Deciding which body armor to
purchase is as important as any purchase you will make.
Before deciding on brands, you
need a little knowledge about body armor to help
with your decision.
All body armor products are
categorized into one of six levels.
The levels begin with Level I which
offers the least amount of protection and go up to Level IV which offers
the most amount of protection. This level system is the most important
factor in making a purchase. You donít need a Level IV - which will stop
rifle rounds - if the purpose of the vest is to give you protection from
sharp edged weapons while walking a tier a Garden State Prison. However,
if you are on a tactical entry team used for high risk assaults or
handling prison riots, you will
need armored protection that will stop more than just knives.
An old but still very valuable
street cop rule-of-thumb is to have a level of ballistic performance that
stops, at a minimum, the round you carry in your service weapon. This rule
is as relevant and true today as it was when body armor was first
Be advised, though, there are
The ballistic threat of a
round depends on more than just the round. Variables include its
composition, shape, caliber, mass, angle of impact, and impact velocity.
Because of the wide variety of rounds and cartridges available in a given
caliber and because of the existence of hand loaded ammunition, body armor that will defeat a standard test round may not defeat other
loadings in the same caliber.
The National Institute of
Justice (NIJ) is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the
United States Department of Justice. It is from the NIJ where we get the
levels of body armor. It is called the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Ballistic Resistance of Police Body Armor.
Below is a chart illustrating
the available levels of ballistic performance of body armor.