Bulletproof Vests have always been associated with members of the Police like SWAT teams. However, they have become increasingly popular in various industries for protection and security. They are worn by private security parties, patrol officers and other people who need some additional protection from being shot. These vests are also called ballistic vests. The first bulletproof vests were developed and designed in 1960s for the armed forces and police used them for the first time.
Manufacturers like Israeli Weapons LTD have been producing high quality bullet proof vests for a very long time. With a lot of experience with IDF (Zahal), these vests keep armed officers secure and protected against shots. If you want to purchase a bulletproof vest for your protection and additional security, you need to know about some important things. This post discusses some of those.
Hard and Soft Body Armor
It is extremely important to understand the difference between soft and hard body armor. In a hard body armor, as ceramic or other lightweight plates as Dyneema & Spectra plates are used to stop objects up to a shotgun slug or rifle bullet. On the other hand, soft body armor uses a lot of layers of some special fabrics to stop handgun rounds (see NIJ IIIA). Soft body armors disperse the basic force of impact. Most the times the hard body armor plates come with NIJ III (3) and IV (4) level protection, and they used in conjunction with bulletproof vest lvl IIA (3A).
Another key difference is that hard body armor plates are manufactured from ceramic, steel or polyethylene. These plates are very resistant to basic impact along a plate’s face. However, when these plates are non-metallic, they become more vulnerable to blows along the edges. Thus, they need protection during shipping.
On the other hand, soft body armor plates are made from specially woven aramid fabrics. They are also made from cross plied polyethylene or resin impregnated parallel fibers like polyethylene . The latter are quite new, but have the same kind of impact resistance like older fibers. Moreover, the new fibers are lightweight, but a lot more vulnerable to degradation from the surrounding environment.
In the last few years, many experiments have been performed with carbon nanotubes to make bullet resistant vests. In addition to this, companies like Israeli Weapons LTD have also been conducting experiments to use gel-like fluids to make bulletproof vests with existing fibers to provide some extra level of protection.
Different Levels of Protection
It is very important to gather more information about different levels of protection provided by bulletproof vests. Most of the time vests properly rated on the basis of blunt force impact which they can stop. Currently, the levels of protection which are used include:
Level IIA – These are the thinnest vests available in the market. Usually, they are just 4mm thick. They are manufactured from soft materials. They are specifically designed to be comfortably worn under normal clothes for extended periods.
Level II Bullet Resistant – These vests are 5mm thick. Some patrol officers use level II bullet resistant vests. These vests can either be worn over basic clothing or under loose shirts.
Level IIIA – Most of these bulletproof vests are 9mm thick. They are quite stiffer and heavier than previous versions. These vests are specifically designed to stop various kind of heavy-grain bullets. Some examples include .44 magnum, 9mm submachine gun and rapid fire attacks. These vests can easily handle difficult situations in minor combat. They can also be worn under clothing.
Level III and Level IV – When IIIA vests contain 25x30cm / 10×12 inches armor plates. These vests can easily cover your chest and back. Each plate in the vest can adds around 1.5-3.5KG to a soft body armor vest that already weighs around 3KGs. Due to this, the wearer’s mobility is significantly reduced. You cannot wear these vests under your clothes. Most commonly, they are worn by Military/SWAT personnel as in IDF (Zahal).
Stab/Knife Resistant Protection
Israeli Weapons LTD offers affordable solution by providing 25x30cm / 10x12inches stab panels that can be added to vest (All Israeli Weapons LTD vest have this pockets as part of the vest). Most of the stab resistant vests use additional stab resistant protection added to the vest. One of main fields Stab resistant vests are worn it is by officers in prisons to make sure they are not stabbed by prisoners with improvised knives, stilettos and sharp objects. These vests are rated on the basis of energy of the impact which they can deflect.
Just like the ones mentioned above, even these plates add a lot of weight to the vest. Thus, they reduce the wearer’s mobility. However, you can wear these vests under your clothes. In the next few years, plates may be replaced with gel-like fluids which were discussed above.
There are also some bulletproof vests which are specifically designed to allow a wearer to insert extra armor plates. This allows some additional layers of protection. Such bulletproof vests can easily use armor plates to make sure the vest is both bullet resistant and stab resistant. This is because soft body armor is only able to provide protection against slashing, but not stabbings.
If you’re interested in buying a bulletproof vest, you need to decide whether you will want it to be concealed or not. As mentioned above, you can easily conceal Level NIJ IIIA under your clothes. You can wear them under a loose, thick or dress shirt. Similarly, Level IIIA bullet proof vests require you to wear a suit jacket or sweater to be properly concealed. On the other hand, Level III and IV armor Plates used with bulletproof vests require you to wear a very heavy sweater or jacket to be concealed. You can also wear a battle vest to conceal such vests.
Most of the time, a bulletproof vest which you wear under your clothes needs to be white in color (sometimes light gray like Israeli Weapons LTDr SWAT model vest). This will make sure attackers confuse it with an undershirt. You will just have to wear the white-colored bulletproof vest with your shirt’s top button unbuttoned. It will give an illusion that you’re wearing an undershirt. However, you need to wear a dark colored vest over your clothes.
While purchasing a bulletproof vest, you need to consider proper fitting. A bulletproof vest should always feel comfortable. If a vest is too large, it will not fit properly. Similarly, a vest which is too small will expose your vital organs. There are some manufacturers which make bulletproof vests in only standard sizes. This becomes a major problem if you buy them online. However, companies like Israeli Weapons LTD sell bulletproof vests in various sizes.
Choose Important Add-Ons
When you think about buying a bulletproof vest, it is very important to choose some relevant and essential add-ons. For example body armor plate will only protect your back and front. If you want to protect your neck, shoulders, groin or sides protected, you will need add-ons.There are a vests that can offer additional protection like add-ons which attached to these vests that to protect additional areas of the body like the shoulders, neck and groin.However, you need to make sure all the relevant add-ons you purchase anchor properly to your vest.
One of the most important factors while buying bulletproof vests is your budget. If you want some additional layers of protection, they will not only add some weight to your vest, but also add to the total cost. Aramid fibers like Twaron can easily last for a lot of years. However, fabrics in the outer shell carrier of your bulletproof vest can wear out. If you plan to use a used bulletproof vest, you will also need to replace the elastic in your vest’s carrier.
These days, you can easily find a lot of dealers offering good discounts on wholesale purchases. If you’re planning to buy bulletproof vests for a group of bodyguards or mall security force, this can help you save a lot of money. However, you should consider the reputation, quality of services and guarantee offered by the seller. You also need to consider the manufacturer’s warranty.
In the last few years, battle or combat helmets have also become extremely popular. Helmets are specifically designed to keep your head protected during battle or combat. In fact, helmets are one of the oldest forms of protective equipment. When weapons became more advanced, their construction and materials became more complex. In the past helmets were only considered to be military equipment.
These days, armed forces of many different countries use very high quality helmets which are constructed from ballistic materials like Aramid. Such helmets provide a lot of extra protection. There are many helmets which have non-ballistic qualities for protection. These helmets can protect you against threats like concussive shock waves from blasts and explosions. Most of the helmets used currently in combat and battle have been adapted for various modern warfare needs and requirements. These helmets are upgraded with all kinds of Rails for mounting video cameras, and VAS Shrouds for mounting Night Vision Devices and Night Vision Goggles.