Protection Types Overview
Since they started being developed, body armours have always been designed to offer protection against specific threats. This means that you have to consider the type and level of threat that you are expecting before deciding to buy any armour. For example a protection vest can withstand a high velocity bullet but offer little protection in case of a spike or stab attack.
In order to offer maximum protection, it is advisable that security firms have to invest in high quality and reliable body armours. The body armours must also pass all the tests carried out by the necessary government body. Security firms have to also consider where the armour is going to be used. For instance armours to be used in a war zone are very different from those to be used by prison officers.
The minimum standard requirements of body armours vary from country to country. However, the most widely used standards are that of the UK Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) and the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Whereas the NIJ handles mostly ballistic body armour standards, HOSDB handles mostly spike and stab body armour standards. It is however important to note that the two bodies work hand in hand and an armour that passes all the tests of one of the bodies will definitely pass the tests of the other body.
Types of protection offered by different body armours can be classified as ballistic, stab and spike protection.
Ballistic body armours
Ballistic body armours are designed to offer protection against low and high velocity bullets. When a bullet strikes the armour, all the energy in the bullet is absorbed by the armour. The bullet is therefore brought to stand still before it strikes the target and hence providing protection.
Ballistic body armours can further be classified as level II or level IIIa protection vests. Level II ballistic vests have been designed to stop the low velocity hand gun rounds. They can stop a 9mm, .357 magnum handguns. On the other hand, level IIIa armours are designed to stop up to 9mm, .44 magnum sub-machine guns.
Ballistic armours designed for use by tactical teams and in other high risk environments normally offer extra levels of protection (hard ballistic plates) and are known as hard armour. These body armours can be used together with level IIIa armours or as separate units. Ballistic armours can also be classified as level IV vests. Level IV ballistic armours are designed to offer protection against piercing bullets.
Level IV ballistic armours have a capacity to do the job of a level III or II armour. On the contrary, level III armours can do the job of level II armours but not level IV armours. However you don’t need to invest in level IV armour if you are anticipating attacks that can be handled by level II or level III vests. This is because level IV armours are normally very heavy and can restrict swift body movements.
Stab body armours have been designed to offer protection against attacks with weapons such as knives. These armours are normally used by security forces that are likely to get into close physical contact with assailants. They are suitable for use in prisons and by officers handling violent protestors.
Before stab body armours can be approved for sale in the UK and most other countries they have to pass some tests. For instance the armour must be capable of withstanding engineered blades. Engineered blades are very hard and can stay intact even after striking very hard objects.
Spike armours are protection vests designed to offer protection from sharp pointed objects such as ice picks and needles. Spike body armours are very useful in places such as prisons. With the right spike armour, a prison officer can provide security without having to worry about the violent gangs in most prisons.
With the ever changing nature of violent crimes, it has become absolutely necessary for security companies to come up with even better forms of protection. You can now find vests that are designed to offer protection against several types of threats. For instance it is now possible to purchase a vest that can offer protection from stab and spikes concurrently.