Photo: Point Blank Enterprises

Photo: Point Blank Enterprises

Body armor isn't something I would normally call "innovative" or "game changing." Armor is a necessity; we want it to work when it's supposed to and be as comfortable as possible through a long shift. The only real constant over the years has been the tug of war between vest performance and the comfort of the wearer. Point Blank Enterprises has recently given a huge tug in the right direction with its new Alpha Elite line of soft body armor.

Let's start out with the obvious. The Alpha Elite is soft, concealable body armor, available in NIJ Level II or IIIA for both male and female cuts and is NIJ 0101.06 compliant. Basically the same stuff we all wear on duty right now. Now let's talk about what sets it apart from technology of the past.

The first thing I noticed about the sample Point Blank was gracious enough to send me was the weight, or rather lack thereof. I put my current IIIA vest in one hand and the new Alpha Elite in the other to see for myself. Not exactly scientific, but the Alpha Elite was noticeably lighter and the panels were quite a bit thinner. Point Blank claims the Level IIIA version of the Alpha Elite to be 23% lighter and 31% thinner than the industry average. Considering my workspace can exceed 120 degrees in the summer every little bit counts.

I adjusted the elastic straps (which was simple and only took a few seconds) and secured the vest to my torso to check for comfort and range of motion. I opted for overlapping panels and a hard trauma plate, but even with this additional coverage the vest didn't impede me at all. I was able to obtain a good shooting and fighting posture, sit comfortably, and completely maintain my normal range of motion. The reduced thickness of the new Alpha Elite panels made a significant difference over my previous IIIA vest. Over the few months I've been wearing the new Alpha Elite I have been thoroughly impressed with how comfortable this vest really is and frequently forget I'm wearing IIIA armor; something my previous vest reminded me of constantly.

Now for the other benefit of the Alpha Elite, and thankfully one I didn't get the chance to test: ballistic performance. This vest is constructed entirely of DSM Dyneema fibers, or more specifically what the company calls "Force Multiplier Technology." Point Blank landed on this choice after testing more than 400 different fibers in the development of a new line of military armor.

Once the company realized how light and comfortable the finished product was, the law enforcement application was obvious. This equals multi-hit and fragmentation protection that exceeds the FBI standard with extraordinarily efficient energy absorption. Ballistic tests have shown the Alpha Elite to defeat pistol rounds approaching the 2,000 FPS mark. With the recent advancements in pistol ammunition performance, this amount of protection is essential.

If you're due for a new vest and want the protection of Level IIIA armor without the discomfort, I would highly recommend you check out the new Alpha Elite from Point Blank Enterprises.

Point Blank Alpha Elite Level IIIA Body Armor Specs:

• Extremely highly effective against fragmentation

• Multi-hit performance exceeding FBI protocol

• Special-threat performance exceeding FBI protocol

• Efficiently absorbs impact energy

• NIJ 0101.06 compliant

• Price: $856 average agency price with Elite Concealable Vest