Picture of Armored messenger bag
First caveat, this is not a cheap project. The bag is about $140 plus tax and the armor plates will run close $200 for new ones. You'll need access to a sewing machine and a few other minor things as well. All told it's close to a $400 project. 

If you are a journalist, work late nights in retail or the restaurant industry or live in a bad neighborhood you might have very rational reasons to want something like this. If you are in law enforcement or military service you've already got what you need. That being said...

In all seriousness, there really is no reason most of us will ever actually "need" anything like this at all. This Instructable is for entertainment purposes only, as in, not even educational purposes. Building, owning or using body armor may even be illegal where you live. If you have been convicted of felony you are likely prohibited from owning or using ballistic armor. Committing even misdemeanor offenses while using body armor in some cases may elevate those infractions to much higher level crimes. Please to not build something like this and use it at any sort of protest or even while you on a graffiti run. If you get caught but weren't in real/serious trouble before, you will be when your bag is searched and found to be armored. This is in fact my giant disclaimer and warning. If you build this, you are on your own.  

This Instructable is how I armored my bag to level IIIA+. 
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Arkieeskimo10 months ago

Armor is not illegal in fact you can but it on line at places like AR500.com. Your right most of use may never need it but when and if you should need it you can't call timeout to go get it.but good instructable

Culturespy (author)  Arkieeskimo10 months ago
That's correct. Armor itself is generally not ilegal but using it while comitting a crime will almost always increase the severity of any charges and in some municipalities individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes are prohibited from possessing and using body armor. Open availability of armor should not be equated with legality of use. As with most Instructibles, check local laws before doing anything you even think might get you into trouble. An easy way to find out your local situation is to ask a law enforcement officer.
onrust2 years ago
Chrome products ROCK!
Aaronius3 years ago
McMaster-Carr sells 6 different pair of Kevlar-cutting scissors, like 2498A28 and 3897A11.
cancersux4 years ago
Is this the citizen, mini metro, or metropolis? I have the citizen.
Culturespy (author)  cancersux4 years ago
It is a Citizen and any Citizen should work. I've also armored and roll-top "Ivan" since writing this. It was a complete no brainer and required no cutting or fitting. Any ballistic plate should do. It's got a couple obvious places to slip the armor in.

DCTribble4 years ago
Body armor for civilians:

ilpug4 years ago
i find it funny that they make it illegal for law abiding citizens to buy protective devices.
The reason is that sometimes law abiding citizens become criminals. And armored criminals are a big hassle for everyone.
Criminals can get anything they want anyway. Mansions, cars, boats, planes, do you really think they have a problem getting personal armor or anything else they want to get?

Laws only apply to law-abiding citizens. Laws that infringe on basic human rights like self-defense only hurt those who already follow the law and have absolutely no effect on those who don't follow the law.
Maybe that is true, but still, there is no reason to make it even easier for them.
What you're missing: making it "hard" for criminals means infringing on the rights of people who are not criminals. If you think law-abiding people should be harmed and have their rights infringed for doing nothing wrong "just in case" there's really nothing more to say.
@Culturespy: I think you mean "aren't" a convicted criminal.

@Johnzilla: It's not a black and white issue. If I have to go through a background check to buy a rocket launcher, so be it. If it was a free-for-all, which no checks for anyone, even the smallest crimes would be committed by people with firearms, body armor, and no tags on their mattresses. The idea that the way to stop outlaws is by giving up rule of law is a sound idea, but the result is less ideal than how we have it now.
Culturespy (author)  skipernicus4 years ago
You make a very cogent point, though another might be that committing a crime while using body armor carries a much higher penalty, as it should. In this way the rule of law is in no way infringed nor are the rights of law abiding citizens to defend themselves if they choose to without trampling on the rights of others. Further while I think it's fine that body armor is openly obtainable I wouldn't have an issue with needing a background check to buy it in the same way firearms are restricted.

Though, no amount of background checks are going to stop anyone from obtaining much of anything they want if they are willing to ignore the law. Something criminals routinely demonstrate they are not only willing but pleased to do.

I think it's also kind of an argument by extension as well as a Red Herring to combine an argument for body armor regulation with firearms regulation. While cladistically related, they are functionally on opposite ends of the spectrum.

This discussion could go on forever with at least one point we can agree on, "it's not a black and white issue."
Agreed. Now lets get back to building cool stuff!
Culturespy (author)  skipernicus4 years ago
In most of the US civilian use of body armor us perfectly legal as long as you are a convicted felon. Use of body armor by law abiding citizens in no way endangers anyone. A stronger case can be made for it as a passive deterrent to violent crime in the same way ballistic resistant glass protects bank tellers, clerks and other at risk law abiding citizens.

Culturespy (author)  Culturespy4 years ago
Yikes! Typo! I did indeed mean "NOT" a convicted felon.
Culturespy (author)  skipernicus4 years ago
That is a slippery slope.

Wally_Z4 years ago
Good luck finding armored plates as a civilian. Try some methods like stacked issues of magazines or phonebooks. Even if a civilian could find plates, the starting cost for them is around $300.
Zephyris4 years ago
Surely the performance of bullet proofing is severly reduced when not held against a body? I thought a key requirement of this type of armour was a semi-solid support behind it to help prevent ripping on impact...
Culturespy (author)  Zephyris4 years ago
arty Zephyris4 years ago
You got it backwards.

Imagine an arrow hitting a sheet; is the arrow more likely to penetrate if the sheet is hanging on a line or pulled tight around a tree?

The same applies on the other end of the gun. The reason the shooter isn't hurt is because (s)he recoiled with the gun. Periodically people get broken because they back up against something solid before they pull the trigger, then have no place to go during recoil.

One of my favorite pictures is of someone with a ducktail firing a .468 Mag. Under recoil his hair is lifting off his head like a starched wig. His feet never moved, but his body recoiled about 18". Try putting your feet together before you fire... under recoil you will step to the rear or fall down.

I recently read something about how ballistic armor fibers get shorter and fatter when hit, therefore, my statements may be true but irrelevant. Beware.
Culturespy (author)  Zephyris4 years ago
The Chrome bag fits pretty close to the body. It can also be easily pulled tight on the fly. They're made for bicycle messengers who need to adjust the fit with one hand while riding. The chrome bag is more solid than the plate carrier(vest) this panel came from.
so the US flag is the thing that glows under nightvision?
its an IFF patch. Identifies Friend or Foe when under nightvision its restricted to US military.
Pretty much means he (or she) is a bad @ss for owning one.
I spent thirty seconds with google and found them available to the general public for $12.50.

i think you could find them (or similar ones) at a army surplus store
Culturespy (author)  darknessfalls4 years ago
This one was purchased on base. Not sure where you might find one otherwise. There's a lot of stuff floating around out there if you want it and know what to ask for.
Culturespy (author)  darknessfalls4 years ago
Yeah, it's a little hard to describe but essentially that's it.
and its too bad Chrome doesnt even seem to sell that design anymore, its pretty sick bag design
Culturespy (author)  darknessfalls4 years ago
They only made a handful of this design. There are other patterns but this has a couple advantages some obvious some less so. One thing in particular is that it doesn't have a black liner. So no high contrast, eye catching, black stripe across the back and having a light colored interior makes it much easier to find things.
rustygray4 years ago
My friend and I started looking for things we could locate around the house or school that would slow or stop 9mm and .38. We discovered that 8 regular national geographic magazines duct taped together would stop, meaning 0 penetration, a standard .38 or 9mm. We also discovered that a ceramic tile mixed in the batch was effective for .45. .357 and .44 made it through but I am sure they released plenty of energy before exit. This was purely academic.......
Do not try it other than to prove to yourself.

Now that said, I work in an office of cubicles, and people get fed up with corporate crap and you might have an active shooter scenario. As I cannot bring my legally purchased and registered firearm into the office, I have discovered that a tightly packed reem of printer paper will defeat or slow most hand guns. So toss one of those in your back pack or bag. I keep a few at my desk to elevate my monitor and "just in case" .

PS I think the armored bag is a great idea. I know IDF sells them on ebay, from small bags to full body shields that fold up into a messenger bag size.

Until the liberals let us defend ourselves, we will have to maintain the passive resistance.
onrust4 years ago
CHROME bags rock
UltraMagnus4 years ago
wouldn't it have been cheaper to just buy a roll of aramid rather than a vest to cut up?
Culturespy (author)  UltraMagnus4 years ago
No, it's pretty expensive stuff and you need something very specific. So if you bought the wrong type, say you either picked out fabric meant for epoxy laminate or someone in a warehouse grabbed the wrong thing when picking your order, you'd probably never know until you found out the hard way. It also requires some pretty specific layering. Something I didn't disturb or re-arrange when making this.

Better to just cut to measure a known element.
Ripcode664 years ago
Nice how-to! Thanks!
That's nice, now I know a little bit more how to sew armor.

But a messenger bag?
How could that even be remotely useful?

Chances are the bag won't be at the right spot to protect any vital organs.
You should wear the vest you bought instead of tearing it appart.
That is, If you're not a hipster in the gaza strip...

Next project: IED proof fixed gear?

Ok i'm being sarcastic but i'm serious about the reasons, really; why? Just because you could ? You carry puppies in a warzone?
"Why" is because of things like the recent UT shooting (28 Sep2010). This is to cover your head or torso in a surprise situation. The idea is if you're lying down trying not to be a target, you can put it between you and the shooter to provide at least some minimal cover. Yes, full armor would be better but it's not practical on a daily basis.

However, I'm not sure how much cutting into armor will degrade it. I know the manufacturer would freak out if they saw this.
Culturespy (author)  brycem4 years ago
Cutting the armor doesn't degrade it.

Ours is not to ask why. Ours is to say, "Dang it! I wish I had thought of that!"
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