SentryShield Level IIIA backpack insert

 SentryShield is making a IIIA ballistic panel intended for backpacks. I noticed the press release a while back and inquired about it. Sentry Shield then sent me a panel to review. Having a teenage daughter that attends high school, any bit of extra protection for her is a good thing. Plus, I get the advantage of using it also.

 I am going to not actually shoot at this ballistic panel. Having a NIJ (National Institute of Justice) certified level IIIA rating tells me what I need to know about its protection level. I have shot level IIIA vests, so I understand what this level of protection does. This rating is for handguns only, as rifles and fast moving projectiles will pass right through the armor. Click on the picture wheel to see what level IIIA is. Remember level IIIA covers the previous levels also.

 Now that that's out if the way. The SentryShield panel is made of UHMWPE (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) thread woven together. It then has a nylon shell around the UHMWPE. UHMWPE does have its pros and cons. One big pro is its weight. The 16.25×11.75” panel only weighs 1.74 pounds. So putting it in a pack is barely noticeable. Another pro is its slim size. At less than ½ inch thick, it doesn't take up much of the useful space in your pack. Now a downside to UHMWPE is temperature. Basically you want to keep it between -15°F and 150°F. Anything above or below this specification and the material will start to degrade. And no one wants that in a ballistic panel.

 Some of you might be wondering why anyone would want or need this. Well, we live in an unpredictable society. A backpack or laptop bag is basically a man purse. Anyone seen wearing or carrying one is not really noticed. Now you can blend in and still have some ballistic protection, if needed. With a backpack, if the need arises, one can just put the backpack on backward, and have a front level IIIA protection while keeping your hands free to do other work. As mentioned earlier, you can equip a child with a ballistic panel, without adding huge amounts of weight. It may not be rated for rifle rounds, but level IIIA is better than nothing to keep a loved one safe.

 Gun fire is also not the only use for ballistic panels. As we have seen, explosives can be a hazard also. Just look at the Boston marathon bombing. Panel's, like the Sentry Shield, may also protect you from shrapnel or flying metal produced by an explosion.

 I know we are talking about just one single ballistic panel. But, what about the use of it against blunt objects. Every body armor I've tried, seemed to also help with spreading out the force, of say, a bat, or even a fist. So a backpack panel might also help you out of other situations.

 When I used the backpack panel, I really didn’t even notice it. The panel slides nicely into most packs. I happen to slide it in the laptop section of my pack. The Sentry Shield panel does goes have a front and back side, just remember to put the side labelled “strike face” outward, away from your body. I really did not even notice the panel when carrying the backpack. If you want a smaller panel, they make one for a handbag, so it is slightly smaller.

 The SentryShield ballistic panel is pretty nice. It fits into just about anything, even a plate carrier, if one wanted to do so. The price is excellent at $90. It’s rated for most handgun and shotgun rounds. So if you’re in the market for something like this, go check out SentryShield.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Level IIIA ballistic panel for backpacks

Target Market:

Travelers, children, those wanting ballistic protection without the typical “vest”

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • NIJ level IIIA

  • 16.25×11.75”

  • Less than ½” thick

  • 1.74 lbs

  • -15 to 150 F temperature range

  • Made in China

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Handbag version

What others are saying?:

Kerry 5/5 stars at Sentry Shield
Fit great and actually comfortable
I have a backpack that I really like because it has a weird kinda design that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else so I didn’t want to replace it, even though everyone’s talking about bulletproof backpacks nowadays. I can’t afford a bulletproof tactical backpack and a kevlar vest is uncomfortable. My friend told me about inserts and then I saw that SentryShield makes them. It came to me in about 2 days (business) and it’s made nice. it fits the weird inner slot of my backpack perfectly. I’m hoping I never have to use it, but I’m glad I got it. I did have some questions about the product and I called customer service. They were nice!

Link to other reviews:

Best Travel Gear

Price point:

MSRP = $120.00

Retail = $89.99

I need it now! Availability:


Our Rating:


  • Lightweight

  • Fits into most packs well

  • Price

  • Slim


  • Made in China

  • Temperature range

Score: 8.00 Great


Favorite Link:   Medford Knife & Tool

Safe Life Defense Soft Body Armor

 Safe LIfe Defense contacted me to see if I would review some of their soft body armor. Of course the answer was an astounding YES. Safe LIfe did supply the armor for free. Safe Life Defense has a bunch of different styles of carriers and armor combinations. Their website has a wealth of information on protection levels, care, and other questions one might have on body armor.  The one reviewed here is the Concealable Enhanced Multi-threat level IIIa+ vest.

  What do you do when you first receive a vest, try it on of course. I immediately noticed the comfort. The mesh style liner that Safe Life uses is actually very comfortable. It even kind of slides around over a T-shirt. This helps to not pull up an undershirt or whatever the armor is worn over. The vest also has 6 “comfort straps” that use hook & loop, with elastic between each end, to adjust each side and the top for fit and comfort. One strap for each shoulder adjustment, and two on each side. I have a bit of a belly, and this vest adjusted and fit very well. I did notice that when I crouch down that the vest did tend to rise up a little, but I think this is pretty common.  If you are concealed carrying IWB, the vest does get in the way of the draw.  I think practice drawing your firearm, should remedy this. Some of this may be due to the fact that the sides of the vest wrap around your sides. 15% more protection than other vests, according to Safe Life. If someone were to ask me about comfort, I’d give it a thumbs up.

Inside of vest on top of ballistic panel

 I proceeded to disassemble the vest. The outer shell is made from a ripstop polyester and has proven to take a beating from being shot at. The seams won’t let you down either. We put a few rounds through the edge seams, then I tried to unravel them and pull them apart. Well, that didn’t work for me. So don’t worry about the seams coming unravelled and the inner panel falling out. The inner panel is where all the magic happens. This is the ballistic portion of the vest. It is constructed of a red color outer fabric with the Kevlar sheets inside. The ballistic panel is about ½”-¾” thick. The seams of the panel are welded together.  The outer layer of the ballistic panel is also constructed of a ripstop fabric. This helps aid in the fabric not coming apart when the vest is stabbed or shot. When shooting at the vest, we did have a .357 round blow out about an inch of the ballistic panel seam, but it stopped the round and didn’t cause the vest anymore damage. The shot was also very close to the edge of the panel.  After shooting the vest, I then tore into the inside. Inside the red fabric are super thin sheets of kevlar, stacked one on top of each other. How many, I don’t know, but it works. Also inside the panel is a piece of some sort of foam. This is the side that goes up against your body. This has to be for comfort and also to help ease the sting a little if one were to actually get shot while wearing the vest. The vest does use a different front and rear panel size, so you won’t be able to move the rear panel to the front, I tried! These panels fit inside the carrier by way of a low profile hook & loop seam/flap. Another nice feature is the ability to put rifle/hard armor plates into the front and rear outer plate pockets on the carrier. These also use a hook & loop closure to keep them closed up. I really like the construction of this vest. Through all the testing, it held up remarkably well.

Rifle Plate pocket

 Now I will get into the vests stopping ability, or at least what we threw at it. I made a wood backed target stand, installed a USPSA target on it, then placed the vest over the target. I am just going to list what we shot the vest with, and then what was stopped by it, all were shot at 10yards.

Ballistic panel welded seams

Shot through seam, this might hurt.

Blowout from .357 magnum round, seam still partially intact

  • .22lr rifle stopped

  • 9mm 5” pistol 115gr fmj stopped

  • 9mm 5” pistol 124gr +P HP stopped

  • 9mm 5” pistol 147gr FP stopped

  • 357 magnum 6” revolver 158gr JHP stopped

  • 357 magnum 6” revolver 125gr FMJ stopped

  • 40s&w 4” pistol 180gr FP stopped

  • 40s&w 4” pistol 165gr +9 HP stopped

  • 41 magnum 6” revolver 210gr JHP stopped

  • 45acp 5” pistol 185gr +P HP stopped

  • 45acp 5” pistol 230gr FMJ stopped

  • 12 gauge 3” buckshot stopped

  • 12 gauge 3” slug stopped

  • 17HMR rifle 20gr FMJ Didn’t stop

  • 30 Carbine 110gr FMJ Didn’t stop

  • 300blk 10.5” 220gr Didn’t stop

I didn’t expect the vest to stop the 17hmr, 30 carbine, or the 300 blk, but we tried anyhow. The vest was also shot multiple times with all the “stopped” cartridges without any of them going through the kevlar. Some of the more potent cartridges did leave a small dent in the wood target backing, mainly the 357 magnum and 12 gauge slug. Since the vest is also rated for some stab protection, I tried stabbing it with a spire point knife. I wasn’t able to stab through the kevlar.

Kevlar after being shot multiple times

Seams of vest after being shot a few times

Bullets pulled from inside of ballistic panel

 Everyone that helped me test the armor was pleased with the outcome. In my opinion, I would trust wearing it with my life, at least for what it is rated. Plus, if you actually get shot while wearing this armor, Safe Life will replace it free, as long as it is in it’s 5 year lifespan. Speaking of lifespan, there is a manufacture date on the ballistic panel, and Safe Life rates the armor to be good 5 years from that date. The 5 year date is pretty standard for soft body armor.

Side view when wearing armor

 If you need or want soft body armor, look into the team at Safe Life Defense. I was thrilled at the opportunity to see what this IIIa+ armor could do, and it didn’t let me down. If you can ever get the chance to see or shoot body armor yourself, do it. It really gives a person a better idea of what armor actually will stop.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Level III+ rated soft body armor

Target Market:

Police, EMS, Security, Instructors, or anyone wanting soft body armor

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • NIJ Level IIIa+

  • Bullet, strike, slash, stab & special threat resistant

  • Special threat resistant: Liberty Civil Defense 9mm & FN 5.7×28 40gr

  • Spike/Stab Rating: NIJ Level 1 up to 36 Joules of force

  • Constructed with custom Kevlar

  • Full side protection

  • Ultra-concealable

  • Engineered for comfort and maneuverability

  • Cooling mesh liner

  • 10 Point adjustable with 4 Comfort Straps

  • 2 low profile pockets for level IV rifle plates

  • Water resistant ripstop polyester carrier

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

Sand or white

Various other styles

What others are saying?:

Link to other reviews:


Price point:

MSRP = $499.00

I need it now! Availability:

Safe Life Defense

Our Rating:


  • Comfort Straps

  • Rifle plate pouch

  • Vent liner

  • Comfortable to wear

  • NIJ IIIa+ rated


  • Heavy

  • Hot

Score: 8.00 Great



Favorite Link:  US Tactical Supply