Yet more truth about Dragon Skin

Recent comments on this site and others continue to show that people are unable to comprehend what they are being told about body armor. They continue to believe Murray Neal, Pinnacle, SFTT, and the rest who have hyped body armor that is heavier and less capable than the issue gear. I have trusted my life to the issue body armor, and I will do it yet again later this year.

By the way, those who trouble themselves with a little factual research will discover that the Army testers get paid the same amount whether the Army adopts Dragon Skin or not. I’ll let the readers surmise as to how Murray Neal would be affected if the Army bought large quantities of body armor from his company. Why people still continue to believe that Mr. Neal is the one with unquestionable integrity is beyond me.

From WaPo:

The U.S. Army, in a rare move Monday, released a barrage of test results showing that a privately-sold flexible body armor that some families have sought for their soldiers failed extensive military testing.

Here, BG Brown gets to the heart of the matter. Bold emphasis is mine:

Holding up an armor-piercing bullet, Brown showed video of the tests, including footage of officials peering into the bullet hole in the Dragon Skin armor. “At the end of the day, this one disc has to stop this round. It didn’t. Thirteen times,” he said.

In response, Murray Neal, president of Pinnacle Armor which produces Dragon Skin, suggested that the Army lied about some of the testing, and he questioned why the Army was counting shots that “were fired into the non-rifle defeating areas.”

Here’s some actual statistics for you:

Brown described “catastrophic failures” by the Dragon Skin armor, and said that in 13 of 48 shots, lethal armor-piercing rounds either shattered the discs that make up the armor, or completely penetrated the vest.

“Zero failures is the correct answer,” he said. “One failure is sudden death and you lose the game.”

Brown added that the armor failed to endure required temperatures shifts _ from minus 20 degrees to 120 above zero _ which weakened the adhesive holding the discs together. And he said that the Dragon Skin’s heavy weight was also a problem for soldiers who need to carry a lot of gear.

The Dragon Skin, he said, weighs 47.5 pounds, compared to the Army-issued Interceptor armor, which weighs 28 pounds.

Add ammo, water, radios, batteries, NVGs, and all of the other essential items, and from that 28 pound vest you end up with an 80 pound combat load at the least. Like my grunts used to say, “Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain.” 19.5 extra pounds equal a lot of extra pain. No thank you.

I will nit-pick one quote by BG Brown, however. From a DOD news article:

“Force protection is the No. 1 priority of the U.S. Army.”

Um, I don’t doubt that it is the No.1 priority, but with all due respect sir, I believe that is one of the fundamental problems with our tactics in Iraq. The number one priority should be winning the war, not protecting the force. It’s the old “mission vs. Marines” debate, writ large, and we’re getting it wrong.

Update: This was posted in the comments section at Defense Tech by Allan Bain of Evolution Armor.

Dear Patriot,

That was a very nice explaination of force and impact. Here are a few additional points to consider:

1) All the tiles sit at an angle when flat or when wrapped around the body as they are overlapped by adjoining tiles. It’s called an imbricated pattern or better known as scalar armor. These tiles open a bit as they flex around the body by the tiles pivoting off each other to make the curve.

2) The tiles are true discuses, where the center is the thickest part, and they have a uniform downward slope of radius co-extensive with a radius or a segment. This is an Independant claim. All other claims are basic public domain concepts dependant upon the first claim. That is they have all entered the market well before the Dragon Skin patents.

3) The weakest point here is the point between successor tiles offset from the center, whereby you angle the test barrel receiver so that you get a perpendicular shot on the thinnest spot not supported by an overlapping disk. This is the definition of your perpendicular impact discussion.

4) Currently the armor is not tested this way in respect to the NIJ protocol or in the German lab that recently conducted side by side testing for the NBC Dateline news show. It is tested flat.

5) For scalar armor to be tested correctly it MUST be set around a fixed target around a test fixture designed to mimick the true wearing of the vest, and then impacted as set forth above so that the weakest point is attacked in a true 90 degree angle and also attacked at an angle to try and take advantage of the slight opening of the tiles as they make the bend around the body.

6) From what I gather the army did this, and the German laboratory didn’t, as well as any other testing entity that has reported results on Dragon Skin.

While interceptor plates certainly possess less repeat capability as shown at the German laboratory in what appeared to be true independant testing; remember the uniform thick plannular plates represented by the Interceptor system doesn’t change it’s poition at all while wearing, but the scalar armor does, and that’s why the NIJ has devised a different test for scalar armor. The military has simply taken it two step further; true wearing placement while testing, and extreme environmental conditioning testing. I remember very clearly giving armor to the military to train with, the boys play rough! The armor comes back looking like crap in a short period of time unless it’s built tough.

The environmental testing is designed to accelerate the aging process. In service life testing and maintenance has become quite common with military body armor world wide.



By the way, if you haven’t heard the name Allan Bain before, here’s a little primer.

The fact is most of Pinnacle Armor’s systems were invented by Allan D. Bain formally of Armor Technology Corp.. Pinnacle Armor started manufacturing after we educated Mr. Neal how to make armor by contract executed in October of 2000 that was fair and honestly fulfilled. Pinnacle Armor and Mr. Neal never manufactured any body armor prior to this date. So if you hear about Pinnacle Armor or the “Dragon Skin” armor being manufactured since 1995 your talking about armor that Pinnacle Armor never made or developed. In fact Murray Neal was a sales representative for Armor Technology from 1997 – October of 2000 a company owned entirely by Allan D. Bain, the true inventor of Dragon Skin.


  1. streiff says:

    Gave you guys a <a>promo here.

    Great work, Slab, and best wishes on your deployment.

  2. c says:

    department of defense people see lots of this kind of stuff.

    you have a "thing" that works very well. a salesman for a competing company (usually starting up)trys to force a "tool test" whether you want it or not.

    if you reject them then they protest to congress critters, newspapers and your groups procurment activity.

    this technique is used "boot strap" a new business whose product is deficient but whose public relations people are busy.


    i was buying a machine that burned a sample of liquid and then analysed the light and printed out the chemical make up of the sample.

    one outfit had been building them for 15 years and had sold 380 to dod plus another 240 to u.s. gov. many others to colleges.

    a second outfit had built 12 each and on investigation we found that they were in litigation for approximately half their production over various issues.

    a third company had never built one of these machines and had no history with associated equipment.

    we went with the first outfit.

    the second and third protested to DOD.

    big fight. about 8 months later the one from the outfit we wanted came in the door.


  3. bullnav says:

    It looks like NBC has stirred the Senate to action. Take a look at this. Yeah, I know, I got it from the SFTT website, but I wanted to see if they had done anything to rebut the Monday WaPo story. Not to mention the release of Army information as you discussed. They have not so far.

  4. scooby says:

    By the way, those who trouble themselves with a little factual research will discover that the Army testers get paid the same amount whether the Army adopts Dragon Skin or not.

    From first-hand experience: The people who organize the tests and record the numbers are civilians working for Army procurement. Reps from the manufacturers are there. The actual testing is done by soldiers. Part of my platoon tested how well soldiers wearing different types of body armor can move over a distance, move tactically and through obstacles. (I never asked them if they tested Dragon Skin.)

  5. Solomon2 says:

    scooby, why didn't you ask questions?

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