Why did you buy that?

That was the first question I was asked by WF when I opened the box up. I really didn’t have an answer for her. I was a bit dumbfounded really. Most guys have that last minute “boy got caught doing something wrong” answer. I didn’t.

What was in the box? Before I imbibe, I want to say and in my defense I have really spent a lot of time thinking about this. About two years worth. Read, reviews, YouTube videos, etc, etc. I really struggled with this decision.

Back to the box, I purchased body armor from a company called AR500armor.com. They are located in Phoenix Arizona and seem to be a small sized operation, and I don’t mention that to be a bad thing. I mention it because they are a smaller company and make a good product. From placing my order until the UPS guy dropped the box off at the door was around 3 weeks. Their website does state that do to high demand some orders are taking upwards to 6-8 weeks.

I went with the steel AR500 plates vice the SAPI/ESAPI plates that you can purchase from numerous online companies mostly because of the price difference. I was able to get the same level of protection from the steel plates, and a pair of steel plates came in less than half of what one ESAPI plate would cost. AR500Armor also coats each plate with the truck liner product Lin-x to reduce spalling that occurs when a round hits steel. Essentially causing shrapnel.

Not convinced that AR500 steel is not as good as the ESAPI/Ceramic plates? Here is a link to a number of videos showing the resilience of the product after taking numerous hits from many different calibers of rifles and handgun ammunition. I honestly don’t want to get shot period, and even wearing body armor a person is going to feel the strike for a few days. But a bruised chest is better than a sucking chest wound.

The box. I thought a bit more padding could have been placed around the plates. But I don’t want to split hairs. Shipping was pretty inexpensive, like $16. Hauling the box downstairs, I was thinking jezz they are real heavy. Like heavier than the ESAPI plates I was issued in the Army.


Plates side by side



The strike face sticker.





I threw a plate on the scale and it came out to 9 lbs. Pretty close to the weight of a ESAPI plate.




Prepping the Condor chest rig for the front plate.



Each plate is curved to fit your torso, and the Condor plate pockets did not have any issue taking each 10″ x 12″ plate. Front and back slid right in without an issue.




Can’t really tell but both plates are in the carrier. Took all of 5 minutes to insert both and readjust the velcro.


I have had the Condor quick release carrier for a little over a year now and had it in the field numerous times without plates. So far it has held up well. I wore the carrier with the plates on for a few minutes and it fit well. My concern is wearing for long periods, are the should straps going to have enough padding with the extra 18 lbs? or with a full load out of ammo, magazines, and the hydration carrier on the back? Time will tell I guess.


Total price delivered to the door? $186.

Weapons Training


I had a unique opportunity this past weekend as my company spins up for deployment. A soldier that I am deploying with coordinated with a local SWAT team member and instructor to come in on his day off to teach us weapons transition drills. Dan (not his real name) is prior Army and a SWAT team member and instructor for a number of years. Dan had a great ability to bridge the gap between a pure SWAT mentality and the military way of doing things. For those that don’t know the difference between the two, and there are many, but generally, SWAT has a ton of laws that they need to abide by and worry about, excessive force in other words. Soldiers? not so much. But Dan did a great job and kept us moving for almost 7 hours. I got to thinking during the instruction what kind of money would a training firm charge for this? $500-700 a day? per person?

We ran an number of transition drills between our carbines and sidearms. Movement drills to and from a threat, subduing a threat physically, but mostly stopping a threat with a weapon. Creating distance from a threat so you can utilize your weapon, failure to fire drills, clearing your weapon after a stove pipe or a double feed on both a carbine and sidearm. On and on. I was physically tired after the day.

A couple drills we did that fell in the more than difficult category was shooting, reloading, and clearing a jam (stove pipe and a double feed) with only your strong side arm while our weak side arm was disabled. In this instance, we tucked our weak side hand into our belts behind our backs. Then we reversed the drills using only our weak side hand/arm and disabling our strong side. Crazy stuff. Recharging your weapon was the most thought provoking. How do I rack my slide? Short answer, anywhere you can. Vest, holster, the heel of your boot, anywhere you can. Now the former drills where with a sidearm, we did the same weak side and strong side drills with our carbines later in the day.

Some take away’s for me?

Keep calm, go through the steps. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Advanced weapon skills are only solid fundamentals.

The Beretta M9  sucks! I carry a M&P and have shot 1000’s of rounds through my sidearm. The Beretta is heavy, the spring is heavy while racking the slide, the safety sucks balls, the magazine release is in an awkward place, the trigger is heavy, the magazines do not like to leave the well without a lot of persuasion and cursing and on and on.  Can you tell I’m not a fan? But I told myself that this is going to be on my chest rig for the next year, I better get used to it and made an effort to learn and embrace the differences.

SWAT tactics are different than military tactics, but useful knowledge to have in the brain vault.

Free training is great!

Stay in the fight, stay in the fight, stay in the fight!

Weapons transition training is a great tool to have in the skill bag.

Two and three man drills add more complexity than just a one on one threat.

Shoot, move, communicate.

Monday was a great training day, after spending all day Saturday and Sunday getting physicals and shots for some of the weirdest stuff you can imagine.

I really didn’t want to write this story as a nanner, nanner I got some training and you didn’t type of thing. But wanted to impart that if you have the ability to get any training you need to do it. There are many schools of thought on weapons training and the more you can experience the better you will handle yourself in a stressful situation. I decided months ago that instead of taking an all inclusive packaged deal vacation to Mexico or some other third world country I would treat myself and WF to a shooting class, or first aid, or survival class of some sort. In my mind, money better spent than ducking and dodging time share hawkers.

Just a side note, and a short story. My neighbor called me early this morning, she had water leaking in her kitchen. After I figured out the source of the leak I ran to Home Depot to get some parts.

I was talking to Tom, the plumbing guy that I know and was telling him about the training I had this past weekend. Tom is an older Vietnam vet, prior Army. Tom told me that back in the day when he was in the service they never received any type of training I explained above. He looked at me very wistfully and said I was pretty lucky and he was grateful that the Army is offering advanced training to some of its soldiers. He never had the opportunity and probably could have used it back in the day. I could tell there was a story behind those eyes but didn’t want to press. He walked away and around the corner to the next aisle. We as a country, did those vets dirty many years ago. Damn shame.


A short post

I have been away to a Army school the last few days and still another week to go before I can peal my boots off and kick back in my chair. I wanted to take a few minutes and just write a short note to all my avid fans and just kind of give a short overview of what and how I see my military.

First off I volunteered to come here, mostly because I came to learn something new, and partly I need the extra money. So there are some selfish reasons why I’m here other than the patriotic aspect of it all. There is that also so don’t get me wrong.

I had a realization sitting in one of my classes one afternoon,which by the way most classes are affectionately called “death by powerpoint”. For those that do not have a military back ground I will explain. The military likes to cram as much information into a soldiers head as fast as they can just to see who’s head explodes first from the information overload. No really, I think the senior NCO’s take side bets on which soldier is going to self immolate  first and get bragging rights on a large pot of money that they all chipped into. Ah ha! see I told you SGT Jones’s head would split open and have red dragons fly forth! Almost all lessons are taught with powerpoint slides.

So back to my point. I had a sort of an epiphany and really gave me a warm and fuzzy inside. I can say with most confidence that I am the oldest soldier in the school presently so my view is kind of from the fatherly perspective. All these young kids running around me are true professionals, willing and wanting to learn, wanting to lead, and not afraid to step up to almost any challenge. Flat out hard chargers or “high speed” in Army parlance. Just really amazing to sit and watch what has unfolded in front of me. Most have been deployed once and some more than that. All before age 25! Now granted as with any organization there is always those few fuck ups that just don’t get it, won’t get it, and don’t want to get it. There really isn’t much you can do with them. All you can do is say get moving or a foot is coming your way to motivate you. And for the most part they will comply.

What I am really trying to say is that most of America does not see the military that they pay for. The only military the vast and overwhelming majority of American’s see is the huge numbers plastered on the TV news saying how much the defense budget is, and how much this weapon system cost’s or how much that jet fight cost’s. Or the bad news of some Marine pissing on a dead Taliban’s carcass. Really? Why is that shocking? They never see the human side of it. For the most part the military is like most things in an average American’s life, an intangible object.

It is very sad that America doesn’t see the human side. The professionals, the young professionals that are carrying the banner and very close to the tip of the spear for lack of a better term. All different colors, back grounds, and economic scales. They just want to serve! and serve well. They want to roll their sleeves up go to work and kick someones ass.

Now I have been around the military for a better part of 21 years, 4 deployments, I have no idea the number of detachments I have been on,  2 branches of service, been everywhere (almost) in southwest and east Asia, a cold war veteran. I have seen and served with professionals before but as with age comes more experience and wisdom. I just never realized what I was expirencing before.

So the next time you see some talking head “progressive” on the TV talking shit about the military, or some military member committed a war crime for pissing on a dead body, stop and think about that they are true professionals, young and just wanting to do the right thing. Its a job.

Oh and the Marines peeing on the dead Taliban? War Crime? Seriously? if you just had a firefight with some bastard that is trying to kill you, and you won the fight. Wouldn’t you want to go piss on there head? I would be the first to whip it out and give along steady stream. Hell they chop heads off and it never hits the airwaves.
Ta Ta from TRADOC!