30 Must Know Facts About Bulletproof Vests

Bulletproof Vests are becoming more and more popular…

We have called upon our extensive knowledge of bulletproof vests and some of our great sources, to compile a list with some must-know facts about bulletproof vests.

If you are interested in purchasing a bulletproof vest, or simply just interested in learning more about them check out our list of 30 interesting facts.

  1. Bullet-Resistant is the Better Term (Not Bulletproof)

You may not realize that bulletproof vests are not actually bulletproof, but rather bullet resistant.

Each bulletproof vest or plate will specify the level they are rated, and are designed to protect you against that particular threat.

For example a level IIIA bulletproof vest will protect you against smaller sized arm bullets. It is highly unlikely that a bullet designed to protect against what it says will penetrate through.

These vests cannot 100% guarantee that you are protected from all kinds of bullets and sadly as much as we wish, wearing one of these does not mean you are Iron Man.

In fact nothing out there is 100% bulletproof. 

2. Your Bulletproof Vest will Not Protect Against Knife Attacks

Bulletproof and stab resistant vests are two different types of vests. Not all bullet proof vests are designed to protect against knives and vice versa. 

Bulletproof vests and stab proof vests are made from different fibres and woven patterns. Stab proof vests will generally be heavier and bulkier.

If you are in need of both, you can find multi-rated vests on the market, however these will generally cost you more.

  1. Bulletproof Vests are Perfectly Legal for Everyone…

Purchasing and owning a bulletproof vest is legal for all civilians no matter their intentions for owning one.

The only exception to this, is if you are a convicted felon.

  1. You Can Continue Fighting if You Get Shot

Being shot at does not mean that you are down. You will feel the force of the shot, but you will ultimately be fine (assuming your vest is certified to protect you against that type of round.)

  1. Bulletproof Vests are Known as Soft Armor

Bulletproof vests are what is known as ‘soft armor.’ They offer the wearer flexibility and mobility protecting against handguns and smaller rounds.

This is why they are worn pretty much all the time by police and law enforcement.

Hard armor on the other hand is made from materials like ceramic and steel and protects against armor piercing rounds. Because of this they are far more rigid and harder to move around in.

  1. Know Your Levels

The NIJ designated levels of protection which are given based on the vests ability to protect against different rounds traveling at different velocities.

In order of ascending protection the levels go: I,II-A,II,III-A, III  and IV.

For bulletproof vests they are mostly level III-A certified.

  1. You Will Feel It

Your bulletproof vest will unfortunately not stop you from feeling the impact of the bullet. 

Chances are you will be left with a nice bruise to show, purely due to the blunt trauma. 

  1. Get Rid of Bulletproof Vest if Shot

If you are shot at, your bulletproof vest is no longer useful and it will need replacing. 

Once a vest absorbs the hit of a bullet, regardless of where on the vest, the fibres that make up the ballistic panel have been ruined and will not be able to withstand another shot.

Get a new bulletproof vest ASAP if this happens. Check out our guide for the best bulletproof vests around now.

  1. Water doesn’t mix!

Do not go swimming with your bulletproof vest! Unless it is a waterproof rated vest, water will damage the ballistic capabilities of your vest and may not protect you if you are shot at.

If your vest is not waterproof or water resistant and gets wet it is important to replace it as the fibres that make up the vest perform differently in wet and dry conditions.

The materials dyneema and spectra are water resistant materials so if you are planning on getting wet, we would recommend purchasing a bulletproof vest made from either of these as opposed to kevlar.

10. Remember the 10% Rule if You Lose or Gain Weight

Bulletproof vests need to be fitted well to your body size in order to do its job. If you gain or lose weight remember the 10% rule. If you gain more than 10% or lose more than 10% of your previous body weight, you will need to get resized for a new vest.

10% is the general rule for the amount of weight that can cause a bulletproof vest to not fit as well as, which won’t protect you as well as before. 

11. They Can Last up to 10 Years (But Generally 5 Years)

Most NIJ rated bulletproof vests are certified to last 5 years.

When a vest is used on a regular basis, it can become worn and lose its bulletproof capabilities over time. Keep a check on any damage to your vest including wear and tear, creasing and scuffing as this can also affect its ability to protect you against bullets.

If you take good care of your vest you shouldn’t have any problems getting the recommended useful life out of it!

12. Wash the Carrier, Not the Plates!

Bulletproof vests are ballistic plates inside a plate carrier.

Please do not wash the ballistic plates! Remove the plates out of the carrier and wash the carrier. It is best to own a few separate plate carriers so when one of them is being washed you can swap the ballistic plates in and out.

13. They have Been Around since the 1500s

The first bulletproof vest was created by Filippo Negroli in 1538.

14. No Sunlight Exposure

When you aren’t wearing your vest, it is best stored standing up indoors. Keep the vest out of sunlight and exposure to the sun can cause the vest to 

Keep it in a dark place or hung up in the closet to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged.

15. Kevlar isn’t the only material that it’s made of

Kevlar isn’t the only material that it’s made of

Bulletproof vests are made from multiple layers of strong woven fibres and you might automatically associate bulletproof vests with being made of kevlar.

Whilst kevlar is a common material, spectra and dyneema are also frequently used.

The bulletproof vest industry is continually evolving to find different materials to use for bulletproof vests which optimise strength whilst still being lightweight.

Each material offers its own unique set of characteristics.

For example, kevlar is best known for being extremely strong whilst being resistant to heat whilst dyneema is very strong yet flexible and soft.

16. Trauma Pads are a Must!

Trauma Pads are a Must!

Trauma pads are a piece of protective gear that is worn under a bulletproof vest and offers greater protection for the wearer. They are often forgotten about, but they can provide the vital protection you need when being shot.

As said in the name, they protect against trauma. It reduces the risk of you suffering from blunt trauma by having another layer that absorbs and disperses the energy from the bullet. 

  1. They have been proven to protect in car accidents

It has been seen that wearing bulletproof vests has protected police officers in some instances from injuries in road accidents. The bulletproof vest covering the vital organs, gives necessary protection against injuries caused by the steering column in a crash.

  1. Bulletproof Vests undergo Stringent Testing

Bulletproof vests are tested rigorously by the NIJ to ensure their protection levels match the level to which they protect against, as well as for quality assurance purposes. 

Rest assured that purchasing a bulletproof vest that is NIJ certified is reliable.

  1. They Stop Bullets like a Tennis Ball to a Net

It is interesting to know how bulletproof vests work to stop bullets from penetrating the vest.

If you are shot at, the vest works to absorb the impact of the bullet by spreading the energy through the vest.

When the bullet hits the vest, the fibres absorb the energy of the bullet spreading the energy throughout the vest. So basically they work to absorb the impact of a bullet.

The result of this, is that the bullet is mushroomed.

20. Don’t Forget Back Panels

It goes without saying that a bulletproof vest would have front panels to protect all your vital organs across the front of your torso.

However, you might forget that having back panels is also vital. Being shot at in the back could do just as much harm, so ensure that you have a ballistic panel inserted into the back of the vest as well.

  1. Sponge Clean Only

As we said, ballistic plates do not mix with water and especially in a washer. It is still necessary to clean, but instead do it with a damp cloth or sponge with a mild soap (one without any strong chemicals.) 

Refrain from putting it in a dryer or ironing it as the heat is enough to deform the plates by melting the fibres.

  1. Your Plate Carrier Won’t Protect You

It is important to know that wearing a plate carrier on its own, will not protect you. 

A plate carrier is just the wearable means of carrying a ballistic plate - as said in its name.

  1. Make Sure Your Panels are Placed in Correctly

A lot of the time bulletproof panels have a designated front and back of the panel and so attention must be taken when inserting your panel into the vest.

The front of the panel often has a ‘strike face’. The purpose of this is that this is the side that does the spreading of the bullet's impact. 

The back of the panel is side that reduces the trauma of the bullet. Keep this in mind when putting your plate in as if you put it in wrong it can have disastrous consequences if you were to be shot at. 

24. Owning Back-up Carriers is Handy

Carriers can often sag over time and this can affect the ballistic panels being able to sit right in the vest and so it won’t protect your vital organs properly. That’s why we recommend owning 2-3 spare carriers. 

Some bulletproof vests will come with an extra carrier or you will have the option to purchase a back-up. We definitely recommend doing this, as you always have a few spares if one gets damaged or is dirty. 

  1. Keep it Standing Up

Bulletproof vests should not be left out lying on the floor. The fibres that make up the vest can be stretched, pulling the fibres apart which will contribute to the vest losing its ballistic capabilities. 

Leaving your bulletproof vest hanging up or standing up straight is your best option.

Similarly if it is sweaty, letting it dry upright will prevent the sweat from seeping into the panels and damaging the fibres.

  1. Your Vest is not meant to be extremely fitted

Your bulletproof vest does not need to be fitted tightly to your skin in order for the vest to give you the ultimate protection.

There should be space between your torso and the vest to allow you to run and move around with ease, however be aware of too much room in which your vest could get in your way if it is too loose, and ultimately not protect you.

  1. Duct Tape and Bulletproof Vests do Not MIX

I have seen times where people have either attempted to secure their vest to their body using duct tape, or do a self repair job on their vest by duct taping holes.

Having functioning straps on your vest is so important as the vest should be able to move with your body.

We hope you can take a few key pieces of information away from this guide on bulletproof vests. If you have any comments or questions about bulletproof vests don’t hesitate to visit our contact page and we would be more than happy to help you out.