For security, military, and police personnel across the world, rifle-fire is one of the biggest threats they face in extreme situations. While a vast range of body armour is available to protect against lower-velocity handguns, defending against rifles requires a tougher solution. With armour separated into five levels (by both the UK’s Home Office Scientific Development Branch and the USA’s National Institute of Justice), only those at levels III and IV (the highest two) offer reliable resistance against high-velocity rifle rounds.
Vests at levels IIA, II, and IIIA are generally made with Kevlar: this absorbs a bullet’s energy on impact, distributing it throughout the armour to slow the round to a halt. While this is highly effective for a range of handgun rounds, rifle bullets will tear right through. Level III and IV vests include ballistic plates (of steel and ceramics, respectively), which are strong enough to stop bullets hitting with an impact speed of up to 847 metres-per-second (level III) and 878 m/s (level IV).
Numerous innovations have taken place within the body armour industry, enhancing the covert protection available to gun-users.
Covert Vests for Discreet Protection
Whether you’re using a rifle yourself, or entering an environment in which others will be firing at you using them, you should wear armour at either level III or IV – for maximum protection in all eventualities, wear the latter.
However, depending on the situation at hand – particularly if providing close protection to a VIP – you need to maintain a low profile to avoid attracting attention. Whether you’re wearing smart or civilian clothing, you’ll be unable to wear a vest overtly (over other layers), and so need to opt for covert armour. This is worn underneath your clothing, and is specifically made to be thinner & more lightweight, even with plates.
To provide a greater level of protection and comfort, various innovations – such as breathable materials and moisture-wicking fabrics – have been developed. The StealthPRO vest, for example, features CoolMAX® technology, which allows air to ventilate through the material, keeping the wearer cool in even the hottest climates. It also includes SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) plate pockets, to protect against ammunition of a higher velocity, typically fired by rifles; plates up to levels III and IV can be inserted, providing the wearer with a more comprehensive form of defence.
This is a significant breakthrough for covert rifle armour, keeping the wearer fully protected against the most lethal types of ammunition in a discreet way. While the CoolMAX technology helps to keep the wearer comfortable in the warmest, driest environments, the SAPI plates will stop such rounds as 7.62x51mm NATO M80 and .30-06 Springfield M2 AP (armour-piercing).
As more and more manufacturers continue to focus on streamlining bullet proof vests, the range of covert armour available with enough strength to defend against rifle-fire will only increase. As the StealthPRO demonstrates providing the highest levels of ballistic protection in a lightweight, concealable form is entirely possible, offering maximum defence in even the most extreme situations.
You can see the range of body armour at: www.safeguardarmour.co.uk