds?  Because untrained people, read bad guys, tend to jerk the trigger while looking over the top of the gun.  So the chances of you getting hit low are actually pretty damn good.

 

WEAR YOUR NUT FLAP PLEASE.

I continue to be amazed, but not surprised.

ME

I see teams and guys wear and them not wear them.

 

Looking at how vulnerable we are to getting shot due to realities of what we have to and how we have to do it, IMO, it makes sense to wear them. 

 

Been wearing bicep armor for the past 7 yrs, plan on keeping wearing them. 

 

However, for in-extremis hostage rescue in which speed of movement is a big, big, big priority, or tubular targets, I can see wearing less armor. 

 

 

 

We have a pretty liberal policy as to what up armor accessories one cares to wear in conjunction with the vest.  I used to work two sides of the street in terms of teams.  

 

Before retiring from SWAT (much less active) we got issued very good armor and all the accouterments.  

 

Many, including me, removed neck, shoulder and bicep.  The neck/shoulder was attached as one unit on my vest like a yoke and is an all or nothing deal.  Preferably, I'd leave the shoulder, but it is a pain in the ass to look up and have the collar push my helmet over my eyes.  In the older version armor, of the Velcro snap grid flavor, the collar was sewn in so we would tape it down with 100 mph.

 

I would be inclined to wear bicep armor if it were not attached as an afterthought.  The elastic that has been wrapped around the shoulders by the gumby who finished and said "crap, forgot the shoulder hooky looper onto thingys" is junk on every one I've had.  

 

The interior elastic that keeps the armor in place is stupid.  Both of these stretch over a year or two and flop around all nimbly pimbly, draggin off my forearm and generally pissing me off.  

 

I mean, if companies that charge $2500 for a piece of basic armor can't come up with some sort of better design, I'm astounded.  Ease up on the wicked cool Battlestar holsters and think up a sound way to use and carry these. Lookin at you Armor Holdings.  (they may exist, I've never seen nor been issued it...always stupid elastic.)  

 

On the main side of my job, I may sit in a car that is Fiscally and physically getting smaller and smaller annually, for hours upon end, before leaping into action.  In the past two years I've gone from my genuinely spacious Tahoe (an LT, not those ragamuffin popo packages you legs are always stopping me in) to a Nissan Maxima, and now a new Impala (again LTZ...I am not an animal)  

 

Now my Italian friends are enamored with the trunk space in these things, but the driver's seat is like warming up for circus de soleil with armor on.  Not an issue cruising the Blvd in our tank/bearcat, but problematic with an up armor package.

 

Guess which side gets more indoor time with front sight post sightings?...the clown car gig. Since leaving the team, it is no longer an issue because I get to serve all the warrants I want without the headaches of that extra stuff because...well we don't get it...no not even plates.  

 

All that to say, I'd wear the bicep gigs if there was even a quarter of the thought that went into laser cut molle or quick release cable things put into hanging those dudes.  If there is an I'm not aware, I apologize...but I've still never seen them.

 

Re groin armor: I've rolled with the up-armored loin cloth off and on for years.  The biggest reason is that's where I keeps my med.

 

I've taken it off several times over the years trying out new delicious areas to keep med kits, but always come back.  

 

My current vest has no option for loin armor so I took an old one, some dude chunked, and I had my favorite tailor sew a good size pocket on it.  Now, it  has male Velcro, but my vest doesn't.  So I have that same tailor sew fluffy side Velcro on that and I have a tear away IFAK that has a lot of medicine in it.  Plus, I can see into it while doing all my mediciny(sp) things and I maintain ball armor.  I have another IFAK on my belt so this is a plus up gig.

 

+ for arm armor

- for commercial attachment ideas/designs

 

+ for bulletproof wedding tackle/anti gutshot gear

 

                   

08883151102

I'll just add to JBGleason, that if you'll get shot to the pelvis, there is high risk of it fracturing, making you immobile and possibly cutting some of the major blood vessel with sharpy bony edge. Also if the pelvic circle fractures, there will be extra space for blood to bleed internally to, which is generally bad thing to happen (non compressible haemorrhage...). Also your bladder migt rupture leaking piss inside, which is also something you don't want no matter how much you practice urinotherapy....

(OK, technically someone might try to apply some kind of junctional TQ on aorta, but...)

 

BTW: some targets have groin region marked as a vital zone, and IIRC it was recommended as a option when enemy used ballistic vest (bigger and less moving target compared to head).

______________________________ "Anatomy and Physiology is EVERYTHING. It is the difference between being a trained monkey and a medic" -RESQDOC-

Originally Posted by punctum:

Image result for mediastinum

It's all about the anatomy.  Notice where the 'biceps protectors' cover (roughly, the top of the shoulder to the line labeled "Adrenal glands").  Heart, lungs, aorta, esophagus, even stomach, liver and kidneys are all accessible at that level. 

 

Those organs rest much higher than most imagine.

 

A shot through the axilla ('arm pit') is high probability to be lethal.  The biceps protector is covering the same organs we're using a plate to cover from the front and back.

 

If it's worth covering with ceramic from the front and back, why is it not not worth protecting from the side? 

 

I've heard the 'they're in the way/cumbersome/whatever' argument before, as well as the 'the bullet will just track along the curve and go in anyway' thing. 

 

Armor is comparatively heavy and cumbersome.  It is what it is.  It's 'your' choice as to how much protection to use, but is the decision being made on 'awkward and heavy' or 'prevents me from doing my job'?  If the problem can be solved with more gym time and/or time under load, it could be a clue.

 

So far as 'bullets will track the curve' goes, I'm unaware of any real world examples of that.  Not that it can't happen, it's just that you're vastly more likely to be protected by the armor than have it serve as an entry path.  I'm personally aware of instances where guys were shot in the head with guns big enough to do the job...the bullet tracked under the skin, skimmed along the skull and went out the other side.  Exceredin #1 headache, but not much else.  

 

That doesn't mean I would pass up a head shot to finish a lethal force fight....        

axilla wounds are also difficult to locate and treat in a TCCC situation.  Enemy shooters may also aim for that area knowing that most combatants are wearing plate type armor.

kaja posted: 

BTW: some targets have groin region marked as a vital zone, and IIRC it was recommended as a option when enemy used ballistic vest (bigger and less moving target compared to head).

In 1996 I took HK's MP5 operator's course and when we shot failure drills, we were taught to put rounds in the pelvic girdle as an alternative to head shots. 

"And now, from all of us here at Track of the Moon Beast, goodnight"

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