Understanding Soft Body Armor: Protection Made Comfortable

Body armor suit, Bulletproof vest for protection from bullets in the hand.

Discover the essence of soft body armor in this concise guide. Soft body armor is a flexible, concealable personal protective gear designed to shield against ballistic threats.

We’ll explore its features, benefits, and considerations.

What is Soft Body Armor?

Police, tablet and patrol with a man officer outdoor on the street, using the internet to search during an investigation. Technology, information or law enforcement with a male security guard on duty

Soft body armor is a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is designed to protect the wearer from ballistic threats such as bullets and fragments.

Unlike hard body armor, which uses rigid plates or panels to absorb and deflect incoming projectiles, soft body armor is made from flexible materials that can conform to the wearer’s body and provide a high degree of mobility and comfort.

Soft body armor is typically worn under clothing and can be concealed to avoid detection.

What is Soft Body Armor Made Of?

Soft body armor is made from a variety of materials, including Aramid and PE fiber.

These materials are strong and lightweight, providing a high degree of protection without adding unnecessary bulk or weight.

Soft body armor is typically constructed using multiple layers of these materials, which are woven together to form a flexible, pliable fabric.

The number and thickness of the layers depend on the level of protection required.

Aramid fibers, such as Kevlar, are a common material used in soft body armor.

They are incredibly strong and can absorb and disperse the energy from an impact, reducing the risk of injury to the wearer. PE fiber, or polyethylene, is another popular material for soft body armor.

It is lightweight and has good ballistic properties, making it an excellent choice for use in bulletproof vests.

the process of making soft body armor

The process of making soft body armor involves weaving together multiple layers of Aramid or PE fiber to create a strong, flexible fabric.

The fabric is then treated with a resin or other coating to enhance its protective properties and prevent moisture from penetrating the material.

The finished product can then be cut and sewn into a vest or other protective garment.

How Effective is Soft Armor?

Military bulletproof vest with strapped in tactical pouches of cartridge rifle magazines wear by an Ukrainian soldier, side view

Soft body armor is effective at stopping most handgun rounds, as well as some shotgun rounds and fragments.

However, it does not provide adequate protection against high-velocity rifle rounds or armor-piercing ammunition.

To protect against these types of threats, hard body armor plates must be worn in conjunction with soft body armor panels.

The level of protection provided by soft body armor is determined by its National Institute of Justice (NIJ) rating, which ranges from Level IIA to Level IIIA.

the ballistic ratings for soft body armor

NIJ Level IIA soft body armor is designed to stop low-velocity 9mm and .40 S&W rounds. Level II soft body armor is designed to stop higher-velocity 9mm and .357 Magnum rounds.

Level IIIA soft body armor is designed to stop even higher-velocity .357 SIG and .44 Magnum rounds.

It is the highest level of protection available in soft body armor and can provide adequate protection against most handgun threats.

Pros of Soft Body Armor

There are several advantages to using soft body armor over other types of body armor. Soft body armor is lightweight and flexible, making it easier to wear for extended periods without causing fatigue or discomfort.

It also provides a high degree of mobility, allowing the wearer to move freely and perform a wide range of physical activities.

Soft body armor is also highly concealable, making it an ideal choice for undercover law enforcement officers or anyone who needs to maintain a low profile.

Finally, soft body armor is more affordable than hard body armor, making it accessible to a wider range of people.

who can benefit from using soft body armor?

Male police and guards, in uniform, wearing bulletproof vest, Guanajuato, Mexico

Soft body armor is used by a wide range of individuals, including law enforcement officers, private security personnel, military personnel, and civilians who require personal protection.

It can be particularly beneficial for those who need to maintain a low profile or require a high degree of mobility during their daily activities.

Soft body armor is also an excellent choice for people who are new to body armor or have limited budgets, as it is more affordable than hard body armor.

Cons of Soft Body Armor

While soft body armor offers several advantages, there are some downsides to consider.

Soft body armor does not provide adequate protection against high-velocity rifle rounds or armor-piercing ammunition, requiring the use of hard body armor plates in these situations.

Additionally, soft body armor can be susceptible to wear and tear over time, which may reduce its effectiveness and require replacement.

Soft Body Armor Products Available

There are a wide variety of soft body armor products available on the market today, ranging from concealable vests to plate carriers with soft armor inserts.

These products offer different levels of protection, comfort, and concealment, making it easy for individuals to find the right solution for their specific needs.

different types of soft body armor products

Some common types of soft body armor products include:

  • Concealable vests: These vests are designed to be worn under clothing and provide a high degree of concealment, making them ideal for undercover law enforcement officers or private security personnel.
  • Plate carriers with soft armor insert: These carriers combine the benefits of soft body armor with the added protection of hard body armor plates, offering a versatile solution for individuals who require protection against both handgun and rifle rounds.
  • Stab-proof vests: These vests are specifically designed to protect against edged weapons, such as knives or other sharp objects, in addition to providing ballistic protection.

versatility of soft body armor

Soft body armor is incredibly versatile, allowing individuals to choose the right level of protection for their specific needs.

Whether it’s a concealable vest for undercover work or a plate carrier with soft armor inserts for added protection against rifle rounds, soft body armor can be easily customized to suit a wide range of applications.

Additionally, soft body armor can be worn in conjunction with other protective gear, such as helmets, gloves, and boots, to provide comprehensive protection for the entire body.

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.