LAS VEGAS -- Point Blank Enterprises Inc., a top supplier of body armor to the U.S. military, is out with a new series of ballistic vests that are tougher and lighter than existing products, company officials said.
The so-called Alpha Elite series comes in two versions: the Level II Elite concealable and the Level IIIA Alpha-1 tactical. The latter is 31 percent thinner and 23 percent lighter, yet 5 percent stronger than previous designs, according to Michael Foreman, vice president of government and international sales at the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company.
"Both represent the lightest body armor in the world today," he said during an interview this week at SHOT Show, the country's largest gun show. "It's really a game-changing breakthrough."
The vests use a new form of Dyneema polyethylene fiber made by DSM, Foreman said. It's the same technology found in ballistic material the company recently began supplying to U.S. Special Operations Command, he said.
R.J. Le Marbe, the company's lead tactical designer, gave a demonstration of the Alpha-1, which weighs less than 13 pounds and features a quick-release assembly that relies on Velcro and straps rather than cables or buckles. The system is designed in part to make it easier for medics or emergency medical technicians to access certain parts of the body without damaging or destroying the product.
"We call it Selective Point Release because you literally select the points at which you release," he said. "If I took a chest shot or something like that and they needed to work on me, they can pull the shoulder and just bend down that section and work. If they hit me in the belly, they can pull the cummerbund release and pull up just the bottom."
Here's a video of Le Marbe explaining features of the new product:
The vests range in cost, from $1,000 for the basic version to $1,700 for the fully featured model, Foreman said. The company is already supplying a custom version of the vest to personnel within the New York City Police Department and has received inquires from military officers headed to Afghanistan, he said.