Tip & How-To about Work Safety

Buy the right bulletproof vest

Whether a patrol officer, private security guard or simple civilian who needs protection from being shot, it is important to know which kind of bulletproof vest is most suitable for your situation.

First of all there are different kinds of vests.
The main general differentiation is between hard and soft body armor.
Hard body armor is made out of plates of metal or ceramic material, that are meant to stop all kinds of bullets, from rifles to shotgun slugs.
Soft body armor, instead, is made of layers of special fabrics that disperse the force of the bullet's impact. It can stop bullets from most handguns, shotgun pellets and blunt shrapnel.

After this general categorization, there are six under-categories:
Vests Level II-A, Level II, Level III-A, Level III, Level IV and Stab-Resistant vests.

Level II-A are the thinnest vests. They are soft and are designed to be worn under clothes for long periods of time.

Level II vests are the most popular among patrol offices. They can be worn both over clothes or concealed under loose clothes. They, too, are of the soft kind.

Level III-A vests are thicker, heavier and stiffer than the previous two. They are meant to protect from heavier-grain bullets and handle minor combat situations. They can still be concealed under clothes.

Level III and Level IV vests are thicker, incorporate armor plates, and are heavier than all the previous ones. They cannot be worn under clothes and are these that are usually worn by SWAT officers.

Stab-resistant vests are made with armor plates similar to those in Level III and IV and are
usually worn by prison officers to avoid being stabbed by prisoners using smuggled-in or improvised knives. They, too, reduce mobility as they add weight and bulk to the vest, but they can be worn under clothes.

Most vests allow to insert additional plates to add layers of protection, and add-ons to protect additional areas of the body.

According to your preference, you can choose a vest to be concealed under clothes or worn over them. The thinner, softer ones can easily be mistaken for undershirts, while the thicker the vest, the looser and more covering your clothes have to be to conceal it, from loose shirts to sweaters and jackets.

Make sure to pick a vest that fits you, as you want something comfortable, and not an ill-fitting vest that tends to slip, or be too small and expose vital organs to injury.

If you know that you need to protect specific parts of your body like shoulders, neck, sides or groin, there are add-ons that usually fit most vests.

If your budget is restricted, there is the option to buy used police vests that some armor dealers resell to private security and civilians. The protection they provide is the same as new ones, the only difference being their potentially lasting less time as some of the fabrics may wear out faster than in new ones.

If you need to clean bulletproof vest, using mild detergent is best, and it is absolutely recommended not to heat-dry it.

If you plan to wear your vest every day for a long time and under your clothes, you might want to wear a thin undershirt between the vest and the bare body, designed to wick perspiration away from the covered areas.

Do not test-shoot the vest as you may ruin it and prevent it from protecting you when you need it.

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