His buddy died wearing body armor, so this Iowa man set out to make world's strongest. At Blake Waldrop's south Iowa factory, quality control involves ear protection, safety glasses and a high-powered rifle. For every 100 products made by his company, RMA Armament, Waldrop sets aside one to take to his indoor shooting range and pump full of lead.
Waldrop is working to build a superior version of body armor that will save the lives of law enforcement officers and soldiers. And if he needs to shoot up a few dozen samples to make sure it can do the job, so be it.
"It's meant to save people's lives," said Waldrop, who became a manufacturer after careers in the U.S. Marines and local policing. "If you eat bad cereal, you might be sick for a day or two. But if this is bad, somebody's going to die."
Waldrop's interest stems from personal experience: A comrade in his company died wearing Marine-issued body armor during a 2005 IED attack in Iraq.
One of his designs has been tested to withstand six rounds of armor-piercing rifle ammunition — a feat he says is unmatched by competitors. RMA sells various armor models to police forces across the country, with plans for future expansion into the military market.