Body Armour - FAQ
Bulletproof? No body armour is completely bullet proof, we say bullet resistant.
Bullets or knives are trapped by the fibres in the soft armour. The layers of material will capture the energy and reduce the speed of the object. The energy is then spread over a wide area, causing the projectile or weapon to stop within the material. The vest absorbs most of the energy, but the force generated by the impact will still cause blunt force trauma injuries in most instances.
Basics of Armour
Body armour is made up of layers of material designed to slow down a bullet and contain it within the vest. Testing is carried out to determine the protection level of each vest according to the composition.
There are a huge amount of materials on the market that have various degrees of bullet and edged weapon resistance, and layers of these, or a combination of various materials make up the soft armour packs that are put inside outer covers.
A unit of body armour is made up of three main components:
Outer cover: This aspect of the vest has no weapon resistance and is designed to be a carrier for the assorted parts that do stop the different threats. The carrier can be tactical Overt or discrete Covert in style with various add ons such as plate pockets and colours.
Soft Armour panels: SAP are made up of materials, sealed in a outer bag that are placed inside the outer cover to stop bullets, knives and other specified threats. Available in several levels of protection, the soft armour panels can stop a range of handguns, shotguns, and sub machine guns depending on the tested rating level. This part of the vest is usually provided with a front and back set of panels, with additional panels that can be bought depending on the outer cover that is chosen. Protection areas can range from the collar right down to the groin depending on the threat that will be encountered.
Hard Armour Panels: HAP that when used with the soft armour panels will offer an increased level of protection from rifle and sniper fire which soft armour alone would not stop. These plates are a rectangular design made from harder materials such as ceramic that shatter the bullet on impact and dramatically slow the bullet down allowing the soft panels to contain the remaining parts. Normally placed inside pockets on the outer cover, hard plates protect vital organs available in a range of sizes and shapes to suit the individual requirements.
Body armour is rated in terms of its ability to stop bullets. There are two recognised solutions in the world, the international standard set down by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the UK standards regulated by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) widely used by UK police forces.
Body Armour Protection Levels
The certified body Armour we sell is the NIJ or HOSDB standard.
NIJ (The National Institute of Justice - USA) the worldwide recognized test criteria of body Armour, supplied to members of the armed forces, governments and cpo worldwide for many years.
HOSDB (The Home Office Scientific Development Branch – UK) the British defined test criteria for all HOSDB classified body Armour as supplied to local police, government, councils and hospitals for many years with approved UK body Armour.
NIJ Body Armour Levels
NIJ body Armour will feature an easy to read code that shows the basic details of the protection level, for example NIJ ballistic protection, and the level of protection it provides, such as level II.
An NIJ Level II bullet proof vest will provide protection against regular powered 9mm handguns, up to .357 Magnums. A bullet proof vest with NIJ Level IIIa protection will protect against the same threats as an NIJ Level II vest, and in addition will stop up to a .44 Magnum and 9mm Sub-Machine gun, because of the increased protection a Level IIIa bullet proof vest will be a bit heavier than a Level II bullet proof vest.
Additional hard Armour plates are used in conjunction with Level IIIa bullet proof vests, and are available in Level III, which will protect against regular rifle rounds, and Level IV, which will provide protection from regular rifle rounds and also Armour piercing rounds. These plates will add additional weight to a bullet proof vest, and so should only be used when required in extremely high risk situations.
HOSDB Body Armour Levels
HOSDB maintains an international reputation for expertise in stab and spike testing, such is the threat police officers face on the streets.
The HOSDB ballistic levels we commonly refer to are HG1 and HG2, other levels such as HG3 and RF1 are available but more for specialist short term wear due to weight and other factors.
HG1 ballistic rating is alike to the NIJ II level and HG2 alike to NIJ IIIA respectively.
Stab resistance is measured as KR1 and KR2 as knife resistance from engineered military knifes that are allot stronger than regular household knives for example.
Spike resistance is also a factor to protects against from items such as syringes, spikes, shanks etc, this is measured as SP1 and SP2.