Body Armor FAQs

Understanding Protection Levels

What are the NIJ Protection Levels?

The National Institute of Justice is the government agency responsible for establishing certification and protection standards for body armor. Phalanx Defense Systems armor undergoes routine testing at an NIJ-approved laboratory, allowing us to guarantee its protection against specific threats.

  • Level IIA: Tested to stop 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
  • Level II: Tested to stop 9mm and .357 Magnum ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
  • Level IIIA: Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
  • Level III: Tested to stop 7.62 mm FMJ (full metal jacket) lead core rifle ammunition.
  • Level IV: Tested to stop .30 cal steel core armor piercing rifle ammunition.

What does Level III+ mean?

The NIJ has a range of protection level classifications based on specific rounds that a piece of armor will stop. However, there are other rounds associated with non-traditional testing. In regards to III+, this armor will stop all of the rounds required by the NIJ and several extra that are not part of the testing procedure.

Are 'stand alone' or 'in conjunction' plates better?

Plates designed for stand alone use will – by themselves – provide the level of protection specified by the manufacturer. All plates sold by Phalanx Defense Systems are stand alone plates and provide the wearer the protection level they are rated for without any additions.

In conjunction plates require an additional piece of armor to live up to their rated protection. As you browse plates from a variety of sellers, make sure you see they are clearly labeled as stand alone to ensure you are getting the kind of protection you are intending or that a ‘deal’ on armor isn’t going to cost you your life because of a misunderstanding.

Does ballistic resistance mean stab resistance?

Soft armor panels typically will not be stab resistant even if they are ballistic resistant. Hard armor plates frequently are. The best way to know if the item you are purchasing is stab or puncture resistant is to check the official specifications.

Buying & Testing Armor

Is body armor legal to buy?

Civilians in the United States are legally able to purchase body armor and protection panels. However a majority of states regulate vests and other body armor. Please check your state laws to see if you are prohibited from purchasing body armor.

Phalanx Defense Systems will not sell to those persons who are convicted of a felony. And we cannot sell online or by phone to anyone in the state of Connecticut, which prohibits online sales of body armor and protection panels, so those individuals will need to purchase armor in person. Please reach us on our contact page if you are looking for a dealer in your area.

As you look into your own state laws, here are some key points to consider as published by Attorney Janet Portman in When It’s Illegal To Own a Bullet-Proof Vest.

Sentence enhancement

Several states add a term of years to the sentence for the underlying crime. For example, in California, judges may add one, two, or three years (Ca. Penal Code Section 12022.2). Or, a state may elevate the level of the felony if body armor is involved. In Kentucky, use of body armor makes the defendant ineligible for parole.

Body armor as a crime itself

In a number of states, utilizing body armor during a crime is itself a crime. For example, using body armor with a weapon in any offense (or just a violent felony) is a crime in some states. In a few states, mere possession (which is much broader than wearing the item) during a crime is a criminal act.

Possession by convicted criminals

Like the federal law, many state laws prohibit certain convicted persons from possessing body armor. But some states don’t restrict the ban to those convicted only of violent felonies; and may even extend the ban to violent misdemeanors. Other states list the crimes that determine whether an individual may possess the armor.

Like the federal law, some states allow possession for specified reasons, such as for work.

Restrictions applied to everyone

A few states prohibit the use or possession in specified situations or circumstances, without regard to the criminal background of the wearer. One state prohibits wearing armor on school property or school-sponsored functions (Louisiana), while in Connecticut, sale of body armor must be done in person—Internet and phone purchases are illegal.

Is there a difference between armor for men and women?

Phalanx believes that no matter your gender, there are three main keys to finding armor that fits well:

Vitals Area Protection 

Male or female, you’ll want to make sure you have the right size coverage to protect your vitals. Typically we see this being 10″ x 12″ coverage, but not every body is the same. We offer plates in smaller and larger sizes to ensure you are covered when it counts.

Comfort

Body armor is only helpful if you wear it, so it needs to be comfortable to ensure you are wearing it when the situation requires. Our plates have a multi-curve geometry to fit fluidly with the natural shape of the body.

Fit Against the Body

Armor should be comfortable as you do your job, whether you’re running, bending, standing or sitting. The armor itself should be properly and comfortably held again the body with a vest or carrier. Make sure you have adjusted this properly before use and have tried several exercises and stretches to ensure you have given yourself the correct amount of leeway for full articulation.

What if I want to test my body armor?

We request that body armor be tested in a responsible manner. This, in no uncertain terms, means that you should not test it while you or someone else is wearing it.

All of the armor that Phalanx Defense Systems sells has either been tested by the NIJ or by certified independent labs and does not require at-home testing. However, if you’d like to test the armor for yourselves, please note that once the armor has been shot, it should no longer be worn for protection purposes.

What are trauma plates?

Trauma plates are inserted into a ballistic carrier or vest in order to disrupt the kinetic energy of a bullet impact and reduce the blunt force trauma that would otherwise be transferred to the body. They are considered small in size than full coverage plates and are typically positioned over extremely sensitive areas, like the heart.

Trauma plates can also serve as side armor plates if they are worn on the sides of the body instead of in the front and back.

Caring for Body Armor

Why does body armor expire?

Body armor can be made of a few different materials. Each material manufacturer has a shelf-life associated with these materials that is factored into the shelf-life of the product. Phalanx Defense Systems has some of the longest warranties on the market because of our material selection and manufacutring process.

How should I clean my body armor?

Once the ballistic panels or armor plates have been removed from the carrier, lay them on a flat surface. Take a clean damp cloth, sponge or rag and gently wipe the ballistic panels to remove stains, dirt or debris. If necessary, you may choose to use a mild non-acidic soap or detergent.

DO NOT use bleach or other harsh chemical cleaners.
DO NOT iron or apply heat.
DO NOT machine wash or tumble dry.

What is Phalanx's warranty and guarantee policy?

PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC warrants that each set of Body Armor will be free from defects in material or workmanship for five years for soft armor and seven years for certain hard armors from the date of manufacture. DO NOT OPEN the original, sealed inner barrier containing the ballistic package. Doing so will void all warranties related to your Body Armor. This warranty extends to the inner ballistic package so long as the package remains sealed in its original, rip-stop nylon covering. The outer carrier is warranted to be free from defects in workmanship or materials for a period of one year. If, during the warranty period, any tears, weak stitching or other manufacturing-related defects become evident, which are not associated with normal wear and tear, simply return the entire package to PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC, and we will, at our discretion, repair or replace the affected component.

PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC also offers an exclusive replacement policy on our Body Armor. If at ANY time, our Body Armor is used or involved in a shooting incident and takes one or more rounds, simply return the armor to us, along with a certified true copy of the police report of the incident, and we will replace the Body Armor AT NO CHARGE. The above warranty is the sole and exclusive warranty made by PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC, with respect to its Body Armor. It shall not be enlarged by any representations, descriptions, course of dealing, trade usage, technical advice, service, samples, models, or otherwise, nor shall it be altered or expanded by any acts, statements, or agreements of any dealer, reseller, employee, or agent of
Phalanx (other than in a written document signed by a duly authorized officer of PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC). PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC MAKES NO OTHER WARRANTIES EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY; INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR MERCHANTABILITY.

In the event that PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC determines that a piece of Body Armor (or component) is defective during the applicable warranty period, PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC agrees to (at its election) replace, repair, or issue a pro-rated purchase price credit for such product. All returns shall be made to PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC’s, manufacturing facility and must include (1) proof of purchase, and (2) documentation specifying the claimed defect and all relevant supporting information. A Return Authorization number (RA) must be obtained from PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC, prior to returning the product.

IN NO EVENT SHALL PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC BE LIABLE FOR ANY PUNITIVE, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, ANTICIPATED OR LOST PROFITS, INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, LOSS OF TIME, OR OTHER INDIRECT LOSSES OR EXPENSES THAT ARISE FROM ANY CAUSE RELATING TO ITS BODY ARMOR, REGARDLESS OF THE FORM OF THE ACTION, WHETHER IN TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, AND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE COMPANY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY CONTRARY PROVISION, IN NO EVENT SHALL THE TOTAL LIABILITY OF PHALANX DEFENSE SYSTEMS, LLC (TOGETHER WITH THE LIABILITY OF ITS OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, AND AGENTS) EXCEED THE PURCHASE PRICE ACTUALLY PAID FOR THE ITEM THAT GIVES RISE TO SUCH LIABILITY. The foregoing disclaimers are subject to any applicable laws that regulate product warranties.