Understanding Body Armor Ratings and what they are effective against

Posted by George Holt on

Bullet Proof Protection Ratings

Any body armor is rated to let you know how large a caliber or how fast a velocity of bullet it has been designed to stop when it is fired directly at the armor or panel. The higher the level of protection, the more you are going to pay. With some calibers being more common than others, plenty of people get a lower level. Remember that if you can get behind something else, your armor/panel will not have to take the same velocity or impact that it would otherwise. A lower level panel could still help you stop a bullet that normally would only be stopped by a panel that was rated at a higher level.

The National Institute of Justice Rating System

Body armor and bulletproof panels are rated using:

  • Level 1 – You don’t really see anything with a Level 1 rating unless you are buying a used product. This level was around when bulletproof technology was still being developed and honed to the exceptional level we have today.
  • Level 2-A – This is designed to stop calibers such as 9mm and .40 S&W with a full metal jacket
  • Level 2 – Tested against 9mm and .357 magnum
  • Level III-A – This is a high level of body armor and tested against .357 SIG and .44 Magnum bullets. If you have ever shot a .44 Magnum you know what I am talking about when I say that it is an extremely powerful bullet that can take down a Grizzly bear. I don’t practice with a .44 because it is too big for most circumstances. Having body armor or a pack that can stop something like that is pretty amazing to me. This is typically the level of armor used in packs and mid-priced inserts. This level will not stop an AR-15 or AK-47 round. For those that don’t remember, the AR-15 is what was used at the Parkland, Florida school shooting. 
  • Level III – Designed to stop a 7.62 x 39 full metal jacket AK round or .223 ammo like that used by the popular AR-15.  This is the minimum needed to stop bullets from any of the major assault rifles.
  • Level IV – This will stop many armor piercing rounds and is the highest level of protection you can currently buy. Typically this is used by SWAT teams and those that are at risk for being under heavy fire from large high-velocity rounds made to penetrate as deeply as possible.

Level IV rating will stop all the Level III rating and so for Level III stopping IIIA a

.... Sit down and effectively figure out what rating you would need. May save you money and it more importantly may save your life! 

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