The Complete Guide to Buying Body Armor: Everything to Know

The Complete Guide to Buying Body Armor: Everything to Know

Finding the right body armor for your needs requires knowing your options. This guide explains everything you need to know about buying body armor.

Did you know that the invention of body armor reduced fatalities by far up to 80-90%?

Body armor has saved countless lives and made a difference in many more.

If you’re using this guide, it’s likely that you’re looking for a specific type. Let’s take a look at what to consider when buying body armor.

Types of Body Armor

First off, we need to understand what type of body armor works for your needs.

Body armor comes in many varieties; Take a look at the most common types below. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Soft Body Armor

Soft body armor is made of lightweight, flexible polymers (such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyester) that absorb impacts. It will stop pistol rounds and shrapnel.

Soft body armor is ideal for those who want to have a lightweight and comfortable vest.

Hard Body Armor

They make hard body armor from plates of hard ceramic, metal, polyethylene, and polypropylene materials. It provides extra protection wherever you have soft armor and protects you from most rifle rounds.

However, it can be very bulky and uncomfortable.

How to Choose Body Armor

The main way to choose body armor is by purpose. Some of the most common body armor uses are law enforcement, military, and security.

Protection Levels

Body armor needs to be able to protect you. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards determine the protection levels of each vest.

The NIJ tests and rates the armor by a set of service rifle rounds, a set of handgun rounds, and a set of fragmentation rounds. The resulting rating is Raw, which means that it is not adjusted for bullet type and weight.

The raw rating is then placed into one of four categories:

Level IIA protects against .22 LR rounds

Level II protects against .380 ACP, .38 Spl, 9mm FMJ and .357 Magnum JSP rounds

Level IIIA protects against 9mm FMJ and .44 Magnum SJHP rounds

Level III protects against .357 SIG FMJ, .44 Magnum SJHP, .357 .Magnum FMJ, .44 Magnum LSWC, and .45 ACP FMJ +P rounds.

And finally, Level IV protects against .30 caliber AP rounds. The military uses this level of protection.


The coverage of body armor is also important. The NIJ standards test protection from the front, from the sides, above, and below. If a piece of body armor covers all areas, the rating will be a V-shaped rating.

However, if it’s a square or angular piece, it will only have a frontal rating.


Sometimes, the best form of defense is subtlety.

We consider it concealment armor when the vest is lightweight, flexible armor protecting its wearer from danger while remaining hidden under the clothes. It’s not as protective as heavy, rigid protective armor, but it does offer some protection against harm.

Body Armor Materials

Next, you should consider the materials. The most commonly used body armor materials are Kevlar, metal, and polyethylene/polypropylene.

Mylar is a recently popular material, but it is not used much because it is expensive.


Kevlar is a very common material used in body armor.

Kevlar is lightweight, flexible, and both strong and tough. It doesn’t protect you as well as other materials, but it’s still very strong.

Concealment and light-duty body armor often use Kevlar. A majority of concealment armor is made from Kevlar.


Steel is a good material for body armor. It’s tough, flexible, lightweight, and cheap.

Steel is used in heavier-duty body armor and military body armor. It is also used in bulletproof glass. However, it is very heavy, often weighing up to 20lbs.


Polyethylene and polypropylene are commonly used in armor vests. They are lightweight, flexible, and inexpensive.

It is often the preferred choice for many civilians, law enforcement, and military personnel.

Body Armor Maintenance

As body armor is used, it becomes less protective; the more it’s used, the more it has to be repaired.

Body armor needs to be inspected regularly to ensure it can still stop bullets.

Some military and law enforcement agencies don’t require inspections for body armor. However, it is best to perform one yourself.

Body armor needs to be cleaned regularly as well. Dust, dirt, and grime will collect on the armor and make it less effective.

After cleaning, inspect and lubricate the body armor to ensure it remains functional. Keep an eye out for cuts, general wear and tear, and stitching when inspecting.

Body Armor Prices

Body armor prices vary greatly depending on what you buy. The price depends on the protection level, materials, and quality of the vest itself.

While the average price of body armor costs around $400, higher-quality models may cost upwards of $5000.

Further, military and law enforcement body armor will cost more than commercial body armor and concealment armor.

Take your needs into consideration and shop around to find the best fit for you.

Other Forms of Body Armor

Vests aren’t the only item that can offer protection. At BAC Tactical, we offer arm guards for bites, slash-resistant clothing, and more.

While the protective capabilities of these items are far less than vests, they are still great for certain situations.

For instance, if you spend a lot of time with aggressive dogs, an arm guard would be perfect.

Buying Body Armor: Getting It Right

You shouldn’t underestimate the need for buying body armor. As such, you need to ensure you get the best body armor before purchasing.

Are you looking for quality body armor that offers the best protection? Shop around today!

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