What level of protection should you buy?

The ‘beat cop’ of the 1960’s had to look into the future to envision widespread usage of lightweight and effective body armor. But we live ‘in the future’ now and the soft body armor that was far-fetched just a few decades ago is now just ‘part of the job’ for police officers.

The game changer? Rapid advancement in synthetic fabric technology beginning in the 1970’s. Synthetics like Kevlar and Spectra have revolutionized a number of industries and make soft body armor possible. Soft armour gets better every year thanks to continual improvement in synthetic fabric design technology.

Today a level IIIA bulletproof vest will stop almost all handgun projectiles and weighs in at 5.5 pounds. Most importantly, the widespread use of soft body armour has prevented the death of over 3,000 police officers in the past twenty years.


  • Police officers can legally buy body armor in all 50 US states as well as order it online
  • Some agencies have a standard level of protection for vests worn by their officers (usually NIJ Level II A vests, Level II, or Level III A
  • A good rule of thumb to determine what protection level you need–choose the level sufficient to stop bullets shot from the sidearm used by officers in your agency.
  • It is essential to have your body armour properly sized and professionally fitted to make sure you get the right measurements

No matter how much law enforcement experience you have its a confusing process to select and fit body armor. In actuality, it looks more intimidating than it really is. The best way to make it easier is to buy your bulletproof vest from the right place.

An industry leading online retailer like BulletProofME.com will guide you through the entire process to make sure your vest fits perfectly and provides the protection you need. They know how to measure yourself for body armour, and they’re meticulous at getting the details right.

Your first question will undoubtedly be: “What level of protection should I buy?” The ideal level of protection is tough to determine because there’s no way of knowing which weapons will be popular with ‘the bad guys’ at any point in time.

A widely accepted way to determine the right level of protection for your body armor is to use your duty gun as a guide. It’s a gun that you can use as a baseline for protection since you know how it performs. It also makes sense due to the number of policemen that get shot with their duty weapon in a ‘gun grab’ or other situation.

Once you know the level of protection you need it is imperative that the body armor be of the proper size and that you have it professionally fit. There is no way to overemphasize this–a vest that doesn’t fit right can compromise it’s protective ability.

If It can also make it uncomfortable thus increasing the chance that you’ll wear it less often. Equally as important is maintaining the right fit. If you lose or gain more than five pounds, it’s important to have your vest refit to reflect the change in your body or get a new vest that fits. Female officers should make sure that they buy a vest specifically designed for women as their protection needs are different than men’s.


  • Soft body armour is extremely comfortable> There sometimes is a trade-off between comfort factors and level of protection
  • All vests have a problem with heat retention, and this can cause discomfort in hot weather and climates
  • Vests typically conceal well but factors like body type, fit, clothing style and thickness can make a difference

Two questions that officers new to bulletproof vests always ask are: How concealable are vests? How comfortable are they? You can thank cutting edge synthetic fabric for the fact that they’re very comfortable. Most vests weigh 4 or 5 pounds and are less than 1/2 inch thick–the actual measurements vary with protection level.

As you’ve probably already figured out, there is often a trade-off between comfort and protection. Also, heat retention is a universal problem with soft vests. In certain climates, it can seriously undermine the comfort of even the best vest. The best way to minimize discomfort caused by heat is with a sweat-wicking t-shirt. An experienced fitter can also make adjustments for vests to provide additional ventilation.

In general, vests conceal under clothing very well. There are a number of variables that can impact the concealability of body armor. The primary factors are your body type (height, weight), quality of fit, the type of clothing you’re wearing over the vest and the thickness of the vest. Color of the vest isn’t usually a factor in concealment. If it is, white vests are available or wear a t-shirt over the vest assuming it is thin enough

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