Prepping, Body Armor or Not?
That’s a question going around the prepping world with a multitude of answers, opinions and heated discussions running wild.
So what is my take on it? I’ve been wearing armor for 30 years and I think I might have some relevant thoughts about daily wear and use of personal armor
First of all, I’ll talk about the different kinds, then I’ll give you a user point of view of various types and the effects of all that weight on your body
Levels, and how to decipher what they are and what’s best for you
Level IIa is the most common and is rated for pistol rounds and light fragmentation. This is soft armor, and is good for 9mm, 40 SW and 45 ACP. In my opinion this is the bare minimum armor protection , if you are going to spend real money, to have.
However, being a longtime user of soft armor there is a better option without breaking the bank and that is a level IIIa Vest
Level IIIa armor is what is considered standard armor for law enforcement at this time. The enhanced protection over level IIa goes up too a 44mag. It also stops 357 Sig, which is a high velocity round for a handgun.
The greatest advantage to a concealable vest is, it is usable right now as opposed to hard armor which is impractical for daily use. Truck drivers, firefighters, emt’s and other jobs which take you into areas with more than normal danger is where these vests come into their own.
The other advantage to the concealable vests are the reduced chances of detection. This is important because in reality, if it doesn’t look like you are hiding anything, it won’t draw anyone’s eye. I think running low under the radar is more important than showing an overt, in your face presence.
Not to mention it may save your life if someone doesn’t know you are wearing armor and they shoot center mass vs. attempting a head shot.
The issue with concealable vests can be observed, discretely the next time you see a Law Enforcement officer wearing one. The bottom of the vest sticks out if worn under clothing, requiring a change in wardrobe to be truly concealed
Another issue are vest for women. They are cut very differently than male cut vests. If you want her to wear one, you need to take consideration the differences
These are uncomfortable no matter how you wear them in summer months. In high humidity they will literally soak you with sweat, and are generally miserable to wear. In colder climes, they are nice in the winter as they keep a layer of warm air trapped under the vest inside your clothing. In cold weather of course the primary goal must be to not sweat so you don’t freeze.
There are also vests designed to be worn over clothing, which I personally prefer as ventilation is better in the heat in Az. It must be noted in either case the vest is still just a level IIIa with no additional protection. It is all about the armor inside, not how its carried. You must also consider the size of vest you buy, as they are not one size fits all and you need to guard against the tendency of buying a vest that is too big. This is not always a case of more is better. A vest too large is very uncomfortable without fitting snugly covering the vital areas.
It also moves around and it looks like a lampshade on a broom handle on the wearer. You are not doing yourselves any favors with a vest sized too large.
A smock is really nice when keeping a low profile with an over the clothing style vest. However, in areas with high heat it will draw attention immediately, because it doesn’t fit the environment.
Plates are most common Level III, with Level IV stopping armor piercing rounds.
Level III are the way to go, as it will stop the majority of rifle rounds in circulation in America today.
If you are buying plates.
These include 556, 762×39 (AK) and 762 Nato (308 Win). Yes there are armor piercing rounds in existence but relatively rare and we are playing a numbers game of outlay of funds vs actual usability.
The consideration here is important. It is a considerable outlay of funds to outfit 1 person with a complete vest which in reality they will never wear unless the events occur making it necessary.
Wearing a plate carrier day to day is not going to happen before SHTF. You will be a magnet for attention defeating any ideas you had of keeping a low profile. The loadout with pouches, magazines, and other assorted junk piled on like you are in a video game is a mistake and too heavy for the majority of people not in excellent physical condition.
Armor also creates issues with your normal concealed carry holsters as they are not designed to work together. Drawing your weapon should be practiced with an unloaded firearm before going into a situation requiring it. Plate carriers no matter the design are miserable to wear and work in. If you are performing any physical activity these things will make you miserable. Loading them with every pouch and patch in the catalog will make you off balance, stress your neck and back, and make it very difficult to get into positions for shooting.
In my opinion , armor makes you feel like you are more capable of handling a situation, but for the average person the question really should be, Would I go into this situation without the armor? Its not majic, you can still die wearing armor and that thought should be foremost on your mind. False confidence is a killer as well as complacency
Armor that is practical today- Armor carrying book bags and packs for children and spouses who cant or wont wear a vest. In the age of random school attacks or active shooter incident these bags can save a child or spouse if they are caught in that situation. They come in multiple colors as well as of course, black.
They will of course have to keep the bag between themselves and the shooter and remember they have it available. Also, if a child has this in school they should be instructed carefully not to divulge the armor. Some teachers and administrators have a dim view of anything done proactively to protect your children.
Armor is a prep which should be carefully considered before the large outlay of cash. It is basically useless until the SHTF, the money could be better used if you are a beginning prepper for food stocks, water purification and storage as well as other more important preps. Serious consideration should be taken if you think you will need armor in a BOB or Get Home Bag.
Armor should be at the end of your list than the beginning, when all other preps are caught up and ready.