What Exactly Can Your Body Armour Protect You Against?



For those working in the Security industry, the importance of protective clothing is probably rather obvious. Having protection against threats not only allows Security operatives to perform safely, but also confidently, secure in the knowledge that they are protected. Many Security Operatives (SOs) will wear a bullet proof vest during their work, in order to protect them against the most serious threats. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what a bullet proof vest can protect against.

Whilst protection against a bullet can never be completely guaranteed- this is why vests are often referred to as bullet resistant, not bullet proof- wearing body armour will dramatically increase your chances of coming away from a shooting unscathed. However, it can only do this if you are wearing the correct level of armour. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what ammunition each level of protection can stop. Below are just some of the most common or most famous rounds available, and what vests are needed to protect against each.

9mm Parabellum

The 9×19 mm Parabellum, often shortened to simply ‘9mm’, was developed at the beginning of the 20th Century for German manufacturer DWM, and is credited as being the most widely used handgun ammunition in the world. The 9mm is commonly used by Police Officers throughout the world, and helped make semiautomatic pistols more popular than revolvers. At higher velocities a Level II vest is needed, but at lower velocities a 9mm will be stopped by a Level IIa vest.

.45 ACP

The .45 ACP, or the .45 Auto, was created for the prototype Colt semi-automatic .45 pistol developed by John Browning. It was first released in 1904, but only gained popularity in 1911 when it was adopted by the US Army for use in its M1911 pistol. Following this it became far more popular, thanks in part to its moderate recoil and high velocity. The .45 ACP also benefits from a low muzzle flash, but is heavy and costly to produce. Protecting against this round requires a vest at Level IIa.

10mm Auto

The 10mm Auto, usually shortened to simply ‘10mm’, was a joint design between the United States and Sweden, introduced first in 1983. Despite boasting superior stopping power, it never gained the popularity of its shorter counterpart (the .40 S&W). However, it has been adopted by certain branches of Law Enforcement, most notably the rescue and SWAT teams of the FBI. The 10mm was designed to be used in semi-automatic pistols, but suffers from high recoil. To stop the 10mm Auto you will need a Level IIa vest.

.40 S&W

The .40 S&W is named for its manufacturer, Smith & Wesson. This rimless cartridge was originally designed to be used by Law Enforcement, and did gain popularity among Officers after its

introduction in 1990. This was due in part to its performance against similar rounds, offering both superior power and improved recoil. The .40 S&W was created as a shorter alternative to the 10mm Auto. Protecting against the .40 S&W will require a Level IIa bullet resistant vest.

.357 SIG

Introduced in 1994, the .357 SIG was designed by its namesake, Swiss manufacturer Sig Sauer. Apart from its reduced recoil, the .357 SIG is practically identical to the .357 Magnum in terms of performance- yet it is known for being more reliable. One of the benefits of the .357 SIG is its compatibility with autoloader platforms. However, the .357 SIG never gained the popularity of other similar rounds, perhaps because of its lack of adoption by Law Enforcement organisations. A Level IIa bullet resistant vest is needed against this calibre of ammunition.

.357 Magnum

This round is credited with beginning the ‘Magnum era’ of handgun ammunition after its introduction in 1934, and has found popularity worldwide. The .357 Magnum was developed in the 1930s by Smith & Wesson in an effort to re-establish themselves as the leading law-enforcement armament provider. The .357 is well-known for its stopping power, and is largely fired from revolvers, although it can be fired from certain semi-automatics, notably the Desert Eagle. A vest at Level II will protect against this ammunition.

.44 Magnum

The .44 Magnum is one of the most famous rounds in the world, featured most famously in the film Dirty Harry. The film is often attributed with the rise in popularity of the bullet, as it had remained relatively unknown for the 16 years previous. The .44 Magnum is famous for its stopping power, which naturally causes muzzle flash and high recoil. The .44 Magnum will need a Level IIIa bullet proof vest.

Stopping the majority of handgun rounds is possible with bullet resistant vests at Level I-IIIa. Protection against high calibre and even armour-piercing rounds will instead need a higher level vest that uses ceramics or polyethylene. However, thin and lightweight body armour is most important for SOs, and even at Level IIIa the vest can protect against all of the rounds listed above.


For more information please visit our friends at SafeGuard Armour – www.safeguardarmor.com


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