Body Armor

Advanced body armor for military applications protects against ballistic threats, shrapnel, and other forms of physical harm. This type of tactical gear comes in a range of body armor ratings and classes and can be soft; made from materials like Kevlar or Dyneema, or hard which is often ceramic, polyethylene or steel plates inserted into plate carriers and capable of stopping high-velocity rifle rounds.
Overview Body Armor
By Mike Ball Last updated: July 10th, 2024

Body armor is used by military, law enforcement and security personnel to provide protection against a range of threats, including handgun and rifle ammunition, bladed and spike weapons, and explosions and shrapnel.

Protection options typically include the front, back, and sides of the torso, as well as neck, groin and arms. Modular systems have been developed that allow wearers to configure the level of protection according to the mission requirements and expected threat levels. These modular systems may also include pouches, MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) attachments, and other ways to attach additional equipment.

This type of tactical gear can generally be categorized into two different types – soft and hard.

Soft is typically constructed from synthetic materials such as Kevlar (an aramid fiber) or Dyneema (polyester and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene), and has the advantage of being lighter and more flexible than hard options, providing the wearer with more comfort and mobility. Soft materials are also used to make bulletproof vests that can be concealed under regular clothing.

Modular Add-on Titanium Body Armor Plate by Adept Armor

Modular Add-on Titanium Body Armor Plate by Adept Armor

Hard typically consists of a plate carrier that can be equipped with rigid plates made from materials such as steel, ceramics, titanium or UHMWPE. Hard armor provides the greatest levels of protection and durability, but at the expense of comfort, weight and maneuverability.

Hybrid designs utilize both hard and soft armor elements to combine the advantages of both. This approach is often used to create specialized systems such as EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) which mixes ballistic fibers, fabrics and hard armor plates to provide protection against bomb blasts and shrapnel.

Classes & Levels of Tactical Gear

The protective level of body armor may be rated according to a number of classification systems. One of the most commonly used systems of body armor ratings has been developed by the United States National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Under their old system, which is still referred to in many places, body armor classes were split into Level II, Level IIA, Level III, Level IIIA, and Level IV. The newest NIJ standard replaces these with HG1, HG2, RF1, RF2 and RF3.

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