Why have "quality grades" for body armour? Shouldn't it all be top-notch?

  1. K9keystrokes profile image92
    K9keystrokesposted 6 years ago

    Why have "quality grades" for body armour? Shouldn't it all be top-notch?

  2. kschang profile image87
    kschangposted 6 years ago

    There's a trade-off between weight/mobility and protection. Usually, heavier the armor, the more it protects. Most front-back vest type only protects against regular 9mm pistol rounds. To offer more protection, you need ballsitic plates (metal or ceramic) as inserts and that adds weight.

    Furthermore, different armor differs in different design needs. You can armor a guy head to toe, but then he won't be very mobile unless there's some sort of exoskeleton powered so he can move a lot more weight with more than just his muscles.

    If you only protect the vital areas, i.e. chest and back, there's still the shoulder/armpit gap, not to mention the "family jewels", the femoral arteries in the thigh, and other vulnerable spots, and of course, the arms and the head.

    So the different "grades" are offered to give people a choice: if you are up against guys with just light pistols light 9mm, then Class II vest should work fine. Level III-A are needed against people armed with 44 Magnums or 45 ACP. If you're up against assault rifles then you will need Level III and Level IV.

    Also keep in mind that most cops need vests for both slash protection (against knives and blades) as well as just guns. So for them, Level IIA is probably the best compromise between lightness (so they can wear it every day) and offer general all around protection. Military in general would go for Ievel III or IV due to them seeing more rifles and such.

  3. bulletproofvests profile image60
    bulletproofvestsposted 6 years ago

    Quality grades are more commonly known as certification levels. For a buyer of body armour these levels or grades are essential to ensure that the protection will work as intended. Generally a company will certify one piece of body armour, then be allowed to manufacture a set number of units of identical armour. Companies which manufacture bespoke armour in small quantities are often outside of the certification system. Of course uncertified armour, if made by experts with the right materials, can be just as effective.

    Many companies now also carry out additional in-house testing. It is my opinion all bullet proof vests should offer or exceed, as a minimum, NIJIIIA or HG2. These are the highest soft vest protection levels (US and UK). Hard plating increases protection beyond this, but adds weight, and bulk. In a war situation of course this additional protection can be essential for your standard infantryman. In war handguns are usually replaced with rifles and more dangerous ammunitions.

    Please note that certification is not a measure of quality, just effectiveness. Good quality body armour offers the same level of protection, though may be lighter, last longer, and have additional benefits not covered in the certification process. There are many cheap but effective vests being manufactured, superior protection means higher levels.

    In the future I hope the ultimate lightweight armour will be available at a low cost, and you are right in suggesting that all armour should be "top notch", though comfort and weight have not been perfected at this time. People often compromise on protection, due to weight or comfort.


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