What You Should Look For in Body Armor

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Surviving is more than just being lucky; it is preparation. Preparation is key to surviving all manner of situations; after all, there is a reason Survivalists are often called ‘Preppers’. This preparation may cover self-defense, resource management, first aid, and a number of other skill sets. Whatever you choose to focus on, it is worth considering exactly how you can keep yourself safe. While the situation will change, body armor is an easily accessible product that has a number of surprising benefits.

Firstly, imagine you are in a situation where you need to use your survival skills and experiences. This is where your considerable knowledge will come to light and the stores and defenses you have built will set you in good stead. Whatever the situation, your skill set allows you to cope with the challenges you’ll face and work to the point that you are living comfortably. However, due to luck or similar preparation, there will be others out there. These others may view your success with jealousy, and will work to take what you have. You need to defend yourself.

Self-defense is a broad topic with a number of different methods. Most Preppers will have already considered their own self-defense, and depending on the situation, will have a number of options available to them. Many Survivalists tout the usefulness of weapons for self defense, and your attackers will certainly look to arm themselves. A bullet is incredibly deadly, and no matter how well-armed you may be, it will only take one errant shot to kill you. This is why you need body armor.

Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ethan E. Rocke

Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ethan E. Rocke

Bullet proof vests are easily accessible to nearly everyone, and are an easy way to protect yourself against a wide variety of threats. Part of the benefit of wearing body armor is the protection it can give you against bullets, certainly. However, many do not realize that bullet proof vests can help mitigate the impact of all sorts of injuries, thereby keeping you safe in all manner of situations. For example, DuPont, the makers of Kevlar, annually hold a ceremony commemorating Law Enforcement Officers whose lives were saved through body armor. Every year a significant proportion of these Officers were involved in otherwise fatal car crashes.

Of course, the main threat a bullet proof vest will protect you against is bullets. However, bullet proof vests are available at a range of protective levels that outline exactly what ammunition they can protect you against. These NIJ Levels are standardized by the National Institute of Justice, the world leader in ballistics testing. It is important you ensure your vest is compliant with the testing standards set by the NIJ, and is appropriate for the threats you will be facing.

What is the best style of Body Armor for me?

Just as important, however, is ensuring that you are wearing the right style of vest. Bullet and stab proof vests are available in a variety of styles, each suited to different situations and with their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the most common example of a bullet proof vest is the covert vest, which is worn underneath clothing.

However, even these covert vests are varied, and will likely be quite different to the images most have. For example, these covert vests are exceptionally thin and lightweight, making them truly discreet. This also means that when worn for extended periods they will remain comfortable. Furthermore, some manufacturers offer covert vests designed with temperature-regulating materials to help keep the wearer cool.ConcealableBulletproofvest

A covert bulletproof vest has the benefit of keeping your protection discreet, meaning you can wear your vest in day-to-day life. On the other hand, an overt vest may be far more appropriate for your situation. An overt vest is designed to be worn over the clothing, and is still lightweight and flexible, but will usually have a durable and possibly weather-resistant cover. These vests have the benefit of being augmentable with high-visibility covers, pouches for equipment, and quick-release systems.

If you are truly preparing for the worst, and you expect to face some particularly extreme threats, you may need a tactical vest. These vests, like overt vests, are worn over clothing and are usually more durable than their covert counterparts. However, these vests are extremely protective, offering upgrades to protect the upper arms, throat, neck, and groin for example. These vests are heavier and bulkier than any others, but offer unparalleled protection. These should only be worn in the most dire of circumstances.

There are a number of things to consider before you choose your body armor; how and where will you be wearing it? What level of protection will you need? Understanding the different options available is very important; otherwise you may end up with a vest that does not protect you properly. For example, having a vest that does not fit just right can leave you with gaps in protection. Furthermore, bullet resistant vests cannot protect against knives or needles, and you may therefore need a stab or spike proof vest that uses additional materials like chainmail and plastic.

It may seem confusing or even intimidating, but coming to understand the options available allows you to choose the right vest, and keep yourself protected no matter what you find yourself facing. For example, if you’re going to be faced with large crowds or members of the public, a covert vest will help keep you discreet and give you the upper hand. However, if you find yourself facing an attack of any kind, an overt vest will unnerve your opponents and/or give you the confidence needed to survive.

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Mike Lashewitz

And here I thought this would be about passports. They are air crash proof you know….

Pat Henry

Wonder how many get that reference Mike. Apparently, they are also flame resistant as well.

Mike Lashewitz

Yeah amazing isn’t it? I wonder if it is only middle eastern produced passports though?


I am by no means an expert on body armor, but I have used it situations that involved risk where armed smugglers were operating. This is a good introductory article, but I was hoping that you would delve more deeply into the levels/grades of armor and the quality of protection t each affords. Armor that will stop a pistol round at 25 meters is essentially useless against 30.06, .308 or other high powered rifle calibers. For the uninitiated, it would be useful to address the various price points as well. I would love to see a ‘Part II’ as a… Read more »

Thomas Paine in the butt

I second that motion…

I was considering getting AR500 hard plates and making a custom carrier with a 2nd or 3rd row of plates to cover my midsection.

It’d definitely be good to hear from someone with experience with modern armor. I’m basing my design from medieval reenactment and making medieval armor.


From my experience you are talking about caring a lot of weight. Soldiers have left their plates behind because of all the equipment they had to carry. Also make sure to get plates with the anti-spalding applied. This traps the shrapnel from the rounds hitting the plate.

Thomas Paine in the butt

I figured it’d be heavy. My medieval armor runs around 60lbs and that’s 12-14ga stainless and leather.

In any event I’ll probably need a custom carrier being 6’10”

mike day

To who this may concern buy the Armor that first protects you from the rounds from your gun period !


Like I tell young officers. There is always a gun at every call you go on, because you brought it with you!!! So be careful.


When dealing with body armor you really need to break it down into two categories, soft and hard armor. The soft is concealable and the hard are plates generally worn in external plate carriers. For the soft it comes in different threat levels and is concealable. The only ones I would consider are the IIIA which will stop most handgun rounds. When I say most in many brands the 22 mag will penetrate the vest. As stated an ice pick will go through it. If you are buying a good vest plan on spending upward $1,200 for a good vest… Read more »

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