Marine Corps publishes new policy on body armor

MarAdmin 262/07 was published by the Marine Corps on the 17th. It prohibits Marines from using commercially purchased body armor in lieu of the issued gear. In their typically sensationalist style, Marine Corps Times has published an article touting the virtues of Pinnacle Armor’s Dragon Skin. They even quote a Marine staff sergeant from Quantico who shot himself while wearing Dragon Skin.

Now that the Corps has banned off-the-shelf gear as well, Staff Sgt. Taylor Cobb, the Corporals Course curriculum coordinator at Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va., said he’ll buy “a triple large set of cammies” and wear his Dragon Skin armor underneath if he deploys to a combat zone.

“I have the utmost confidence in that piece of gear,” he said.

After spending $2,000 on his Dragon Skin armor, Cobb placed it on a dummy and shot it with a .45-caliber pistol. The armor worked as advertised, so he said he put it on and — get this — shot himself in the stomach on purpose.

“It left a pretty nice bruise, but it didn’t even break the skin,” he said. “It works. But I wouldn’t try that with the [Modular Tactical Vest] the Corps gives. I’m not that trusting.”

It’s great that guys put so much faith in a piece of body armor based on a History Channel special that was basically a piece of paid advertisement for Pinnacle Armor, then perform non-scientific tests using a weapon caliber that has absolutely no bearing on the armor’s usefulness in Iraq or its approval by the DOD. After all, the Interceptor Body Armor with E-SAPI plates is rated to stop 7.62X54R API rounds. Let’s see if SSgt Cobb has the stones to shoot himself with that caliber.

Nevermind the fact that I truly hope SSgt Cobb’s command gives him an adverse fitness report and reduction in grade for being a moron. He’s the curriculum coordinator for the Corporals Course? No wonder all of our ANGLICO Marines that attend the course come back completely unimpressed.

The debate surrounding Dragon Skin and body armor has become so full of conjecture, hyperbole, and ad hominem attacks as to make the truth impossible to distinguish. Hell, even Daily Kos jumped on the “Army bad, Dragon Skin good” bandwagon last July. What I want to see is scientific proof that Dragon Skin will stop 7.62X54R B32 API in the same tests used for the E-SAPIs. Until then, I refuse to buy the hype. Pinnacle has had ample time to roll out incontrovertible proof that their armor will perform up to E-SAPI standards, and all that I have heard from them are screams of “corruption” and a propaganda campaign attacking the reputation and integrity of the Army’s chief testers.

I highly encourage our readers to do more research on their own. Professional, a website run by and for the “Quiet Professionals” of Special Forces, gained quite a bit of fame when Karl Masters published his unvarnished opinion of Dragon Skin. Infamy aside, this thread remains the best source of information I have seen to date on the body armor question. The fact remains that it has not met the Army’s standards, and as such, will not be adopted or approved for use until it does.


  1. scooby says:

    Hmm… muzzle velocity of ball cartidge fired from M1911 pistol is 820 ft/sec, mass is 331 grain.

    Muzzle velocity of 7.62 x 51 cartridge fired from your trusty M1 Garand is 2837 ft/sec, mass is 146 grain.

    Kinetic energy is 1/2 M * V * V = 669 joules for the .45 and 3537 joules for the 7.62.

    (It's pretty easy to type these things straight into Google, it even converts notation automatically.)

    So the rifle round is dumping 5 times the energy into your plate.

    But it gets better! The area of a circle with a diameter of .45 cal is 410 mm^2. The area of a 7.62 mm circle is 182 mm^2.

    So if you fire a rifle or machine gun round, you get 5 times the energy packed into less than half the area that is less than half the size.

    I'll wait until they test it against 7.62, myself.

  2. Nicholas says:

    Also, aren't .45 slugs normally lead ball whereas 7.62x51mm rounds are often FMV and may even have an AP core?

    I read the thread on that board, and still feel unenlightened. Has anyone done independent testing on both?

  3. LtCol P says:

    Slab: Don't hold back, Marine. Tell us what you think…

  4. Joel says:

    My beef with the Army's issue armor was never that it couldn't do the job. I believe that it can be less bulky and lighter than it is now.

    The soft-armor portions are rated at Level IIIA, which will stop pretty much anything short of a long-rifle round. That is the same armor I wear UNDER my uniform at work as a police officer.

    Tactical teams are issued plate-carriers that they can wear over their uniforms, bringing their protection up to a Level IV. Essentially the same level of protection you get with the IBA.

    I never believe the Army when they say "the best money can buy". Equipment the Army uses is naturally made by the lowest bidder.

  5. bullnav says:

    The guys at SFTT have been following this for a couple of years. See all the info here

    There appears to have been a LOT of testing done to date.

  6. Slab says:

    I trust SFTT about as far as I can throw my Paraclete RMV with ESAPIs, side SAPIs, 2L of water, MBITR, and full combat load of ammo.

    Notice this passage from SFTT:


    The initial test clip showed this Dragon Skin vest shot in the frontal area with:

    — two 5.56mm M885 rounds (with a 1.0 inch spacing),

    two 7.62mmx39mm AK-47 Mild Steel Core (Armor Piercing) rounds (with a 1.5 inch spacing), and

    — two 9mm rounds (with a .5 inch spacing)

    There were no penetrations of the vest's inner liner!!

    Please note that the 7.62 rounds listed above are Level IV rounds. That's right. The Discovery Channel test involved Level IV 7.62 Armor Piercing rounds being fired at Dragon Skin's Level III vest, and Dragon Skin (Level III) defeated these Level IV rounds!!


    As Karl Masters stated in the thread on, to meet the same standards as the ESAPI it must defeat 7.62X54R B32 API, which is a very real threat to Soldiers and Marines in Iraq.

  7. bullnav says:

    Yes, while SFTT does occasionally have something worthwhile, Lind and company are usually on the fringe. They have a good cause at heart, but sometimes I think they latch onto something and don't let go. When I saw the Future Weapons test, I had to wonder, but it sure looked good. The real test results that interested me were NIJ results to accept it at Level III. So far the Army has rejected it. I don't know why these guys (SFTT) push it so much. I have not read many complaints about what is currently in use, although I would like to see more testing on Dragonskin. It seems to have some advantages, but it is kind of on the fringe. Yes, they need to prove it works.

  8. Joel says:

    As I've stated earlier, I know for a fact that the Army can do better in the body armor category. This stuff CAN be lighter and less bulky.

    The obvious problem is money. And, again, I know for a fact that the Army will NOT buy what is necessarily the best, but what is most "cost expedient".

    Recently the Army Times published a very good article about the M-16 family of rifles and about how the SF community is opting for a better weapon to replace it (made by, I believe H&K). The Army will not replace ALL their rifles simply because it's too expensive.

  9. Joe Snuffy says:

    My section Seargant was hit with a 7.62 api round in bagdad on 21 april 07. The round went into his arm on the backside and in his chest behind the plate, and out the front.. so it completely penetrated the armor. US army issued vest, with e sapi plates. We all ALL need armor that api cannot penetrate. We shouldnt even be in Iraq..but thats another story.

  10. Marc says:

    I have seen the results from the Dragon Skin tests. It meets about the same critera as the the Interceptor. What makes it better is weight. Rather then having one large ceramic plate, it has smaller ones woven into the fabric that overlap each other. By using multiple plates it allows the armor to take multiple hits (the Interceptor plate has to be replaced after one) and it weighs less. I have no problem with the current issue other then it weighs a ton. I just wish the DoD would get whatever gear out there is better, to us faster. They keep telling us we cant buy the better stuff, yet refuse to get it for us, or take their time doing it.

  11. Stg Hall says:

    We all know the army does not issue the best armor and gear, for the love of god just look at the crap they send the National Guard Units over with. Theres really no arguing that.

  12. Slab says:

    Marc, it meets about the same criteria? I have yet to see a single test showing that Dragon Skin will stop 7.62X54R API. If you've seen one, please post a link to it. Also, everything I've seen says that DS is heavier than IBA. There is no existing body armor technology that provides Level IV protection with a significant weight reduction.

  13. Dan says:

    There was an show about future weapons that showed a grenade being detonated under the armor. After watching that I think I'd like that kind of protection.

  14. Slab says:

    The hand grenade stunt was purely for show. It's doubtful that anyone would have survived regardless of frag penetration. In short, Dragon Skin would not have saved your life. Read the Army test results and you will see that DS will not stop the most dangerous threat round in use in theater.

  15. sean says:

    ive seen dragon skin in action. its far superior to the interceptor. even the man who created the interceptor knows and publicy stated dragon skin was leaps and bounds ahead of his armor.

  16. Chris Bartus says:

    Pinnacle Dragon Skin SOV-2000 Test by SWAT, Coast Guard, and Navy Personnel

    On December 7, 2006 a demonstrational shoot for the following departments took place using a 10" x 12" SOV-2000 Level III panel: Saint Charles Parish Sheriff's SWAT, Saint John's Parish Sheriff's SWAT, Gretna PD, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's SWAT, La Fourche Parish Sheriff's SWAT, Ascension Parish Sheriff's SWAT, Coast Guard Investigative Service, US Navy.

    * 3 x 7.62x51mm Federal Match

    * 3 x 7.62x39mm Military Ball

    * 3 x 5.56x45mm M193 Ball

    * 3 x 5.56x45mm M193 Ball at approximately 45 degrees.

    * 2 x 5.56x45mm M855 Green Tip

    * 2 x 5.56x45mm Bonded M193

    * 1 x 7.62x51mm Federal Bonded

    A total of 17 rounds were successfully stopped in the Dragon Skin SOV-2000 Armor System with no armor failures or penetration, even after receiving 17 multiple hits.

    Pinnacle SOV-2000 level III armor is made of overlapping approximately 0.25” x 2” ceramic discs encased in a fabric cover. In evaluating the Dragon Skin system, it is important to note that while the external measurements of the Dragon Skin panel are 11.5” x 13.5”, the area of level III coverage provided by the encased ceramic discs is 10” x 12”; the fabric edges are NOT intended to provide ballistic protection. Weight of the Pinnacle SOV-2000 Dragon Skin armor providing 10 x 12 inches of level III protection was approximately 5.5 lbs.

    POC; SGT Curtis Matthews (Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s SWAT) office – 504-364-5300, pager – 504-550-9542.

  17. mitch- usmc says:

    ok so…

    what exactly is holding our military back from getting dragonskin armor to our troops.

    i keep hearing that it hasn't been proven against the same standards as interceptor…

    well if thats true… what do you guys think about getting a fund together to buy some dragonskin and test it and interceptors on the same test…

    if our military isn't doing it.. why don't we. put it to the test, document it… everything… so DROAGONSKIN ARMOR TEST FUND

    email me-

  18. strike5953 says:

    take a look at this so what did the army due different could it be the price tag of dragonskin?

  19. Redtail says:

    Here's my take…

    A cheap, GI-surplus M1 carbine round will make a nice, neat hole in most commercially available ablative vests.

    You can shoot a Nalgene polyarbonate bottle with a .44 magnum and it won't break.

    This isn't because polycarbonate bottles are a better armor than aramid/Titanium trauma plates covered in crosswoven Kevlar or Zetix, it's simply because the testing conditions do not accurately represent real-world conditions.

    An ex-Soviet penetrator round for the Dragunov SVD or FPK/Polish PSL sniper's rifle is a 170-grain 7.62x54r load, VERY loaded-up. The round will punch neatly through .875" of rolled steel armor, fired from a Mosin-Nagant 91-30 surplus rifle. Fired from the significantly shorter M44 Mosin-Nagant carbine, it'll go through just a little less steel before it starts to lose penetration capability.

    Personal body armor has a hard time affording the same level of durability as the armor on a light-to moderate-duty combat APC.

    Until the media-hyped Dragon Skin is ready to withstand the punch of a tungsten-cored Soviet AP round of the kind that would be fired by a sniper in the theatre of combat, not just an AR round with a hardened steel core, this dragon will be nothing but all smoke and no fire.

    The simple fact is that these are tremendously powerful bullets. The 7.62x54R can be loaded up every bit as hot as a .30-06 cartridge, and a proper .30-06 with the right bullet will do things that a .50BMG ball round shies away from.

    We might not all agree with our war or its tenets, but I think we can agree that we all want to see our boys come home ALIVE and in good shape after it's over, right?

  20. Chris says:

    Someday a vest will come to town and kick all of these vests under the dirt, but until then, so far i think it would better to use this Dragon Skin then an issued vest.

  21. LCpl Petersen says:

    I was a 1371 from 92 to 96. I've worked for military contractors, and state department contractors. As impossible as this may sound, Dragonskin survived a fragmentation grenade blast with no penetrations. It stopped multiple bursts from an m60 .30cal LMG. I had to beat that vest with a sledge hammer in 140 degree heat for almost an hour to reduce the small plates to a consistent 'sand like' quality.

    It was lighter weight, but not breathable at all. Very flexible compared. I would like to note that back then we weren't allowed to use it. Flak jackets only. That always perturbed me, especially when officers would step off wearing it in theater.

    I would love to see those officers that take $ bribes put their vests on and jump on a grenade. Yes, I was wearing the vest. If you think that's insane, please note in Italy you have to wear the vest to test it. Nuff said.