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Point Blank Solutions' ThorShield

Written by Darin Dowe

A less-lethal weapon is one not intended to cause death or great bodily harm. However, if an officer were to have his TASER® taken and used against him, the resulting incapacitation certainly could result in injury or death. There have been many cases nationwide in which a suspect has obtained an officer’s TASER and used it against him or his partner.

Fortunately, none of these incidents have resulted in the death or serious injury of an officer. Officers must always be ready to defend their TASER but must also be cognizant of the civilian threat. A new technology exists that may provide an additional defense.

The two business units under Point Blank Solutions Inc.—Point Blank Body Armor and PACA Body Armor—are marketing concealable and tactical body armor with ThorShield™ fabric. This conductive material lining, as thin as a T-shirt, is sewn to the inside of the ballistic carrier.

The company has provided documentation that ThorShield can protect the wearer from the effects of a wide variety of electronic control devices, including all versions of the TASER, stun guns and cattle prods. ThorShield prevents or reduces the intended electro-neuromuscular disruption. The material allows the electricity to follow the path of least resistance, which is the ThorShield fabric.

ThorShield closes the electric circuit before the electricity enters human tissue. The TASER M26 generates up to 5,000 volts, and the X26 peaks at 1,200 volts. The TASER can attain 50,000 volts (maximum) when delivering current through a barrier (like clothing) to close this electric circuit. Once closed, the voltage drops, and the suspect is subjected to the effects of less-lethal. Although 50,000 volts is not the sustained voltage, the ThorShield will defeat it.

Testing the ThorShield

Tests were conducted to verify the claims of the manufacturer. A TASER X26 with a 15-foot cartridge was used. The darts were deployed into a Point Blank Vision® concealable body armor with ThorShield. The X26 was also used to deliver drive stuns. For the test to be deemed successful, the darts were required to strike the vest center mass with no more than 2 feet of separation.

For the drive stun, the TASER was required to maintain contact with the body armor while worn by the test subject. Once the darts, and then the TASER (drive stun), were in contact with the vest, a full 5-second cycle was delivered. If the darts or TASER did not stay in contact with the vest, the test was deemed a failure and then repeated.

During this evaluation, six different tests were conducted to verify the effectiveness of the ThorShield material. The first test was a drive stun to a test subject who was holding a loose sample of the ThorShield fabric. The drive stun had no effect on the test subject. The remaining tests were against the concealable armor while being worn by the tester. The second, third and fourth tests were drive stuns to the left shoulder, chest and back of the concealable body. The result was that there was no electro-neuromuscular disruption or effect. Each drive stun was conducted one time for a full TASER cycle.

In fairness, it should be noted that thick clothing, layered clothing and body armor without ThorShield can also prevent or reduce the effects of an electronic control device. However, the wearer of standard armor can feel the effects of the device if both darts strike the body armor without ThorShield.

ThorShield proved to be effective in reducing or defeating the effects of the TASER X26. The ThorShield material is not a noticeable addition to the vest; therefore, comfort is not affected. Point Blank Body Armor and PACA Body Armor offer ThorShield as a free upgrade on certain lines of body armor and for a nominal fee on other lines.

Lt. Darin D. Dowe is a 24-year veteran of a Florida sheriff’s office, veteran SWAT operator, tactical WMD program coordinator, SWAT instructor in multiple disciplines and former sniper. He can be reached at dddswat@aol.com.

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2011

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