I’m going to preface review this with I have no financial interest in this product, I don’t make a dime selling them. They shouldn’t need to exist but that’s not their fault.
They gave me two to test, thus are my dealings with them. There are others on the market, I have not tested them.
Skip this part if you live in the US. You live it already.
It’s 2018, this is America: School shootings, random attacks, and just general gun violence have become an ongoing buzz so long that it’s becoming perfectly clear nothing effective is ever going to be done about it. In 2017 there were almost 3,949 children under the age of 18 killed or injured and the population of a small city was shot.
In 2018, as of May 2018 there had been 28 school shootings with 40 killed and 66 injured. Or about one kid every day and a half in school.
Arming teachers, adding guards, militarizing schools, there’s still going to be loss of life before someone can react. It seems odd in 2018 we can spectrum analyze a planet billions of miles away to determine it has water and iron but we can’t pick up a 5 pound hunk of metal on a kid walking toward a school.
Thus begins the most morbid product review I’ve ever embarked on. A product that can at least give your child some protection from a what’s increasingly becoming the norm.
Keep in mind here what we should do isn’t going to happen, the easy solution isn’t happening, the right solution isn’t happening, and we’ve been in the same argument as long as I can remember. Nobody’s going to do anything effective in this country.
This is simply a product to provide some attempt at safety.
What is the SentryShield?
The SentryShield comes in two flavors. A handbag/laptop bag, and a backpack insert. Both appear to be the same product with a slightly different shape and weight. Each provides you with a level III-A body armor cushion that fits in something you’re already carrying.
It’s also light enough that you’re not hauling a steel plate around and will probably carry it without complaints.
In a pinch it can be used as a seat cushion, discovered that randomly.
Here’s a list of what SentryShield claims it will stop:
But does it?
Short answer: yes. I’m going to preface that because the next part is fairly long.
On a dreary Saturday morning with the remnants of Hurricane Florence looming over Tennessee, I drove 36 miles to meet with a former police officer and current reservist on a test range in Gallatin, TN.
I’d been given two SentryShields – the backpack and handbag model. Both, it should be noted, said they were the backpack version on the labeling and even do so on the website. The only difference I could tell was a little bit of shaping and weight.
The plan was to completely destroy one of the two and then move on to the next. We chose the handbag insert and put it against a cheap table piece to show impact.
Next up was 9mm. Damage to the shell where it entered was evident, but no rear damage. Table it was up against looked like someone hit it with a hammer.
Next was two types of 10MM ammo, range and $2 a pop hollow point. Here we start to see some impact issues on the back of the SentryShield
It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but there were small dents on the back of the SentryShield. More from the cheap range ammo than the hollow point.
At this point a 12 gauge .00 was fired four times into the same spot at point blank range. The table behind the SentryShield was shattered, the back of the SentryShield was expanded, however there was no penetration.
The table was so damaged from the first three shots that it had to be turned over. Unscientifically estimating it was about the equivalent of a sledgehammer smacking into the wood.
The rear of the SentryShield looked terrible, a plastic plate underneath had expanded and warped, the rear ripped, a piece of padding ripped as well, however nothing got through.
At this point a compound bow was brought out to put the Sentry Shield out of its misery. After surviving 4x .22, 4x 9mm, 4z 10mm, 4x 12 gauge .00 shotgun blasts at point blank, two arrows and a $26 arrowhead finally managed to penetrate the SentryShield with an item it was specifically not made to handle (no class IIIa body armor is made to handle arrows). Once again, these things are not meant to handle attackers with 50 pound compound bows and drillbit like arrowheads. Even so, this was as far as the arrow managed to get.
Pulling the SentryShield apart
I’m told this is kevlar. The smell was weird, although with a lot of gunpowder and plastic burns it may have just been that.
We pulled the SentryShield apart and attempted to get all the spent ammo out of the thing. Much of it fell out heading back from the range, but the above shows a good deal of what it stopped.
Thoughts on the SentryShield
The two options with the SentryShield are 24 & 28 ounces, which for an adult an extra pound and a half isn’t going to make or break most. For smaller children it’s something to consider as it may cause them to reach a tipping point in what they can and cannot carry.
Remember, more or less a child’s weight * .15 is the maximum weight they should be carrying.
While nothing penetrated, the force was enough to destroy the table behind it. While I assume there would be a book or something in the backpack or laptop case that would dissipate a blow, if it were right against a back in an empty backpack the hits would range from stinging (.22,) to very hard sledgehammer hit to the back (12 gauge.) Even with a SentryShield and no penetration you might not survive that.
The SentryShield is relatively small. It can probably be held in such a way that it can protect someone from an attacker, and it probably would protect the heart and spine, and maybe I’m overthinking this. Then again, if I was facing a lunatic with a firearm I’d probably want about sixteen of these. You work with what you’ve got.
Shots fired from rifles will most likely not be stopped as the projectiles go up to three times as fast and carry significantly more kinetic energy. From very brief googling it looks like class 4 armor is the required starting point for rifles.
This product shouldn’t need to exist. That said it’s not this product’s fault it exists.
It appeared to do what it claimed. I expected to penetrate it with a shell at some point and we did not.