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 What are the different types of body armor?

Body armor is typically divided into concealable and tactical forms.  Concealable bulletproof ballistic body armor vests are designed to protect against handguns while being worn beneath clothing.  Tactical bulletproof ballistic body armor is designed for use in combat operations and is often capable of carrying bulletproof hard armor rifle plates for additional protection.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has well-recognized standards for body armors of different levels of protection.  Levels IIA, II, and IIIA are soft armor protection levels capable of stopping various different handguns.  Levels III and IV are bulletproof hard armor ballistic rifle plates for protection against assault rifles and high powered hunting or sniper rifles.  Bulletproof hard armor ballistic rifle plates also come in “stand alone” and “in conjunction” forms.  Stand alone plates are capable of giving their full rated protection regardless of the vest that they are used in.  In conjunction plates require a level IIIA vest in order to give their rated protection, but are typically lighter and thinner than a stand alone plate.
Body armor also comes in the form of level IIIA .44 magnum rated bulletproof ballistic face masks, bulletproof ballistic backpacks, and bulletproof ballistic laptop bags.

What level of body armor do I need?

Only you can assess what the common threats are in your environment, but we recommend at a minimum protecting against the level rated against any weapons you carry.  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data indicate that approximately one in six officers killed in the line of duty were shot with their own weapon.

What is body armor made of?

Modern body armor is composed of high-strength materials designed to absorb impact.  Aramid (Kevlar, Twaron), polyethylene (Dyneema, Spectra), alumina, silicon carbide, and boron carbide are common construction materials.

How does body armor work?

Soft body armor is composed of high-strength fibers which catch incoming bullets and absorb their force before they can transfer it to the wearer.  One of the earliest materials used was ballistic nylon, but currently much more common materials are aramid fabrics such as Kevlar or Twaron or ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fabrics such as Dyneema or Spectra.  Careful choice of material and weave have helped to keep modern soft concealable bulletproof ballistic body armor light and flexible without sacrificing protection.

Hard armor plates use strong materials such as resin-set polyethylene or boron carbide ceramic to absorb and dissipate high-powered rounds before they can penetrate.

Exporting Level III and IV armor plates requires a U.S. State Department export permit. There are also some countries that may require a Bureau of Industry & Security export license for Level II-A, Level II and Level III-A Body Armor. It is the sole responsibility of the purchaser to ensure that all transactions conform to applicable laws, codes, and ordinances.