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BUYER'S GUIDE

THE ULTIMATE

BUYER'S GUIDE

FOR BODY ARMOR

everything you'll need to make a well-informed decision.
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A vector of Soft Body armor on a transparent background
A vector of a hard body armor plate
Soft armor is intended to stop handgun rounds and is flexible. These are the more commonly known ‘bulletproof vests.' Concealable soft armor is worn by police under a uniform shirt, while tactical vests are worn over the uniform and are typically used by SWAT teams for more tactical situations. Soft armor offers no protection against rifles or knives.
Hard armor is intended to stop rifle threats and is rigid. Hard armor is typically in the form of a 10” x 12” plate worn on the front and rear of a tactical vest. Tactical carriers usually have a plate pocket where a rifle plate can be quickly inserted over the vest.

Body Armor 101

types of armor
A diagram for the Levels of Body Armor protection.
There are 5 main categories set forth by the NIJ are as follows, Level IIA, Level II, Level IIIA, Level III, and Level IV. There are also special type categories which allow manufactures to fit special threat specific vests in their own category.
Level IIA
Tested to stop 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
Level II
Tested to stop 9mm and .357 Magnum ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
Level IIIA
Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
Level III
Tested to stop 7.62mm NATO FMJ lead core rifle ammunition.
Level IV
Tested to stop .30-06  steel core armor piercing rifle ammunition.
What threat level should I choose?

What Are the Different Types of Body Armor?

Ballistic Vests
  • Hard Armor (external rifle plates)
  • Soft Armor (concealable or external)  
Bulletproof bag inserts
Spike/Stab-proof vests

what would I need to use Body Armor For?

Protection during hunting/sport shooting/training - Often when hunting there are many close calls. Firearms can be fired by mistake, or may encounter other types of potential damage from shrapnel, ricoshets, and non-projectile shrapnel such as wood splinters from trees.  In this case, wearing body armor is a useful precaution that many hunters may take.
Protection at Work/School - Public shootings are becoming more common each year, it is the unfortunate, sad truth. We offer ballistic protection solutions like our Bullet Resistant backpack panels which are perfect for students or anyone on the go and could be you or your loved ones’ last line of defense if a shooting were to occur. Other professionals such as first responders, security guards, and police officers require more daily protection.
Protection for gun ethusiasts performing experiments - Whether you’re a trained professional or simply a civilian gun enthusiast who enjoys blowing things up in your past time, wearing body armor is the safest way to ensure that you’re protected from all sorts of shrapnel generated.

The short answer is -- Yes, it’s perfectly legal for any law abiding citizen to buy, own and use body armor.

Using vest while committing a federal crime of violence or a federal drug-trafficking crime will result in an enhanced sentence depending on what state you’re in. We encourage you to research the laws of the state in which you reside.
Under federal law, which is regulated by statute 18 U.S.C.A. Section 931,  it is forbidden for anyone convicted of a violent felony to own or possess a vest, unless that person is an empolyee who’s doing so to perform lawful business and who has obtained prior written certification from their employer. (Violation of this law could be punishable up to a maxium of three years in prison.)
Although, it is federal law, some states also extend the federal ban to those convicted of committing violent mistameanors.

What is the NIJ and what does their rating of body armor mean?

What are the different NIJ protection levels?

There are 5 main categories set forth by the NIJ are as follows, Level IIA, Level II, Level IIIA, Level III, and Level IV. There are also special type categories which allow manufactures to fit special threat specific vests in their own category.
Level IIA - Tested to stop 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition fired from short barrel handguns.
Level II - Tested to stop 9mm and .357 Magnum ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
Level IIIA -Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
Level III - Tested to stop 7.62mm NATO FMJ lead core rifle ammunition.
Level IV - Tested to stop .30-06  steel core armor piercing rifle ammunition.
The NIJ (National Institute of Justice) is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. They play an important role in the Ballistics industry because they establishes and updates voluntary minimum performance standards for body armor, conducts testing against these standards to ensure that body armor complies with the standards, and sponsors research to improve body armor.
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FAQ

Can I Travel with Body Armor?
What is the highest-rated body armor?
Can you wear body armor in public?
Can you take body armor on the plane?
Can I exchange my body armor if it doesn't fit ?
What does Berry Compliant mean?

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