What if you wake up one morning to find an epidemic had broken out while you were sleeping?
What if you suddenly find yourself with the world falling apart around you because of nuclear war or if the government fails and anarchy breaks loose, with neighbors attacking one another and everyone hoarding vital resources to themselves?
How would you survive scenarios such as these? This is when the survivalist or "prepper" in you comes into play, and as far as survival gear is concerned, body armor, such as bullet proof vests, is among the many things that you should definitely have with you.
Why Should You Get Body Armor?
During catastrophic situations, the number one thing you should prioritize is keeping your body protected. In the modern world where virtually everyone now has access to firearms, body armor is essential to keeping you alive to live another day.
No matter what the case might be, you can get the highest level of benefit from wearing a bulletproof vest since gun threats can appear from anywhere and anytime.
Bulletproof vests are an incredibly useful piece of gear to have in your arsenal which can help you make it through the most extreme of conditions.
Depending on your build, these vests may protect around 15 to 19 inches of your front and back torso area and can be your ultimate lifesaver on many occasions.
However, even with a bulletproof vest on, be aware that you will still have exposed portions of your body. In addition, if you happen to be in conditions which constantly require you to be constantly on-the-move, tactical body armor such as plate carriers may be a severe disadvantage as they could slow you down in the process.
Lightweight bulletproof vests and soft body armor could be more effective to use in such cases.
In times when you have to survive, the last thing you want to do is spend a majority your limited time searching for resources and materials you should have already prepared in advance.
Since the world has yet to show any major signs of impending doom, (having time to read this guide as a good indication), you might want to consider getting a bulletproof vest just in the unlikely, but still possible chance that something really, really bad does happen.
Even if you never need to wear your bulletproof vest, at least you'll never regret not being prepared if worst comes to worst. As they say, "Better safe than sorry!"
Will you be ready when it isn't a game anymore?
Debunking the Myths about Body Armor
There are a lot of myths when it comes to owning and using body armor such as bulletproof vests. This is important because believing in such myths can make the difference between life and death.
Myth #1 - Kevlar vests are equally as effective as hard armor vests
It is a very common myth within the prepper community that kevlar vests offer the same level of protection as hard armor vests.
The highest level of protection you can receive from soft body armor is an NIJ level IIIA rating. Such rating will only grant protection up to a .44 magnum hollow point of semi-jacketed at 1,400 ft/s. Therefore, a majority of rifles are able to penetrate soft armor.
It is the primary downside for preppers because many of the firearm threats could be rifles. Meanwhile, hard armor plates will be able to offer protection from as high as 7.62 x 39mm M61 Armor Penetrating or AP rounds at 2,780 ft/s.
Myth #2 - Homemade body armor is just as effective
If you believe the myth that your homemade body armor is just as good as professionally manufactured armor, you may find this lie will come at a heavy price.
Commercially manufactured armor is held to high standards and are certified to protect against rated round types.
Homemade armor can involve complicated steps and even if you know what you’re doing, a lot can go wrong at any stage of production which you won’t catch when it’s too late, costing you your life.
In the same way that you don’t expect brewing your own beer to achieve the same taste as your favorite brands, producing body armor is something you should leave to the experts.
Myth #3: Kevlar vests can be concealed under your clothes.
A majority of effective Kevlar vests will stick out like a sore thumb under your clothing.
For example, police are usually wearing armor rigs above their uniforms or if they are wearing concealable vests under their uniforms, they sometimes are quite noticeable and most likely offer minimal protection.
At Bulletproof Zone, we feature many types of concealable vests so if you're particularly interested in getting one that is extremely concealable please reach out to us.
However, this might not matter much since in a "doomsday" situation where you might need to wear a vest, being able to conceal it will be the least of your worries.
Explanation of Body Armor Levels
Body armor ratings are based on their effectiveness against various levels of ammunition. These ratings have been compiled by the National Institute of Justice, or NIJ for short.
The NIJ regularly tests armor against various types of rounds and are considered the only nationally accepted standards for body armor that law enforcement uses.
If you're interested in seeing a more in-depth guide to protection levels, you can see our blog post here.
The NIJ currently rates protection levels in a total of 5 categories of bullet resistant armor:
- Level II – This has been made to stop up to 9mm including from and up to a sub gun as well as a /357 mag with a maximum velocity of 1340 ft/s.
- Level IIA – Made for stopping up to 9mm with a maximum velocity of 1225 fps as well as a 40 S&W with a maximum velocity of 1155 ft/s.
- Level III – This is the lowest rating for hard armor and is tested to stop up to 7.62mm lead core rifle ammunition.
- Level IIIA – This hard armor rating is made to stop up to 124 FMJ or .357 Sig at the velocity of up to 1410 ft/s and 240 grn or .44 mag at the velocity of up to 1340 ft/s.
- Level IV – The highest level for hard armor, it is made to stop up to .30cal (Armor Piercing Rounds) steel core hard armor.
Hard Armor Plate Materials
Apart from various levels of protection, ballistic or "bulletproof" hard armor may also be produced using various materials.
You may find a brief explanation about the various materials below, along with the pros and cons or each or if you are interested to read more, you can also check out our detailed guide here.
Steel Plates – The most widely available option is steel and it has been produced and used commercially since World War II. Steel plates are commonly used, yet it isn’t always the most effective choice.
While steel plates offer users a good deal of protection, there’s no denying that they are also quite heavy. Steel plates tend to cause an excessive spalling that can result in secondary fragmentation injuries from shrapnel.
Ceramic Plates – These are more recently available choice in terms of hard armor plates. This kind of plate was used in Desert Storm operation even although not as personal body armor.
Ceramic plates were used to protect British Challenger Tanks that reported minimal damage from enemy fire. These applications made the viability of ceramic plates as body armor quite clear.
Ceramic plates offer equal protection yet are much lighter than standard steel plates.
Polyethylene Plates – These plates take advantage of the friction caused by a bullet’s spin. The friction basically melts the polyethylene causing adhering to the round. Once stopped, the polyethylene cools and re-hardens.
Polyethylene plates also weigh between 2 to 5 pounds making them lighter when compared to steel and slightly lighter than ceramic plates as well.
Overt or Covert Vest?
While deciding what protection levels and types of vests are appropriate for you, know that primarily body armor is classified into two categories, overt and covert.
Overt body armor is conspicuous and larger in profile. Because of this, it can hold larger and heavier plates making it stronger compared to covert body armor and may even block bullets from a high powered rifle when fitted with Level IV armor.
Its size and bulk will make it difficult to move quickly and wear for long periods of time. It is great for people who engage in long-range combat and are fortifying a position.
On the other hand, covert body armor is meant to be concealed. Aside from the obvious element of surprise covert body armor is more comfortable and easy to wear as they are smaller and lighter.
These types of vests are best for those who need to be mobile and are not expecting to experience combat for extended periods of time.
Stab Proof Protection
In addition to ballistic protection, some bulletproof vests can also integrate stab or slash protection. The combined protection can be more effective but comes at the cost of additional weight and bulk in the vest itself.
Stab and slash protection should only be considered if you foresee yourself entering close combat situations or looking through enclosed areas often.
Additional Gear to Consider
SAPI Cut Plates – These hard armor plates provide the best possible protection for their body armor class. While there are various kinds of body armor that provide more protection, SAPI plates are basically unbeatable in terms of protection in agile and lightweight design.
Many SAPI plates are designed from silicon carbide or boron carbide ceramic as the base. This enables more protection for every user while being lightweight in comparison to steel-plate counterparts.
SAPI plates are also made to crack and disperse the shock from an impact which allows users to continue fighting without being staggered from the impact of a ballistic round.
Gloves - In terms of shooting a weapon, particularly a rifle, it can be incredibly helpful to have gloves.
Rifle barrels may become very hot during engagement and your hands may become uncomfortable holding a firearm for an extended period of time.
Gloves will allow for comfortable use meaning more accurate shots without risk of burning as well.
Helmets – Although your head is one of the hardest parts of your body to target taking that unlikely hit means you’ll most likely not get back up after.
There are numerous reasons why you should consider protection for your head, and not necessarily for bullets. If you are walking through the wilderness after bugging out, the chances of you encountering another looter or prepper is high.
For quick engagements, you'll want to risk as little exposure as possible to your body if other people perceive you as a threat. Additionally, falling material or debris can also pose a threat if you’re looting through a dangerous area in which a helmet could prove life-saving.
How Bulletproof Zone can help
Body armor is a crucial necessity for every survivalist or prepper out there.
Take into account how you will be moving, what situations you see yourself doing best in, and what type of protection level would be appropriate for you as you decide what vest to get.
Bulletproof Zone offers an extensive collection of Body Vests and Plate Carriers allowing you to compare multiple items across numerous manufacturers, taking out a lot of the guesswork in determining whether or not your choice is the right one.
If you have any questions about what type of gear would be best used to prepare for even the worst of circumstances, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, stay safe and stay well!