There are many types of body armor and knowing which is best for you is important when making a purchase. There are numerous factors to consider. At Premier Body Armor, we are dedicated to ensuring all our customers have the information they need to make informed decisions when buying body armor. We're going to break this down by the following subjects to help guide you through making the right purchase of body armor for your mission:
Simply put, body armor is protective gear that is worn or carried and is designed to deflect bullets, knife blades and other deadly weapons, which may cause physical harm. Bulletproof vests, plate carriers and backpack inserts are all samples of body armor. In general, there are two kinds of body armor – soft and hard. Which one you choose greatly depends on what you intend to use the body armor for.
Another thing to consider when purchasing body armor is the NIJ rating of the product. Not all soft and hard body armor provides the same level of protection. In everyday situations where a handgun is more likely, a lower NIJ rating may be sufficient, whereas in situations where a higher caliber may be used, a high NIJ rating is often recommended.
The NIJ has designated five rating levels given to body armor depending on the armor’s ability to withstand increasingly higher velocities of impact. Again, which level you choose depends on what you’re trying to protection from. For a more in-depth look at the NIJ Standards, check out our Understanding Body Armor Ratings blog!
The materials that go into producing a product designed to save your life matter. Oftentimes companies may advertise “Made in the USA” but are not Berry Compliant. You can find out why Made in the USA doesn't always mean it's Berry Compliant here. Their products may be manufactured in the USA, but the materials may be sourced from other countries that have little regulation to quality control of those materials. It’s best practice to look for Made in the USA and Berry Compliant.
In addition to the NIJ rating, it is important to consider whether or not the body armor you are looking to purchase is Berry Compliant. The Berry Amendment was originally created for companies who wished to acquire Department of Defense contracts. However, it is not just limited to times of war.
To be Berry Compliant, 100% of a product’s materials must be sourced in the United States and all manufacturing of the product must be done domestically.
That's why at Premier, all of our armor is not only manufactured in the USA, but every fiber used to produce our armor is domestically sourced. Even more so, that's why our armor is often double, even triple the industry standard by it's warranty. Domestically sourced materials lead to higher quality, leading to more durability, and finally, a longer lifespan.
This is particularly important when it comes to life-saving body armor to ensure that it is rigorously tested and meets the high-quality control standards set by the NIJ and the United States government.
There are many different types of body armor. Depending on the intended use, some are more practical than others.
Body armor is made from a variety of materials and depends greatly on the type of body armor and level of protection. The most common are:
ICW stands for “In Conjunction With.” Essentially this means that these plates must be used with level IIIA soft armor so that the plate must meet NIJ ballistic ratings. It’s a nice armor option if you’re carrying level IIIA soft armor everyday and only add rifle-rated armor plates for a higher threat level situation. If you’re not carrying level IIIA armor everyday, then you’re better off getting an armored plate that is standalone.
Standalone plates mean that the armor plate does not require level IIIA soft armor to achieve it’s NIJ ballistic rating. The plate is ready to go on it’s own. If you’re looking to only use plates for rifle-fire situations, then you’ll definitely want to go with Level III or Level IV body armor plates that are standalone.
The purpose of armored plates are to give protection to your vital region, or cardiac box. The 10x12 plate covers a region that, if shot without armor, would be fatal. Anything outside of the vital region should be treated with a bleed control kit.
ESAPI stands for Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert. This cut is identical in size and shape to a SAPI cut plate. ESAPI cut armor plates have slightly more coverage than a Shooter’s Cut or Swimmer’s Cut plate. However, the trade off for more coverage may be less mobility than a Shooter’s Cut or Swimmer’s Cut plate.
The intention behind the design of the Shooter’s Cut plate is pretty straightforward to it’s name. It is built for shouldering a rifle, mobility, and most often applied for active shooter situations. It does have slightly less coverage in the shoulder as it narrows to the top of the plate. This taper allows the shoulders to roll forward more when firing a handgun, or gives more of a mounting space when shouldering a rifle.
Much like the Shooter’s Cut plates, the Swimmer’s Cut plates were designed for the purpose of mobility. The Swimmer’s Cut gives a full range of motion in the shoulders. However in this case, the more mobility offered can also mean less ballistic coverage.
Ultimately when deciding which cut of body armor to choose comes down to the user's preference and the user’s intention. If you’re anticipating using your rifle-rated armor plates in an active shooter situation, I would recommend the Shooter’s Cut plate as it’s great for protection while firing a weapon from your shoulder. If you’re looking for maximum coverage for your plate armor, I would definitely recommend the ESAPI cut rifle-rated armor.
In order to understand the purpose of a spall liner, first we need to talk about spall. Traditionally steel plates were used for rifle-rated protection. When a projectile impacts the strike face of a steel plate, the projectile breaks into fragments, and creates spalling.
If someone is shot while wearing a steel plate, the spall that ricochets off the strike face can cause life-threatening injuries. Hence, the necessity of a spall liner. The spall liner helps to catch the spall and keep it from causing injury.
Ceramic and polyethylene plates do not spall because their strike face is entirely different. When a projectile impacts the strike face of a ceramic or polyethylene plate, the projectile will deform against the strike face and dents the plate. The ceramic or polyethylene more so absorbs the energy of the projectile, rather than deflecting the projectile’s energy like a steel plate.
There is a general misconception that body armor is only allowed for use by law enforcement, military, and first responders. In the United States, it is legal for almost any civilian to purchase and use body armor. However, there are several things to know:
Yes, in most instances you can travel with body armor. If traveling by air, the TSA does allow you to carry body armor, however vests and plate carriers cannot be worn at anytime while in the airport or onboard a plane. In the United States, body armor can be carried over state lines, but it is important to be familiar with the rules and regulations of each state. When it comes to traveling internationally, each county sets its own regulations.
If it’s your first time using body armor, we typically recommend purchasing our backpack armor or Everyday Armor T-Shirt. We recommend getting familiar with concealable armor and understanding body armor ratings. For the vast majority, level IIIA body is necessary as handguns are used in most shootings.
Most people assume to go for the highest rated armor, but chances are, you won’t need level IV body armor plates unless you’re in the military or in some cases security or law enforcement.
In the end, the type of body armor you buy greatly depends on the threat level you are trying to protect yourself from. If you’re in law enforcement or likely to encounter higher caliber rounds, then a greater threat level of protection for your body armor system may be the way to go.
If you’re looking for something for peace of mind that can be used daily, perhaps in a school or office setting, lower level (yet effective) armor may be better suited for you. All body armor combined with good situational awareness skills can be life-saving. It is important to take the time to do your research. In the end, only you can decide which type of body armor is best for you.
Comments will be approved before showing up.