DARKMATTER Ground Truth Series • Part I: A Real-World Perspective on Body Armor Kits & Ballistic Trauma Pads


Clancy J. McMahon • Director of Government Engagements at MONARC

What is the first question our first responders or warfighters should ask themselves when they add a new piece of safety equipment to their body armor kit? The correct answer is “does it protect me from the modern threats that I face on a daily basis?” The reality, however, is much different.

After 30 years in law enforcement, I can recall asking myself the wrong questions when issued a new piece of gear for my kit. My two main questions were “is this going to make my kit bulkier and heavier?” and “Is this going to make me sweat more?” In short, is this going to make me miserable?

If you are not a member of the military or a first responder, you may have a hard time relating to these concerns. On a typical day, a person in today’s workforce wakes up, showers, and simply gets dressed in a suit or business casual wear—this is not the case for our military and law enforcement. Our society’s protectors—or “sheepdogs”—wear a vast array of duty equipment. Beginning with a soft body armor vest around their torso, they then add a thick ceramic armor plate and carrier, and a duty belt with a full complement of attachments. When all is said and done, this full kit can contain up to 20-30 lbs. of gear. Hopefully, the soft armor vest is sized correctly and won’t ride up when they sit down…improper sizing can definitively make the answer to “is this going to make me miserable?” a resounding “yes.”

What if you could add a thin, lightweight piece of equipment to your kit that adds significant protection without making you miserable? Enter DARKMATTER Energy Dispersal Pads. Designed to go behind your soft or hard armor, these non-ballistic pads help to guard against body trauma after a ballistic impact by dispersing the energy from that impact across the pad and mitigating the amount of force going directly into your body—and at about a quarter inch thick and weighing only one pound, they are thin, lightweight and won’t restrict your mobility in any way.
In research studies, results have indicated that serious injury to the body armor-protected chest may be caused by the impact of non-penetrating bullets and shotgun pellets. Severe pulmonary contusions and lacerations were found when the energy transferred through the body armor was estimated to be high (E. Liden, et. al 1988).

If you have been in law enforcement, you know about trauma pads; I admit, I never gave them much thought. Typically made of XRD foam or EPE foam, traditional trauma pads have simply been an upsell item; their effectiveness against energy transfer and back face deformation are negligible at best. I was always told to wear them and that they would make my kit “more comfortable”—they didn’t. I was never told that they would decrease back face deformation or distribute impact energy—because they didn’t. This all changed with the introduction of DARKMATTER.

Made up of a proprietary system of layered materials, DARKMATTER Energy Dispersal Pads are not your father’s trauma pads. These pads have been independently tested and verified to provide an approximately 94% reduction in energy transfer and a nearly 30% decrease in back face deformation when hit with a handgun round, as well as a 60% energy transfer reduction and 28% BFD reduction against rifle rounds. This is something that no other product on the market can claim, let alone back up with third-party testing performed in accordance with NIJ 0101.06 standards.

When you add DARKMATTER Energy Dispersal Pads to your kit, they won’t add bulk or make you sweat—they won’t make you miserable. What DARKMATTER will do is make sure that you are better protected from deadly threats when it matters most.




Clancy J. McMahon retired from active service in 2022 after a decorated 30-year career in both the United States Marine Corps and law enforcement, including 20 years with the Department of Homeland Security. As a founding member of the Federal Air Marshal Service under DHS, Clancy helped build FAMS into the program it is today—serving both as a Federal Air Marshal in the Boston, MA and Queens, NY field offices, as well as a Firearms & Tactics Training Coordinator for the Northeastern United States. In addition to his role at MONARC, Clancy also serves as the Vice President of the Penfield, NY Emergency Ambulance, a New York State Certified Emergency Medical Technician, and an Associate Professor for the Homeland Security Degree Program at the State University of New York.



LIDÉN, E., BERLIN, R., JANZON, B., SCHANTZ, B., & SEEMAN, T. (1988). Some observations relating to behind-body armour blunt trauma effects caused by ballistic impact. The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 28(Supplement). https://doi.org/10.1097/00005373-198801001-00029






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