February 6, 2013

Magnum Antiballistic Systems VP Traveler Bag and Bounty Hunter Backpack

Magnum Antiballistic Systems has developed a series of carry bags that incorporate soft anti-ballistic armor to provide emergency protection from an armed threat.

We had been working on completing this review when we heard about the tragic terrorist attacks that took place in Norway. After bombing several government buildings, the homegrown terrorist disguised himself as a policeman, and killed 69 children attending a politically-themed summer camp. Then came the London riots, where roving mobs attacked an unarmed populace. These events reinforced several realities in today’s world. As gun owners we understand and appreciate our Second Amendment Rights, and many of us utilize concealed carry, and home defense firearms to protect ourselves and our loved ones. However we also must face the fact these predators often attack the weakest and most undefended, particular our children when we’re not there to defend them. Columbine High School and Virginia Tech are two terrible examples on our own soil that demonstrate this awful fact.

As a reaction to these type of tragedies, a company called Magnum Antiballistic Systems began manufacturing a series of products to provide emergency personal protection from an armed threat. They have developed a Class IIIA rated soft anti-ballistic panel, measuring 16.5” x 12.5”W x .5”D, with a weight of only 20oz., and inserted into a series of bags and backpacks Before we get into the review of the Magnum Antiballistic Systems carry bags, let’s discuss the sometimes confusing classification system given to body armor.

The National Institute of Justice has a rating system for body armor and anti-ballistic panels (NIJ Standard 0101.03, 0101.04 / 05 and 0101.06). Each class sets a standard for the type and number of rounds the panel must withstand. As a rule, the higher the number the more anti-ballistic characteristics it exhibits..The current rating system is comprised of the following Classes: IIA, II, IIiA. III, and IV. Class I is not in the current standard, but was used in the past to represent the barely anti-ballistic “flak” jacket. The highest classes of III and IV concern stopping rifle rounds and move into steel or ceramic hard plates.

Magnum Antiballistic System Class IIIA Soft panel

Panels are not just tested for stopping penetration, but also for blunt trauma protection– the blow suffered by the body from the bullet's impact on the vest. Blunt trauma is measured by the dent suffered by a soft clay backstop to the vest– a maximum of 1.7" (44 mm) is allowed. Class IIIA offers the highest blunt force protection rating in soft body armor. It is considered best for very high-risk situations to cover more of the uncommon or unusual threats. It minimizes blunt force trauma, allowing for more movement after contact.

Under the newest standard (0101.06) Class IIIA panels must withstand up to six rounds from a.357 SIG with a 125 gr. FMJ (FN) traveling at a velocity of 1470fps (+/-30) and a .44 Magnum 240 gr. Semi-Jacketed Hollowpoint (SJHP) with a velocity of 1340fps (+/-30). The testing standards cover many other requirements too voluminous to be covered in the space of this article, but can fully viewed on the NIJ website.

We had the opportunity to wear and function-test two of the Magnum Antiballistic Systems products: the VP Traveler soft computer bag/briefcase and the Bounty Hunter Backpack. The VP Traveler is a shoulder worn computer bag/soft briefcase for the mobile businessman. The Bounty Hunter Backpack is designed for the student and commuter rather than a jaunt into the great outdoors. We weren’t able to put the bag through our own ballistic assaults, but did receive the NIJ Certifications on the anti-ballistic panels. There is a demonstration video on the Magnum Antiballistic Systems website that more than fully demonstrates the bullet-stopping capabilities. We started our evaluation with an initial inspection of the two bags for fit finish. We were pleased to find that both the computer bag and the backpack were well-constructed, with a lot of small details in their design to make them truly function as first rate luggage, not just a vessel s to hold the anti-ballistic panels. The construction of both bags was solid, incorporating heavy duty zippers with sewn-on pulls, internal compartments were well-constructed, and both bags featured more than adequate padding. We would have considered either bag for personal use, even if without their personal protection extras.

VP Traveler Bag

Our next step was to spend some travel time with both bags. The Bounty Hunter was assigned to a college student for his daily commute to school. The VP Traveler went out on a number of business trips, including a trip to Pittsburgh for this year’s NRA Show. After approximately sixty days of wear, we compiled our results. The VP Traveler proved to be a joy as a mobile business center. The exterior of the bag includes a compartment for airline tickets, cell phone, and even a water bottle. Inside, the computer sleeve was expandable, with a soft padded interior and a velcro security strap. The middle organizer section of the bag housed the anti-ballistic panel. It occupied the entire width and length of this section. Its fit was snug in the compartment, so we didn’t feel it required any additional strapping to hold it in place. Two other zippered compartments housed a set of expandable files, and an organizer compartment with storage for keys, pens, and business cards. A rubber molded handle, padded shoulder strap, and a unique Pullman attachment sleeve gave us several carrying options.

The Bounty Hunter was subjected to the daily grind of a full-time student, and part-time worker. Our tester found that the bag’s total capacity of 2,350cu. in. was well utilized. The Bounty Hunter has two main compartments: One located on the padded back panel which served as a larger computer case, and another which contained the anti-ballistic panel. There was plenty of room for books, and even a change of clothes if a computer wasn’t carried. He was surprised to find a top pocket design to handle an iPod or MP3 player with a cleverly design headphone exit port. Three side pockets were available with one large enough to handle a hydration bottle. An organizer compartment had plenty of room for pens, pencils, and other accessories as well as a key holder. Padded shoulder straps and a handy padded grab handle provided carrying options. Our only complaint? The larger backpack was equipped with the same size panel as our briefcase. This left approximately a three inch gap from the top of the panel to the upper portion of the backpack. We prefer to get as much coverage of vital areas as possible. When we contacted the folks at Magnum Antiballistic Products about this issue, they agreed that they would produce a longer 24in. x 24in. panel as an option for an additional $50, making the modified version $395 MSRP.

Bounty Hunter Backpack

We found that the bags produced by Magnum Antiballistic Systems to be first rate products with a thoughtful design. They aren’t necessarily cheap at $375 for the VP Traveler and $349 for the as tested Bounty Hunter Backpack, but not way out of line when compared to certain “bouquet” lines of luggage. We can guarantee however, that the designer name tag won’t stop a .44 Magnum, and the extra protection afforded the wearer of the Magnum Antiballistic bag in case of emergency is priceless.

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