What Different Types of Body Armor Exist?
Blog

What Different Types of Body Armor Exist?

10 Apr 2020
Share on

Although we can see that there are different types of body armor from the catalog alone, knowing what those marks mean can be tricky at some points. You might be tempted to simply go for the biggest number, but that is not always the best course of action.

Depending on the situation, you might opt for utility or maneuverability over rifle protection. Also, you might be required to use a concealed vest in your region or focus on stab-protection.

There are four main categories that you should take into consideration when buying body armor:

  • Type of Protection
  • Level of Protection
  • Area of Protection
  • Utility Addition

To know what you need, you will need to ask yourself several questions. Where are you going, what may assailant use, and what are you using? Once you know the answer to these questions, you will be able to quickly pick through different types of armor and pick out those that are best for your particular needs.

Bullet-Resistant vs. Stab-Resistant

The first question you need to ask yourself when searching for body armor is if you are at risk of being stabbed. Protection from stabs and slashes is completely different than for bullets and high levels of firearm protection don't equate to stab-protection.

The National Institute for Justice (NIJ) uses a different standard for anti-stabbing vests and marks them separately. While a hard-plate will stop every stab, soft armor usually won’t.

Additionally, stabbing and slashing protection are not the same and don’t function on the same principle. While it is relatively easy to use anti-slash fabric over any type of armor, to protect yourself from stabs you will need to have a hard barrier, usually plastic, that will stop a knife or a dagger.

Stab-vests are usually lighter than even soft ballistic vests but are less flexible. Heavier body armor might incorporate some stab protection to the carrier. But, concealed vests will give no protection against someone attacking you with a knife.

Attack Vector

When defending against projectiles, we presume that the assailant will shoot in the center of mass. That is the easiest target to hit and one that houses most of our vital organs.

But, when it comes to knife attacks, the attack vector is not the same. While there might be fools that will try to stab your center of mass, your hands will probably be faster than that even without any training.

The most common attack is the bottom stab to the lower abdomen and towards the kidneys, both from the front and the back. After sideways slashes, this is the most common knife injury. When someone is attacking you from the back you might also experience a downward stab, but that is relatively rare.

That is why anti-stab vests need to wrap around your torso and be somewhat longer than ballistic vests. They need to cover your sides down to your pelvis. Combined with anti-slashing jackets, this gives most protection against blades of all kinds and should be the first choice when hand-to-hand combat is expected.

Types of Body Armor by NIJ Level

The most common categorization for body armor is by NIJ levels. These include only how much protection armor gives against ballistic projectiles and doesn’t include any other features. But, for most people the question if the vest will stop a certain caliber is essential.

As technology progresses there is quite a bit of overlap between levels, and there are rounds available that will penetrate even the largest of plates. But, these cases are very rare and people buying .50cal or even .950cal rounds are strictly monitored by several federal agencies.

Your choice of body armor should depend on the type of firearm you expect the assailant to have, as well as the type of job you will be doing in the vest. While combat operations require protection from rifle ammo, most civilian scenarios will focus on protecting you from .9mm rounds while staying inconspicuous.

Finally, soft body armor will protect the torso against explosive debris and some levels of impact pressure. You will still want to protect your head and face, but the area covered by the vest will be fine.

Level IIa

These are relatively thin and lightweight vests that aim to protect from the most common types of pistol ammunition. They are made from woven fabric and can stop a 9mm or .40S&W by wrapping around the bullet and preventing penetration.

Although these vests fell out of favor for a time for larger vests, new technology is giving them a comeback. New models can now be thin and easily concealable under a regular shirt. There are also covert T-shirt models that can barely be recognized as body armor but provide good protection against the most common types of firearms.

Level II

In addition to everything IIa can protect from, level II protection can save you from up to four rounds of 1305ft/s rounds. These are still regular 9mm FMJ bullets but shot from larger semi-automatics such as an Uzi.

They are slightly heavier than IIa but are still thin soft armor that can be worn underneath a shirt or a light jacket. Because of this, they are a regular choice for most types of civilian security personnel or first responders.

Between all types of armor, Level II givest the best value. It offers wrap-around protection against the most common types of arms, it is not heavy, and very affordable.

Level IIIa

While these vests also belong to soft armor on their own, they will usually have a pocket where you can place a hard plate if you need additional protection. They are designed to stop rounds up to a .44cal Magnum, the strongest in handgun ammo, making them the preferred choice of most police departments.

They can come in anything from concealable flat jackets to MOLLE vests, offering large degrees of versatility for different situations.

Level III

While not as likely in civilian situations, if you want protection against rifle round you will need to take a hard plate.

As standard, they can take up to six shots from any 7.62mm NATO rifle, such as an AR-15 or an AK-47. They are an infantry standard and generally something you want to use when you are certain the opposition will be well-armed.

These plates can get heavy compared to soft armor, but still offer a lot of maneuverability for the person wearing them, regardless of their size or fitness. While it is recommended not to carry plates for more than 4 hours, inside that time frame you will be able to run, jump, and climb without experiencing too much fatigue from the armor itself.

Level IV 

While there are plates that will stop even larger rounds, this is the highest standard of protection NIJ provides. It is tested to stop a round from a .30cal rifle, meaning a high caliber sniper or carbine. This comes especially helpful when under fire by anti-material rifles, as well as stronger Soviet carabines with B32 AP ammo, like the Mosin–Nagant 7.62x54R.

These plates can get really heavy and are only suitable for either really dangerous situations or direct combat missions. They are not meant to be worn for long and usually make even larger people ‘top-heavy’ so you should always consider your stamina when opting to wear heavy Level IV armor.

Often staying flexible and mobile is more likely to protect you than relying on your armor to take any bullet. The armor is there in case you get hit, but it would be much better if that moment never comes.

Internal and External Carriers

The fabric which houses the anti-ballistic fabric or plate is simply called a carrier. It can be as simple as just pockets and clip-ons, or very complex with full MOLLE capabilities and even some additional features.

Internal carriers are those worn beneath regular clothes where nobody will notice you are wearing body armor. These types of body armor are used to offer protection in populated areas where you don’t want to garner more attention than necessary.

Additionally, most police departments prefer concealed armor as it gives a less militarized appearance to their officers.

But, internal carriers don't have any additional options and can't carry plates. People using them will need to reduce additional equipment or place all of it on their waist.

External carriers are bigger and heavier, but they can be used to carry more gear and make it accessible quickly. They are also very conspicuous and will catch an eye even from those who weren't paying attention. It will need to be your call if that visibility puts you at more or less risk.

The Ukemi Test

Name taken from the set of Japanese techniques for controlled falling, usually used in Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, and multiple other hand-to-hand martial arts.

To pass the test, you will need to be able to fall in all directions and rise to your feet quickly, without any discomfort. For those unfamiliar with the techniques, you can do the same test by performing a burpee.

If the armor you are testing is too cumbersome to do this, you either need a lighter model or a better fit on your carrier.

Final Thoughts

Picking out between different types of body armor can be tricky. But, if you know where and when you are going to use it, the choice becomes very obvious. Sometimes you should focus on staying unnoticed, while at others you should simply focus on as much protection as you can carry.

Decide on body armor that is best in your particular situation, and try to pick out high-quality gear that you can use regularly. If you are having trouble finding your perfect pick, you can contact our support staff or account manager that will assist you in finding the perfect body armor for you or your entire staff.

Hopefully, you will never find out how good it works, but you want to be wearing it in that one case where push comes to shove.

Related articles
13 Mar 2021
Blog
What is a Bump Helmet?
A bump helmet is used to prevent bumps on the head. But, selecting a good bump helmet is not as easy as knowing the general purpose of the gear. The best models around are those that will not only serve as a hardhat but will also stop piercing and be able to attach gear on. There are three main aspects when selecting a bump helmet: Protective capabilities Tactical capabilities Comfort And while most operators will focus on what the helmet...
What is a Bump Helmet?
10 Feb 2021
Blog
What Kind of Pants to Wear with Combat Boots?
Since the time when the first military parade passed through an ancient city somewhere in the Middle East, military apparel has become popular in fashion. While this is completely acceptable for civilians, those who wish to find tactical pants to wear with their combat boots will need to look deeper. It may be undeniable that combat boots and pants look cool, but for a wide variety of security-focused and intensive jobs, you will need real tactical boots and pants that...
What Kind of Pants to Wear with Combat Boots?
02 Feb 2021
Blog
What Glasses does the Military Use?
  Especially when it comes to men’s fashion, some of the most popular glasses to wear are those used by the military. For instance, the ‘’Aviator’’ sunglasses were popularized all the way back in the 1940s and are still one of the most recognizable designs. But, sunglasses are nowhere near the only type of glasses used by the military, especially if we include the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. Depending on the mission, requirements, as well as the operator,...
What Glasses does the Military Use?
28 Jan 2021
Blog
What‌ ‌are‌ ‌Modern‌ ‌Military‌ ‌Helmets‌ ‌Made‌ ‌Of‌
The need to protect your head, especially in combat, is by no means a novel one. The moment some ancient cavemen picked up a club the other cavemen realized the need to cover their head with something that will stop that club. Modern military helmets are just an extension of that tradition. Regretfully, it is much harder stopping a bullet than it is to stop a wooden club, meaning that we need to use new technology and materials to stop...
What‌ ‌are‌ ‌Modern‌ ‌Military‌ ‌Helmets‌ ‌Made‌ ‌Of‌
11 Jan 2021
Blog
How Bulletproof Armored Clothing Works?
Bulletproof armored clothing is one of the best things to happen to civilian protection in ages. Obviously, it is still only bullet-resistant, and only against handgun rounds unless fitted with a plate, but excels in civilian protection and plausible domestic situations. Unlike covert armor that requires some expertise in handling and is not always perfectly comfortable, armored clothing is as close to regular apparel you can get while being able to stop a bullet. Currently, there are three types of...
How Bulletproof Armored Clothing Works?
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?
On request of found 0 products
On request of found 2 news
EN UA

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