Body Armor 101

We are asked these questions often and now we have all the answers you need right here.

The science and testing behind body armor is fascinating and extensive, but we’ll start here with the basics.

What is body armor?

It can be a vest or plate that is used to stop common threats worn by law enforcement and, increasingly, by Fire/EMS first responders. Civilians with high risk jobs, like security or guards, also choose to wear it for protection.

Body armor can differ in composition and stopping power, but different types serve different purposes.

Soft body armor is formed from advanced woven fibers. The benefit here is that it is flexible and generally light, making it really easy to wear concealed under clothing and for an extended period of time without discomfort.

Hard armor offers more protection than soft body armor. These are usually put on before going to situations where gunfire could be an issue and could involve rifle ammunition. These can vary in weight and thickness. The more affordable plates might be made from steel, which may be about 3x as heavy as other options of the same stopping power. 

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How do I know the law regarding owning armor in my state?

Under federal law, body armor is regulated by statute, 18 U.S.C.A. Section 931.

That law forbids anyone convicted of a violent felony to own or possess a bulletproof vest, unless the person wearing the vest is an employee who is doing so in order to perform a lawful business activity and who has obtained prior written certification from the employer. A violation incurs a maximum of three years in prison. And using a vest during the commission of a federal crime of violence or a federal drug-trafficking crime will result in an enhanced sentence. (42 U.S.C. Section 3796ll-3(d)(1))

This information stands in August of 2019, but changes to the federal law has been proposed several times in the past and at current, so requirements may be different in the future.

And while it may currently be legal for you to own body armor, you may also want to be aware of how and where you can purchase body armor. This issue does not impact most states, but people in Connecticut, for example, cannot order body armor online and have it shipped to their homes directly.