Body Armor For Training

A while back I decided that I was going to start
using body armor for training. We have been doing
a tremendous amount of basic, intermediate and
realistic "lethal fire" training. Throughout the
training I have had a number of loaded weapons
pointed at me. Everything from 9mm, to revolvers to
shotguns. These have all been accidents of
course, due to neglegent handling, and were used
as training examples in the particular class and
after. It's very menacing though!

I choose a level III-A. This is the highest level there
is for a practical vest. One that is light and provides
ease of movement. Here is a run down of the
various levels available:

Level I offers the most basic protection. It's the
same ballistic vest issued during the NIJ
demonstration project of the 1970s.

Level II-A offers greater protection, from lower
velocity 9mm and 40 S&W ammunition.

Level II offers even greater protection like higher
velocity .357 Magnum and 9mm ammunition.

Level III-A is the highest protection available for
concealable, ballistic vests. Level III-A protects
against most handguns and all the weapons from
the previous three levels.

The III-A will also handle shotgun.

Body armor does not stop injury. You may still
suffer a serious injury due to the force of impact.

One of the intersting things I found out while
learning about body armor is that many police
departments issue a level II instaed of a III-A.
Reasons being "cost" and they sometimes use the
fact that "many officers have been shot with their
own gun" (163 officers slain with their own gun
from 1980 to 1999). Law enforcement ammo is
regulated and does not go very fast. A very fast
round can get through good protection.


A Level II-A vest CAN stop a 124gr federal Hydra
Shok 9mm moving at 1120 fps.

It CANNOT stop a 124gr 9MM moving at 1205 fps.
You have to move up to a level II for that protection.

But the knucleheads who go out and commit
crimes with guns generally buy some super cheap
9mm FMJ. Stuff that cost $5.99 a box of 100 rounds
and travels at up to 1400 fps. This can pass
through a Level II vest.

Level II is very good protection though. I would just
like to see everybody protecting the public in a
Level III-A. They are just as light if not lighter than
some Level II vests. Cost is an issue though.

Civilians sometimes find it difficult to purchase
body armor. Companies and individual reps don't
like to sell to them. Attitudes and concerns vary, but
you can understand why there is concern.

Hope this broadens your understanding of body


Generally Anything higher than IIIA (III and IV) is reserved for entry teams and such, correct?

Yeah, I'd imagine that companies out there would not be very pleased with the idea of selling a III Vest to someone...

Actually I do believe II level vests can stop 12 ga 000 buck. To stop slugs you would need to move up the IIIA.

Kai - III and up is where external armor begins and can't be readily concealed.

If you are looking for specifics here is a link pretty much gives you a run down of what stops what.

slugs yes. but how bout sabots?


But you pretty much have to get III in order to stop 5.56 and 7.62x39, so there's definately a big difference between IIIa and III.Then again, if you're getting shot at by 5.56, there's some fucked up shit going down.

Sabots? IIIA is where protection starts against them

A couple years back I tried an experiment involving a Level II vest and a 3" magnum slug fired from a 12ga
shotgun at forty feet. The vest was draped over a 55 gallon steel drum and secured to it. The round struck the vest off of the trauma plate, but still did not allow the round to penetrate the vest. The down side was that the vest itself was pushed through the wall of the barrell by about 1 to 2 inches.
The vest stopped the round, but may not have saved the wearer. Don't get me wrong I wear mine every day at work.

Good replies guys!

It's good that we're all up to speed on the realities
of body armor.


So Demi did wearing the vest change your training at all? I have a vest but its only a IIA and I have been thinking about training more with it. It really doesnt fit right so if I go the route of training with it more I need to get one that fits right. Another thing I have taken to doing is carrying the slash resistant sleeves with me when we go out. I need to do some tests on them to see just how resistant they are.


For me, body armor is not given a lot of importance
once it's on. It's good to have as a backup but the
safety rules on the range, as well as good
coaching, are what's going to keep me from getting
lead poisoning.

So everything is pretty much the same. In the back
of my mind I know I'm better off wearing it but I still
have to keep my mind on the tasks and skills at
hand. I does not allow me to do anything I could
not do before.

It's interesting that some of the poeple that point
their guns at me in training are the ones that
snickered when I said "people sometimes point
their weapons at me".

I still gotta watch'em. Every one of them.