Body armour is a vital accessory used by armed forces, law enforcement agencies, security personnel, and civilians. There are many types of vests on the market today, but it isn’t easy to guarantee that each manufacturer will make an excellent product. If you’re interested in learning more about body armours, read on
What is body armour?
Body armour is a jacket, vest, or shirt that has been designed to protect from physical attacks and other threats. Body armour is typically worn by law enforcement officers, military personnel, private security guards, and other civilians who are in danger due to their occupation.
Body armour can be made from several different materials, including metal, plastic, and Kevlar. It must meet certain standards to be legally sold in the UK.
The history of body armour
Body armour has been around for centuries, but only in the 4th century BC did it become a practical piece of equipment for soldiers. Mail, or chainmail, was made from small riveted metal rings joined together to create a mesh-like shield to protect the wearer from arrows and swords.
In the late 1600s, firearms replaced swords and mail became ineffective against this new threat. So soldiers had to find ways to protect themselves from bullets and shrapnel.
During World War I, most armies began using steel helmets and breastplates as their standard uniform.
During World War II, British soldier Malcolm C. Grow made a flak vest that protected soldiers from the effects of high explosives. It was made out of nylon and manganese steel plate.
Former US marine Richard Davis invented the modern version of body armour in the early 1970s. In 1969, Davis began making trips to different neighbourhoods in Detroit, where he would deliver pizzas for his shop. One day, he found himself on an empty street with several thugs aiming guns at him.
Davis managed to escape with his life but could not get over the fact that no bulletproof vests were available for everyday people like him. He decided to make one himself.
This led to the development of a bulletproof vest prototype, which led to the creation of Second Chance, a company that manufacturers body armour. Armor Holdings, Inc. acquired the company in 2005.
How does body armour work
Body armour is made up of a flexible, bullet-resistant material that can be moulded around your body and still allow you to move freely.
It could protect from assault weapons such as pistols, shotguns, rifles, and submachine guns. Body armour can also be used for protection against knives and stab wounds.
The most popular type of body armour is Kevlar – a synthetic fibre that has been used in bulletproof vests since the 1970s. It is supremely strong, lightweight, and doesn’t tear or wear down easily.
What are the different types of body armour?
Stab vests are designed to stop stabs from penetrating your body and have various types of protection. They protect you against all the threats you might face on the job, including:
- Spikes: Stab vests are made of a material that will not break when stabbed by a spike. They can stop the spike from piercing through your clothing and into your flesh.
- Needles: Stab vests protect against needles by providing a layer of foam between the wearer’s skin and the needle, preventing the penetration of the needle into the wearer’s body.
- Blunt trauma: Stab vests can protect you against blunt trauma attacks, which can occur when someone strikes you with their fist or another object to cause damage to your body.
The protection level of a stab vest is a measure of how much protection it offers against an attack with a knife or similar weapon.
KR1 (knife resistance level 1) is ideal for firearms teams, police specials ops, etc., who may be exposed to edged weapons such as knives or swords. It provides limited protection against knife attacks and isn’t recommended in high-risk areas.
If you’re looking for more protection than the KR1 can offer, consider upgrading to the KR2 model. This model has extra layers of Kevlar that help protect against rifle rounds.
The SP2 and HG2 models are also very popular with police special ops and other tactical teams due to their increased protection against rifle rounds. These models are also designed to withstand gunshots and shrapnel damage without losing strength or flexibility.
Ballistic vests absorb the impact of a firearm-fired projectile, with the added bonus of reducing or stopping penetration to your torso. They are designed to protect against both fragmentation and direct fire from firearms. They are often worn by police officers, military personnel, and civilians to protect their vital organs and other soft tissue.
Ballistic vest protection levels
The level of protection is determined by the vest’s rating, ranging from HG1 to HG7.
HG 1 is the lowest level of protection, which means it offers some protection against low-powered ammunition. This vest will stop most handgun rounds but not all rifle rounds. It is useful for standard policing duties but not self-defence in high-risk situations.
HG 2 is the next level up from HG 1, and it’s highly recommended for use in high-risk situations. It offers a lot more protection against rifle rounds than HG 1 does. For example, if someone were shooting at you with an AK47 rifle at close range, this vest would offer complete coverage against the round that could penetrate its protective layer – and that’s no small feat!
Lightweight body armour
While you might think that heavy body armour will make you feel more secure, the opposite is true. It can actually make you feel less safe because it weighs down your movements and slows your reactions.
Because lightweight body armour is made from synthetic fabrics or Kevlar, it’s easy to wear under any clothing, including your favourite T-shirt. This is especially important for people who will be in the field for a long time, as it will help you stay cool and comfortable while under your gear.
This type of vest offers excellent protection against blunt force trauma (such as punches and kicks) but also includes ballistic protection with its flexible panels that deflect bullets away from vital areas like the heart and head.
How to choose the right body armour
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make sure you choose the right product for your situation:
- Analyse which threats you are likely to encounter: Do you expect to be attacked by knives, guns, syringes, blunt trauma, etc.? If so, choose body armour designed for those threats in mind.
- Choose a brand that has a reputation for quality and safety: Selecting an unknown brand could result in an unsafe product, leading to injury or death.
Which home office protection level is required?
Depending on what type of protection you want, various body armour levels are available. If you’re in an area with a high risk of violent attacks, like a war zone or urban centre, you may want to go with a level IV body armour system. This is the highest level of protection available, and it is designed to stop bullets from high-velocity weapons like AK-47s and M16s.
If you’re not in such a dangerous situation but still want some extra protection, we recommend going for level 2 body armour. This will protect against blunt force trauma and cuts from knives and pistol rounds.
Choose a style
Think about how you want the armour to look. Do you want casual body armour or something more formal? You might also want pockets in your armour and epaulettes on your shoulders.
Don’t forget about comfortability
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to body armour; some people like it super snug while others prefer something looser around their waist or chest area so they can move around more easily while wearing them. The most important thing is that it fits well and doesn’t restrict movement.
Frequently asked questions
Who sets the body armour standards?
In the UK, armour standards are set by the Home Office. This means that body armour sold in the UK must comply with these standards published online.
What are NIJ standards?
NIJ standards are guidelines for law enforcement, private security, and forensic science professionals covering everything from body armour to firearms training. The UK does not use NIJ standards – they have their national standards called Home Office standards.
Is syringe and blunt trauma protection a requirement of Home Office standards?
No. If you have a Home Office with SP1 and KR1 certification, you may still be vulnerable to syringes.
Is it illegal to buy or sell body armour?
In the UK, buying or selling body armour is perfectly legal. However, this does not apply if the Home Office has not certified the product. Additionally, body armour for civilian use must be CE-approved. Only the military and police have this exemption to the CE-approval requirement.
What is blunt force trauma?
Blunt force trauma is an act of violence where the attacker strikes a victim with a blunt object to inflict injury. The victim’s head, neck, and torso are at the highest risk of injury. Body armour can be used to protect against blunt force trauma, as well as other types of injury.