Medical and Fire Departments Started Using Protective Vests and We should all use them too
Active shooters at schools, government buildings, churches and other public spaces is somethings that in my opinion will never stop. Unless we ban all weapons in the United States shootings around the country will continue and that won’t happen either for a long time. We all must accept that guns are something that people like, have and use. For this same reason, the Emergency service departments in Tampa Florida have accepted that shooting will continue and decided to issue a protective armor vest to every medical and fire department first responders. The City of Tampa spend more than $700,000 on 484 protective vests.
“If we expect to save lives, we must move in as close as possible,” said Craig Hare, Pinellas County Director of EMS & Fire Administration. “We need to come in right behind police officers the second they give us the go-ahead.”
I completely agree with Craig’s statement, Police officers and the Swat team are not the only first responders in a shooting scene. The medical and fire departments are also first responders with different jobs but they are all crucial to helping the victims come out safely. For this same reason is why the City of Tampa has decided to issue these vests, if the medics and firefighters are not protected against these shooters then at the end of the day we are just going to have more casualties and injuries during an active shooting. In the case of the medical and fire department, personal are required to listen to the police department. However, let’s say there’s a victim that’s injured in what is considered the “Hot Zone”, the area that is considered active for the shooter. These, ‘tactical medics” are trained to enter these areas and assist them. How can they do this without protective gear?
““That’s basically all we’re doing: taking care of immediate threats to life,” said Ross Pinney, one of Oldsmar Fire Rescue’s tactical medics who taught part of the training class where they practiced carrying and dragging victims from the scene of a shooting. “
I find this incredibly important, how is that just now these departments are beginning to issue armored gear to their employees? The government and City officials would do anything to save money and not spend, if every city in the nation were to spend $700,000 on armored vests I guarantee that the statistics for injuries and casualties would fall dramatically. City officials across the United States are sometimes found taking city funds for themselves, instead of using them for good purposes like protecting the people that risk their lives to save others.
“I get that there’s only so much money in the budget, but this is an important purchase because if and when this sort of thing does happen . . . the question will be, ‘Well, how come you weren’t better prepared?’”
Other cities across the United States should learn from the Tampa city officials and accept that active shooters will continue across the United States and there’s not enough city personal to protect every public building so instead they should invest the funds in protecting the first responders. This protective gear is not only required to be worn during an active shooter situation but also in any situation that can harm these first responders. As the Clearwater Fire & rescue Department stated
“that first responders must put on their body armor “before entering any type of hostile environment,” and this would include active-shooter situations, civil disturbances and fights.”
Although active shooters do the most damage and result in the largest number of casualties, it is also smart to make them wear the protective gear in these other dangerous environments because you never know who has a gun and decides to use it. A lot of these medical staff and firefighters don’t like the idea of wearing this protective gear in not serious situations. The Service departments in the City of Tampa decided to let each person decide if they want to wear the vests in none dangerous situations.
“Sean Becker, who is president of the Fire Fighters Association in Clearwater said, “We attended fire school with the full knowledge that we would be putting out fires, but we had no idea we would be asked to wear protective vests and helmets when responding to calls.”
The questions are, if every City service department is beginning to use protective vests then should we all? How can we know when we are going to need a vest? Has the world come to a point where we should all wear protective vests to work, to school and in our daily lives? Some argue yes, others argue that, that sounds ridiculous. Whichever you believe, I still think we should all own a body armor vest in order to decide ourselves when we should wear it or if anything were to happen, you can at least say in heaven “I did everything I could to protect myself, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time “. On the other hand, if an armored vest or an armored backpack were to save your life you will be glad you were wearing at a bank shooting, airport or school shooting. The last question is, how much is your life worth to you?
Thank you for reading, if your life is worth more than $300 then don’t forget to check out our website and order your armored vest or armored backpack.
Transportation laws for Body Armor
Bulletproof vests are arguably the most vital piece of lifesaving equipment a person can have, protecting the most exposed part of our body and the vital organs beneath. Since body armor has proven to be so successful it is of little surprise that lawmakers have made it their business to attempt various regulations behind the argument that, if highly restricted, it would be ensured that people attempting criminal activities wouldn’t benefit from the protection of the vests; giving the police an upper hand. These regulations have surged in the majority of states and they restrict from how you purchase your body armor to if you may even own one at all. In most states, as in the federal government, the use of bulletproof vests while committing a crime can result in more severe charges and sentences; also being in possession of a vest can be punishable itself depending on your criminal record. An example was a bill pushed by US Congressman Mike Honda in 2014 called “Responsible Body Armor Possession Act” which by prohibiting the sale, purchase, use or possession of “enhanced military-grade body armor” by anyone that wasn’t in active military duty or law enforcement. “There is no reason this type of armor, which is designed for warfare, should be available in our communities except for those who need it, like law enforcement” Congressman Honda stated. The term “enhanced body armor” is specifically describing any armored vest or helmet that surpasses the NIJ certified Type III armor. It is important to know the respective laws in your state before attempting to transport any sort of body armor.
In terms of federal laws, Congress has regulated body armor in two ways:
– An offense that has an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another or
– Any other offense that is a felony, and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
Body armor being defined as, “any product sold or offered for sale, in interstate or foreign commerce, as personal protective body covering intended to protect against gunfire, regardless of whether the product is to be worn alone or is sold as a complement to another product or garment.”
So, knowing the lawful limits of owning a bulletproof vest in your state, now for transporting it on a plane. It isn’t illegal to have them in your carry-on or checked bag, but being in possession of a bulletproof vest draws extra attention that can lead to in depth questioning by TSA agents since this isn’t an item that travelers often takes with them. In the end of course it is the on duty officers final judgement if he will either let you pass or require you to leave your vest behind. Some airlines can also cause problems if the weight of your carry on passes their predetermined limit, and with a heavy armored vest that isn’t too hard to achieve. Since an interrogation is a real possibility, it is important to have proper documentation and a clear idea as to why and what you plan to do with that armor, no question is off limits when it comes to border control. All these aspects can also affect even those trying to walk across any American border. So independent from your choice of transportation the laws apply mostly the same.
Security Personnel and Body Armor
The body armor and security industries are two closely interdependent trades. On one hand there’s the ballistic protection market which, fueled by the security industries never ending need for the latest improvements in bullet and stab resistance, continues to implement the latest technological advancement in engineering to further decrease the chances of serious injury or death. Considering those, there is the security industries constant growth; which nowadays ranges from shopping malls to high profile government institutions. All of the vastly different areas of operation entail varying levels of threat. For example, the dangers a bar security employee might find himself faced with are mostly stabs and low caliber guns; yet on the other hand an armored vehicle security guard might be more inclined to use a much higher grade of body armor that also protects against assault rifles and sub-machine guns. In some sectors of the security industry, other lesser-known types of vests are used like covert armor carriers, which provide a discrete fit, and are often times concealed completely. This conceal-ability comes along with a lighter overall weight and the inherent flexibility of Kevlar plates. This lightweight armor is usually worn beneath layers of clothing and is mostly used for securing private parties, high-end nightclubs or VIP protection scenarios.
One of the sectors that has arguably seen the largest growth in semi-private security has university campuses. Given the unfortunate reality that school shootings have been at an all-time high, some colleges have begun to adopt higher measures of security for the protection for their staff and students. Campus security face many dangers on the job and some tasks are not necessarily recognized. Beyond the basic “speeding on campus” traffic stops and all of the drunken bar fights, public intoxication and indecent exposure that tend to be a regular part of the college party scene. Some of the basic tasks of any university officer are to conduct daily and nightly patrols of buildings for anyone of ill intent. Their job also forces them to confront and questions the presence of any stranger on campus that may seem like a risk to himself or others, knowing and spotting suspicious behavior is key to this part of the job. Most officers are even trained to detect the presence of religious extremism and the recruitment strategies commonly used on young students. While most of the day-to-day interactions for campus and local police are relatively benign, Campuses tend to attract other more serious dangers like car chases, drug dealing, armed robbery, bomb threats and even mass shootings. So while it may seem like Campus PD’s do not need a lot of protection, very serious threats can arise out of nowhere, so it is better to be prepared for the worst.
Ultimately, all security jobs require specific gear, and when acquiring your ideal piece there must be a certainty of the threats and situations that protective armor will be exposed to. Ideally, managers should consider the most suitable options in order to assure their staffs safety on the job. Moreover, since there still is not a thing as a bulletproof officer, it is up to the people in the industry to strive for improvement and advancement in a field only limited by imagination and time.
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Should body armor be legal?
Is there such a thing as Overprotection?
When considering how precious and delicate life can be, one is often confronted with questions like, do I feel safe? Am I being prepared? Is there such a thing as “too prepared?” The most common conclusions tends to be that no matter how protected you are, you are not bulletproof. And nowhere less is that the case than in states like Connecticut, where state laws have been passed that directly confront the second amendment. These laws severely criminalize the buying and selling of protective body armor by any means that is not a person-to-person transactions. As a direct consequence, Public Act 98-127 not only restricts civilians’ access of life-saving protection but also directly affects law enforcement and military personnel, who depend on catalog or online bulk transactions, from acquiring an indispensable part of their gear. Why does that matter in Florida, or any other of the 49 states, you may ask. With New York following Connecticut’s footsteps and queuing up a few body armor restrictions this year the picture could not be clearer since some other anti-gun states are expected to jump on the bandwagon against self-protection for all the wrong reasons. The main drive behind these attempts to forcefully restrict the American people of their constitution given right is the general disarming of America with school shootings bearing the burden of being the excuse.
“The people intent on committing these atrocities outfit themselves with the macabre tools of their trade … and the defensive gear to ensure they do the most damage,” says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. A D.C.-based gun control research organization.
Although Mr. Sugarmann attempts to make a solid point about how the use of protective gear can, in some situations, hinder police’s attempts at controlling a situation since the criminal can be better protected against police force. To stop the main concern, criminals being better protected from law enforcement, some states have made it illegal for a person with a criminal record ranging from a simple misdemeanor to anyone that has been incarcerated from ever attempting to own any type of body armor or weapon. While this might put a dent in most former criminals attempts at acquiring protection there are still a wide variety of known ways you can acquire bulletproof protection illegal through the internet. So are these laws really helping the public (which should be their sole intention) or are they inadvertently just making it harder for the common law-abiding citizen American to take their safety into their own hands.
Should these restrictions continue to spread across the states we could inevitably find ourselves at a point where choosing protection based on your personal needs will be a thing of the past and only an option for certain law officers and active military personnel; confining citizens to a very limited and compromising number of options for self-preservation. In a country built on the foundation of freedom, having limited options for protections seems to directly interfere with that fundamental right. So does body armor hurt people? Of course not, their invention came from the need to preserve life and minimize injuries. And taking into account that police scanners, radar detectors and night vision binoculars are still 100% legal, we can only ask ourselves; Are we focusing on the problem at hand? Or just demonizing an important life-preserving tool in order to feel a little “safer.”
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What is the difference between a curved steel plate and a flat steel plate?
When it comes to choosing which hard armor plate is best for your bulletproof vest, there are many options. Plates can be either made of steel, ceramic, or polyethylene. Plates most often come in two styles. There is the curved plate and the flat plate. When people are shopping for plates, they often fail to pay attention to this type of detail. Choosing the right curvature of plate is very important because at the end of the day helps protect you and determines how truly safe the vest is. Bulletproof vests need to be adaptable to any person of any size. When determining the curvature of the plates being used, it is important to keep in mind protection, mobility, coverage, and size.
Curved plates are plates that do not lay flat on the chest but rather adapts to the shape of the human chest. They are said to be more comfortable since they adapt to the body. Some would argue that since it wraps around the body it would protect a bit more. Curved plates are also said to mitigate penetration by not allowing rounds to impact at a 90 degree angle. One downside of using a curved plate in your bulletproof vest is that it is very complicated to make one for each body, and they usually come in one standard size. This becomes a problem when a big chested women wants to use a vest that is made for a man. Curved plates are designed in such a way that the bullet is deflected upon impact. The problem with the bullet being deflected is that we do not know where the bullet will go.
Flat plates are less expensive than curved plates. Those who do not really know much about the product would say that curved plates are better than flat plates. Truth be told, flat plates are safer than curved plates because while curved plates will make the bullet deflect, flat plates will automatically stop the bullet. The problem of having a bullet deflect is that when the bullet deflects, you do not know where it will go. Flat plates are also better than curved plates because, although curved plates are supposed to adapt and curve your chest, it is impossible for it to actually fit everyone the right way. Flat plates are definitely considered to be the best option for your bulletproof vest for multiple reasons, not to mention it is the lighter and much cheaper option.
When it comes to choosing the right plate for your bulletproof vest, it is very important to do your research and choose the right plate. At the end of the day, the plate is what truly will determine how protected you are from a bullet. Choosing the right kind of plate is essential for your safety, comfort, and protection. The Best Body Armor is definitely the best option when it comes to a comfortable and safe bulletproof vest. For more information, you can go right to our website thebestbodyarmor.com
Which bulletproof vest for bugging-out vs bugging-in?
In developing prepping plans, it becomes important to focus on multiple options of preparedness. Some choose to prepare for being mobile, to get to another, safer, location. While others choose to hunker in and prepare their permanent dwelling for any potential issues. Often, it is best to develop both plans simultaneously so one has options and is therefore more prepared for a wider variety of scenarios. In each plan, the need for personal ballistic protection is ever present. However, the particular challenges and needs differ depending on whether mobility or protection is the primary objective. In this article I hope to present options for body armor that fit multiple scenarios so you and your family can be best prepared in event of a crisis.
The first scenario to cover is the most common, the “Bugging-out” plan. The premise behind this method of prepping is rather straightforward. Have supplies and gear focused on mobility to safely get to a more secure, less precarious location. This method of prepping is favored in urban population centers and suburbs where securing locations is more difficult given the higher population density. It makes sense then to relocate out of one’s apartment in the city or suburban home to a more isolated location like a cabin or rural relative’s home. The key to this kind of prepping is making it to the target as quickly and safely as possible. If the plan entails going on foot through possible dangerous terrain, weight is the primary concern. In this case a light Kevlar vest is probably the way to go. However, if one is simply driving to the target location, heavier, more protective armor is feasible. The best armor for the vehicle ex-fil is AR-500 steel plate because of its extensive protection against the vast majority of rifle fire, including the most popular assault rifles like the AR-15/10 and AK-47/74. Even mid-range sniper rifles, typically chambered in .308 Win, are ineffective against AR-500 plates. AR-500 beats more advanced ceramics for prepping because of its toughness and longevity. Ceramic plates can crack and break even when just tossed around, and with supply lines non-existent in prepping scenario, you can’t replace your plates every time you hit the deck a little too hard.
The second scenario is quite a bit different. Fortifying your present, permanent home, sometimes jokingly referred to in the prepping community as “Bugging-in” presents different challenges and opportunities. When it comes to choosing a bulletproof vest, mobility is secondary to protection. More than likely you will be in your home or on your defensed property when a threat presents itself, so the best course of action is to dig in and fight from your current position. Here the additional weight of AR-500 steel vests is no longer nearly as detrimental as in the bugging out by foot scenario presented early. Here, the added rifle protection and increased trauma protection over Kevlar can be life-saving and it costs very little in utility. As an added bonus, because AR-500 vests are extremely inexpensive compared to their ceramic counterparts, it is more economical to equip the entire family(provided they are grown enough to handle the weight) thereby multiplying force response and taking steps to ensure the safety of non-offensive family members from stray rounds.
For Prepping scenarios, AR-500 steel bulletproof vests make tons of sense in either bugging out or bugging in scenarios. Due to their maximum economy, protection, durability, longevity and ease of repair, AR-500 steel plates are ideal for prepping scenarios where replacing Kevlar or Ceramic plates after every hit would be highly impractical. So in both the short run and long run, AR500 is the ideal material for personal ballistic protection in a survival plan.
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History of Body Armor
Throughout history, we as mankind have used various types of materials as body armor to protect ourselves from injury in combat and other dangerous situations. The first protective clothing and shields were made from animal skins. As civilizations became more advanced, wooden shields and then metal shields came into use. Eventually, metal was also used as body armor, what we now refer to as an armor suit, which is mainly associated with the knights of the Middle Ages. However, with the invention of firearms somewhere around 1500, metal body armor became ineffective. Then only real protection available against firearms were stone walls or natural barriers such as rocks, trees, and ditches.
Soft Body Armor
One of the first times that soft armor was used was by the medieval Japanese, who used armor manufactured from silk. It wouldn’t be until the late 19th century that the United States would first use of soft body armor. At that time, the military explored the possibility of using soft body armor manufactured from silk. The project even attracted congressional attention after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. While the garments were shown to be effective against low-velocity bullets, those traveling at 400 feet per second or less, but they would not offer protection against the new, more modern generation of handgun ammunition being introduced at that time. This was ammunition capable of traveled at velocities of more than 600 feet per second. This, along with the prohibitive cost of silk made the concept unacceptable.
Early Bulletproof Vest Patents
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists records dating back to 1919 for various designs of the bulletproof vests and body armor type garments. One of the first documented patents where for a garment, which was demonstrated for use by law enforcement officers and was detailed in the April 2, 1931 edition of the Washington, D.C., Evening Star, where a bullet proof vest was demonstrated to members of the Metropolitan Police Department.
The next generation of anti-ballistic vests was the World War II “flak jacket” made from ballistic nylon. The flak jacket provided protection primarily from ammunitions fragments and was ineffective against most pistol and rifle threats. Flak jackets were also very heavy and bulky.
Lightweight Body Armor
It would not be until the late 1960s that new fibers were discovered that made today’s modern generation of cancelable body armor possible. The National Institute of Justice or “N.I.J.” initiated a research program to investigate development of a lightweight body armor that an on-duty police officer could wear full time, and protect them from gunfire. The investigation readily identified new materials that could be woven into a lightweight fabric with excellent ballistic resistant properties. Performance standards were set that defined ballistic resistant requirements for police and military body armor.
in the 1970s, one of its most significant achievements in the development of body armor was the invention of DuPont’s Kevlar ballistic fabric. Ironically, the fabric was originally intended to replace steel belting in vehicle tires. The development of Kevlar body armor by NIJ was a four-phase effort that took place over several years. The first phase involved testing Kevlar fabric to determine whether it could stop a lead bullet. The second phase involved determining the number of layers of material necessary to prevent penetration by bullets of varying speeds and calibers and developing a prototype vest that would protect officers against the most common threats: the .38 Special and the .22 Long Rifle bullets.
Researching Kevlar Bullet Proof Vests
By 1973, researchers at the Army’s Edgewood Arsenal responsible for the bulletproof vest design, had developed a garment made of seven layers of Kevlar fabric for use in field trials. It was determined that the penetration resistance of Kevlar was degraded when wet, and that the bullet resistant properties of the fabric diminished upon exposure to ultraviolet light, including sunlight. Dry-cleaning agents and bleach also had negative effects on the anti-ballistic properties of the fabric, as did repeated washing. To protect against these problems, the vest was designed with waterproofing, as well as with fabric coverings to prevent exposure to sunlight and other degrading agents.
Medical Testing of Body Armor
The third phase of the initiative involved medical testing to determine the performance level of body armor that would be necessary to save police officers’ lives. It was clear to researchers that even when a bullet was stopped by the flexible fabric, the impact and resulting trauma from the bullet would leave a severe bruise at a minimum and, at worst, could kill by damaging critical organs. Subsequently, army scientists designed tests to determine the effects of blunt trauma, which is injuries suffered from forces created by the bullet impacting the armor. A byproduct of the research on blunt trauma was the improvement of tests that measure blood gases, which indicate the extent of injuries to the lungs. The final phase involved monitoring the armor’s wear ability and effectiveness. A test in three cities determined that the vest was wearable, it did not cause add stress or pressure on the torso, and it did not prevent the normal body movement necessary for police work. In 1975, an extensive field test of the new Kevlar body armor was conducted, with 15 urban police departments cooperating. Each department served a population larger than 250,000, and each had experienced officer assault rates higher than the national average. The tests involved 5,000 garments, including 800 purchased from commercial sources. Among the factors evaluated were comfort when worn for a full working day, its adaptability in extremes of temperature, and its durability through long periods of use. The demonstration project armor issued by NIJ was designed to ensure a 95 percent probability of survival after being hit with a .38 caliber bullet at a velocity of 800 ft/s. Furthermore, the probability of requiring surgery if hit by a projectile was to be 10 percent or less. A final report released in 1976 concluded that the new ballistic material was effective in providing a bullet resistant garment that was light and wearable for full-time use. Private industry was quick to recognize the potential market for the new generation of body armor, and body armor became commercially available in quantity even before the NIJ demonstration program.
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How do bulletproof vests work
A ballistic vest or bullet-resistant vest, often called a bulletproof vest, is personal armor worn on the torso that helps absorb the impact and reduce or stop penetration to the body from firearm fired projectiles and shrapnel from explosions. Soft vests are made of many layers of woven or laminated fibers and can protect the wearer from small caliber handgun and shotgun projectiles and small fragments from explosives such as hand grenades. Metal or ceramic plates can be used with a soft vest, providing additional protection against rifle rounds and metallic components. Tightly woven fiber layers can give soft armor resistance to stab and slash attacks from knives and similar close combat weapons. Soft vests are commonly worn by police forces, private citizens who are at risk of being shot, security guards, and bodyguards, whereas hard-plate reinforced vests are mainly worn by combat soldiers, police tactical units, and hostage rescue teams. Body armor may combine a ballistic vest with other items of protective clothing, such as a combat helmet. Vests intended for police and military use may also include ballistic shoulder and side protection armor components, and bomb disposal officers wear heavy armor and helmets with face visors and spine protection.
How bulletproof vests stop bullets
Ballistic vests use layers of very strong fibers to catch and deform a bullet, mushrooming it into a dish shape and spreading its force over a larger portion of the vest fiber. The vest absorbs the energy from the deforming bullet, bringing it to a stop before it can completely penetrate the matrix of fibers. Some layers may be penetrated but as the bullet deforms, the energy is absorbed by a larger and larger fiber area.
While a vest can prevent bullet penetration, the vest and wearer still absorb the bullet’s energy. Even without penetration, modern pistol bullets contain enough energy to cause blunt force trauma under the impact point. Vest specifications will typically include both penetration resistance requirements and limits on the amount of impact energy that is delivered to the body. Vests designed for bullets offer little protection against blows from sharp implements, such as knives, arrows, ice picks, or from bullets manufactured of non-deformable materials, those containing a steel core instead of lead. This is because the impact force of these objects stays concentrated in a relatively small area, allowing them to puncture the fiber layers of most bullet resistant fabrics. By contrast, stab vests provide better protection against sharp implements, but are generally less effective against bullets. Fiber vests may be augmented with metal (steel or titanium), ceramic, or polyethylene plates that provide extra protection to vital areas. These hard armor plates have proven effective against all handgun bullets and a range of rifles. These upgraded ballistic vests have become standard in military use, as soft body armor vests are ineffective against military rifle rounds. Prison guards and police often wear vests which are designed specifically against bladed weapons and sharp objects. These vests may incorporate coated and laminated paramid textiles or metallic components.
where to find bulletproof vests
When looking for armor that provides the maximum protection, you want to look for a vest that provides full ballistic protection as well as protection against any knife or spike attacks. There aren’t many vests on the market that offer that full range of protection, but you can find some. The most affordable vest that offers full protection against every kind of attack can be found at thebestbodyarmor.com. You can even use promo code “armorstrong” to get $25 off your vest. There is nothing better than knowing you’ve bought the best product at the best price.
The classical definition of “bulletproof” is typically presented as an object’s imperviousness to bullets. With the variety and often overwhelming power of modern munitions, making something impenetrable to every possible munition is impractical. When it comes to wearable bulletproof armor, having something that offers maximum protection while maintaining complete mobility requires some degree of compromise. At least it used to.
The government authority that sets the standards for ballistic armor is the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The NIJ thoroughly tests every vest upon its introduction to the market using their rigorous standardized laboratory methods. The NIJ first started doing these tests to determine which vests would be good enough for police officers and other law enforcement. Since then, the NIJ rating system has become the industry standard for law enforcement, military, and commercially marketed vests. Every vest is given a protection rating which describes what kinds of cartridges the vest is capable of stopping. The ratings serve as a convenient guide to classify and quantify the ballistic capabilities of each vest model.
The chart above outlines the increasing levels of protection at each rating. Level I is only rated for rimfire and archaic cartridges, which are so rare in self-defense situations that no vests are commercially sold with a Level 1 rating. Level IIA describes a vest that is capable of stopping handgun velocity 9mm and other common slow velocity pistol cartridges such as .40 S&W. Level II offers protection against faster moving pistol calibers such as 357 Magnum and pistol calibers shot from carbines. Level IIIA is the highest rating Kevlar vests have been able to achieve thus far. These vests can stop nearly anything fired from a pistol, but they leave their wearer completely exposed to any variety of rifle calibers as well as some of the more exotic armor piercing pistol calibers such as 5.7x28FN. In the past, in order to get full Level III protection, which includes rifle calibers, one would have to spend an exorbitant amount to get hard armor capable of stopping even the lightest rifle cartridges. Because of the inferior steel used in these older vests, they would have to utilize thick, heavy plates in order to offer protection even against some of the more common rifle cartridges. With modern steel processing and hardening methods, it is now possible to get ballistic plates rated beyond Level III+, which is capable of stopping round more powerful than the .308 ball used to certify standard Level III. Level III+ exceeds the standards set by the NIJ and is vastly superior to the common vests used by law enforcement and even most military personnel.
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Advanced ceramics took the materials industry by storm in the early 90’s as the wave into the future. They are often lightweight, strong, and impervious to rust or other common forms of degradation. Ceramic plates are currently used by the United States military because of their marginally higher level of protection compared to more traditional materials. Yet despite their often high-tech reputation, when it comes to applications in ballistic armors, they have a few pronounced drawbacks.
While ceramic ballistic plates can have tensile strengths and hardness levels surpassing hardened steel, they do so at a price. In order to achieve their extreme hardness ratings, ceramic plates become very brittle as a result. In this way, their hardness actually becomes their greatest weakness. In their initial condition, ceramic ballistic plates offer one cohesive strike surface to catch incoming rounds, as the round impacts, the hardness of the ceramic deforms the soft lead, typically aerodynamic bullet into a much flatter mush of semi-molten lead. This now un-fluid dynamic projectile will have a much harder time penetrating through the inner layers of the vest now, so the vest can function and stop the round. As a result of the impact however, the ceramic often cracks under the great force delivered by the projectile. For each subsequent hit, the ceramic plate has less and less strength to counter the force of the bullet and stop it from penetrating. Ceramic plates have a finite number of rounds they can stop effectively, and typically they must be replaced after each hit.
Ceramic plates are extremely hard to manufacture and often times fail quality control during the production process. Due to the exotic materials required and the failure intensive manufacturing processes, the cost of ballistic ceramic plates is the highest in the current bulletproof vest market. Per plate, ceramic plates cost at least 200% more than their steel alternatives. To put our military’s current ballistic plates in perspective in regards to cost, a NIJ Level III+ steel plate typically costs around $150, a single Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert plate used in the US Army’s IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) can cost up to $600. To put that into perspective, a steel vest with two full AR-500 plates and carrier can be found for only $300.
The combination of their fragility and high cost makes ceramic plates impractical for civilian purposes. While advanced ceramic plates are rated half a step higher on the NIJ rating scale, the negatives associated with using ceramic as a bulletproofing material become more pronounced on the consumer level. While the US military has a vast supply network to replace damaged vests on the field, the civilian does not have this option. Should there be a WROL situation, there is no supply line to get you a new vest should you take a hit, and you would have to work with what you have. The second issue also becomes more pronounced when individually financed. Unlike the military that has the law of large numbers working on their side, an individual that takes a round to a ceramic vest must pay to replace that vest. If working in dangerous environments, the odds of being hit with a second round increases drastically. Your likelihood of getting shot increases the more times you have already been shot.
In terms of consumer-level practicality, the durability and cost of traditional steel plates wins compared to the still new ceramics. While this may change in the future, for right now, the simple AR-500 steel plate makes the most sense for bulletproof protection for the everyday civilian.
While many people mark up the cost of vests made with AR500 steel, thebestbodyarmor.com offers these vests for only $299 right now so that you can afford the protection you need. You can even get $25 off your vest by using promo code “bestvest” at checkout. Unlike a vest that uses ceramic, these vests will protect you against multiple hits and provide the maximum protection for the wearer.