I was introduced to Citizen Armor late last year. Their proprietary manufacturing and materials have set them apart as the “light-weight” body armor company. Their products are not the cheapest option but I was intrigued by their commitment to quality, their NIJ test results, and frankly feel they you still get more for your money than with most competitors.
We interviewed Russell Steed on The Concealed Carry Podcast in March 2018 and I decided to give the T-Shield a try.
*Now, before we go any further let me disclaim that I have not personally shot the T-Shield to see how it performs. I have seen video from my friends at Culper Precision who did shoot it and I've seen the NIJ test results which are very strict and thorough so I'm personally comfortable with the assumption that it will perform as it relates to stopping bullets as advertised. This review is more focused on the comfort and practical daily use of the product.
In the first picture above you see my back (in the Guardian Nation shirt) wearing the T-Shield from Citizen Armor. In the next picture (directly above) you see me from the front while wearing the T-Shield.
The first thing I learned about trying to conceal the T-Shield under clothing is that like increasing pant size for an IWB holster, you will probably need to increase your shirt size to conceal body armor even as light and low profile as the T-Shield from Citizen Armor.
As you can see from the above pictures from a distance or at first sight most people probably wouldn't pick up on the body armor BUT at close examination, you would notice. I'm wearing my normal size medium shirts in both of these pictures. If I wear a large shirt (which I own very few right now) then it starts to disappear a lot more.
My experiments with wearing the T-Shield in public had mixed results. Sometimes people noticed, sometimes people didn't. The size of shirt and even the style/material of shirt made a difference. Shiny polo shirts, any polyester, and tighter fitting shirts gave me up every time. Cotton, darker colors, and naturally looser fitting shirts do a great job at concealing.
Below is a video put out by the company that does a good job of showing you the profile of the T-Shield and how it can be concealed.
Body armor comfort is relative. Compared to putting on a steel plate carrier this thing is a miracle. The T-Shield is so lightweight that I really do forget that I'm wearing it most of the time. When I do some sort of unusual body movement like bending over to pick up something then I'm reminded it is there but it doesn't become painful or uncomfortable.
Now, if you have never worn any body armor and this product was to be your first experience I think you can expect a comfortable learning curve. It isn't heavy but it does add just enough bulk around your chest to remind you it is there. Again relative to other product options I think this is amazing … absolutely miraculous, but it isn't like wearing an undershirt.
Now, if you stumbled upon this and you are wondering if you can justify the cost of something like this let me just say I'm sympathetic. The T-Shield is a $250+ product and that takes it outside the cost range of toys and leisure spending for most of us. That said, consider that it costs less than a decent firearm and can do just as much to save your life as your firearm can.
For me, I don't see it as a daily carry solution at this time. Maybe one day I will get there but I still feel the investment is worth it when I do wear it.
I always wear it to the gun range. I figure construction workers wear hard hats and shooters should consider body armor. In our Negligent Discharge Study, we found that 3.5% of negligent discharges take place at gun ranges. Since my risk is inherently increased when surrounded by people handling firearms, I think the body armor is an appropriate part of my personal protection gear.
In addition, I think body armor makes sense when in places where the risk is greater or you may not be allowed to have a firearm. For example, if I was attending a concert, a movie theater, or any place with bigger crowds. Also when flying on an airplane, visiting a state where I can't take my firearm, or other gun free zones may be a great place to use my body armor.
Don't get me wrong. I think the argument can be made for wearing body armor Every Day as part of an EDC loadout but like most things, it will take some lifestyle changes for me to get there and in the meanwhile, I will deploy it in situations where I think my risk is greater.
What are your thoughts about body armor? Have you considered it thus far? Let us know in the comments below.
*Disclaimer, ConcealedCarry.com has entered into a business relationship with Citizen Armor. We now sell their products in our online store but this review is sincere and honest based on my own experience with the product.