By Casey White
Premier Body Armor found a new customer for their bulletproof backpack panels in light of the rash of school shootings and threats across the nation.
The Kings Mountain company began producing the backpack panels more than a year ago after police officers requested them to use while undercover and off duty. Premier Body Armor President and CEO Frank Stewart said a transition to more civilian purchases has been more recent.
“Some parents are buying it to help protect their kids. We’re happy we have a product that can actually help,” he said.
Stewart said he didn’t look to profit off of school violence, as the panels were originally created for officers, but concerned parents began finding their way to his company.
A boost in sales began when a Nichols Store, a Rock Hill, S.C. outdoors store, started promoting the backpack. Nichols owners put a panel in their daughters’ backpack and felt that other parents might feel better knowing their own children had them.
Stewart said the panels are highly effective and stand up to most hand guns.
“The exact same material that we use to make the body armor that protects law enforcement is the material we use to make the backpack panels,” he said.
The backpack panels come in several different shapes and sizes, so they can fit in small children’s backpacks or larger backpacks for adults. They are also thin and lightweight, weighing around 1 to 1.5 pounds depending on the size.
The National Institute of Justice does not provide certification for the panels because they only cover one side of the body. But Premier Body Armor has done extensive texting on the packs and Stewart says he’s confident in their ability.
“We have absolutely zero concern that it would not do what we claim it does,” Stewart said.
While more backpacks have been purchased for school-aged children recently, Stewart said adult civilians are still the largest customer base. In addition to fitting inside backpacks, square panels are made to fit laptop bags.
The panels are also TSA approved. Steward said he personally always keeps one in his backpack as someone who frequently travels for business.
The backpack panels start around $150 with the final cost depending on the size and model of the panel. They can be purchased online or at Premier Body Armor’s Kings Mountain store at 201 S. Battleground Ave.