Chose your gear wisely
Purchasing Body Armor
If you are thinking of buying body armor or an armored vest, plate carrier, ballistic vest, or bullet resistant clothing keep in mind that you are investing in your safety, and your choice could be the difference between you living, helping others or dying.
In ancient times, warriors had to protect themselves from spears, arrows, and swords and they quickly realized that wearing armor increased their life expectancy in battle. Today, the technical advancement of weaponry and ammunition has forced the advancement of armor.
The use of body armor has expanded to areas other than just the battlefield. The nature of crime and terrorism has driven police forces, security companies and paramedics to purchase protection from ballistics. According to an FBI report, approximately 505 law enforcement officers were
As the armored vest technology advances, so does the price. Today, buying a vest is a serious investment which means that you must carefully weigh many different options. It is vital to choose only the best vest and highest quality body armor that will meet all your needs.
IS BUYING BODY ARMOR FOR EVERYONE?
Due to the military and security aura around the entire range of body there is a general feeling that such items are restricted for sale to only the military, security, and law enforcement agencies.
The fact is that buying any type of body armor by any law-abiding US citizen or legal resident is completely legal. The only restriction that the US law imposes that any kind of body armor cannot be bought overseas and then brought in the country. Similarly, ballistic vests cannot be bought in the country and taken abroad.
This important legal condition being clear, here are a few conditions for which to consider when purchasing ballistic protection
Your budget will, in many cases, be the deciding factor in which vest or type or armor you purchase.
Make sure to properly evaluate all the options within your budget range and also consider whether or not investing slightly higher than your budget for the best bulletproof vest could be worth it.
At the end of the day, you can’t put a price on your life. The average lifespan of a ballistic 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 than when new. Unless you wear a vest for a living and you are on a limited budget, the wise compromise would be to scrimp on the vest, not the plates. However, if you wear gear for a living then it’s not wise to scrimp on either.
A ballistic vest or plate carrier must fit snuggly. Remember that the plates or soft armor are designed to fit and cover specific areas of your body. If your vest or carrier is moving around or allows your plates to bounce up and down while you are moving quickly, they will beat you to death. Ensure your gear is snug.
If you have the option, you may also consider purchasing a load bearing belt that attaches to your carrier so that you can transfer some of the weight of your gear from your lower spine you’re your hips. We carry a variety of good quality carriers, vests and belts that were battle tested.
Different manufacturers have different sizing policies. Those who supply law enforcement agencies tend to customize the size to fit individuals. However, this comes at an added price and the delivery will take a little longer, as the custom vests are customized and made to order. We offer sizing charts on most of our vests so you can make an informed decision.
Through the years, carriers and body armor plates have notably become lighter and much more effective. The biggest improvements compared to the vests of the past is that the latest ones have become lighter and more comfortable to wear. A soft vest will feel like a bulky coat and a carrier with plates will feel heavy but the weight is well distributed. That’s because most armor plates now are cut and curved to fit the human torso better.
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 body armor plates or armor inserts. Front, back and side plates may weigh between 20-30lbs
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 when performing tactical maneuvers. Can you enter or exit vehicles without being inhibited? Your ballistic vest must be comfortable enough to ensure your movement is unhindered. This is why we at Spear Gear for our customers to train in their gear so that when they are on duty they will know the limitations of performance when geared up.
COVERT OR OVERT?
Depending on the specific situation you are in, it matters a lot what you purchase and how you set up your gear. When our sister company Spear Group performs executive protection details they don’t want to draw attention to them so they wear covert soft armor vests or covert carriers with armor plates. The clothing they choose to conceal the ballistic protection blends with the environment they work in. On overt security details where there is high threat and or a security presence is needed they would then wear a plate carrier with armor plates.
There are three main things that affect durability. UV being one. UV rays will deteriorate some nylon bests making them weaker and or deform and diminishing their effectiveness. Next is wear. Your plates rubbing and moving, your body moving and flexing and the weight of any other ancillary gear you might have attached can pull and deform your vest. Then there is mold and mildew. Some vests are made of thicker Cordura Nylon and treated for UV and are treated for moisture like our Warrior Assault Systems gear. Of course you’ll pay a little more for this type of quality but this is the same quality that special forces wear.
These can be either hard or soft panels that slide into the front and back of the vest to provide the wearer ballistic protection. There are soft panels available in different sizes that can be inserted in front of the hard plate as additional protection against spall. Many people purchase soft level III panels and insert them in pockets of their clothing or back packs to offer them a level of covert protection.
ARMOR RATING LEVELS: NIJ LEVEL I, II-A, II, III-A, III, AND IV
The National Institute of Justice or NIJ provides the official ratings for bulletproof vests and 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 because everything else will be determined by it – be it the cost of the vest or its size and fit.
Besides just the vest’s round stopping power, you may want to consider additional properties that any given ballistic vest has to offer, such as the material composition, shape, and shock distribution. These factors may be helpful in determining which vest will specifically suit your needs better.