When and Why You Need Body Armor

///When and Why You Need Body Armor

In recent years gun-related incidents and attacks have been on the rise. This poses the need for civilians, security personnel, military and law enforcement agents in the US to look into their options for body armor. While no vest is 100% bulletproof, it can significantly increase the wearer’s chances of survival in the event of getting shot. With this in mind, there are different types of ballistic armors suitable against the different types of calibers available in the US today; from soft “lightweight” body armor, to hard body armor with heavy ballistic plates.

To understand how to use body armor in protecting yourself and your loved ones, you need to know what the different levels are and what they protect against. According to the internationally-approved standards of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), there are IV levels of body armor, classified as follows:

  • Level I: Offers protection from .22LR, 40gr/1050fps up to .380 ACP FMJ RN 95gr/1025fps. This level is no longer in use.
  • Level IIA: Offers protection from 9mm FMJ RN 124gr/1090fps up to .40S&W FMJ 180gr/1025fps in addition to all Class I threats. This is also a light vest and can be worn all day without interfering with your mobility or movement.
  • Level II: Offers protection against 9mm FMJ RN 124gr/1175fps (+P?) and .357Magnum JSP IIA 158gr/1400fps, plus all Class I and a threats. This is somewhat bulkier and is worn full time by many law enforcement officers.
  • Level IIIA: Offers protection against 9mm FMJ RN 145gr/1400fps and .44Magnum JHP 240gr/1400fps as well as most other handgun threats and class I through II threats. The aforementioned calibers all being commonplace in many gun collections, class IIIA is a reasonable purchase. This level of protection is the highest available that can still be concealable. Its bulk can make it an issue for daily usage in warmer climates, which can result in health issues, like heat exhaustion. Some of the newer models can be augmented with steel plates that offer further protection, but this adds to weight and heat.
  • Level III: Offers protection against 7.62mm FMJ (M80) 148gr/2750fps as well as class I through IIIA threats as well as against the .223 Remington (5.56×45mm NATO). This armor is heavy and not suitable for daily use. Its benefit comes from tactical use, such as breaching and overcoming barricades. Some of the newer vests can be augmented with hard plates to increase their protective properties. The issues with this level are the same as class II but to a somewhat greater extent.
  • Level IV: Offers protection against .30 Caliber Armor Piercing bullets (M2AP) 166gr/2850fps plus all previous threats and the .308 Winchester, which is similar to the military 7.62x51mm specifications. Other rounds Level IV is effective against are the sniper 7.62×54mmR, the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, the .300 Winchester used by gun enthusiasts, hunters, the Military and Law Enforcement, the long-range sniper. This is the highest level of protection and not suitable in urban settings, for prolonged use, or by untrained individuals. It is for military and law enforcement agents who operate in high-risk, war-torn environments.

While it’s nearly impossible to procure body armor that protects against all firearms in existence and use, there are ways to improve your chances of survival. Knowing the type of environment you will be moving through and the likely threats you are expected to face can help you choose the right bullet proof vest. Be aware that it’s not a good idea to automatically go for the highest possible level with hard plate add-ons as this may add unnecessary weight and visibility to your gear.

In recent years, the most commonly used firearms in random and terrorist attacks are semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and low-caliber handguns. While the latter can be stopped by a standard Level III vest, you will need additional ceramic plates to ensure protection against the 5.56 mm ammunition used in most AR-15 rifles. There is currently a large variety of covert and overt bulletproof vests that have pockets, where extra plates can be fitted to increase the security level. Both carry their advantages in different situations. For example, covert vests work better in urban environments, where you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that you are wearing body armor while overt vests are easy and quick to put on in the event of an unforeseen situation.

These days, access to weapons that combine the firepower of a rifle with the high-capacity ammunition magazines designed for assault rifles with the increased concealability of a handgun is easier than ever. This poses a lot of security issues, the biggest one of them all of how can civilians equip themselves against this type of danger. With proper research and assessment of the crime statistics of your local urban environment, you can take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety in the event of any attack and always be adequately prepared.

To understand how to use body armor in protecting yourself and your loved ones, educate yourself on what the different levels of body armor protection are, who they benefit most, and what they protect against.
By |2018-10-26T08:46:23+00:00February 5th, 2018|Body Armor|13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. vocalpatriot February 6, 2018 at 4:35 am - Reply

    Sorry…level 4 body armor will NOT stop a 50 BMG round, even in your wet dreams.
    Don’t write articles without actual facts.

    • grayfox114 February 6, 2018 at 8:06 am - Reply

      Nor will it stop an RPG or protect against grenade fragments or TOW missiles! But I’m sure you have a solution,,,,,,,,Where in this

      article was the 50 even mentioned? Other than being attacked by a military force, it’s unlikely that a 50 will be encountered! In the same

      vein, wearing Level 4 and getting shot in the temple with a 22 long rifle or even a short will make you dead. We cannot protect against

      everything…………………

      • Marc February 6, 2018 at 8:29 am - Reply

        Totally agree with both of you. (vocalpatriot and grayfox114)

        The .50 BMG was mentioned in this post under Level IV. I removed it. This post was written by SafeGuard Armor. I missed it in the editing process.

        There is no such thing as body armor that will stop anything. There is no such thing as a vehicle that is 100% safe. The .50 BMG was created to take out vehicles and unless you are in a vehicle that has tank level armor, it does a great job at it.

        But the average civilian will never encounter this kind of firepower.

        Sorry for the editing issue. Thank you for speaking out!

  2. Novice February 6, 2018 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    If you are planning to “need” body armor you have already lost. Body armor is to protect you during a fire fight. YOU are not the military, you should not be planning to be in a fire fight to begin with. You SHOULD be planning to avoid and escape from them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a gun or plan to use it but, your “body armor” should consist of whatever cover you can find to aid in your escape (rocks, trees, buldings etc.). You would be far better served spending your money on camoflauge (both for you and your dwelling) than you would on armor.

  3. Survivormann99 February 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Novice,

    I am calling out BS here:”You SHOULD be planning to avoid and escape from them.” I hope no one reading your comment takes your advice which is a recipe for destruction.

    Pacifists like you who run away from every potential threat will be toast in a World Gone Feral.

    I am not saying that anyone should stand like 300 Spartans at Thermopylae in every situation, but to say that a group that is surviving successfully on a homestead after a societal meltdown should ALWAYS abandon it rather than fight for it is complete and utter nonsense. Their only real survival option for the group might be to stay and defend their food, gardens, livestock and other essential resources by using the defenses they have wisely prepared in advance. That homestead/retreat may be the only long range option for survival that a family/group has.

    To propose always running anytime someone might point a gun at them with evil intentions is, quite frankly, stupid.

    You then say, “You would be far better served spending your money on camoflauge [sic] (both for you and your dwelling) than you would on armor.” People who have body armor usually have camouflage issues covered in spades.

    It’s a free world. After SHTF head for the hills at the first glint of gun metal in the bushes if you want, confident in the protection level offered by your Army surplus BDUs. I am simply cautioning other readers to avoid making a flight response their universal response to threats.

    Back to the article, it is in error when it says, “While the latter can be stopped by a standard Level III vest, you will need additional ceramic plates to ensure protection against the 5.56 mm ammunition used in most AR-15 rifles.” Just read the information above it: Level III: Offers protection against 7.62mm FMJ (M80) 148gr/2750fps as well as class I through IIIA threats as well as against the .223 Remington (5.56×45mm NATO).”

    • Novice February 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      Maybe you should re-read my comment. I have no issues with guns or defense. I’m saying that planning for war is a fools errand unless you have a full military behiind you. Even if you have real world combat experience, in a real world SHTF scenario you will NOT have the logistics, supply lines, support, or fellow soldiers required to carry out offensive missions. You are far more likely to survive (which is the whole point of prepping is it not?) if you AVOID the conflict to begin with.

      If pretending that you are Rambo is your survival strategy I wish you the best but, I wouldn’t bet on your odds of living through it.

    • grayfox114 February 6, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      If escape is part of your defenses, can I have your stuff, cause you’re not coming back for it! The old saw about dying tired comes to

      mind. Prepping is all about getting prepared to survive any number of situations, and the situations vary from natural events to an out

      of control government, backed by the UN. Granted, you probably won’t survive, but that just might be better than the alternative! And

      being prepared just might mean having body armor. Better to have it and not need it than to need and not have! I have friends that

      have complete surgical kits and they’re not doctors. We have gas masks and on and on….The single thing we don’t have are plans

      that entail running. We are all “older” and while we’re in reasonable shape, we’re not

      going to haul ass and leave our wives behind! And wile I agree that avoiding conflict is a good idea, in a shtf event, that will only let

      you be eaten last. You cannot pacify tyrants, as the Jews and many can attest to!

      • Novice February 7, 2018 at 7:59 am - Reply

        You would be correct if someone’s plan was to stockpile a bunch of stuff and then abandon it at the first sign of conflict. I’m saying that if you hide it and yourself well enough you will greatly minimize your chances of beind discovered in the first place. Your plan should also include multiple cache sites so that if you do have to abandon one you are only minimally impacted. With a little thought you CAN avoid a fire fight and live to fight another day.

  4. Survivormann99 February 6, 2018 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Novice,

    Now you are back pedaling. What you said was, “YOU are not the military, you should not be planning to be in a fire fight to begin with. You SHOULD be planning to avoid and escape from them.”

    One does not have to be a Force Recon Marine to plan to be in a firefight, nor to have a use for body armor.

    While I don’t think that it is necessary to borrow too many scenarios from dystopian fiction, I will lay out several scenarios in a Mad Max World where a survivalist/prepper would be very glad to have body armor:

    1. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in coming home alive or not when ambushes are initiated by others.

    2. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in coming home alive when it is necessary to engage in a pre-emptive strike after the jungle telegraph indicates that your retreat will be hit at dawn, and catching the enemy napping (literally) will end the threat.

    3. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in staying alive or not when bullets are smashing windows or penetrating walls during an unexpected raid on a homestead/retreat.

    4. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in coming home alive or not when it is necessary to blow through vehicular ambushes.

    Admittedly, the best way to survive a gunfight is to avoid one. Sometimes, however, a person has no choice and their fate is determined by circumstances beyond their control.

    The old (and extraordinarily sage) adage is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

    And after having said all of that, I will candidly admit that body armor certainly shouldn’t be at the top of a survivalist/prepper’s To Do List, but it would be a serious mistake to dismiss entirely the potential need for it in an SHTF world.

  5. grayfox114 February 6, 2018 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Well said!

    • Novice February 7, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

      No, I’m not backpeddling. You just failed to read my original comment: “I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a gun or plan to use it”. I am not a pacificst.

      1. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in coming home alive or not when ambushes are initiated by others.
      -There is a very small chance that you are coming home from an ambush anyway if you have to fight your way out of it. You’re better off AVOIDING THEM!

      2. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in coming home alive when it is necessary to engage in a pre-emptive strike after the jungle telegraph indicates that your retreat will be hit at dawn, and catching the enemy napping (literally) will end the threat.
      -Again, you’re thinking like a military strategist instead of a family man trying to live long enough to take care o fhis family.

      3. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in staying alive or not when bullets are smashing windows or penetrating walls during an unexpected raid on a homestead/retreat.
      -Possibly, if you wear it 24/7. However, wouldn’t it make more sense to harden the whole structure as opposed to finding the right size and level of body armor to fit each member of your family and group?

      4. A Level III set of body armor could be the difference in coming home alive or not when it is necessary to blow through vehicular ambushes.
      -OR, you could conceal your groups travel with proper technique and camo and send a scout to look for “ambushes” BEFORE you find yourself caught in them.

      I”m not saying to avoid planning, I’m saying to plan to avoid conflict instead of pretending you’re in the military. I will admit that after you have ALL your other preps (food, water, shelter, communications and defensive weapons) completely squared away that body armor would be a “nice to have”. Just PLAN to not need it at all FIRST.

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  6. Survivormann99 February 7, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Novice,

    First, I will note that you are aptly named. You have apparently accepted Dirty Harry’s advice: “A man’s got to realize his own limitations.”

    While I could punch through the reasoning in your comments about the different scenarios, readers in this blog will develop thousand yard stares in the process.

    Novice, I am no Rambo. I am, however, a former Marine officer who taught officer cadets in the Army National Guard. That background, however, was not necessary for me to call out as BS your initial comment that unqualifiedly stated that body armor was unnecessary because a person should simply run away instead of defending heath and home.

    At least in this last comment, when backed into a corner, you have conceded that body armor is an option for prepared. That is exactly what I said. I am glad that you have come around.

    Thank you for conceding the obvious.

  7. davidkordon February 14, 2018 at 2:25 am - Reply

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