A bulletproof vest is an essential item when ballistic protection needed. Also known as simply as soft body armor, the vests help to safeguard your torso from firearm projectiles as well as from shrapnel created by an explosion. You’ve probably seen them worn by police SWAT teams and patrol officers but in reality bulletproof vests can be used by anyone who requires additional protection from firearm shots. There are many civilian uses for body armor such as body guards, armored car drivers and private security wear these vests in the course of their duties. Here are a few important things you need to know before you buy a bulletproof vest.
Is it legal to wear bulletproof vests if I’m not a police officer?
This is one of the most common questions civilians often ask when they consider beefing up their security by owning a piece of body armor. The simple answer is yes. You can buy and wear bulletproof vests without fear of contravening the laws. According to the laws regulating use of body armor in the United States, you are legally allowed to buy the additional protection against firearm threats unless you are either a convicted felon or below the age of 18 years. However, each state has its own set of rules that may differ from other states so be advised to check your state rules regarding purchase and use of bulletproof vests before you buy one. For example, In Connecticut you can only buy body armor when you show up for the purchase in person. You cannot buy it through a third party.
In Israel every civilian can buy body armor if it soft armor as ballistic vests or hard armor as armor plates.
What is the difference between soft and hard body armor?
Body armor is classified either as hard or soft armor. The difference between the two, as each name suggests, lies in the materials used to construct the vests and the level of protection each provides. Soft body armor is made of special aramid fibers and is mainly worn by police officers, security guards, and bodyguards. It is designed to stop bullets from handguns. It has several layers of special fabrics that stop the bullet in flight and distribute the force of the bullet’s impact around the body.
Hard body armor is made of polyethylene, steel, and ceramic materials. It is often worn by combat soldiers and SWAT teams because of the high level of protection it provides. It is designed to stop bullets shot from many types of firearms.
Find out more about bulletproof vests’ levels of protection
Simply buying and wearing a bulletproof vest does not make you invincible against all types of firearm bullets. It may happen in movies but real life is a different ball game altogether. Bulletproof vests provide different levels of protection depending on the thickness of the vest and the materials used in its construction.
Bulletproof vests are usually tested and rated by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) according to the amount of force or bullet impact each vest can stop. NIJ’s test protocol emphasizes on two things:
- That the vest should not be perforated by the bullet or shrapnel
- That the vest provides protection against blunt force trauma
All vests are rated and granted one of the following levels of protection according to their performance.
- Level II-A: This is the thinnest type of vests available. It is basically 0.16 inches or 4 mm thick and often constructed from soft materials. It is comfortable and can be worn under normal clothing for a long time.
- Level II: This type of bulletproof vests is usually 0.2 inches or 5 mm thick. These are the vests you normally see patrol officers wearing. They are usually worn over clothing or under a loose-fitting upper garment.
- Level III-A: these vests are between 0.32 and 0.4 inches or between 8 and 10 mm thick. They are heavier than both level II and level II-A vests. They can stop bigger bullets from a variety of firearms such as a .44 Magnum and a 9mm submachine gun. They can be worn under clothing and are ideal for minor combat situations.
- Level III and level IV: These are armor plates that usually come in 25 and 30 cm and 10 and 12 inches in size. They protect both the front and back of your torso. They are a bit heavier as each plate comes with additional 4 to 9 pounds over the usual 3 to 5 pounds of a soft body armor vest. You can’t wear this type of vest under clothing and it is often difficult move about swiftly adorned in one of these vests unless you are well trained and experienced. These are the types of vests worn by SWAT teams. These plates can be used in a plate carrier this plate can come as stand-alone or used in conjunction with a level III-A bulletproof vest.
- Stab-resistant vests: Commonly worn by personnel at correction centers to safeguard themselves against stabbing by prisoners wielding improvised or smuggled-in knives, these vests are made of armor plates used to manufacture level III and IV vests. Resistance to stabbing is rated according to the amount of impact energy the vest can deflect. There are 3 levels of stab-resistance:
- Level 1 that can withstand pressure up to 24 Joules
- Level 2 that can protect against a stabbing attempt with pressure of 33 Joules
- Level 3 that protects against 43 Joules of pressure.
Do you want a visible or concealable vest?
When shopping for a bulletproof vest, you may need to decide whether a visible or concealed vest best suits your needs. As is quite evident from the types and levels of protection discussed above, a more concealable vest can provides less protection. Concealed vests are worn under clothing and are usually white in color to make them look like an ordinary undershirt. They may provide a lesser level of protection but ensure nobody is aware of the fact that you are wearing body armor. They are also more comfortable and hardly impede on your mobility. The higher level of protection a vest provides the less mobility and comfort it offers.
All soft armor vest (levels II, II-A and III-A) can be worn under loose-fitting clothing or even an undershirt. They are easily concealable. Armor plates level III and IV can only be concealed under a large jacket or full combat gear. These are bulky vests that are usually worn in plain visibility over clothing.
Whichever choice you make overt or covert vest, keep in mind that the more concealable a vest is the more comfortable it is but the less protection it provides. Your choice will definitely depend on your personal security preferences.
Choose a vest that best fits your body size
It is very important to find a vest that fits your body physique properly. A badly fitting vest has the potential to compromise your security. For instance, some vital organs can easily be exposed if you wear a very tight or a loose-fitting vest. It should fit you comfortably too. Make sure it’s not too loose to slip. Some manufacturers have standard sized vests which could pose a problem since people come in different body sizes. You should be very keen on size especially when buying a bulletproof vest online.
Are there add-ons for additional protection?
A bulletproof vest is designed to protect the front and back of your torso only. If you need additional protection to your neck, groin, and shoulders you’ll need to purchase add-ons. These add-ons are available in the market today. These add-ons provide extra defense for shoulders, the sides, the neck, and the groin. Ensure that the add-on you buy anchors well to the basic vest, fits properly to your body, and does not restrict movement.
Besides add-ons, you can purchase a bulletproof vest that allows you to insert more armor plates and anti-stab panels to enhance your protection. These types of vests have special pockets for plates and panels and can accommodate additional protection as anti-stab panels to make them stab-resistant too.
Which is the best vest for rifle threats?
Level III and level IV hard armor vests are ideal for protection against threats from rifles such as .223, .308, .556, and 30 to 60 among others. These vests are thicker, heavier, and designed to stop powerful bullets, for stand-alone plates plate carriers also can be used. With technology advances, such as the Israeli technology used in our products, hard armor vests are becoming lighter, stronger, and more comfortable for their users.
Do I purchase new or used armor?
The choice to buy used or new armor largely depends on how you expect to use it. If you intend to use the armor on a regular basis, such as at work, we highly recommend you purchase a brand new bulletproof vest. This way you get full warranty and a product in perfect working condition. All our vests and other body armor gear comes new and never used.
Does your bulletproof vest guarantee that I cannot be killed by a bullet?
Sadly, no. in the body armor industry, bulletproof vests are referred to as bullet resistant vests meaning that they offer additional protection but are never 100% bulletproof. In fact, no vest ever is. Having said that, it is important to state that as long as the vest you wear is designed meet the force or impact of the threat you face, you should be fine especially if the rounds strike the protected area. Remember, as earlier stated, vests are rated according to the level of protection they provide so wear body armor that is appropriate for the situation you expect to find. The armor plates used against needed if you expect rifle threats and level IIIA vests when the most serious threat you expect will come from pistols. All said and done, you are better off in a gun fight with body armor than without.
Is it safe to test-shoot my bulletproof vest?
We strongly advise against that. Test-shooting a vest weakens its structural design and may not work as well as it should in a real life scenario afterwards. You’ll weaken the vest making it vulnerable to shots fired close together.
Find out where the vests are manufactured
Quality is everything when it comes to shopping for body armor. Remember your life may depend on the quality of the materials and design used to make the vest. We source our body armor products from Israel, which is ranked among the best body armor manufacturers in the world. Israeli manufacturers are renowned for being thorough in development of weapons and body armor products.
The question of price
Investing in an additional layer of protection comes at a cost. There are some dealers who resell used vests from the police department to civilians and private security at a lower cost but if you want the best protection, find a high quality product made from the best manufacturer of body armor products. As stated, we only deal with the best body armor products from Israel that have been tested by the National Institute of Justice and found to be bullet-resistant. Our products are made of aramid and other high quality materials. We also provide discounts on dealers and wholesale bulk orders and warranty too.
When shopping for body armor, your first step should be to ensure that the product provides the level of protection you need. At minimum, ensure that it can stop rounds from the gun you carry just in case you are disarmed. Make sure it fits perfectly. Your comfort matters too. It makes no sense to burden yourself with so much body armor weight that you can hardly move. You may be discouraged to wear it and leave it at home the day you really need it.
Quality is everything as your life may depend on the bullet proof vest you are wearing. We specialize in the best quality level 3-A body armor manufactured in Israel. Contact us for any additional questions you may have on bulletproof vests.