How Body Armor Works

Choice of Armor

Bulletproof waistcoat designed for everyday civilian wear
Photo courtesy Bullet Proof ME

It may seem odd that a police officer would wear category I body armor, which will only stop relatively small-caliber bullets, when they could have superior protection from higher-ranked armor. But there is a very good reason for this decision. Typically, higher-ranked armor is a lot bulkier and heavier than lower-ranked armor, which results in several problems:

  • An officer has reduced flexibility and comfort in bulkier armor, which impedes police work. You can't chase a criminal very well when you're carrying a massive weight on your torso.
  • Heavier armor may actually increase the chances of an officer being severely wounded. An attacker would be more aware of a heavy armored jacket than a thin concealed vest, and therefore might aim at an unarmored part of the body, such as the head.
  • The discomfort of heavier armor makes it more likely that an officer won't wear any protection at all. Police departments are very careful to select bulletproof vests that are relatively comfortable in order to encourage officers to actually put them on.

Armor effectiveness and comfort are sure to improve in the future as technology companies develop lighter, stronger materials. We are certainly a long way from impenetrable armor; but in 50 years, advanced armor will give police officers a much greater level of protection when they're walking the beat. Most likely, we will also see an increase in civilian body armor in the years ahead. There is an ever-growing market for comfortable soft body armor that can fit under clothes, or even be worn as an outer jacket. With gun violence on the rise, many citizens feel as if they're walking onto a battlefield every day, and they want to dress accordingly.


To learn more about civilian body armor, and the many other sorts of body armor on the market, check out the links below.

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