AR500 Rifle Plate POU
POU, or Philosophy of Use, is a piece of gear’s possible reasonable applications and a short description of how it should be used in those “philosophies”. Coined by YouTuber Nutnfancy, the term POU is useful for cutting through the marketing hype that surrounds the tactical gear market and community as a whole. As an example, a small .380 chambered pocket pistol might be great for summer EDC, but as a home-defense weapon there are better alternatives and while the pocket pistol may be “capable” of doing the job, it has features specifically optimized against the needs of the home-defense scenario. Therefore, while Walther’s marketing department may herald the PPK as a great home-defense pistol, such a claim does not hold up in a POU discussion. It was designed to be a carry-gun; therefore, it cannot also be optimized for home-defense.
The same discussions can be had of bulletproof vests and ballistic plates. Not only are different ballistic resistant materials better for certain applications, plates often vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Of the three commonly used materials in ballistic plates (Kevlar/fiber, AR500, and Ceramic) AR500 steel is the heaviest but also the sturdiest. AR500 steel, at the end of the day, is steel, and can take a beating as a result. Unlike soft Kevlar/ballistic fiber panels, AR500 plates are typically rated at NIJ III or above, meaning they are rated to reliably stop multiple impacts of major rifle calibers 308 Win/7.62x51mm at point-blank range after being torture tested in a lab for a week. Unlike Kevlar or Ceramic plates, AR-500 steel does not deteriorate significantly after medium threat level hits, and only weakens locally after serious impacts toward its performance limit. As a result, a Level III+ AR 500 plate will be able to stop entire magazines from an AK-47 whereas a similarly, or even greater rated Ceramic plate may be seriously compromised after the first impact.
Due to its weight, AR500 is best used in situations where a degree of mobility can be sacrificed or where there will be little natural cover available. Vehicle based operations, checkpoints, and home defense are all scenarios where AR-500 would excel. All of these near stationary areas of operation are also magnets for large volume, serious fire. In a WROL situation, these places where ambushes would be the most likely to occur and staged assaults would take place. In the everyday world, having rifle protection may seem like overkill, but that is true of most vests. AR500 doesn’t make sense for undercover operations or even most plain-clothes duties like nightclub bouncing due to its weight and bulk, though some manufactures have been developing carriers that better conceal the hard plates, so that may be subject to change. AR-500 also makes sense for replacement plates for those who would already be wearing an overt plate carrier like police officers, other law enforcement, or bounty hunters handling dangerous targets.
For those who might never encounter a rifle in their life, wearing protection for one might seem ridiculous, but there are other benefits of rifle plates that carry over in to handgun performance, namely trauma reduction. While Level IIIA soft Kevlar vests can stop a 44 Magnum from penetrating, all of that energy (up to 1500 ft./lbs.) is transferred into the targets torso in an area the size of a fist. So roughly equivalent to taking a 400mph fastball to the heart. Hard plates help to distribute the force of the impact over a greater area, ideally the entire torso, so internal trauma and organ damage is significantly reduced. Hard armor thereby provides not only penetration protection, but also trauma protection. This is crucial for up-close engagements where more than one hit can be expected. If you are lying on the ground because of the impact of the bullet, your assailant will have an easy time making the second one land in an unprotected area if they are intent on killing you. With a hard plate, taking a round results in less time “out of the fight” so to speak and a greater likelihood that you will survive the internal trauma that comes with being struck by a bullet.
Whenever picking out any piece of gear, be sure to select the right tool for the job. Our Level III+ rifle vests are the toughest on the market, they will never be a Level IIA bulletproof T-shirt.