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FAQ about body armor

Soft body armor 

Soft body armor is soft protective materials that are flexible and bend in different directions. Within bullet proof vests, we typically see soft body armor in NIJ level IIA, II and IIIA against small arms. If you need your bullet proof vest to stop more powerful projectiles than a .44 Magnum, you need to add Ballistic hard armor plates, which you can read more about below. 

Ballistic plates (hard armor) 

Hard armor, or ballistic plates are hard plates often made of compressed polyethylene with a ceramic front or shaped steel sheets. 

Ballistic plates are primarily made in the size of 30x25 cm, in a flat, single or multicurved shape. 

Ballistic plates come in different “cuts”; Swimmers cut, SAPI cut and Square cut, where SAPI is the most used cut for a ballistic plate as it offers a big protection area while still being ergonomic to wear. 

Ballistic plates are made to stop projectiles like 7.62x51 NATO, 7.62x39 MSC, 5.56x45 SS109, 7.62x63 AP etc. They come in NIJ levels 3, 3+ and 4, stand alone and in conjunction with soft armor. 

In addition to NIJ standard 0101.04 and 0101.06, there are also HOSDB, VPAM 2006, German Schutz class, Russian GOST R 50744-95, European PrEN ISO14876-2, all of which have similar levels of protection against high-speed projectiles. 

Be aware of Chinese ballistic plates! 

Please note when buying a ballistic plate that many plates that are manufactured in China doesn’t comply with the international standards (NIJ). NIJ level 3 (7.62x51 nato, which is the test round for level 3 plates) is hard to pass, and many Chinese companies only got test reports from Chinese laboratories, where they use a different type of bullet, which isn’t the same as the one H.P. white use. 

 Also instead of testing their plates against the 7.62x51 M80 bullet, they test it against 7.62x39 (AK47) instead, which is easier to pass. 

Furthermore the Ceramic area on Chinese plates will be smaller than many other manufacturers. The Tile area on a 300x250 mm ballistic plate is often 225x200 mm. the missing area is filled with foam so it looks like a 300x250 mm hard armor plate. You can feel this by knocking on the plate until the ceramic sound stops, or by pressing your finger from the corner towards the middle of the plate. You will feel the difference instantly. 

This is why Chinese companies offer cheap and low weight plates that can stop a bullet in the tile area, but probably not going to pass any testing at H.P. White. 

We have seen Chinese plates pass with a Back face signature of 20 mm when testing at their laboratories in China, and when testing in Europe at Mellrichstadt or H.P. White in the US, the trauma of the plate has increased to 40 mm.

When should I use hard armor plates? 

Hard armor plates are used to stop threats from high-speed projectiles from machine guns and rifles, including; AR-15, NATO, AK47 and the like. As a starting point, it is not necessary to use ballistic hard armor plates if you only need protection from small arms. However if you need protection from high-speed calibers from rifles and machine guns, ballistic plates are a necessity 

What is Blunt Force Trauma

 Blunt force trauma or blunt trauma is the damage your internal organs will have on a bullet impact. The maximum depth of which must be less than 44 mm. according to the NIJ standard 0101.06. At the same time, the term is also used in relation to Body armor that provides a good blunt force trauma against batons, baseball bats and similar blunt force objects where the stab proof vest more or less stops the blunt force trauma from the hitting object.

The following video show the extreme resistance that our stab proof vest provide against blunt force objects:

What is BFS/BFD? (Back face signature/Back face deformation)

Back face Signature/Deformation is the depth into the “body” when a bullet strikes the bullet proof vest. For bullet proof vests according to NIJ standard 0101.06, the depth of a bullet impact needs to be less than 44 mm. According to HOSDB and the German Schutzklasse Standard Edition 2008, the depth cannot exceed 25 mm for HOSDB.

Back face signature and Back face deformation are terms used to describe the depth of the bullet impact.

Bullet proof vests made according to NIJ standard are made to stop a .44 Magnum, which is one of the world's most powerful small arms. This also means that body armor designed for the American NIJ standard may be heavier than vests designed for the German SK1 standard.

Why is a bullet proof vest not stab proof?

This is a question that we have been asked many times. A bullet proof vest is as default designed to stop bullets, and not stab or spike instruments. For a bullet proof vest to be stab proof as well, it needs to be able to stop the lowest stab resistant level, which for both HOSDB and NIJ is 24 (E1)/36(E2) joules from a engineered blade.

A normal bullet proof vest that is designed only to stop bullets will be able to stop 5-10 joules depending on what material it is made of. This is 1/3 of the required pressure a stab proof vest needs to stop.

A stab proof vest will first be stab proof when it can stop the minimum requirements for a stab proof vest according to NIJ 0115.00 and HOSDB where the lowest level of protection is level 1.

Everything below level 1 (below 36 joules) will be easy to penetrate as it is possible to penetrate a level 1 stab proof vest with a hard stab.

Overt and Covert body armor

If you've been to other websites you've most likely come by the terms Overt and Covert Body Armor. 

Covert body armor means that the vest is designed to be concealable and vice versa overt body armor that the bullet proof vest is made to be worn above clothing.

What is V50?

The 50 test is used to measure the resistance of a material against fragments. The standard was originally made for bullet proof helmets, but today it is used for all situations where fragments can occur. It is also used for bullet proof vests, riot equipment and ballistic plates.

To measure the V50 value, different FSPs (fragments) are used where the most normal size is 1.1g. This fragment is fired at with different velocities, to measure the resistance of the material against fragments.

The most common standards for testing the fragmentation resistance of a ballistic product are:

  • US Standard - Mill STD 662 E
  • UK Standard - UK / SC / 5449
  • NATO Standard - STANAG 2920
At Protection Group Denmark our ballistic helmets are tested according to STANAG2920 and MILL STD 662 E.