A Survivalists Guide To Body Armor

Owning body armor these days makes a lot of sense for civilians as well as professionals in the security industry. With crime statistics through the roof in recent years, frequent terrorist attacks, violent protests and demonstrations – more and more people are viewing the purchase of a tactical vest as a sound investment.

It’s hard to put into words just how important body armor is, but let’s just say – it can be the difference between life and death in a number of scenarios. Still, many survivalists are quick to buy different type of guns and ammo, but overlook protective vests. However, it’s really this simple – if you own a gun or plan on owning a gun, you should also have a bulletproof vest in your house.

It’s a common trait of all survivalist to plan ahead, to be prepared. Equipping yourself with adequate protection helps you stay safe in specific circumstances. You need to understand how body armor works, what it can and cannot do for you against different threats, and how to select the best one for you.

Types and Styles of Body Armor

While there are 6 levels of protection in ballistic armor, there are three forms of armor platforms: covert,overt armor and tactical overt.

Covert armor is worn under the clothing and can be easily concealed. It is lightweight and flexible, making it idea for prolonged use. Recent advancements in the development of body armor have allowed the use of breathable materials that improve heat transfer, making it more comfortable for the wearer.

Overt armor’s main function is to protect the wearer and can also be used to intimidate the opposition. It comes in a variety of colors, styles and levels, although it is usually used when a high threat level exists. Overt armor is typically bulkier and heavier than covert and it conveys a sense of authority. Apart from offering more protection, its other main benefit is that it’s easy and quick to put on and take off.

Tactical armor is worn in a situation that is associated with a high degree of risks that prove too much for soft armor to handle. This means that it is likely for armor-piercing rounds to be used. This type of system relies on a combination of overt armor fitted with additional SAPI (hard ceramic) plates and panels that cover the neck, arms, thighs and groin area for maximum safety.

Levels of protection

Body Armor is rated at different levels based on the NIJ standards. Because the protection of the armor increases with the level, so does its weight and the cost. Ballistic body armor is rated by the Department of Justice against different round calibers. Basic soft body armor does not stop penetration from sharp objects and weapons, but it will stop thick-bladed stabs and offers protection against slashing attacks. These makes them suitable to wear in places, where there are large gatherings of people (protests, marches, during riots, etc.) as in close quarters – people often use concealable but deadly weapons, such as knives, broken bottles, screw drivers or other piercing objects to cause harm.

Survivalists who want to ensure they receive maximum protection can go for a combination of ballistic and stab proof systems that are available for purchase online but they are more expensive. In terms of bullets – pistol bullets are easier to stop than rifle bullets, because they are slower. This type of combined protection gives the best chances of surviving in risky situations, such as riots or a scenario, where you might need to travel from point A to point B while facing attacks and poor weather conditions.

Basic levels, such as Level IIA. (Level I is not in use anymore) through IIIA are considered soft body armor types and don’t always offer sufficient protection in high-tension situations, while Level IV provides the fullest protection against pistol and melee weapons but is bulkier and heavier on the wearer.

Do some research and compare the different options on body armor available online. Make sure you measure correctly and select a vest that fits well, is lightweight and comfortable apart from offering a high level of protection – these are just a few of the ground rules that every survivalist should stick to when shopping for body armor.

Why Try Body Armor?

As this is the first post I’ve had about body armor, we’ll start with a little bit of history:

Bullet-Proof-Vest

The modern form of body armor has its Western origins in Italy and England in the mid- to late-1500s. From there, we move on to various updated forms of body armor, paying
particular attention to forms of “bulletproof vests,” experimenting with steel breast plates and cotton padding. The greatest shift occurs with the discovery of properties leading to the creation of Kevlar® in the 1970s. The synthetic fibre known as Kevlar® is extremely strong, while having the benefit of being lightweight. This revolutionary discovery lead to the advancement of improvements with body armor, allowing for a less restricted frame of movement while being exceedingly strong. Though the name Kevlar is synonymous with bulletproof vests, there are similar aramids used to create vests, such as Twaron and Heracron.

There are various types of body armor on the market, with different levels of strength, as outlined by the NIJ. The NIJ takes care to note the difference between bullet proof and bullet resistant. Although the types of ammunition increase incrementally as the armor level goes up, as armor cannot protect against every type of ammunition, they thus cannot be called bulletproof. In fact, “an extremely small percentage of cases, a round can even go through a vest that it is rated to stop,” meaning that one must exercise reasonable precaution even while wearing a form of body armor.

Although the Level IIA offers the lightest weight, and thus is easiest to conceal, it may not be an optimal choice for your protection needs. For comparison purposes, the vest most commonly worn by police officers is a Level II. Interamer offers a pretty comprehensive chart outlining the specific weapons and ammunitions each armor level will cover. As the protection level increases, so too does the weight of the vest. You should be taking that fact into account when it comes to choosing your vest – if your vest is too heavy to comfortably wear, you’ll likely forgo wearing it altogether.

Another important thing to keep in mind about your body armor is its longevity. Though the NIJ “rates for five years of service,” that ends up depending on how often it’s worn. A vest worn at least semi-daily will have more wear than one worn sporadically, so further inspection is required. Related to this, due to wear and weather conditions weakening the ballistic fibers, the strength of your vest will end up dwindling over time. As it is unsafe to buy a used vest because of this, I wouldn’t recommend trying to sell it either.Teijin Aramid, the company that produces the synthetic fiber known as Twaron offers a buy-back program of vests. The materials are recycled and used as an “asbestos replacement.”

Provided you care for and wear them properly, a bullet resistant vest could end up being a worthy investment. So long as the vest is fitted properly, it has the benefit of offering additional protection in case of vehicle crashes. If you’re realistic about what a bullet resistant vest could do for you, the positives of owning (and more importantly wearing) one certainly outweigh the negatives.

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