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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Police Job Search Tips  >  Body Armor Levels


Body Armor Levels 

 Police and Law Enforcement News
 Sunday, December 22, 2013
  6:19 .m.

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.

However, 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 available.

Be advised, though, there are many variables.

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 Ballistic Threats

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 corrections setting. 

Below are some additional thoughts:


Body Armor Manufacturers

Following are some reputable companies that manufacture body armor:


Point Blank Body Armor

Atlantic Business Center
2102 SW 2nd Street
Pompano Beach, FL 33069
Nationwide: 1-800-413-5155
Local/Int'l: 954-630-0900
Fax: 954-630-9225


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 91761
Phone: (909) 923-7300
Toll Free: (800) 347-1200
Fax: (800) 366-1669








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