A few weeks ago I posted an article on items in our mail and among the items was the Hardcore Alpha Shield. Being a firm believer in body armor as an essential piece of home security equipment and in shields in particular as a quickly don’ed item that can be close to where you keep your primary home defense weapon, I wanted to expand on their value as a personal protection device, as something preppers should consider in their inventory of must-have items, even if it does not fit in your BOB.
Note that this does not mean that I am not still a fan of a good body armor carrier as your go-to protection when faced with an armed confrontation. A quality body armor solution provides a level of protection that is don’ed and forgotten as you confront a threat, one that can carry a medical kit, communications devices, a back-up weapon and extra magazines (none of which explode when hit with a round, except of course, when it is in a movie).
However, as a grab and go solution to most threats civilians will face, the pluses of a good shield can’t be beat. Yes, you do lose the use of one arm to hold the shield, but what better use can you think of for your non-dominant arm in such a situation? Besides, in any form of hand-to-hand combat this is the natural position you would assume anyway, the non-dominant arm as a protector, so the shield feels completely natural.
Shields come in NIJ Level III-A protection, and NIJ rated Level IV protection and Hardcore Defense sent their Alpha Shield for testing. It is rated NIJ Level III-A, very well balanced and comfortable to hold, easy to adjust and to maneuver. I had been telling them I am really looking forward to testing it as soon as I can get away from the keyboard, which was proving more of a challenge than I expected.
However today was “the day” and I slipped out early, taking advantage of people slowly returning from their Labor Day weekend activities. I shot the Alpha Shield with a Glock 17 Gen 4 9 mm, a CZ P-10 9 mm, a Glock 36 45 ACP, a Coonan .357 Magnum Auto as well as a Smith & Wesson M&P .357 Magnum and a Thompson Contender 44 Magnum with a 14″ barrel. It looks the worse for wear but only cosmetically and no penetrations, no back-face deformation from any of the rounds. And BTW, while I love the other barrels I have for my Thompson Contender, the 44 Magnum can only be described as “unpleasant” to shoot. I am processing the photos and the short video and will attach them to the post as soon as possible.
In the mean time there is a very impressive video by Demolition Ranch that provides not only an excellent test of the Hardcore Alpha Shield, but puts to rest the term “bullet-proof”. ALWAYS be suspicious of anything that claims to be “bullet-proof” as it is simply not achievable. If we can build it we can build something to penetrate it. And Matt of Demolition Ranch finally achieves this with a round that far exceeds the NIJ Level III-A standards (and Level IV as well) but only after that same Alpha Shields has defeated a number of other rounds far above its rating, nothing short of amazing. (BTW, I was lucky enough to meet Matt and his wife at Shot Shot 2017 in Las Vegas – total class act.)
And You Think YOU Have a Weight Problem
While a ceramic Level IV plate measuring 10″ x 12″, designed to fit a plate carrier, can be as light as 4.4 lbs. and cost as much as $700 each, a ballistic rated steel plate of the same size and rating is 8.3 lbs and runs about $155. Shield are usually 15″ x 25″ in size. So at 14 lbs. for the Alpha Shield it is obvious that Hardcore has done its homework. And priced at $299, impressive. (Hardcore also makes their Bravo Shield for law enforcement personnel who are more likely to face rifle-level threats, rated at NIJ Level IV for $1,499. and weighing just 25 lbs.)
The trade-off here is that in order to keep it as lightweight as possible it is sans of a spall and frag coating and as long as everyone you care about is behind you this is okay (except for any expensive furniture.) The frag from a defeated round can seriously injure or even kill someone who is too close to your left or right side and not completely behind you. One of the reasons I waited to test the shield is I wanted to do it at a closed range where I had control of all the surrounding areas. I have open access to an indoors facility but I know from past experience that each light in the facility costs $119, the Hepa-rated exhaust filters in the ceiling cost upwards of $1,000 each, and that the specially designed wall-boards cost more than $8,000.
The bottom line is the absence of a spall and frag coating is a valid trade-off as weight can quickly become a problem, kudos to Hardcore Defense. I think every prepper should take a closer look at a shield not only for home defense, but as a piece of equipment transported to your bug-out location for you security needs.
As to the future of this particular Hardcore Alpha Shield, I think it is going to spend the rest of my life (it will outlast us all) keeping my go-to Glock company at home. Be safe out there and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!