Breaking News: Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin vs. Interceptor Body Armor–Fight’s On

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by David Crane

DefenseReview received some interesting information yesterday regarding this NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS) interview of Lt. Col. Roger Charles (Ret.) and Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (Ret.) conducted by Margaret Warner on Pinnacle Armor SOV Flexible Body Armor/Dragon Skin vs. the Interceptor Multi-Threat Body Armor System Outer Tactical Vest (OTV), a.k.a. Interceptor Body Armor. As many of our readers are probably already aware, DefenseReview has published a number of articles on SOV/Dragon Skin. We first started writing about Dragon Skin body armor in October 2001. We followed that original blurb up with a more in-depth article on May 27, 2004. Our most recent article on Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin reported on an actual save made by a Dragon Skin against three 7.62x39mm API (armor-piercing incendiary) round hits. The vest’s wearer was a PSD operator (Security Operator) employed by DynCorp International, and when he got hit (during an ambush that turned into a firefight) he didn’t even feel the bullet impacts. That particular article is titled, appropriately enough, Flexible Body Armor Saves PSD/Security Operator from 7.62x39mm API Round Hits.

I also wrote an article specifically for SoldierTech, titled Body Armor Times 10: Pinnacle’s Innovative, Flexible Body Armor that provides more detailed information about Dragon Skin/SOV flexible body armor’s unique protective attributes and capabilities. After reading that article, Nat Helms from Soldiers for the Truth (SFTT) ended up interviewing me and subsequently quoting me in his excellent article on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin, titled Getting America’s Best?. We highly suggest that you read it.

Once you read those, you can understand our surprise upon…

reading some of the statements made by Lt. Col. Maginnis (Ret.) (Interceptor Body Armor proponent) during the aforementioned interview, including the following:

Maginnis: [On Dragon Skin] "Well, it would be if it was all proven through science. You know, certainly the shoulders and the neck, major difference with this — no groin protection. And, you know, the contracting people as well as the Army scientists say, look, be careful with dragon skin because it’s good for a knife fight, but we don’t want to take it to Iraq because of the ballistic issues. And they’re not comfortable with it yet, but perhaps in the future."

Hmm. So, according to Lt. Col. Maginnis (Ret.), Pinnacle Armor’s SOV Flexible Body Armor/Dragon Skin isn’t proven enough through science and, according to "Army Scientists", one needs to "be careful" with Dragon Skin because, again, according to "Army Scientists", "it’s good for a knife fight, but we don’t want to take it to Iraq because of the ballistic issues." Really. Folks, this one’s about to get REALLY interesting. We’re interested to see if Lt. Col. Maginnis and his "Army Scientists" can actually back up his statement. Defense Review is particularly interested in seeing their data regarding the "ballistic issues" Lt. Col. Maginnis (Ret.) mentioned.

Lt. Col. Maginnis’ (Ret.) statements were challenged by Lt. Col. Roger Charles (Ret.) (Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin flexible body armor proponent), who said "[on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin body armor] This will not only will take that hit but will take multiple hits and the ceramic plate used in Interceptor, one of the complaints from the troops in the field was that too often after one round impact, then you had a bunch of gravel basically inside the pouch.". Lt. Col. Charles (Ret.) went on to say, "[on Dragon Skin] There was an unsolicited letter from an American contractor over there who was shot eight times in the back wearing one of these that he purchased for his own use. And he did not know he had been shot until he got back and took it off and saw the bullet perforations in the canvas cover. There was no soft tissue damage so it’s proven in the field that it can take multiple hits and still provide protection."

It’s Lt. Col. Charles’ (Ret.) opinion that the reason the U.S. Army has chosen to outfit U.S. troops with Interceptor body armor over Pinnacle Armor SOV flexible body armor/Dragon Skin is that the U.S. Army suffers from "not invented here" syndrome. "The basic reason, as hard as this may be for your audience to understand, is not invented here: Bureaucratic turf protection because the Army people that were charged with providing this ten, fifteen years ago had a program — it produced something beginning in 1998 I believe, 1999. But it wasn’t this – and they didn’t want to use this because they did not claim invention of it," Charles said. He continues, "We were told by several independent consultants who work for the Pentagon that cannot be named because of fear of losing their jobs that this was probably the best available body armor. It’s what they would take to Baghdad. They do not have any financial ties with Pinnacle Armor. We’re not saying it’s the best. We’re saying it ought to get a fair test."

Here’s one solution (to settle the argument): Have one or two independent testing centers that both U.S. Army Natick and Pinnacle Armor trust test both body armor systems (Interceptor body armor and Dragon Skin body armor) side-by-side in a set number of combat-relevant ballistic tests under a reasonable time limit to determine a winner. The number, type, and duration of the ballistic tests should be determined and overseen by an independent and impartial group/entity, with both parties (U.S. Army Natick and Pinnacle Armor present as witnesses during all tests).  If the U.S. Army doesn’t want to do that (for instance, if they want to claim it’s too expensive), there is another way:

It’s Defense Review’s understanding that Pinnacle Armor’s SOV/Dragon Skin flexible hard armor system has been tested to Mil-Spec protocols at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), United States Test Laboratory (USTL), and H.P. White Laboratory, Inc.. It’s our understanding at present that both Level III+ and Level IV (Classified) Dragon Skin has been tested. If the U.S. Army’s Interceptor body armor has also been tested via identical Mil-Spec testing protocols by at least two of these same facilities, those facilities (and both Pinnacle Armor and U.S. Army Natick/Natick Soldier Center (NSC)) should already have enough ballistic data to present on their respective body armor systems to declare a winner, right now.(Those facilities and Pinnacle Armor, Inc. would only be allowed to present data on their Level III+ armor, since Pinnacle’s Level IV armor’s anti-ballistic capabilities are classified). There should also already be a fair amount of field performance data for both systems in terms of wearability, durability, and anti-ballistic performance. We’ll investigate it.

DefenseReview will be following this story very closely and posting follow-ups to this article. Needless to say, we’re going to try to secure interviews with Lt. Col. Maginnis and the Army scientists he refers to, as soon as possible.

So, stay tuned. This should be good.

Click on this link to watch the interview in streaming video.

Click here to read my SoldierTech article on Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin body armor, titled BODY ARMOR TIMES 10: Pinnacle’s Innovative, Flexible Body Armor.

Click here to read our article on Pinnacle Armor SOV-1000 and SOV-2000 Dragon Skin body armor, titled High-Tech Flexible Body Armor Defeats Rifle Threats..

Click here to read Nat Helms article on Pinnacle Armor SOV-2000 and SOV-1000 Dragon Skin body armor, titled Getting America’s Best?.

Click on this link to read the printer-friendly version of Getting America’s Best? which allows you to read the entire article in one shot (all on one page).

Contact info for Pinnacle Armor, Inc.:

Pinnacle Armor, Inc.
425 E. Home Ave. #104
Fresno, CA 93727
800-200-0915 Toll-Free
559-320-1221 Office
559-320-1229 Fax

Contact info for the relevant offices of U.S. Army Natick/Natick Soldier Center (NSC)

Public Affairs Office
508-233-4300 Office
DSN 256-4300

Individual Protection
508-233-6481 Office
DSN 256-6481

Future Force Warrior
508-233-6977 Office
DSN 256-6977

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Breaking News: Pinnacle Armor Dragon Skin vs. Interceptor Body Armor–Fight’s On by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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