Announced on Aug 3, the US Department of Justice has decided to decertify Pinnacle Inc’s Dragon Skin personal body armor.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced today that it has determined that the Pinnacle Armor, Inc. bulletproof vest model SOV 2000.1/MIL3AF01, is not in compliance with the requirements of OJP’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) voluntary compliance testing program for bullet-resistant body armor. Effective immediately, this body armor model will be removed from the NIJ list of bullet-resistant body armor models that satisfy its requirements. Pinnacle Armor, Inc. is the maker of “dragon skin” body armor.
NIJ, OJP’s research, development, and evaluation component, has reviewed evidence provided by the body armor manufacturer and has determined that the evidence is insufficient to demonstrate that the body armor model will maintain its ballistic performance over its six-year declared warranty period.
This is a severe blow to Pinnacle’s campaign to have Dragon Skin fielded by the US Army and put into service in combat. Pinnacle had previously used NIJ certification as evidence that Dragon Skin is of sufficient quality to be used in combat. That line of argument is now taken away. For the record, NIJ certification standards and Army certification standards are not identical, so that line of argument was always a bit of a red herring.
Pinnacle calls the DoJ’s move “unprecedented” and says that it’s working with DoJ to resolve the warranty issue.
Now, when I describe Pinnacle’s ongoing effort to get Dragon Skin deployed with US troops in combat as a “campaign,” that’s exactly what I mean. To refresh our memories, take a look at this story that we aired here on Hot Air back in July.
Since we aired that story, it’s become evident to me that NBC’s Lisa Meyers allowed herself and her network to be used by Pinnacle in a disinformation campaign designed to tout Dragon Skin and undermine confidence in the Army’s honesty and its ability to conduct fair and open laboratory tests. That campaign included getting coverage favorable to Dragon Skin on not only NBC, but on at least two other networks, the Military Network and the History Channel, on the shows Future Weapons and Mail Call respectively. Both shows attract pro-military audiences, and both shows tested Dragon Skin and touted its capabilities. Here are clips from both shows.
In both of these stories, as in NBC’s story, it’s clear that Pinnacle is actually controlling the “tests” shown. I put “tests” in scare quotes because that’s what you’re seeing, not actual, fair and Army grade tests, but “tests.” The evidence for Pinnacle’s control is mainly in the Mail Call segment, as host R. Lee Ermey thanks Pinnacle for allowing Mail Call to come to the company’s premises and see Dragon Skin in action. Note the range, the initial test shooter, and the presence of Pinnacle CEO Murray Neal in both the Mail Call and Future Weapons segments. Pinnacle was in control of both tests the whole time. Note also that in both segments, the test shots are fired exclusively from the front, not the rear or sides.
That’s not how the Army tests body armor, though. The Army puts body armor through testing that includes temperature extremes, contact with common fluids like motor oil, and test shots fired from multiple angles, as that’s more realistic than mere front-only test shots. The NBC story claims to have commissioned “independent, side-by-side” tests that show Dragon Skin to be superior to Interceptor, but watch the NBC story closely and you’ll see that, once again, you’re only shown frontal shots into the armor. As NBC didn’t divulge the details of its testing, viewers have no way of knowing whether its “independent, side-by-side” tests are valid or not. That NBC chose a lab in Germany rather than use either of the US labs that the Army has certified for testing ought to raise suspicions as well. NBC’s test looks very similar to the “tests” that Pinnacle was able to get aired on Future Weapons and Mail Call, and therefore doesn’t appear to be any more reliable than what those other shows depicted. One would reasonably think that NBC’s journalistic standards would be above those of two cable network rah-rah shows. One would evidently be mistaken for thinking so.
By placing pro-Dragon Skin stories on two programs that attract pro-military audiences and military family audiences and on one of the country’s premiere news networks, Pinnacle evidently sought to build a groundswell of support for Dragon Skin among those with the most at stake in the Army’s choice of body armor: military members and their families. NBC’s story in particular had a major effect, with hearings convened in Congress that turned the controversy into a political issue. Will NBC now follow-up with honest reporting and real testing, noting that DoJ has decertified Dragon Skin body armor? I’m not holding my breath.