Have you ever considered buying a bullet-resistant vest? A handful of survivalists who I have discussed this topic with believe it's a tad overkill, while others see it as a critical piece of equipment after the SHTF. Personally, I believe having appropriate personal protection in a world where violence is escalating makes perfect sense, and today we're going to cover the basics so you know which set of personal protection armor is right for you. What you need to remember at this stage is that even the best gear in the world is totally useless if you don't have it with you when you need it. Body armor is no exception. I highly doubt that anyone would be comfortable walking around in full-plate body armor before society collapses, so it's really not going to be much use unless you can have it ready at a moment's notice, to deal with a specific scenario, like looters following a local disaster, or waking to find an intruder in your home.
Rating system Bullet-resistant vests are designed to stop a bullet from entering your body. They work by trapping the bullet in the fibers of the vest, spreading out the force of the impact and containing the bullet in the vest. There is a rating system in place that outlines each vest's ability to stop a bullet, the higher the rating, the greater protection it provides, but this also results in a thicker and stiffer vest. Soft armor vests range from I, IIA, and IIIA, which is typically enough to stop a handgun. If you want protection from rifle rounds you will need a hard armor vest, which is rated at level III, while a level IV vest will stop armor piercing rounds.
Choosing a vest First you need to decide the level of protection you will need when buying your vest, and at a minimum ensure your vest is able to stop a round from the handgun you carry in the event you are disarmed. As an example, most police officers will wear level II rated vests, as these are able to stop a round from most handguns quite effectively. When you're choosing a vest, get measured properly, and make sure that it doesn't ride up your chest when you sit or bend forward. We also recommend side panel protection, as it protects many of your vital organs from a shot that comes from the side.
Concealing your vest The ability to conceal your vest is directly related to the amount of protection it offers. Higher levels of protection give you less of an ability to hide it a vest under your shirt. Level II and Level IIA vests are the easiest to conceal, while you're probably going to need to wear a jacket to cover a Level IIIA vest, a little strange if you're currently in the middle of summer. Level III and Level IV vests are typically worn over clothes, and are going to be noticeable if worn under your jacket. What we recommend for a general purpose body armor before the SHTF is one of the more concealable vests. This will allow you to wear it in everyday situations where you're much more likely to encounter a threat, and it can be worn without attracting too much attention.
Is it legal? You'll notice many police and military officers sporting bullet-resistant vests, but how about a regular citizen? So long as you haven't been convicted of a felony you will be able to buy body armor, but each state follows its own set of rules to complete the purchase, so be sure to check what is required in your state or city.
Train in your armor Wearing body armor is hot and heavy, and even the lightest soft-armor vests start at around 5 pounds. Once you've got it on, you'll find it's much harder to move around, and you may even struggle getting into (and out of) your shooting positions. It may also affect your shooting position, so when you're training at the gun range pack your body armor as well so you can get used to the adjustments needed in order to maintain your accuracy.
Storing your armor Once you do decide to buy body armor, don't choose a second hand vest unless you're certain you know how it was stored. Heat, moisture and UV light will rapidly degrade your bullet-resistant vest, reducing its ability to protect you from a bullet. Purchase a moisture-resistant carrier to store your body armor in, and keep it in a section of your house out of direct sunlight and excessive heat. Then you can rest assured it will be at full functionality if you ever need it. Having a set of body armor is a level of security most of us do not need on a daily basis, and as a result you probably are not going to be wearing it throughout everyday situations. What our team at APE Survival recommend is having a vest for each of your family members in your prepper supplies (just in case), because once the SHTF and it's no longer safe on the streets, these vests will give you an added layer of protection and help keep your family safe.