The Importance of Body Armor
Think You Don't Need It? Think Again
Survival is a matter of preparation. By expanding your knowledge, learning new skills and stockpiling important equipment, you can ensure you can keep yourself and your family safe in any situation. This preparation might involve learning how to hunt and administer first aid, gaining a first-hand knowledge of the surrounding terrain, and acquiring stocks of canned food and water. However, your preparation should also include self-defense, which many overlook until it's too late.
An historic image showcasing how body armor has developed over the years. pic.twitter.com/s14f6voZSa
— SafeGuardArmor.com (@safeguardarmour) October 17, 2014
Self-defense does not simply mean stocking up on guns and bullets, and there are a number of situations in which you will need to keep yourself safe. Many see self-defense as something only necessary for the most absurd of scenarios, and are more concerned with being able to survive comfortably. On the other end of the spectrum, many see self-defense as the most exciting part of being a prepper, proudly showing off their firearms and home defenses. Everyone should consider their own safety as paramount, however, and more people than you may realize will benefit from body armor.
Why Do You Need Body Armor?
Body armor is an important example of personal protective equipment that is all too often misunderstood. Many think that items like bullet proof vests will be too heavy or bulky for regular use, and are reserved only for the most extreme situations; indeed, some are not aware that body armor is available to purchase by civilians. Nevertheless, items like bullet resistant vests are incredibly useful and can provide a number of benefits for a surprising variety of situations.
What is Body Armor?
First of all, it is important to understand what is meant by ‘body armor’. Put simply, body armor refers to any personal protective equipment that you wear, from bullet proof vests to ballistic helmets. Vests are the main product available, and the one you will be most likely to use. Bullet proof vests are available at a variety of levels and in a number of different styles, though they can largely be split into two distinct types: covert and overt. Covert vests are designed to be worn underneath clothing, making them useful for people who need to stay discreet. As any good prepper will know, disaster can strike at any time and it is important for you to be able to react wherever you are. This is why bug-out bags are so highly favored by survivalists, and why a covert vest can be so useful. Wearing protection in your day-to-day life means you will be protected in any situation, and from shootings to car crashes you can stay protected.
On the other hand, if the SHTF and you find yourself facing off against angry individuals intent on taking your hard-earned supplies, you simply won’t need a covert vest. Overt vests are worn over clothing and can be augmented with high-visibility and weather-resistant covers, as well as pockets and pouches for additional equipment. These vests offer the same levels of protection, but may deter any potential attackers by displaying your preparedness.
Bullet proof vests are available at different levels depending on the protection they can offer. This ballistic protection is regulated by the US National Institute of Justice, or NIJ, which then ascribes levels to vests. This means that any man or woman can see at a glance what their vest can protect them against.
‘Soft Armor’ simply refers to the materials used in body armor, namely soft fabrics like Kevlar. ‘Hard armor’ will also use these soft fabrics, but with overlays of rigid materials like Ceramics or Polyethylene. Manufacturers of body armor are increasingly using ultra-lightweight materials to ensure comfortable fits in their vests, particularly in women’s sizes. Providing vests designed for female body shapes has been an important area of development, and solves the deplorable situation of having women wearing vests that do not fit properly, leaving them unprotected. Soft armor is available up to and including NIJ Level IIIa, providing protection against high velocity 9mm full metal jacketed round nose bullets, as well as .44 Magnum jacketed hollow points, in addition to all the ammunition provided by lower levels.
However, as ammunition dwindles you may find yourself facing more unconventional weapons, and while a bullet resistant vest can protect against any impact, they will not stand up to anything with a sharp edge or spiked point. Edged or spiked weapons can cut or pass through the protective fabric used in a vest, rendering it useless. This is important, as you may find yourself facing people armed with bows and arrows, knives, or even wild animals. Protecting against their teeth and claws is possible believe it or not, but only with a stab or spike proof vest.
Stab and spike proof vests use the same soft fabrics top help absorb impacts, but with additional materials like chainmail and/or plastic laminate, which provides a tough surface to stop any penetration. These additional materials provide barely any increase in weight or bulk, and so can be worn comfortably in both overt and covert styles. In fact, the materials in vests in general are far lighter, thinner, and more flexible than ever before, which means your movement will not be impeded by your protection.
As you can see, there are numerous options available to you in protective clothing and each has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation you find yourself in. However, as part of your preparation, it is important that you understand what options are available to you and how you can keep yourself protected even after the worst happens.
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