How Effective Is Our Body Armor?
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How Effective Is Our Body Armor?

22 Apr 2020
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Humans started dreaming about being impervious to damage the first time one caveman smashed another with a club. We don’t like being hurt and always wonder how effective is our body armor and how much do we need to become untouchable.

Sadly, there is no such thing as a perfect piece of armor that will protect you from anything at all times. The best we can do is to try to predict the risk we might face and take the best possible precautionary measures to mitigate that risk.

There are four aspects when it comes to ballistic body armor that directly influences how effective your armor will be compared to the given threat:

  • Level of Protection
  • Type of Protection
  • Weight of Protection
  • Ability to Respond to Threats

Finally, all these will be dependent on the information you have about your own gear and that of your enemy. Collecting information will always be primary unless you want to realize how you have prepared perfectly to defend from a threat that isn’t coming and didn’t do anything about the one that is.

To quote Sun Tzu in ‘The Art of War’’: If you know yourself and your enemy, you will win every battle.

Your Body Armor is Not Magical

Even the most ideal piece of body armor for the circumstances you will find yourself in will not offer 100% protection. And, at some point, it becomes easier to just drive a tank than wear armor, but even then there are anti-tank missiles.

While you should prepare for the chance of getting shot, your primary goal should be not to let anyone shoot at you in the first place. Next, if they are shooting, they should miss you. By using developed tactics and teamwork you should try to remove any threat before it can be realized.

Use armor as your last resort, if you get shot or got caught up in a blast that you will survive. Your goal here should be to stay active and have the ability to hunker down or flee to a better position where you can regroup.

What Influences Combat Efficiency?

Your overall combat efficiency will dictate how effective your body armor is. If you can strike quickly and resolve all threats before they can affect you, the strength of your bulletproof vest will never come into question.

Although modern warfare is stricken with a wide range of factors where strategists will need to take into account even non-military aspects when it comes to infantry combat effectiveness and survivability there are only half a dozen questions that should be answered before the troops are deployed.

Ballistic Protection

This is a fairly simple question. What will your enemy use to shoot at you?

For members of law enforcement that deal with domestic threats, you will be facing mostly handguns, with some explosives involved for high-profile cases. Here, it is much better to have soft armor with a good helmet and neck protection than to carry a hard plate.

The few extra seconds you will gain when caring lighter armor will often be enough to subdue the perpetrators.

But, if you are facing an opposition military force armed with rifles, you will need to have hard plate armor. This armor is heavy and you will only have a few hours before fatigue catches up to you, but you will survive getting shot by an AK-47.

Protection from Explosives

In military situations, explosives are a far greater killer than bullets. Bullets have a tendency to miss, and they always go in the direction someone is aiming. If you can prevent that person to aim, they won’t be able to shoot you.

But, with explosives, you can just chuck a bomb in the general direction of the enemy and create mayhem in their line. Aside from the blast, there is shrapnel and debris that will fly everywhere. That is why protection from these flying particles is crucial if you want your tactics to survive enemy explosives.

Protection from Debris, Elements, and Infection

Things don’t only fall when exploded. In urban environments, especially after artillery has done their job, debris falling on your head when you enter buildings is a real threat. You don’t want to be left incapacitated before you even reach the enemy because a rock fell on your head without a helmet.

Also, you want your body armor to breathe and protect you from elements and infection. This refers to the armor itself and its materials, but also on the weight, as feet infection is the most prevalent kind in the field.

Improved Mobility and Maneuverability

While more armor will do a better job of saving you if you get hit, too much armor will increase the chances that you will get hit. Becoming slower and tiring faster can be a fatal error if the mission doesn’t go as planned.

Body armor that will be most effective is that which won’t restrict your movements, or overburden you. This means being able to move your arms and legs freely, as well as jump, duck, and climb. Optimal choice will always be the one that doesn’t sacrifice your offensive ability for perceived higher defense.

Valuable Information

Good information on your enemy is worth more than any gear you might ever buy. If you did your homework when collecting info, you will be able to quickly and easily act to counter any plans and remove any threat to you and your company.

If you hit the nail on the head, you can select the exact body armor that will be most effective in that situation. The result is ideal security with maximum defensive capabilities and the lowest costs.

Defend in Outline, Defeat in Detail

While everyone should strive to have the best and newest information available all the time, that is rarely possible. In most cases, we need to work on presumptions and extrapolate from the partial data we do have.

Because of this, we can’t defend only a specific point with our body armor setup, but rather need a defensive outline of the most probable attacks from our enemy. 

Generally, we should wear soft body armor whenever we can, even in civilian situations. If we think that the enemy might have rifles, plates are mandatory. Helmets, as well as neck and groin protection, is essential for any mission where we might encounter explosives.

And finally, don’t leave without eye protection, as the most lightweight essential piece of your body armor system.

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5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
CHEST (INCHES)
31.1 - 32.4
32.5 - 33.9
34 - 35.6
34 - 35.6
35.7 - 37.2
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37.3 - 38.8
37.3 - 38.8
38.9 - 40.2
38.9 - 40.2
WAIST (INCHES)
22.8 - 24.2
24.3 - 25.8
25.9 - 27.4
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15
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11
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1.0