The Difference between Concealable and Overt Body Armor
Blog

The Difference between Concealable and Overt Body Armor

20 Apr 2020
Share on

Although at first glance it might seem that the difference between concealable and overt body armor is just in the way you wear it, the truth goes much deeper. Not only will you need to consider weight, protection, and mobility, but also how other people will perceive you.

While in most cases you won't be bothered with aesthetics alone, there are some cases where this part is crucial. In some missions, it will be paramount that you stay out of sight and only strike in an opportune time. Other times, a clear show of force and preparedness may prevent any conflict from arising at all.

There are five major differences between these types of armor:

  • Perception
  • Design
  • Protection
  • Mobility
  • Utility

Additionally, there may be some other minor factors that would be significant for your particular mission or type of job. It will always be up to you to answer the demands of the task at hand with adequate gear.

Thankfully, advances in technology have allowed us to mix and match different aspects of various types of gear. This will allow almost everyone to find high-quality body armor that they will use for years.

Clear Visual Differences

While hypothetically you may wear your soft inner bulletproof vest over your clothes and your external carrier under a large jacket, that is not what they are meant to do.

Wearing concealable armor on the outside wastes its main purpose and makes the rest of the clothes uncomfortable. And, unless you want to look completely comical, you don’t want to wear an external bulletproof vest under a jacket. Even with the increasing levels of obesity in this country, you will still look odd.

This has little to do with fashion, but practicality. Picking out the right body armor for the job will make the whole experience more comfortable. And, when you find it easier to move you will be more agile and tire more slowly.

Used as a Base Layer

There are under-armor shirts that can be worn under concealed body armor. But, with modern materials that allow your skin to breathe that is not always necessary. In warmer conditions, you may opt to go with only the armor as your base layer. 

Even a simple work-shirt will do over such armor, as it is very thin. It might look like you have a buffed up chest, but when was that ever a bad thing?

Ideally, you would want some looser clothes to hide any fact that you are protected. This way people around you will be at ease and any potential attacker will be none the wiser.

Showing Preparedness and Intent

With external carriers and overt body armor in general, it is always better to go all-in when you are already invested. Be sure to wear good and sturdy armor and to take all of the additional gear these types of armor can take.

The same way a perpetrator's ignorance of your defenses can work in your favor, so can their fear. Seeing you as too big of a threat can dissuade a potential attacker from even trying something. And, as always, the best battle is one won without fighting.

Wearing such armor will also give you better access to your gear. As you are already wearing overt armor, there is no need to pass on a good utility belt and well as a MOLLE attachment with PALS gear.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Finally, there is body armor that is made to look like casual clothes. This is good armor with the same protective capabilities as other soft models but in novel design.

In the summertime, you will be bound to wear armored shirts that are disguised to look like regular T-shirts or singlets. Now, wearing only a wife-beater in public might raise some eyebrows, but even if you wear an open shirt on top you will look really casual.

Once winter comes, and winter is coming, you will have a lot of other options. There are armored hoodies that look exactly like a nice, plain hoodie. The weight, in this case, makes the apparel even more comfortable.

Also, there are puffer vests and jackets that look fashionable and where nobody would ever guess that your jacket can stop a .44cal Magnum bullet. 

The Difference between Concealable and Overt Body Armor in Protection

On its own, it doesn't change the level of protection of the vest if you wear it beneath or over your clothes. But, you can't (comfortably) wear plates under your shirt, and if you already have an external carrier you will want at least pockets for hard plates.

Concealed vests usually come in NIJ Levels IIa, II, and IIIa in some advanced models. These are thin and easy to carry, giving you a lot of options to wear other things on top of them. They usually range between 4mm and 6mm. With less than a ¼ inch of fabric, they don’t add to your outline at all.

When you wear overt body armor, you can go all the way up to NIJ Level IV, with some pretty hard plates. These do get heavy, and any mission where you want to wear them should be swift and effective, but they will protect your vitals even from a .30cal AP round.

Soft Bulletproof Vests

These vests are comfortable, light, and will protect you from any handgun ammo. That will cover almost all domestic situations where you would need armor. If you need to wear your armor for the whole day, they are by far the best option.

But, there is a downside. Because there is nothing firm between your skin and the vest itself, you will take in some of the force of a bullet. This won’t be a lot, and you will not get penetrated, but it will be like a really serious punch.

Soft body armor works to dissipate the force of the bullet to the wider area, as well as capture the round inside the fabric to prevent ricochet. This dissipation turns the fabric into a round fist, basically punching the place where you were hit.

But, a punch is way better than a shot.

Stiff External Carriers

External carriers are usually stiff even when they are at NIJ Level IIIa. Also, there is enough space for them to flex and often not even reach your skin on the other side. If covert armor feels like a punch, this feels like a punch that came too short. 

You may still feel it depending on your gear, size, and the round hitting you, but nothing you wouldn't have already experienced in an average high school.

But, when you are wearing a hard plate, there is little chance for a bullet to hit you with enough force to harm you in any way. This may happen with very large calibers that the vest might not be certified to take. Also, it can happen from a series of non-consecutive shots into the same spot. This will also make the unluckiest person alive. But, still alive, and that’s what matters.

The force is instantly transferred to the whole plate, lowering the exiting force to a weak vibration. If it was directly on your skin you would feel the wiggle, but inside a carrier, then your clothes, it will be a negligible push.

Differences in Mobility and Utility

External carriers, and any other type of over armor, can be comfortable. They are heavier, but don’t cut in anywhere and are quite cushy. But, they are much stiffer than any soft armor you may wear.

The decrease in mobility becomes visible with hard plates, especially when you have them as side armor. This will restrict your movement and make it impossible to do some basic tasks in a normal way.

If you need to jump around and roll in your armor, you will want to avoid overt models.

Additionally, the weight will add up eventually. After a point, you will start getting tired and even less mobile than before. The reduction in awareness and alertness, as well as the decrease in mobility, can often prove to be damming for the mission.

On the other side, external carriers have an option to increase the overall utility of your gear. Most models have MOLLE webbing on them where you can attach your PALS gear. This will allow you to carry more magazines or some other equipment like a medkit.

Also, with external armor, it doesn't cost you anything in appearance to wear a wider suspension belt and other additions. All of them together will increase your operative capacity quite a bit.

Weight Restrictions

Regardless of the mission or job, you need to stay mindful of the weight you are taking with you. This will depend on the duration of the mission, but primarily on your ability. Body armor doesn't scale the same way as your muscle mass and being larger will make it easier to carry by comparison.

But, even that doesn’t extend for too long. Even US marines are only meant to carry their load for 9 miles each day.

For concealed armor, this will not be an issue. You also probably won't have a lot of gear, leaving everything to be entirely manageable. But, if you want to have an external carrier it is often more prudent to go with NIJ Level IIIa and have pockets for potential hard plates if the situation demands.

Otherwise, you will wake up each day more tired than yesterday, which is a receipt for disaster.

Projecting Your Image

Commanders will understand that every situation is more complex than the sheer number of men and weapons on the field. What your enemy knows, thinks, and feels are all crucial parts of every task. You want to control their actions by controlling what they see and think.

That is why you should always consider your image and what you may be projecting when picking out your gear. In some situations, it is better to look like a civilian as not to raise suspicion or aggression.

But, there are moments where you really want others to know that you came ready and prepared. If you need to secure a location, possible intruders should think that they are vastly outgunned than to underestimate you. This will bring fear, and fear leads to mistakes on their side.

In the same way, if you are in civilian areas you don’t want to draw a lot of focus on yourself. If anything happens, including you getting shot, your armor will save you without the perp even knowing they didn’t manage to harm you.

Consider Probable Situations

Consider your location every time you select your equipment. If there is any chance for an ‘audience’, make sure how you are presenting yourself. Generally speaking, you want to be instantly recognized as ‘one of the good guys’.

Symbolism also plays a part in this, so be mindful if you are using some specific equipment, armor, or even patches. Depending on the situation, it is often a good idea to discuss with the community what they like and dislike, and you can incorporate that in your image.

Conclusion

The difference between concealable and overt body armor is more than just shirt deep. Aside from considerable differences in maximum weight and maneuverability, there are also questions when it comes to how they will act in different situations.

While concealable armor is generally lighter and easier to wear, it will flex and leave a mark when you are shot. External carriers won’t budge when shot, but everyone will know that you are protected and may choose a different and more dangerous approach.

Finally, you might want to disguise your armor as plain clothes.

The variety in options might make it more difficult to choose, but it also allows you to adapt to any possible mission or job and increase your survivability tremendously.

Related articles
16 Dec 2020
Blog
Concealable Armor: What Is It?
It might sound self-explanatory that concealable armor is the armor that you can conceal, but the name alone doesn’t explain the options available for different situations. Also, it is not enough for the armor to be covered with plain clothes, as it also needs to move like plain clothes. Additionally, while the vast majority of concealable armor is soft armor, there are concealable plate carriers. It is possible to carry a plate that will be virtually invisible to anyone but...
Concealable Armor: What Is It?
13 Dec 2020
Blog
What Makes a Plate Carrier Jumpable?
While often used as a colloquial name in marketing, a jumpable plate carrier is a collective name for high-mobility plate carriers. These models are not always covert and can include gear as well, but are focused on allowing combatants to move quickly even over obstacles. Although there are a few conditional exceptions, there are three things that every jumpable plate carrier must have: Very light and fittingAllowing for a full range of movementCapable of perfect balance Additionally, it might be...
What Makes a Plate Carrier Jumpable?
07 Dec 2020
Blog
What Is the Best Plate Carrier to Buy?
Every manufacturer in the world will swear that the best plate carrier to buy is exactly the one they make. And, the worst thing is they might be correct. All current high-end manufacturers make good products, but your best pick will be the one that works best for you. Although these can be extrapolated into a dozen smaller ones, every PC will have three aspects that you will need to consider: Durability.Comfort.Utility. And not only will the mixture of all...
What Is the Best Plate Carrier to Buy?
01 Dec 2020
Blog
What Is a Slick Plate Carrier?
While body armor is advancing all the time, what stays the same is the bad naming department. In some cases, as is the case with the slick plate carrier, a name is used more because it sounds cool than because it describes the product, which is a covert tactical plate carrier. There are four aspects that any slick plate carrier needs to have: Light and tight-fitting.Can be hidden under plain clothes.Can accept all SAPI/ESAPI plates.Allows for a full range of...
What Is a Slick Plate Carrier?
17 Nov 2020
Blog
What is a Good Plate Carrier?
While it is obvious that a good plate carrier is the one that will fit perfectly to your body and the mission at hand, we need to know what these things mean. The biggest rookie mistake is thinking that you can’t go overboard and thus anchor yourself with too much gear. Ideally, you want to answer three questions when finding good armor: Where? (Will you be using it, and against whom).Who? (Will be carrying the armor and their body type).What?...
What is a Good Plate Carrier?
10 Nov 2020
Blog
What Is a Cummerbund Plate Carrier?
A cummerbund plate carrier is a type of body armor that has adjustable wide waist-straps on the side, also called the cummerbund, and don’t rely only on gravity to keep the ballistic plates in the right spot. When it comes to body armor, there are three general types of cummerbunds: SkeletalElasticPocketed Additionally, all types of cummerbunds may have PALS loops to attach your MOLLE gear. This makes such waists both practical and comfortable. But, if you choose to insert hard...
What Is a Cummerbund Plate Carrier?
04 Nov 2020
Blog
How to Adjust a Plate Carrier?
While most operators on the field won’t have the option of selecting the exact manufacturer or type of armor they choose, they should at least have the option to fit their carrier to size. For good models, you will be able to adjust the plate carrier on both shoulder straps, as well as both sides of the cummerbund. When adjusting your plate carrier, there are four things to look for: CoverageLeewayComfortLight weight And, they are in that exact order. Your...
How to Adjust a Plate Carrier?
20 Oct 2020
Blog
What Materials are used to Make Vests Bulletproof
Every material is bulletproof if you lay it on thick enough, and no material is bulletproof if you have a big enough bullet. What materials are used to make vests bulletproof in particular are bound by what you can carry and what modern weaponry you can expect in the field. For this purpose, we can look at three categories of materials: High-density materialsHigh-tensile fibersComposite ceramics But, not every dense material will be ideal for body armor. Some metals are rather...
What Materials are used to Make Vests Bulletproof
03 Oct 2020
Blog
How to Wear Military Vests?
To know how to equip and wear military vests, you first need to know which type of vest you need. In some cases, it will be a simple matter of selecting an internal carrier while in others you will need to make a full selection of layers, carriers, and additional gear. Currently, there are three types of vests used in the military: Loading vestsArmored vestsModular vests The first two categories are slowly becoming obsolete because modular vests can do both...
How to Wear Military Vests?
22 Sep 2020
Blog
How do Bulletproof Vests Work?
There is a widespread misconception that bulletproof vests work as a simple barrier between the projectile and the person wearing it. But, for that to be true the thickness of the armor would be unbearable to carry. Rather, ballistic armor, both soft and hard, works by using tensile forces to pull the impact to a wider area. This way, the force you get on the receiving end of the bullet is much weaker, ranging from a kick or a punch,...
How do Bulletproof Vests Work?
On request of found 0 products
On request of found 2 news

Save preference
Thank you!
To claim your discount, please click the link in the email you received.
If you don’t see the email, check your spam or promotion folder.
SUBSCRIBE & GET $10
Stay the best in the game with high-quality products and the best deals!
Your subscription was successful!
Skip
How it works
Split your entire order into 4 interest-free payments over 6 weeks. No fees if you pay on time with zero impact to your credit.
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5-7 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-48 inches
No suitable size found
BODY ARMOR SIZE
S
M
L
XL
CUMMERBAND SIZE
S
M
L
XL
CHEST (INCHES)
33 - 37
38 - 43
44 - 46
47 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
28" 32
33 - 39
39 - 42
43 - 48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5-7 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-49 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-44 inches
No suitable size found
BODY ARMOR SIZE
S
M
L
XL
CHEST (INCHES)
33 - 37
38 - 43
44 - 46
47 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
28" 32
33 - 39
39 - 42
43 - 48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your chest and neck circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 22-39 inches
Invalid value: neck size should be in the range: 14-29 inches
Invalid value: neck size should be in the range: 14-21 inches
No suitable size found
Canine Body Armor size
S
M
L
XL
CHEST (INCHES)
22 - 25
26 - 30
31 - 34
35 - 39
Neck (INCHES)
14 17
18 - 21
22 - 25
26 - 29
Back length (INCHES)
14 15
16 - 17
18 - 19
20 - 21
How to find your perfect fit?
Take the measure of your head as shown on the picture. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: head size should be in the range: 20-25 inches
No suitable size found
Size
M
L
XL
Head circumference, inches
20-21.5
21.6-23.5
23.6-25
How to find your perfect fit?
Take the measure of your chest as shown on the picture. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-48 inches
No suitable size found
Belt size
S-M
L-XL
Chest, inches
33-43
44-53
Waist, inches
28-39
40-48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5-7 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-48 inches
No suitable size found
Plate Size
S
M
L
XL
Plate Size (Inches)
8.7" х 11.7"
9.5" х 12.5"
10.3" х 13.2"
11" х 14"
CHEST (INCHES)
33 - 37
38 - 43
44 - 46
47 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
28" 32
33 - 39
39 - 42
43 - 48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5-7 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-48 inches
No suitable size found
Panel Size
S
M
L
XL
Panel Size (Inches)
8.7" х 11.7"
9.5" х 12.5"
10.3" х 13.2"
11" х 14"
CHEST (INCHES)
33 - 37
38 - 43
44 - 46
47 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
28" 32
33 - 39
39 - 42
43 - 48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure the length of your foot. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: foot size should be in the range: 10.1-12.2 inches
No suitable size found
Boot size, US
8.5
9.5
10.5
11.5
12
13
14
15
16
Foot length, inches
10.1
10.4
10.6
10.9
11.2
11.4
11.7
12
12.2
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5.2-6.4 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-48 inches
No suitable size found
BODY ARMOR SIZE
S
M
L
XL
2XL
3XL
CUMMERBAND SIZE
S
M
L
XL
2XL
3XL
Height (Foot)
5.2' - 5.4'
5.5' - 5.6'
5.7' - 5.8'
5.9' - 6.0'
6.1' - 6.2'
6.3' - 6.4'
CHEST (INCHES)
33 - 37
38 - 40
41 - 43
44 - 46
47 - 50
51 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
28" 32
33 - 35
36 - 39
40 - 42
43 - 45
46 - 48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5.2-6.4 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 33-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 28-48 inches
No suitable size found
BODY ARMOR SIZE
S
M
L
XL
2XL
3XL
Height (Foot)
5.2' - 5.4'
5.5' - 5.6'
5.7' - 5.8'
5.9' - 6.0'
6.1' - 6.2'
6.3' - 6.4'
CHEST (INCHES)
33 - 37
38 - 40
41 - 43
44 - 46
47 - 50
51 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
28" 32
33 - 35
36 - 39
40 - 42
43 - 45
46 - 48
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 4.8-5.8 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 30-45 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 23-37 inches
No suitable size found
BODY ARMOR SIZE
S
M
L
XL
2XL
Height (Foot)
4.8' - 5.0'
5.1' - 5.2'
5.3' - 5.4'
5.5' - 5.6'
5.7' - 5.8'
CHEST (INCHES)
30 - 32
33 - 35
36 - 39
39 - 42
42 - 45
WAIST (INCHES)
23 25
26 - 28
29 - 31
32 - 33
34 - 37
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 4.8-5.8 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 30-45 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 23-37 inches
No suitable size found
BODY ARMOR SIZE
S
M
L
XL
2XL
CUMMERBAND SIZE
S
M
L
XL
2XL
Height (Foot)
4.8' - 5.0'
5.1' - 5.2'
5.3' - 5.4'
5.5' - 5.6'
5.7' - 5.8'
CHEST (INCHES)
30 - 32
33 - 35
36 - 39
39 - 42
42 - 45
WAIST (INCHES)
23 25
26 - 28
29 - 31
32 - 33
34 - 37
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5.2-6.3 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 31-53 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 26-47 inches
No suitable size found
Apparel SIZE
2XS/S
XS/S
S/S
S/L
M/S
M/L
L/S
L/L
XL/S
XL/L
2XL/S
2XL/L
3XL/L
Height (Foot)
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.2' - 5.7'
5.8' - 6.3'
5.8' - 6.3'
CHEST (INCHES)
31 - 33
34 - 35
36 - 37
36 - 37
38 - 40
38 - 40
41 - 43
41 - 43
44 - 47
44 - 47
48 - 49
48 - 49
50 - 53
WAIST (INCHES)
26 - 27
28 - 29
30. - 31
30 - 31
32 - 34
32 - 34
35 - 37
35 - 37
38 - 41
38 - 41
42 - 44
42 - 44
45 - 47
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your height, waistline and chest circumferences. Enter your values to calculate your optimal size.
Invalid value: height size should be in the range: 5.2-6 foots
Invalid value: chest size should be in the range: 30-41 inches
Invalid value: waist size should be in the range: 22-33 inches
No suitable size found
Apparel SIZE
2XS/S
XS/S
S/S
S/L
M/S
M/L
L/S
L/L
XL/S
XL/L
Height (Foot)
5.2' - 5.6'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
5.2' - 5.6'
5.7' - 6.0'
CHEST (INCHES)
30 - 31
32 - 33
34 - 35
34 - 35
36 - 37
36 - 37
38 - 39
38 - 39
40 - 41
40 - 41
WAIST (INCHES)
22 - 23
24 - 25
26 - 27
26 - 27
28 - 29
28 - 29
30 - 31
30 - 31
32 - 33
32 - 33
How to find your perfect fit?
Measure your laptop to make sure it fits to the case.
Invalid value: length size should be in the range: 13-15 foots
Invalid value: width size should be in the range: 9-11 inches
Invalid value: thickness size should be in the range: 0.6-1 inches
No suitable size found
Laptop Case
13"
15"
17"
Length (Inches)
13
14
15
Width (INCHES)
9
10
11
Thickness (INCHES)
0.6
0.9
1.0