How can Bulletproof Vests Help Preppers Stay Protected this Winter?

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We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”Winston Churchill

Imagine a world in which you are unable to sleep soundly in your bed at night. Imagine those rough men are gone, perhaps they are too far away, or are no longer able or willing to visit violence on your behalf. What if the rough men are no longer standing ready to protect you, but instead are standing by ready to incarcerate you? What if a government agency has labeled you as a terrorist simply because you served your country,  even while they create and support radical groups that used to be the terrorists we fought against? Yes this is a bleak outlook of the future, but I don’t think anyone would challenge me on the feasibility of this happening with the right set of circumstances. Some of it already has.

We have seen as recently as the events in Ferguson, New York, and now the west coast;  violent protests that injured people and destroyed property. The motivating factors or justification for those protests aren’t up for debate in this article, but the net result is lawlessness and chaos. I won’t go into how an agency that was founded under the premise of keeping our country safe has now turned its attention and resources, paid for by our taxes, on the population they were supposed to protect, but you can form your own opinion. In this world we are all a part of now, you aren’t safer. The world we live in is not getting better no matter what pot-soaked brownies you are eating. We don’t have a kinder and gentler world where we are all just getting along.  I maintain we are headed down a path where we will see more unrest and possibly violence spreading nationwide and in that world – that rough man standing ready, may just have to be you.

As a prepper, you know how easily situations can spin out of control: over the past decade, natural disasters have rendered entire cities powerless and without essential resources; civil unrest has led to mass rioting; the threat of cataclysmic pandemics linger. Whenever society’s status quo is affected by a change in circumstance, some people seek to exploit this however they can, whether looting from stores, stealing from homes, or just causing chaos for their own amusement.

Fortunately, in most situations like this here in the western world, order is restored fairly quickly. But you never know when things may change. Within a matter of minutes or hours, the area in which you live could become a disaster-zone – this is where your prepping is key. Bullet proof armor may prove vital in an emergency situation, if others try to take what’s yours by force: you should stock up on vests for you and your loved ones. However, bullet proof vests are also good to have whenever simply planning to shoot guns – whether you’re heading out for target practice at the range or training your family in how to safely handle a gun this winter, how can bulletproof armor protect you?

Which Bulletproof Vest is Best for Each Ammo-Type?

Body Armor can be worn concealed under clothes for protection in dangerous situations.

Body Armor can be worn concealed under clothes for protection in dangerous situations.

As you may or may not know, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) runs stringent tests on all bulletproof vests, and assigns each to a specific level based on the amount of protection it offers. Their latest standard – 0101.06 – features five levels: 2A, 2, 3A, 3, and 4. Bulletproof vests feature multiple layers of Kevlar, which absorb a bullet’s energy on impact, flattening the round – provided the armor offers adequate resistance against the ammo’s level.

Level 2A defends against more common, lower-velocity rounds, such as .22 mag 40-GR SP and 9mm 147-GR Subsonic; these are the most lightweight vests available, suitable for wear underneath other layers. Level 2 vests stop rounds up to .44 Mag 240-Gr JSP and 10mm 175-Gr Silver-tip. 3A is the highest level available as ‘soft’ armor, protecting up to .357 Mag 110-Gr JHP (with a maximum velocity of 473 m/s).

Level 3 is the first of the ‘hard’ armors, able to resist rifle-fire such as 7.62mm 150 Grain and .308 Winchester FMJ, with a semi-rigid design. As the highest level of ballistic protection available, level 4 vests can stop armor-piercing rounds like 30-06 AP 166 Grain and .30 Cal. 166 Grain MZ AP (fired at a high-velocity of 878 m/s); these vests feature ballistic plates (made of ceramics or steel) alongside Kevlar.

Hopefully, you and your loved ones will never need to depend on bulletproof vests, but if a dire situation befalls your area, you want to be sure you’re all as well-protected as can be. Level 3 and 4 vests will only be called upon in the most extreme circumstances, when you’re either using a high-powered rifle yourself, or expecting to come under fire from those wielding them. Lower-level vests can be worn under clothing, allowing you to stay discrete and comfortable in any situation, while higher-level ones are too bulky to be concealed. These ‘covert’ vests – worn underneath clothing – are lightweight and breathable enough for prolonged wear, perfect for staying safe without drawing attention to yourself. ‘Overt’ vests, worn over clothing, can be worn when stealth is unnecessary. You may want to collect a range of different vests to suit changing circumstances, and be sure to have enough for yourself and your family.

What Else do you Need to Consider when Buying Armor?

When buying a bullet proof vest, finding the right fit for your size and shape is essential to ensure maximum protection: the vest’s key function is preventing injury to the vital organs, and so should cover the central area of the torso only. Before you order, you should measure your height and chest, and compare these with your chosen supplier’s size chart – ask one of your family to help, for more accuracy; you also need to consider what type of clothing you’re likely to wear in emergency situations, and accommodate for the difference in measurements this will create. This winter, in the cold, you’ll wear thick layers while handling weapons outside, and so you should make sure any overt vests you buy will be big enough to fit over a jacket.

However, be careful of buying vests that are too big or too small: an over-sized body armor vest may push up into your throat with certain movements, or gape away from the body; undersized vests may feel too tight and restrictive, and leave your freedom of movement affected – a potential hazard if you need to fire accurately, or defend yourself against physical attack. Make sure you try your bulletproof vest thoroughly before wearing it in a ‘live’ situation – you need to be comfortable and familiar with its design. Never let the expense of some bulletproof vests put you off buying the ones you need – the safety they offer is priceless and you won’t get a second chance to regret your decision most likely. Where do bulletproof vests fall on your prepping priority list? As events unfold here and elsewhere in the world, it may be time to rethink and adjust.

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Pat, when is part 2 coming out? I loved the topic, but it seemed like paragraphs 4 and the last paragraph leave us hanging. While there are hundreds of items I don’t have in my preps yet, I’d looked at the bang for the buck on preps, and found that many other items rank higher at this point. I’d love to read what your thoughts on how body armor can help you in the winter aside from incidental discharges. Do you really think things are spinning away so fast right now that PPE moves to the top of the list?… Read more »


Interesting suggestion. Flaks are low on my priority list if only because I have so many other preps to acquire first. That said, I’ve worn them and they’re heavy and cumbersome. Would I have wanted one if I ever got shot or fragged? You bet, and since Uncle Sam was providing, who was I to refuse? But having been through urban combat, some of it even dismounted, I think the odds of needing them are lower than the chance they will save you. If you’re in a scenario where you’re walking streets or otherwise exposed, a skilled marksman should simply… Read more »


What happened to “death before dismount?” It appears our views are similar on the need, weight, overheating associated with armor. I think we differ in that I was looking at armor for only defensive work, and I suppose directed attack. Carrying around 25-35lbs of sweet plates and carrier, plus long and short weapons, plus ammo, water and all the associated gizmos most add to it will dramatically reduce what a person can carry more than a mile or two. In a bug-out or mobile situation, it will force very hard choices about which of your previously essential items make the… Read more »


Believe-you-me, Bob, I’d have stayed in the tank the whole time if I could have. The only thing I feared was flamethrowers, molotovs, and gigantic piles of landmines that would have sunk a battleship. We had a couple situations where a tank did hit an anti-personnel mine or a driver ran over concertina wire and we had to swap out track. In each of those cases I was the loader and had to provide security on one of our weak sides, so I went off and found a hidey hole to play overwatch. The TC stayed inside to work the… Read more »


The idea of body armor is something I have kicked around for some time. I use it in a SRT situation and for training others in my line of work. It is work issued and nothing I wear every day. Being Level IV, it is bulky and heavy. Nothing I would want to wear every day. I like the idea of it and it is on the list…WAY down towards the bottom. The justification is not there at this time.

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