Choosing the Right Body Armor Level: A Simple Guide

Woodland camouflaged body armor

In today’s world, body armor is crucial, not only for law enforcement and military personnel but also for civilians seeking extra protection.

Level IV Level IV body armor provides top-tier protection against armor-piercing rifle rounds like .30-06 AP and .338 Lapua Magnum.

Discover the different body armor levels and find the one that suits your needs.

Understanding the Different Body Armor Levels

Military body armor on a black marble table. army bulletproof vest. View from above. Military concept.

There are five levels of body armor in the United States, ranging from Level IIA to Level IV. Each level offers varying degrees of protection against different types of ammunition and weapons.

Level IIA

Level IIA body armor, the lightest option, can stop most handgun rounds but is not effective against rifle fire.

This level is typically used by individuals who require minimal protection, such as security guards or civilians who want added protection during daily activities.

Level II

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Level II body armor offers more protection than Level IIA, but it still cannot stop rifle rounds. It is capable of stopping most handgun rounds, including those with higher velocities.

This level is commonly used by law enforcement officers who require added protection against handgun fire.

Level IIIA

Level IIIA body armor offers enhanced protection compared to Level II and can stop most handgun rounds, even those from high-powered firearms.

This level is used by law enforcement officers who face potential threats from handguns and shotguns.

Level III

Level III body armor is designed to stop rifle rounds, but it cannot withstand armor-piercing ammunition.

This level is typically used by military personnel or law enforcement officers who face high-powered rifle threats.

Level IV

Level IV body armor provides top-tier protection against armor-piercing rifle rounds like .30-06 AP and .338 Lapua Magnum.

It’s frequently utilized by military and law enforcement tactical units when dealing with high-caliber ballistic threats.

Comparison of Level IV and Other Levels

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Level IV body armor is rated to stop a single hit from an armor-piercing rifle up to .30-06 M2AP with a mass of 166 grains and a velocity of 2880 ft/s.

It is made of a composite of ceramics that are harder than the bullet itself, which twists and erodes the bullet to the point where it can’t do as much damage.

Though both Level III and Level IV body armor can halt rifle rounds, Level IV excels against armor-piercing ammunition.

However, it’s crucial to understand that Level IV body armor is heavier and less comfortable than Level III.

Choosing the Right Body Armor Level

Strong female soldier is wearing a protective body armor, a walkie-talkie, cassettes for a machine gun

Factors to Consider When Choosing Body Armor

When selecting body armor, you should take multiple factors into account. The primary factor is your occupation. If you work in law enforcement or the military, you may require higher levels of protection. The second factor is location and threats.

If you live in an area with high crime rates or face potential threats, you may want to invest in higher levels of protection.

Occupation

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For law enforcement officers and military personnel, Level IIIA and above are recommended.

Civilians seeking minimal protection may find Level IIA suitable. It’s crucial to remember that all body armor levels are accessible to civilians except those with a felony record.

Location and Threats

If you live in an area with high crime rates or face potential threats, it is recommended to invest in higher levels of protection.

Individuals expecting potential handgun and shotgun threats are advised to consider Level IIIA or higher.

Level IV is recommended for individuals who face potential high-caliber rifle threats.

Body Armor Testing Process

NIJ Certification

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is in charge of testing and certifying body armor to guarantee its effectiveness.

This process includes evaluating the body armor against various ammunition types to determine its protection level.

Premier Body Armor’s Standards

At Premier Body Armor, we surpass NIJ standards by constructing our body armor plates to provide enhanced safety for our customers in critical situations.

Our Level IV body armor plates are multi-hit rated to defeat many popular rounds, including the m855a1, m193, 7.62×39 msc, .308, and much more.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.