Tactical body armor has become an integral part of the gear of gun enthusiasts. It is one of the greatest modern marvels that has saved thousands of people from death or serious wounds. And while it is part of the standard work equipment for American law enforcement officers, gun enthusiasts are also discovering its many benefits.
Gun enthusiasts are well aware of the deadly power of rifles and proper safety starts with securing tactical armor to protect yourself in case a dangerous situation comes up. Plain and simple – wearing body armor can save your life. With modern advancements in production and design, bulky and heavy armor is no longer an issue and there are many levels and styles to find your optimal fit. Manufacturers offer a large selection of lighter and more effective body armor that can protect you from life-threatening shots.
Body Armor Levels and Specs
Understanding the different levels available helps you determine which one is most suitable against certain pistol and melee weapons and choose accordingly.
The most commonly used is Level IIa. Rated for pistol rounds and light fragmentation, it is soft armor, and is good against 9mm, 40 SW and 45 ACP. However, many consider this level to be the bare minimum armor protection.
When it comes to a decent array of pistol weapon threats, versatility and affordability – the best choice is Level IIIa. This armor is considered as standard armor for law enforcement at this time. If offers enhanced protection over level IIa up to a 44mag and it also stops 357 Sig, which is a high velocity round for a handgun.
Apart from levels, there are two types of tactical body armor styles – overt and covert (concealable). Gun enthusiasts generally find that the latter offers greatest advantages as t is usable in any scenario as opposed to hard armor which is impractical for daily use and high-risk situations. Covert body amor offers reduced chances of detection, which is particularly important as it won’t draw anyone’s eye.In some cases keeping your body armor out of sight may actually end up saving your life as attackers won’t specifically aim for those body parts left unprotected by your armor.
Another feature you need to consider is the inclusion of plates – most commonly paired with Level III, and Level IV for stopping armor piercing rounds from rifles. Level III offers a more than decent protection, as it will stop the majority of rifle rounds in circulation in the US today.
One of the best advancements in the field of body armor came with the introduction of lightweight ballistic plates. Designed to supplement soft armor – they are a convenient way to enhance the protective qualities of the carrier. The addition of lightweight ballistic plates expands the variety of weapons your vest protects against. This allows the wearer to move through different types of environments adequately prepared. These can include urban riot scenes or warzones.
Rifle body armor is used to protect vital organs in the upper body from the most common rifle threats in existence (5.56×45 M193 and 5.56×45 M855 SS109 at a velocity of up to 3,000 feet per second (fps), and 7.62×39, 7.62×51 M80 NATO Ball (.308 Winchester). Military personnel, law enforcement, and civilians rely on this type of body armor to protect their lives during unpredictable emergency situations. However, certain situations call for supplementing your rifle armor carrier based on ammunition type with lightweight ballistic plates.
Bullet resistant lightweight plates are single-curve vest inserts that are certified as an NIJ 0101.06 Level III ICW and are neutrally buoyant. Perfect for police and military protective armor, the light plate is manufactured from ultra high molecular weight polyethylene and optional finish of a black Line-X coating, it is the lightest plate on the market that offers 7.62x51mm protection.
Benefits of Kevlar armor and panels
Kevlar, was one of the most significant developments in the history of body armor. In 1965, DuPont chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar — a ballistic resistant fiber that was originally intended to replace steel belting in vehicle tires. Her invention revolutionized the field of body armor and is credited for saving thousands of lives. To this day, Kevlar remains among the top performers for body armor.
Because Kevlar fibers work together both in the individual layer and with other layers of material in the vest, a large area of the garment becomes involved in preventing the bullet from penetrating. This also helps in dissipating the forces which can cause non-penetrating injuries (what is commonly referred to as “blunt trauma”) to internal organs.
The development of body armor made of Kevlar took several years with different stages. Not only did it take ballistic protection to a new level, but it fueled a wave of other advancements in the field as well. Many more materials were discovered and developed to be a potential material for the right body armor.
Other applications for Kevlar include using it for protective building materials such as bombproof materials, hurricane safe rooms, underwater cables, tennis rackets, skis, ropes, brake linings, space vehicles, boats, skis and overtaxed bridge reinforcements.
Body armor can be highly effective when worn properly; some analysts cite its use as standard equipment for military and police forces as reasons why fatalities have dropped to historically low levels Currently, today’s modern generation of Kevlar body armor can provide protection in a variety of levels designed to defeat most common low- and medium-energy handgun rounds. Additional hard or ceramic panels have been developed to supplement soft body armor to defeat rifle fire is of either semirigid or rigid construction.
by Alex Ashton
Safeguard Armor LLC