Hard Vs. Soft Armor
I’m guessing that most of you reading this don’t currently own any body armor. I believe that this is a hole in your self-defense preparations. If you acknowledge the possibility that you might get into a gunfight, you should be thinking about protecting yourself as well. Body armor will save your life. If you are a prepper or anticipating some type of economic or societal collapse, I think that a ballistic vest will likely be a better investment than yet another case of ammunition. You won’t be able to fire that ammo or eat all that stored food if you get shot and die because you didn’t have body armor. If you have enough time to grab your rifle when an intruder breaks into your house, you also likely have enough time to throw a vest over your chest. I believe it’s a sensible and necessary piece of equipment for any home defense plans.
There are two basic classes of body armor. The first is known as “soft body armor” and is what most cops wear under their uniform shirts. This armor is reasonably light and flexible and made of synthetic materials like Kevlar and Spectra Shield. This type of armor is classified by threat level (the type of bullets they protect against). Current NIJ threat levels are (in order from least protection to most protection) Level IIA, Level II, and Level IIIA. These vests stop pistol and shotgun rounds reliably, but they generally won’t stop centerfire rifle rounds. It’s a velocity issue. The faster the bullet, the harder it is to stop.
You wear your soft body armor when you’re on duty; But what if you have to respond to a school shooting or other incident that might involve rounds your armor isn’t rated to stop? This brings us to our second class of armor, hard plate armor. The hard armor plates that fit inside the front and back pockets in armor carriers offer protection against rifle rounds, and some protect against armor-piercing rounds. But should you have them? And if so, how do you know which kind to choose? As opposed to ‘soft armor’, hard armor is only available in an overt style due to its extra weight and bulk. This however has the advantage of protecting against high caliber and armor-piercing rounds. These vest function in the same way as vests of Kevlar or Dyneema, but utilise Ceramics, Steel or Titanium. Hard armor is available in two levels; a Level III vest protects against 7.62mm Full Metal Jacketed Bullets, or M80 as they are designated by the Military, and a Level IV vest protects against .30 caliber armor piercing rounds (Military designation M2 AP). While these armors offer the maximum protection, and can often defend against explosives and fragmentation, they are naturally very heavy because of the materials used, and so are not recommended to be worn for extended periods. They are reserved only for the most extreme situations, but are certainly suitable in these scenarios. Furthermore, because of the way the materials protect against ammunition, certain hard armors are not suitable use after taking a bullet, and should be replaced immediately.
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