Body armor has been an important consideration for those who put themselves in harm’s way for a very long time. Over the centuries, it has evolved from simple leather garments to plate armor for knights to the bullet proof vest options that are available today.
However, it’s important that you choose the right type of bullet resistant vest – not all of them are the same. Making the right choice here is vital. Your life depends on it.
The most important consideration here is that you choose the right “level” bullet proof vest as designated by the National Institute of Justice. These are levels I, IIA, II, IIIA, III and IV. Each level has a different stopping power, and you need to choose a vest that will stop the most common threat you face. For police officers, the most common choice is the type that can stop the caliber of weapon carried by the department’s officers. Here is a bit more information about each level of ballistic protection.
I: A level I vest is the lightest on the market, but has the least amount of stopping power. They are capable of resisting.22 caliber rifle bullets (lead) with an impact velocity of 1,050 feet per second (or less). They can also stop 38 Special rounds, as well as.32 and.25 caliber handgun rounds.
IIA: These vest options are designed to withstand low-velocity 357 Magnum and 9 MM rounds. 38 Special +P,.45 automatic and other low-level threats can also be protected against.
II: This is a higher protection version of the type IIA vest which offers protection against higher velocity 357 Magnum and 9 MM rounds, as well as lower-velocity rounds covered by the IIA vest.
IIIA: This vest is rated against 44 Magnum rounds (lead, gas checks), with 1,400 FPS velocity or less. It can also withstand 9 MM rounds with full metal jackets (1,400 FPS) and most handguns.
III: This is the best bullet proof vest for those in danger from high-powered rifles, such as 7.62 MM full metal jacket rounds, or M80 military designations. 12-gauge slugs, 30 Carbine FMJ and 223 Remington rounds can also be protected against with this bullet proof vest.
IV: For those who will face armor-piercing rounds, level IV is the best option. It can protect against.30 caliber armor-piercing rounds, as well as lower level threats covered by other bullet proof vest options mentioned above.
Note that the level III and the level IV rating are achieved by having a level III-A vest first and then inserting hard armor plates either made of dynnema,ceramic or metal into specifically designed pockets in the front and back of the vest which increases your protection to these higher levels of protection.
There has recently been a Level IV+ hard armor plate that was designed to combat the armor piercing round being shot from the Russian Dragunov sniper rifle. These ballistic plates are incredible in the way that they can withstand the power of these high caliber rounds and save the life of the person wearing them. They still pack a punch when hit but the bullet has been stopped. These high caliber rounds can still cause blunt force trauma from the impact but chances are you will live and have a story to tell.
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