Deciding which body armor to
purchase is as about as important as any purchase a law enforcement
officer could make.
Before deciding on brands, you
need to understand a few things about body armor to help
make a more informed decision.
All body armor products are
categorized into one of six levels.
The levels begin with Level I which
offers the least amount of protection.
They go up to Level IV which offers
the most amount of protection.
This level system is the most important
factor in making a purchase. You donít need a Level IV - which will stop
rifle rounds - if the purpose of the vest is to give you protection from
sharp edged weapons while walking a tier a Garden State Prison.
if you are on a tactical entry team used for high risk assaults or
handling prison riots, you will
need armored protection that will stop more than just knives.
An old but still very valuable
street cop rule-of-thumb is to have a level of ballistic performance that
stops, at a minimum, the round you carry in your service weapon. This rule
is as relevant and true today as it was when body armor was first
Be advised, though, there are
The ballistic threat of a
round depends on more than just the round. Variables include its
composition, shape, caliber, mass, angle of impact, and impact velocity.
Because of the wide variety of rounds and cartridges available in a given
caliber and because of the existence of hand loaded ammunition, body armor that will defeat a standard test round may not defeat other
loadings in the same caliber.
The National Institute of
Justice (NIJ) is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the
United States Department of Justice. It is from the NIJ where we get the
levels of body armor. It is called the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Ballistic Resistance of Police Body Armor.
Below is a chart illustrating
the available levels of ballistic performance of body armor.
No Body Armor Protects From All
It is important that you choose your body armor based on
the job for which you expect it to be used. Earlier we
differentiated between serving on an entry team vs. working in a
Below are some additional thoughts:
Following are some reputable
companies that manufacture body armor:
Point Blank Body Armor
Atlantic Business Center
2102 SW 2nd Street
Pompano Beach, FL 33069
Second Chance Body Armor, Inc.
7915 Cameron Street
P.O. Box 578
Central Lake, MI 49622
Telephone: (231) 544-5721, (800) 253-7090
Fax: (231) 544-9824
American Body Armor
3120 East Mission Blvd. Ontario, CA
Phone: (909) 923-7300
Toll Free: (800) 347-1200
Fax: (800) 366-1669