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Dragon Skin Backers Hammered on Hill | By Christian Lowe | June 07, 2007
The technical expert solicited by a major news network to certify its tests of Dragon Skin body armor admitted Wednesday that the controversial vests weren't "ready for prime time."

In an investigative report broadcast by NBC May 20, the network used the expert opinion of Dr. Phillip Coyle - the former director of test and evaluation at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration - to certify results of side-by-side tests conducted at NBC's expense in Germany.

In testimony submitted to the House Armed Services Committee during a June 6 hearing in the issue, Coyle stated Dragon Skin - manufactured by Fresno, Calif.-based Pinnacle Armor - was "better … against multiple rounds and in reducing blunt force trauma" than the Army's current rifle-resistant Interceptor armor.

But after being confronted with conflicting information by lawmakers who questioned the NBC test results and provided Army-supplied data of vest failures from a May 2006 test, Coyle backed away from his staunch defense of Dragon Skin.

"You're saying today ... that you cannot say that it's ready for prime time. That's your testimony?" Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) asked Coyle.

Coyle agreed that the NBC tests fell short of proving Dragon Skin was ready for fielding.

Sitting beside Coyle at the hearing, Pinnacle president Murray Neal put forward a vigorous, if disjointed, defense of his product, telling lawmakers in written testimony the Army was manipulating test results, conducted unfair shots on his armor and released contradictory data to lawmakers and the media.

"Nothing jives, nothing makes sense," Neal told committee members. "The information coming from the Army is fraught with inconsistencies."

While calling the failure of his vest to stop a round on the second shot of the Army test a "once in a while" occurrence, Neal denied Army claims that a dozen more rounds penetrated his Dragon Skin vests.

He argued x-ray photos of one vest the Army claims failed showed the Dragon Skin disks had stopped the round.

"The bullet did not go through the armor," Neal said flatly.

Army officials responded by showing lawmakers a video clip of Neal inspecting the same vest after a test shot, watching engineers dig the penetrating round out of ballistic clay backing.

"Are you telling me if you were wearing this vest ... and that round hit you in the chest, would that have killed you or not?" a skeptical Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) asked Neal.

"No," he replied.

The Armed Services Committee hearing is the latest round in the long-simmering debate over Pinnacle's claims that its armor system - which uses a series of linked ceramic disks wrapped around a Soldier's body to stop armor-piercing rifle rounds - is better than the Army-issued Interceptor vest that uses four rigid ceramic plates.

At the request of Hunter and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), the Army conducted a so-called "first article test" for Dragon Skin armor at a private ballistics lab in Maryland last year to see if the Dragon Skin technology met Army specifications.

Those tests resulted in 13 penetrations in 48 shots, the Army claims, including a full penetration on the second shot of the first test vest.

Investigators with NBC conducted their own series of tests at a German lab this spring, firing dozens of armor-piercing rounds at both Dragon Skin and a vest they said contained Army-issued plates, though Coyle cast some doubt on whether they were the same plates used by Soldiers in the field.

The NBC tests showed Dragon Skin absorbing many more rifle rounds than the Army vest, prompting Coyle's assertion that Dragon Skin was better than Interceptor armor.

Coyle, Neal and NBC are calling for another series of independent, side-by-side tests to prove once and for all which armor system is better.

"The best way to resolve this matter would be for the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command to conduct comparable side-by-side tests of both Interceptor and Dragon Skin body armor," Coyle said.

While Hunter subjected both Neal and Coyle to harsh questioning over their claims, the California lawmaker agreed that another round of tests is the only thing that will put the issue to rest.

"We need to straight away, in an expeditious way, to find out if there's value to this system," Hunter said. "And if there is value, we need to extract it as soon as possible and get it to the troops in the field."

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That whole article was so scattered. Blah. Just test the damn unit to see if it works or not? Whats the big deal? Shoot it from every angle possible! How can that be a 'once in a while' scenario? Damn govt, and stupid people...

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191 Posts
Does anybody have the Iraq casualty statistics handy? I wondering how many deaths/injuries are attributed to small arms fire and how many to IED/RPG explosions. Nobody seems to be addressing the resistance of either of these types of armor to reduce/eliminate shrapnel type woulds. And neither can do anything to reduce concussive damage caused by explosions.

When I see the videos of troops in Iraq/Afghanistan, I'm amazed by the amount of gear they're carrying. I heard the standard load out is in the range of 50 lbs. If Dragon Skin is lighter and more flexible, maybe the risk of reduced protection is worth it -- save your life by being able to maneuver out of the way rather than being able surviving the hit.

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4,133 Posts
Agreed Servo...concussive effect internalized wounds are owning our guys big time.
My understanding though is that Dragon Skin weighs more than Pinnacle by a significant amount (IIRC ~15lbs.). The other issue as reported by multiple persons is that the attachment method for it's internal plates are by a type of adhesive that works fine in regard to handling shock from a strike but does not handle temperature extremes well (hot or cold) nor does it handle transitions either such as hot to cool or cold and vice versa.

There was an IMHO _really good_ posting about this at another gun-fu forum by a guy who is an actual operator and had on his own tested this in addition to having access to actual testing info from the military. Dude even had x-rays and pics of the product testing posted (!).
I'm in the middle of writing a proposal right now (taking a brain break!) but will come back later today/tonight with a link to that site and the dudes post when I find it again. BTW the dude is confirmed to be an actual working operator and is not just a mall ninja, gun shop worker, or some internet guy talking sheeeet.

Bottomline he did not like DragonSkin even as the current issue product offering isn't exactly optimal either....though far better than nothing at all.
I figure that DS is right now a V1.1 product and in time with some tweaks as well as review toward it's dry weight and the plate adhesive problem it could possibly be a contender.

Edit: I tried to find real quick the site and post I'm thinking of but no dice just yet.
I know I was looking at it in detail just 2 weeks ago and I may have to go thorugh my browser history but I'll locate it...

Anyway in the mean time here are a few other sources you might review which provide commentary for and against:
"Flexible Body Armor Saves PSD/Security Operator from 7.62x39mm API Round Hits"
Posted on Sunday, July 10 @ 01:03:40 PDT by davidc

"DefRev Exclusive Video: Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin Gets Live-Fire Tested"
Posted on Monday, February 27 @ 10:19:53 PST by davidc

"Army Orders Soldiers to Shed Dragon Skin or Lose SGLI Death Benefits"
By Nathaniel R. Helms
Soldiers for the Truth
Saturday 14 January 2006
- Janq

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247 Posts
You beat me to the DefenseRev linky Janq :)

This fight has been going on for some time. The Air Force conducted their own test of the DS armor in response to the Army's refusal to have a side by side test of the product, the DS was better. no suprise if you watch the vids of how much punishment this thing can take. I'll post the link of the AF test if I can find it.

I'll bet the folks at Interceptor are spending wads and gobs of cash to secure their contracts with th army...

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4,133 Posts
Phew!!!....That took effort but it paid off.

I was finally able to locate the link and information I spoke of earlier.
I'm not going to repost his posting because it goes on for three parts though it is very much worth the read if you have serious interest in this product.

"Dragon Skin Testing and the Truth"
05-20-2007, 19:21
- The Reaper

"Project Manager Soldier Equipment Briefing on the May 2006 Evaluation of Pinnacle Armor SOV 3000 'Dragon Skin' "
- The Reaper

Media Counterpoint via NBC News (old news)
"Are U.S. soldiers wearing the best body armor? NBC News puts Interceptor and Dragon Skin to the test"
By Adam Ciralsky and Lisa Myers
NBC News Investigative Unit
Updated: 7:49 p.m. ET May 20, 2007

- Janq
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