As a prepper, you know that stocking up on supplies and training your mind and body are important aspects of survival. You may already have a good collection of non-perishable foods, ammunition, medication, fuel, and water, but have you considered body armor?
Many preppers neglect to realize the importance of protective clothing, but those who invest in it will fare better than those who do not. Indeed, if the chances of you being attacked are increased after a doomsday scenario, a bulletproof vest could potentially save your life. Here is a guide to body armor so you can decide whether it should be on your preparedness list.
What is Body Armor?
Body armor is a term that encompasses a wide variety of self-protection products such as stab-proof vests, bullet-proof vests, helmets, and even ballistic blankets. If you are considering buying body armor, you need to know which type is the most appropriate for you. It would make sense to go for a bullet-proof vest in a survival situation, as many people will have chosen a gun as their weapon of defense. You will need to look for a manufacturer that has been accredited by the National Institute of Justice to ensure that the vest is capable of providing protection against both handguns and rifles.
The Style You Choose Can Play an Important Role
There are two main types of body armor, which are covert and overt. The style you choose can have both advantages and drawbacks. For example, a covert vest is designed to be worn underneath your normal clothes and is thin enough to enable you to move about without much discomfort. It can, therefore, enable you to be protected at all times.
However, they don’t usually allow for ammunition storage, which as a survivalist, you know should be with you at all times.
An overt vest, on the other hand, will be thicker and therefore provide maximum level protection against ballistic fire. It can also help you to establish your role as an authority figure, which can deter potential attackers. However, note that it can also turn you into a target, depending on the circumstances.
Body Armor Can Protect from More than Just a Bullet
Body armor is an important piece of kit for obvious reasons, but did you know that it can also provide protection from blunt trauma and impacts? For example, if you are involved in a car crash, or you are at risk of falling/flying debris, a body armor vest can absorb the energy and minimize the chances of injury.
However, a bulletproof vest cannot protect against sharp implements; you would need to either look for a stab-proof vest instead – which is made of entirely different materials – or add an additional layer of chainmail to ensure you are prepared for any situation.
So, after carefully considering the benefits of body armor, you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not you should make the investment.
Types of Body Armor
Ballistics vs. Edged-Blade Protection
‘Body Armor’ is a term often used interchangeably with ‘Bullet Proof Vest’, or a number of other terminologies. Therefore, it can actually be quite difficult to know exactly what specific pieces of Body Armor can protect against which threats.
As an example, just a small number of folks are aware that vests designed to stop bullets are quite different from vests designed to protect you against knives. It is also critical to understand that stab-proof vests will not protect you against spiked weapons. This of course, unless it is specifically designed to do so.
The following sections will shed some light on the differences between Ballistics and Knives, and also provide you with additional, relevant information.
Stab and Spike Protection
As stated previously, there are people who believe that bulletproof vest is also suitable for protection against knives and other similar weapons. However, the way a bullet impacts on body armor is totally different than the impact caused by an edged or a spiked weapon.
This is why there are two different types of vests, the blade proof vests, and the bulletproof vests. However, there is also spike protection to be considered. Many people use the words stab, spike and edged blade interchangeably, referring to any armor that protects against something other than ballistics.
The most common terminology is edged blade and spike, which are different threats respectively. Yet, many will refer to spike protection as stab protection and vice versa.
As we established, there are various types of protective vests, and it is important to mention that will edged blade protection will not protect you against spiked weapons. An edged blade, like the one of a knife, will cut through the protective fabric instead of being trapped within the fibers as a bullet does.
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Even though stab-proof vests still utilize Kevlar or similar materials used for bullet-resistant vests, they also require added materials like chainmail or laminate. These materials will stop edged weapons from cutting the protective fibers of the vest.
These both have their advantages and disadvantages. You should remember that chainmail is much stronger than the laminate. For some folks, it also offers a psychological benefit.
Laminate, on the other hand, is much lighter, and will still offer stab protection. An added benefit of Laminate is that it can protect against spiked weapons. Spike weapons pass through the minuscule spaces between the Kevlar fibers, rendering the vest useless against weapons such as needles or stilettos.
The same goes for vests that utilize chainmail. That’s why the most common method of adding spike protection is by laminating the layers of Kevlar used to make edged or ballistic protection. By adding an extremely thin layer of plastic film, a tough surface is being created that has the properties to slow a spiked weapon dramatically.
All armors with a plastic film are tested to NIJ and CAST standards for both spiked protection and edged or ballistic protection.
When picking a body armor, you should acknowledge that there are different levels of protection offered by such a piece of equipment. Understanding that body armor does not always provide protection against different types of weapons or attacks will save your life.
However, there is also the option to buy a multi-threat armor that is designed to provide protection against various types of weapons. As an example, you can buy a body armor that includes Kevlar plates in stab-proof vests laminated to make them spike proof.
This type of body armor is particularly helpful for the folks that will face multiple threats. For example, in a SHTF scenario, you may not know what weapons random attackers will use against you.
If you live in a densely populated area, working in close quarters or if you will be forced to deal with large groups of people, a spiked weapon can be just as deadly as a knife. Even so, if that weapon is a needle that may carry infectious and potentially fatal viruses. In the case of a pandemic, people will infect others intentionally (just look at China right now).
Law Enforcement is equipped (and is necessary to have) with complete protection against a wide variety of threats. For them, a multi-threat vest is the only way to go.
Hard Armor and Soft Armor
Now that we clarified and hopefully you understand the differences between ballistic, stab, and spike proof vests, we can tackle the next topic. The one regarding the wide range of ballistic armor available.
A bulletproof vest will not stop all calibers of ammunition. In fact, the stopping power of various calibers depends on the level they are graded at. These levels are available in both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ form.
The most common levels found in the soft form are Levels 1-3. From levels 3 and 4, you can only find body armor that uses hard ballistic plates.
The difference between soft and hard armor, as you probably have guessed it, is in their bullet-resistant materials.
In general, all soft body armors utilize flexible yet strong materials like Kevlar that are also bullet resistant. These vests are light and soft and they can be used for covert or overt vests.
If you live in a hot climate and you will be forced to wear your body armor for extended periods, you will benefit from having a light and thin material that besides being bullet-resistant, also provides you with better mobility.
In the case of hard armor, the use of ceramic, steel, or titanium plates is mandatory to be employed to stop higher caliber ammunition effectively. Although they may be very similar in design to soft armors, these are much thicker and heavier due to their increased protection levels.
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All this extra protection makes it difficult for the user to wear the body armor for extended periods of time, especially if they live in harsh environments.
The good news is that ballistic plates can also be added to certain vests to provide Level 3 and 4 protection. This means that even a hard body armor can be worn in covert style. Nevertheless, these plates are still heavier and thicker. This type of body armor is usually reserved only for those preppers with a strong likelihood of facing high caliber weapons.
Concluding on body armor
The information provided in this article should give you an idea of why a body armor is needed, and it should help you decide to research the topic more before making a purchase.
This information should be key to choosing body armor. Proper self-defense and preparation for a SHTF event means that you will be comfortable and secure in your choice of protection.