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How to Choose a Bulletproof Vest?

The world community associates them with SWAT police officers, even though the bulletproof vests are using by patrol officers, private security guards, and anyone who needs protection from bullet wounds.

The first modern vests have been developing since the 1960s for the military. And in 1969, a year after originating the first SWAT team, the police started to use them.

If you are considering purchasing a bulletproof vest for your protection, here are some things you should know before buying. A striking representative of good body armor is considering for selection a Prime Warrior Plate Carrier. It weighs only 1.5 lbs and has good protection.


1. Know the difference between heavy and light armor.
In heavy protection, metal or ceramic plates are using to prevent penetration by any bullet, from a rifle or shotgun.

The lightweight protection uses layers of special fabric to stop the bullet and absorb the force of the impact.

Light protection stops projectiles of most pistols, shots up to 12 gauge.

• Heavy protection plates are available in steel, ceramic, or polyethylene.
They have high resistance to collision with their face. But as for non-metallic plates, they are vulnerable to impacts on their edges, so caution is advising when packing and transporting them.

• Lightweight protection made of reinforced fiber such as Kevlar or Twaron. Resin-impregnated analog and interwoven poly-fiber such as Spectra or Dyneema as well.

The newest poly fiber is not only better at absorbing impact than older reinforced ones but also lighter. Moreover, it's less vulnerable to environmental degradation.

Experiments are currently underway with carbon nanotubes as a possible material for vests. And also, other experiments introduced using gel-like fluids to be incorporated into existing fibers to enhance collision protection.

2.Know the existing levels of protection.
Bulletproof vests are classifying according to impact absorption and projectile resistance.

Protection levels currently include the following:

• Level II-A - thinnest body armor.
Mainly 4 mm (0.16 inches) thick and made of soft materials.
Designed to be worn under clothing for a long time.

• Level II - body armor generally 5 mm (0.2 inches) thick.
Commonly used by US patrol officers.

They can dress, as well as under loose clothing and on top.

• Level III-A - body armor with a thickness of 8 to 10 mm (0.32 to 0.4 inches).
Heavier and denser than levels II-A and II.

Designed to withstand heavier bullets such as the 0.44 Magnum and rapid-fire weapons such as the 9 mm submachine gun.

Designed for small military engagements, but can also be worn under clothing.

• Tier III and Tier IV - body armor includes 10- to 12-inch (25- to 30-cm) reinforced plates, ranging from 1/2 to ¾ inches (6 to 25 mm) thick to cover the abdomen and back ...

Each plate weighs from 4 to 9 pounds (1.8 to 4.1 kg) in addition to 3-5 pounds (1.36 to 2.27 kg) of light armor. And thus, reduces its portability.

These vests cannot be worn under clothing and are used most of all by SWAT officers.

• In body armor plates, protecting from knives are used similar ones to those embedded in the vests of III and IV levels. Such vests are wearing to reject knife attacks, prisoners using contraband, and improvised knives and stilettos.

There are three levels of protection created after testing the protection against shock pressure with penetration limited to 0.28 "/ 7mm:

Level 1 - protects against the pressure of 24 Joules,
Level 2 - protects against the pressure of 33 Joules,
Level 3 - against the pressure of 43 Joules. Learn more at the

3. The plates of III and IV levels add weight to the body armor, reducing their mobility. Nevertheless, in the future they can be worn under clothes.

Following the research results, these plates can be replaced with helium ones.

• Some pieces of body armor allow the addition of additional reinforced plates for more protective layers.

In such vests, additional plates are to be adapted to make protection from a knife. And a light bulletproof vest can only protect against a sliding knife strike, but not penetrating one.

4. Decide if you want to wear a concealed body armor.
Level II and II-A vests to be disguised as a loose shirt or T-shirt.

Level III-A vests to be tucked under a sweater or suit jacket for greater efficiency.

Meanwhile, level III and IV vests are camouflaged only with a heavy jacket or military uniform and are worn over clothing often.

• Bulletproof vests which have to wear under clothing are often white, so they can be confused with a T-shirt if you do not usually button up the top button.

The bulletproof vest worn on clothes is always black.

5. Choose a vest that suits you.
A bulletproof vest should fit you well, and you should feel comfortable wearing it.

A vest that is too large will not fit and slip properly, and a smaller one can injure your internal organs.

Some manufacturers only make vests in standard sizes, which can be a problem if you're shopping online and can't try on the vest before you bargain.

6. Select suitable accessories.
Body armor only protects the chest and back.

If you want to protect your shoulders, neck, sides, or groin, you need extra details.

• There are many markets with official add-ons that fit most of the body armor made today.

• Additional parts are attached to the main vest and additionally protect different parts of the body.

There is additional protection for the shoulders (Shoulderguards), the abdomen (Side protection), the neck (Gorget, or Neckguard), and groin (Groinflap).

• Check that the add-ons you purchased fit well with the main vest.
Also, make sure they sit neatly on you and do not impede movement.

7. Consider your budget.
The extra layers of protection not only add weight to the basic vest but also increase the cost of the vest significantly.

Meanwhile, some vendors resell used police vests to private security guards and civilians.

• Used bulletproof vests are tested by the National Institute of Justice and found to be non-degrading bulletproof.

Reinforced fibers such as Kevlar and Tauron had been used for many years; however, the surface material of the pockets will wear out faster than newer body armor.

• Some vendors offer bulk discounts for bulk purchases, which can be valuable when you dress a small armed group or a team of bodyguards.

• Consider the warranties offered by the sellers as well as the manufacturer's warranty.


• Some vest’s sellers may suggest you test impact plates to get a feel for how they protect you.
You do not need to shoot your vest for verification after purchase, as this will damage the vest and weaken its protection in front of possible next shots.

• For light armor, use a mild detergent without bleach or harsh chemicals, avoid dry cleaning.

• If you plan to wear a bulletproof vest under your clothes for a long time, it would be a good idea to put it on an undershirt (T-shirt) made of a material that is highly moisture permeable.

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How to Choose a Bulletproof Vest?

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