Tactical body armor is like blackjack. You always want to have the best protection you can, but never too much. This difference between weight and protection will be a constant calculation for any company and any commander.Thankfully, with the advancements in technology, the overall weight of armor has decreased. But, this weight will just be substituted with ammo, weapons, as well as utility features that have made the modern infantry much more tactically diverse than it ever was.There are three categories of body armor for each part of the body that can be adequately protected:
Ballistic Head Armor
Including Ballistic Helmets, Side Protection.
Neck, shoulders, and upper limb auxiliary armor
Including Plate Carrier, Cummerbund Armor, Stomach Module, Groin Module
Inside each of these categories, there are variations. Here, you might want to sacrifice some protection to increase the utility and tactical variability of your unit. This might include something like the armored medic kit instead of the stomach module, or high cut helmets for faster and more condensed missions.For those looking to buy complete sets, there are a lot of options for sale. As for the price, it will depend on the size and requirements of your company. Some basic gear can be quite affordable, while fully customized setups are as expensive as they are effective.
How Effective Is Military Body Armor?
Military body armor is there to protect soldiers from two things: bullets and explosives.Because defending from bullets is both expensive and heavy, the current best practice is to instead defend against the shooter. Namely, trained riflemen practice shooting in the center of mass; that is the part of the target that is the easiest to predict where it would move.Hard plates are the heaviest part of the armor, even though they are relatively small. They are made to protect that little part where most soldiers will be shot.Explosives, on the other hand, are much more dangerous, because you can’t predict where shrapnel would fly off. Additionally, there is usually some secondary debris agitated by the explosion that would also prove deadly for the soldier.Thankfully, we can defend from shrapnel with soft armor only, as well as relatively light UHMWPE panels. These would be installed into auxiliary armor and would make the ballistic part of the helmet, making it impenetrable for explosions.By kitting soldiers with soft armor covering all of their vital points, such as large organs and arteries, you can make them much more resistant to multiple kinds of explosives. They might still be affected by the blast, but not the frag.
How much Does Military Body Armor Cost?
Considerably less than the life it is meant to save. But, for companies that are trying to equip themselves, going all in and buying all types of armor might break the bank fairly quickly.A basic set might go for under $1000, including only the necessary plate carrier and the hard plate inside, a good helmet, as well as partial auxiliary armor. This would exclude many of the utility features as well as more advanced plates.A fully decked-out set will go for several thousands of dollars. This would make the soldier highly adaptable and capable to carry multiple sets of tactical equipment. A complete set will also be quite heavy, so it is advisable for prepared companies to use in short and clear missions.
What Is the Best Military Body Armor?
The one that will save a soldier’s life. Generally, a plate carrier should have MOLLE webbing on it, and a solid NIJ Level IV hard plate to defend from anti-personnel rifles.Ideally, you should have a set that complements the rest of your tactical gear and has as little wasted weight as possible. This means that your plate carrier will allow for other parts of the armor, such as the neck module or various pouches, to be added and distributed evenly.Good weight distribution is the hallmark of good body armor and necessary for every army.
Do Special Forces Wear Body Armor?
Yes.For US Armed Forces special units, a squad of sixteen or eighteen people will carry vastly different types of armor and equipment between each other. While those planning to enter tight quarters will opt for as much protection as possible, scouts and snipers will always go lighter.Every Special Force body armor set will be modular and adaptable because of the sheer versatility of their missions.