Body Armor Levels & Types
For BODY ARMOR LEVELS please see this article. Choosing the correct type of body armor is important to ensure you are protected completely. There are different types of body armor available depending on the threats they can protect against, and it is important to understand each in order to make sure you have the correct vest.
The most common type of body armor is a bullet proof vest, which provides you with ballistic protection. This means that it is resistant to bullets, though exactly what types of bullets depends on the level the armor is listed at. Ballistic protection levels are assigned based on the ammunition the vest can stop, with higher levels capable of stopping stronger ammunition. Bullet proof vests at Levels I-IIIa use soft materials like Kevlar®®, which are incredibly strong and can trap and slow bullets to a complete stop.
A bullet proof vest at Level IIIa can stop the vast majority of ammunition used in handguns, and is the strongest soft body armor available. Higher levels require rigid plates made from materials like Ceramics or Polyethylene.
Edged Blade Protection
This is most commonly referred to as stab protection, meaning it can protect you against attacks involving weapons like knives. These vests differ to bullet resistant vests because of the materials they use. However, most stab proof vests will still use Kevlar®®, and will come with ballistic protection. Stab protection can stop attacks using edged weapons, like knives, axes, and broken bottles. Stab proof vests use materials like chainmail to stop the edge from cutting through the Kevlar®® beneath, which in turn absorbs some of the impact from the attack.
Many people don’t realize that stab protection is different to spike protection, and weapons like needles or screwdrivers for example will require a spike proof vest. Spike protection is usually offered in conjunction with edged blade protection and ballistic protection. Spike protection can stop attacks using spiked weapons, which can otherwise pass through chainmail and Kevlar®®. Spike proof vests therefore need layers of plastic laminate to create a tough surface that can stop these weapons. Spike proof vests will usually have Kevlar®® and possibly chainmail beneath this plastic laminate, which helps absorb the impact of an attack.
The protection you need depends on the most likely threats you will face. The different types of body armor available reflects the different types of protection available. For protection against firearms, you will need ballistic protection in the form of a bullet proof vest. For protection against edged weapons like knives, you will need a stab proof vest. For protection against spiked weapons like ice picks, you will need a vest with spike protection.