A good set of body armor can mean the difference between life and death.
Body armor isn’t just for the military and police in tactical situations. Bullet resistant vests are for anyone who puts themselves in the way of danger. If you might catch a bullet, it’s best to catch it with a nice thick piece of Kevlar.
There are many types, weights, and styles of body armor on the market today. Remember: The best body armor is the body armor you are wearing.
Body Armor Information
The History of Kevlar
The History of Kevlar
Ballistic Resistance of Personal Body Armor (NIJ Standard 0101.04)
This NIJ Standard establishes minimum performance requirements and test methods for the ballistic resistance of personal body armor designed to protect the torso against gunfire. The standard is limited to ballistic resistance only and does not address resistance from knives or other sharply pointed objects. It reviews NIJ body armor classifications, details requirements (i.e., acceptance criteria, workmanship, armor backing material, and so forth), and discusses test methods (i.e., velocity measurement equipment, wet conditioning, test preparation, and so forth). This standard serves as a general revision to NIJ Standard 0101.03 from April 1987.
Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor (NIJ Standard 0115.00)
This standard, the first of its kind in the United States, specifies the minimum requirements for body armor designed to protect the torso against slash and stab threats. This NIJ Standard describes the test methodology used for the assessment and focuses primarily on knives that are readily available from sports equipment retailers - ones of high quality that feature very sharp machine-ground cutting edges and fine points. Lower quality, prison-made knives, ice picks, and shivs are not addressed in this report. The threats treated in this standard are from hand-delivered impacts from instruments whose points or tips lie near the centerline of the clenched fist holding the weapon.
Body Armor User Guide
This user guide is your information tool. It lists the many benefits of wearing body armor, along with the few limitations of which you should be aware. It provides detailed safety information and lists specific instructions on the care and maintenance of body armor that will extend its effective usefulness.
Selection and Application Guide to Police Body Armor (NIJ Guide 100-01
This NIJ Guide responds to questions about the selection and use of body armor for law enforcement and corrections. It includes information from the latest NIJ standard on ballistic resistance of body armor (0101.04), as well as information on NIJ’s new standard on stab resistance of body armor (0115.00). The guide provides information to help determine what level of protection is consistent with the threats to which individual officers are exposed. It describes the various body armor styles available, along with the proper care of body armor in service. The NIJ standards are discussed in detail, as well as the use of the standards in body armor procurement.
Body Armor Standards and Testing
NIJ and its National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) administer a voluntary compliance testing program to assess whether models of ballistic- and stab- resistant body armor comply with NIJ Standards. The NIJ Standards identify minimum performance criteria critical to protecting officers from various threats.
Bulletproof Vest Partnership
Bulletproof Vest Partnership, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Bureau of Justice Assistance
Body Armor Works
“We have had a tremendous response and enthusiasm from soldiers on the Interceptor Body Armor” - The Association of the US Army
NLECTC Body Armor Database
This database provides a comprehensive listing of all models that have been tested by NLECTC and found to comply with NIJ Standard-0101.03, Ballistic Resistance of Police Body Armor, NIJ Standard-0101.04, Ballistic Resistance of Personal Body Armor, and NIJ Standard-0115.00, Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor.
A History of Body Armor - Bullet Proof Vests
Lightweight body armor or bullet proof vests have been widely available for use by law enforcement personnel for more than 20 years. Humans throughout recorded history have used various types of materials as body armor to protect themselves from injury in combat and other dangerous situations. At first, protective clothing and shields were made from animal skins. As civilizations became more advanced, wooden shields and then metal shields came into use. Eventually, metal was also used as body armor, what we now refer to as the suit of armor associated with the knights of the Middle Ages. However, with the advent of firearms (c.1500), most of the traditional body armor were no longer effective. In fact, the only real protection available against firearms were man-made barriers, such as stone or masonry walls, or natural barriers, such as rocks, trees, and ditches.
How Does Body Armor Work? Methods of Construction Materials Used
When a handgun bullet strikes body armor, it is caught in a “web” of very strong fibers. These fibers absorb and disperse the impact energy that is transmitted to the vest from the bullet, causing the bullet to deform or “mushroom.” Additional energy is absorbed by each successive layer of material in the vest, until such time as the bullet has been stopped.
How Body Armor Works
In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we’ll look at soft body armor and other modern body armor technologies to see how they can stop bullets. We’ll also find out about the range of body armor options available and see how the government tests and rates body armor.
New fibers could lighten body armor
Two new fibers are vying to one day replace the respected but heavier Kevlar, the staple of body armor for decades, as the Army strives to enhance mobility by reducing the soldier load
25 Questions and Answers About Personal Body Armor
Body armor FAQ from JustNet
Making a Body Armor Standard
Police Body Armor Standards and Testing
Every year, about 60 sworn police officers are shot to death in the line of duty. At the same time, about 20 are saved by wearing body armor. Had all the officers shot in recent years been wearing body armor when shot, another 15 per year would likely have been saved from fatal gunshot wounds, roughly doubling the present number saved, and more than 15 others would likely have been saved from death by other causes.
Surviving a Shooting: Your Guide to Personal Body Armor
Streaming video (Windows Media Player)
Simula Receives Patent for Body Armor Technology
Simula announced that it has received a U.S. patent for its latest body armor design. The unique design enables fabrication of the industry’s lightest-weight body armor, protecting the wearer against handgun threats.
The Effects of Frangible Ammunition Against Ballistic-Resistant Armor
Frangible bullets, which are composites of hybrid materials either pressed together at high pressure or glued together with adhesives, are primarily used in training exercises to reduce lead hazards on firing ranges. Frangible bullets are designed to break up into smaller pieces upon contact with harder objects or surfaces. These small fragments quickly lose energy and significantly reduce the possibility of injury from ricochet, making them ideal for use in training exercises.
Weapons and Protective Systems
National Institute of Standards; Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory; Office of Law Enforcement Standards: Weapons and Protective Systems: This project area provides ongoing technical support and research for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standard for ballistic-resistant body armor (bullet-resistant vests), which OLES first developed for NIJ in 1972. The body armor program is part of NIJ’s successful Law Enforcement and Corrections Standards and Testing Program, through which companies may have their products voluntarily certified as compliant with the standard. Ballistic-resistant body armor has been credited with saving more than 2500 lives, and the program’s evaluations of new materials and ballistic threats and its revisions of the standard help ensure the continued effectiveness of this technology. This project area also develops and supports other equipment performance standards vital to the safety of law enforcement and corrections personnel, including stab-resistant body armor; ballistic helmets; riot helmets and face shields; bomb suits; metallic handcuffs; and firearms.
New fibers could lighten body armor
Two new fibers, Zylon and M5, are vying to one day replace the respected but heavier Kevlar, the staple of body armor for decades, as the Army strives to enhance mobility by reducing the soldier load.
The Comfort of Protection
Prevention is the best medicine. But if prevention fails then protection is the next line of defense. Body armor is the last line of defense a soldier has on the battlefield. Technology is making it better.
Body Armor Patents
6,961,957: Energy absorbing device for ballistic body armor
6,922,847: Multipurpose thin and lightweight stab and ballistic resistant body armor and method
6,892,392: Personal body armor
D504,980: Body armor leg protector
6,845,513: Ballistic body armor employing combination of desiccant and ballistic material
6,793,291: Vehicle body armor support system (V-Bass)
6,766,529: Body armor carrier compression shirt
6,748,601: Articulating body protective device
6,745,394: Ballistic resistant body covering
6,705,197: Lightweight fabric based body armor
6,698,024: Modular front opening body armor
6,681,400: Dual use body armor
6,651,543: Lightweight soft body-armor product
6,627,562: Blunt trauma reduction fabric for body armor
6,605,334: Tactical body armor
6,588,019: Impact structure for the absorption of impact forces to the body
D476,793: Garment combining body armor and outer shell
D476,138: Garment combining body armor and outer shell
6,453,791: Concealable body armor briefs
6,370,690: Lightweight fragmentation resistant body armor configuration
6,363,527: Thermal control apparatus for body armor
6,263,511: Breathable garment to be worn to improve the comfort of the human body
6,103,641: Blunt trauma reduction fabric for body armor
D429,384: Protective body suit
6,026,510: Bullet deflection, fighting position body armor
6,012,162: High impact absorbing body armor with self actuating mode
5,996,115: Flexible body armor
5,970,513: Multi-piece integrated body armor system (MIBAS)
5,804,757: Flexible, lightweight, compound body armor
5,774,891: Body garment including an outer protecting portion and an inner breathable portion
5,697,098: Layered composite body armor
5,495,621: Body armor vest anchoring system and method
5,495,620: Body armor vest and method of manufacture
5,472,769: Soft body armor material with enhanced puncture resistance comprising at least one continuous fabric having knit portions and integrally woven hinge portions
5,471,906: Body armor cover and method for making the same
5,423,087: Body protective device
5,410,756: Body armor with thermoformable shock dispersing means
5,353,437: Combination helmet and body protection device
5,331,683: Protective body armor garment shell
5,325,538: Body armor vest for unobtrusive wear over a shirt
5,306,557: Composite tactical hard body armor
5,179,244: Reinforced soft and hard body armor
5,168,576: Body protective device
5,157,792: Body armor vest and method of manufacture
5,073,985: Protective body armor garment shell
5,072,453: Body protection system
5,044,011: Articulated body armor
5,020,157: Ballistic protective insert for use with soft body armor by female personnel
4,951,689: Armoring system for protective body covers
4,783,853: Protective body suit
4,680,812: Armor for protecting body regions
4,660,223: Protective body armor
4,578,821: Body armor for women
4,522,871: Ballistic material for flexible body armor and the like
4,302,847: Body protective clothing
4,183,097: Body armor for women
4,181,768: Body armor laminate
Body Armor Standards Chart
|Type||Bullet caliber and type||Bullet mass (grains)||Impact velocity (ft/s)|
|I||.22 long rifle high velocity
.38 round nose lead
|II-A||.357 jacketed soft point
9 mm full metal jacket
|II||.357 jacketed soft point
9 mm full metal jacket
|III-A||.44 magnum lead semi wadcutter gas checked
9 mm full metal jacket
|III||7.62 mm full metal jacket||150||2,750|
|IV||.30-06 armor piercing||166||2,850|