Four Things You Should Know About Body Armor

By December 10, 2016Advice, Home Security

Four Things You Should Know About Body Armor

Considering purchasing body armor for personal protection and defense? A few things to keep in mind.
By Ben Jackson   December 10, 2016 11:02 am GMT-0700

Body armor has saved countless lives since its inception. For law enforcement officers as well as military personnel, it’s indispensable. For those who plan on buying body armor, it’s always a good idea to understand how it works. It’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. One body armor type varies from the other, and each has specific features and considerations that you have to keep in mind. We will explore some facts that will help you get the most out of your body armor, and this information might also help you if you’re not sure what kind to get.

1. Fit Matters

That’s actually an understatement. If you don’t get the right fit, the body armor can’t provide you with the kind of protection it was designed for. In general, body armor should cover your torso from three main angles –– front, back, and sides. You shouldn’t just go off and buy any body armor, not without being measured by professionals who know how to properly take your measurements. The armor should not be too tight or too loose, snug is the best size, and it shouldn’t be difficult to move in it. It shouldn’t interfere with your belt or bother your neck. Body armor has plates in it specifically placed to protect your vital organs. If you get the wrong fit, those plates might be misaligned and they may not be able to protect your vital organs.

2. Body Armor Is Rigorously Tested

If you’re getting body armor, it’s to protect yourself, and you need to know it can do its job. The good news is, body armor undergoes serious testing to make sure that it can perform its function and protect the wearer. As explained on, production quality and the type of materials used are of the utmost importance when you’re shopping for body armor. You need to be confident that your body armor can protect you and keep you safe as you do your job. Every few years, the safety guidelines for bulletproof vests are upgraded to improve the testing methods and ensure that each vest offers its wearer maximum protection and can keep them safe out there.

The safety guidelines for body armor are set for by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and according to those standards, the efficiency of vests and plates is assessed. The guidelines also determine the lifetime of an armor. You can’t keep body armor for ten years and hope it will work just as effectively stopping bullets, so regularly review the armor’s lifespan guidelines.

3. There Are Protection Levels

Not all bulletproof vests offer the same level of protection. Some types offer more, and you need to be mindful of the NIJ standards when it comes to the level of threat a particular body armor can stop. The most common types were I, IIA, II, and IIIA for handguns, for example, each denoting a certain threat level. For rifles and armor-piercing rounds, the rating is III, III++, and IV. Higher ratings give higher protection as you can see. You need to understand these ratings to know which kind you should get. NIJ ratings change all the time and you need to keep up with them because they influence what officers wear for protection.

4. Protecting Your Vest

Another important thing to know about body armor is the fact that it should be kept dry. If you happened to be in pursuit of suspects and your bulletproof vest got wet, it can be dangerous since it makes it easier for bullets to pierce the armor. Some NIJ updated ratings have contributed to the manufacture of body armor that is shown to perform well even after a swim, so you might want to consider those. Some companies also offer better water resistance compared to others, so if you live near bodies of water, it might be a good idea to look into those. When you clean your body armor, use a sponge to clean the panels, but never put them in a drier or a washing machine as it can seriously damage your armor. Most importantly, though, never iron your bulletproof vest, it could also damage it and melt the fiber.

One last thing to keep in mind is to register your vest. This allows you to use the warranty that is usually given by manufacturers, especially if your law enforcement agency doesn’t register it for you. The more knowledge you have about your body armor, the safer you will be. Try to read up about the different types and how you can maintain yours for as long as possible. Body armor can save your life one day, so don’t treat it lightly.

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