A Guide to Body Armor for Survivors

Here are four types of vests to consider for maximum protection.
Vests can act as lifesaving armor.
There are a variety of protective vests. Learn the advantages and disadvantages of bulletproof, stab proof, overt and covert armor.|Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Preparation is the most important aspect of survival, and those who prioritize preparation will survive the longest after society breaks down. This preparation may include building defenses, stocking up on supplies, and training your mind and body. Whatever the preparation, it has to include collecting or at the very least understanding the options available to you. Many do not realize that this can and should extend to body armor, and that survivors who have access to protective clothing will fare much better than those who do not.

Body armor is an important piece of equipment for anyone who will face an attack, and even before society as we know it descends into a George Miller-esque fight for survival, a bullet or stab proof vest could save your life. Of course, should the world become a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the chances of you being attacked will increase dramatically. Indeed, your own preparation may make you a target for those whose worst nature is brought out by the end of the world.

Bulletproof Vests

Body armor as a phrase refers to a number of products, including bulletproof vests, stab proof vests, and even spike proof vests. These are also available in numerous different levels of protection, and in different styles of wear, and so being aware of which is most appropriate for you is imperative. Bullet proof vests are the most crucial piece of armor for survivors as firearms are so highly prized. Many already realize the benefits of owning a gun, and an apocalyptic scenario only furthers their usefulness.

One of the most useful firearms available are handguns, which are not only easy to carry, but are still very powerful. It is necessary therefore to have a vest that can protect against handgun ammunition. Ballistic protection is tested and graded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and a vest at Level IIIa is capable of stopping the vast majority of handgun ammunition, including .44 Magnums and 9mms fired at high velocities.

On the other hand, those who can acquire them will naturally choose powerful weapons like rifles. Rifle ammunition cannot be stopped by lower levels of protection, and only a Level III or IV vest can stop ammunition used in rifles. Vests at higher levels of protection utilize rigid plates of Ceramic or Polyethylene, making it heavier and bulkier than ‘soft’ armor which uses fabrics like Kevlar. Nevertheless, these armors are still light and thin enough to be worn comfortably even in covert armor, and the protection they offer is invaluable.

Covert and Overt Armor

Body armor can be worn in both covert and overt styles, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Deciding which style will be most appropriate for you is a matter of personal choice, and must reflect your own preparation. For example, wearing an overt vest helps display your authority and preparedness, potentially deterring attackers. On the other hand, this could signal your preparation and turn you into a ‘big fish’ target, inviting attacks. Therefore, you may prefer covert armor, which can be worn comfortably under clothes even at high levels of protection. Covert armor has the advantage of being wearable at all times; the end of the world may come in any way, at any time, and being prepared means having your equipment to hand at all times. Survivalists know the importance of having a bug-out bag, as it allows you to have all the equipment you will need at hand for when the SHTF. A covert vest allows you to wear your protection at all times, and even if the worst never happens, it will provide you with protection against all manner of attacks.

Stab and Spike Protection

Bulletproof vests can protect you not only against a wide range of ammunition and weapons, but also against blunt trauma and impacts, meaning in car crashes your armor can save your life. They will not, however, protect you against edged and spiked weapons. Bullet-resistant vests use soft materials like Kevlar to absorb energy and dissipate it across itself, but edged weapons will simply cut through the protective fibers. Similarly, spiked weapons will only pass in between these fibers, and so it may be that you will need additional protection.

Stab and spike protection is achieved with additional materials of chainmail and/or plastic laminate, which can be added to a bullet-resistant vest. These materials create a tough surface that will stop edged and spiked weapons from penetrating. This will increase the weight and bulk of a vest to a certain degree, but armor will stay light and thin enough to be worn comfortably and even covertly. In situations where close quarters combat or an ambush is likely, protection from weapons like knives and needles is essential.

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