If you are thinking of buying a bulletproof vest or body armor, keep in mind that you are investing in your safety, and your choice could be the difference between life and death. In ancient times, warriors had to protect themselves from spears, arrows, and swords and they quickly realized that wearing armor made a big difference.
Today, a bulletproof vest is a serious investment which means that you must carefully weigh many different options when committing to getting a vest. It is imperative to choose only the best and highest quality body armor that will meet all your needs. Here are 10 important things to consider prior to purchasing body armor. The final decision is always yours but keeping these questions in mind will help you make the right decision.
1. Cost of Body Armor
Your budget will, in many cases, be the deciding factor in which vest or type or armor you end up purchasing. Make sure to properly evaluate all the options within your budget range and also consider whether or not investing slightly more above your budget could be worth it. At the end of the day, you can’t put a price on your life and coming back home safely to your family. The average lifespan of a bulletproof vest is 5-7 years even if it isn’t used often. After that period the materials, even with proper care will be less effective or protective than when new. We carry a wide assortment of brands and types for every budget.
2. The Comfort of Armor is Important
One of the first things you have to keep in mind is that even though a plate carrier or body vest will definitely not feel like a soft sweater, it must be comfortable for extended periods of wear or else it can become a cause for distraction. The piece you choose must fit your body snugly without making you feel like it’s squeezing you too tightly. If you lose or gain weight after purchasing a properly sized vest it could become less effective in protecting your body. A loosely fitting vest may initially feel more comfortable but the level of protection it provides is diminished if it doesn’t fit properly. Consider other types of ballistic wear.
While there are lots of choices when it comes to carriers, sizing is the most vital factor as far as comfort is concerned. Look for one that fits you best. Consider the amount of time you will be wearing the vest. Will you wear it daily for 8-10 hours? That is a lot of time to carry the extra weight and restrict your movements.
3. The Weight of Bulletproof Vests Will Vary
Through the years, carriers and plates have notably become lighter and much more effective. Among the biggest improvements compared to the vests of the past is that the latest ones have become lighter and more comfortable to wear like clothing. Pick a vest designed for the type of protection you will need rather than the maximum protection you can obtain.
Always remember that the weight of the equipment you select will always have an effect on your fatigue levels and this is also impacted by armor plates or armor inserts. If you plan on wearing the vest for long periods of time, narrow your search to lighter vests.
4. Mobility While Wearing a Ballistic Vest
When a vest is too large, it can impair your movement on the field; conversely, if it is too small, it can limit your range of movement. Your vest must allow for an optimum level of movement meaning you should not find it hard to rotate your torso or arms as you would normally.
During tactical situations, it is crucial for you to be able to react and move quickly. Can you enter or exit vehicles easily?
5. Does Your Body Armor Need to be Hidden
Depending on the specific situation you are in, it matters a lot how your carrier fits your body. In tactical situations, when your assailant sees your vest easily, they may target those areas of your body that are not protected. When your body armor plates poke out your shirt, it can feel and look awkward. Here are some great alternatives to the visible armor vests.
6. The Durability of Tactical Clothing
Carriers are usually made of either nylon or cloth. The materials used during the production can affect how they absorb moisture from sweat, the kind of maintenance required, price, and comfort level. You also need to consider what you will be wearing underneath your body armor and length of time that the armor will stay on. Be aware of the fact that certain materials can cause skin abrasion or discomfort under certain conditions. Do you need additional accessories for your ballistic vest and clothing?
7. Armor Plates & Kevlar Offer Additional Protection
These can be either hard or soft panels that slide into the front of the carrier to provide the wearer with additional protection. See to it that the panels that hold the plates are sealed with heat as the ballistic material and panels, typically Kevlar will be protected from sunlight and moisture. Be sure to consider the weather conditions you may encounter, extreme heat, rain, cold can all impact the ballistic materials used in your armor. View our packages.
8. Armor Ratings I, II-A, II, III-A, III, and IV
The National Institute of Justice or NIJ provides the official ratings for bulletproof body armor. Without proper specifications or any indicators of quality, it can be difficult to find that piece of gear tailored for your needs. In many cases, people do not know exactly what type of body armor they really need. This can lead to bad decision making which can negatively impact any given tactical situation.
Each bulletproof vest or piece of body armor is classified under 6 protection levels.
Level I, which protects against small caliber, low-velocity rounds. These levels have an A alternate that cycle upwards to Level IV, the highest protection level.
Knowing the protection level you will need is going to be one of the most crucial deciding factors of which vest you get as everything else will be determined by it whether it is the cost of the vest or if the size of the vest is comfortable to wear with that protection level.
Besides just round stopping power, you may want to consider additional properties that any given vest has to offer such as the material composition, shape, and shock distribution as they may be helpful in determining which vest will specifically suit your needs better.
9. Bulletproof Vest Quality & Warranties
Check to see which of the vests you’re considering offers warranties if any on their products. Because body armor is a large investment, it is something you want to be able to rely on for a long time. Warranties can add to that peace of mind that if anything should happen to your gear, there is the support to get it fixed. Can you return the vest or is there a price match guarantee?
10. Maintaining Your Bulletproof Vest
Buying body armor is an investment so you’re going to want to properly maintain your armor and a ballistic vest. Make certain that you keep up with a regular maintenance schedule. You should also do some research regarding cleaning and caring for your tactical gear. The US NIJ is a good resource to take advantage of.
Make sure to carefully consider these things when deciding on the bulletproof vest or plate carrier that will protect you in whatever situation you may need it. Before you purchase, do some research our you can ask one of our Bulletproof Zone support team to figure out exactly what it is you’re looking for. That extra time spent just might save your life one day.