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Choosing the Right Covert Bullet Proof Vest

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For the majority of people, their knowledge of bullet proof vests may stem from movies and television shows (body armor has also been a staple part of certain video games for years now, often providing short-lived protection for the player’s character). It’s fair to say that, in most cases, what people think they know about ‘real-life’ bullet proof vests is wrong: while fictional characters often strap a vest on before entering a dangerous situation, only to have every bullet – fired from handguns, rifles, and everything in-between – stopped upon impact, the reality of wearing armor is often very different.

While we often see police officers wearing body armor over their uniforms – both in real-life and in our fiction – there are times when they need to wear them underneath other layers. However, there is no single vest that all officers are equipped with, offering complete protection against all firearms: officers need to choose from a wide range – and making the wrong choice can leave them still exposed to danger.

A Stealthier Approach

Police officers will generally need to wear covert bullet proof vests when working undercover: this is to ensure they remain protected against potential dangers without affecting their performance ‘in-character’.

Covert vests are designed especially to wear underneath layers: they are thinner, more lightweight, and often feature breathable fabrics to help the wearer stay cool & comfortable during prolonged wear. While overt vests – those worn as a top layer – have less need to be as lightweight as possible, creating covert armor with a low weight is absolutely essential.

Why? If an officer is working undercover – either infiltrating a gang, performing surveillance, or patrolling a tough neighborhood in civilian clothing – they need to remain protected for long periods; they may also face high-pressure situations, in hot climates. Not only will wearing bulky armor cause overheating (which has the potential to bring on sickness), but it can become uncomfortable, distracting officers when their focus needs to be at a constant high.

Wearing a covert bullet proof vest which features temperature-controlling fabrics will ensure higher levels of comfort and coolness, for hours and hours. One example being the GHOST bullet proof vest which is made entirely from this material, and for this purpose. These breathable fabrics will absorb moisture from the skin, pushing it through to the exterior for faster evaporation; some materials also provide ventilation, allowing air to reach the wearer’s skin.

Finding the Right Level

As with overt body armor, covert vests are available in numerous levels based on the amount of protection they provide. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has five levels in their current standard of evaluation, with each protecting against specific types of ammunition: IIA, II, IIIA, III, and IV.

Levels IIA to IIIA have enough stopping power to protect against the majority of handgun bullets, though officers entering situations in which they believe pistols are a viable threat should opt for IIIA for maximum protection (against rounds such as 9mm and .44 Magnum types). As these vests feature only Kevlar protective panels, they are much more lightweight than those at the higher levels.

Covert vests at levels III and IV feature ballistic plates (typically on the front, rear, and sides): these may be integrated into the armor itself, or inserted into panels. Level III plates are usually made of steel, to protect against rifle-fire; level IV vests feature ceramic plates, to stop even armor-piercing rounds. These are more lightweight than ever, and should be worn when officers expect to encounter the most extreme, high-velocity gunfire.

About SafeGuard ARMOR:

SafeGuard ARMOR is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of body armor, with more than seven years’ experience supplying to domestic and business customers across the globe. Today, SafeGuard ARMOR manufactures body armor in the United States and Europe, shipping to over 100 countries. Their range features protective vests at all NIJ levels, providing complete safety solutions against ballistic, edged blade, and spiked-weapon threats.