When it comes to purchasing ballistic protection, there are many things to be considered. Among those things is the protection level of your gear. There are many types of bulletproof vests for sale, all with varying levels of protection as specified by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The level of protection of each bulletproof vest is determined by the thickness and number of protective layers added to the vest and the blunt trauma potentially suffered by the wearer of the bulletproof vest. Using the levels of protection as a guide, you can then decide what kind of bulletproof vest you should buy according to the risk the wearer will be facing.
The minimum recommendation for bullet protection is the Level II-A bulletproof vest. It is the thinnest type of bulletproof vest easily available and is chosen for most comfort and easiest to conceal. Although you might be safe from majority of the threats you will potentially encounter with the Level II-A bulletproof vest, this level of protection will leave you vulnerable to more blunt force trauma. However, the Level II-A bulletproof vest is slowly losing popularity with the advancement of technology making the higher protection levels lighter and more appropriate.
For a good compromise between protection and comfort, the Level II bulletproof vest would be a good choice. It protects you from more blunt trauma than the Level II-A bulletproof vest would, as it is slightly thicker but still maintains a relatively comfortable and light fit. Due to their being on the middle ground, the Level II bulletproof vests are readily available.
These bulletproof vests are all soft bodied. As the protection level goes up, the vests go from being soft bodied to hard bodied vests. The thickest of the soft bodied vests is the Level III-A bulletproof vest. Among the soft bodied bulletproof vests, the Level III-A vest offers the most protection against blunt trauma. It is suitable for you if you are expecting encounters with heavier weaponry. There was some apprehension to purchasing older versions of this because of its thickness. However, recent updates have made the Level III-A vests lighter, making them more popular.
Bulletproof vests of higher protection levels than the Level III-A are hard bodied vests, meaning that they have a hard plate shielding you from gunshots. Due to the hard plates, these vests are mostly used overtly while lower levels allow for stealthier protection.
Balancing comfort with protection is difficult so it is best to pick the bulletproof vest whose protection level fits your needs the best. Be mindful of your priorities and your budget as vests with higher protection levels tend to cost more as well.