Because all body armor needs to be manufactured under a strict standard, choosing between different specs is often less important than selecting the type of armor that you want to use. Generally, you’re setting your setup compared to your job, not the specs themselves.
Still, there are three aspects that you need to look for when trying to find a perfect set of body armor:
- Protective characteristics
- Visual characteristics
- Additional gear
These aspects are in descending order by importance. Anyone wanting to buy body armor will have a wide variety of choices, especially with modular equipment. But, you won’t be able to choose soft body armor if you are at risk from rifle fire.
Safety always goes first as nobody wants to receive a folded flag anytime soon. But, once you have that covered you can go for utility and appearances, as these can also be important.
Handguns or Rifles
This is the first question you should ask yourself when picking out armor. Not about your weapons, but that of your enemies.
If you are using armor for domestic protection you are better off with soft armor. More than 97% of all gun-related crime in the US is committed with a handgun and virtually all of the low-profile ones.
Generally, you won’t get mugged by someone with an AR15 as that is hard to conceal and near-impossible to acquire without a background check.
If you work in law enforcement, security services, or some job that is often under attack like a liquor store you might want to have a layer of soft ballistic armor under your clothes to save you if the worst happens.
Covert or Overt
Do you want everyone to see your armor?
Both yes and no in this regard are acceptable answers, but they come with their own benefits and drawbacks.
Wearing your armor overtly may dissuade a lot of would-be attackers from even trying something. Also, you can carry additional gear and ammo on the vest itself and can have a battle-belt under it.
But, you will be a more visible target. Generally, if there is someone there really wanting to cause trouble, they will aim at you first.
Going covert is arguably more comfortable and makes you easier to blend in. Something like the AH™ Armored Hoodie looks just like a regular sweatshirt and can accommodate any type of soft armor.
You will need to go CC and won’t be able to wear a battle belt, but you won’t be a suspicious target, giving you more time to respond.
Lean or Geared Up
Finally, how much gear you want to carry.
Even an external carrier can be really slim, with only a couple of Velcro pads on it. This way it is very easy to wear it for the whole day and only slap ammo and med packs if there is trouble.
But, if you want to have the additional gear you will need something like the FRMV™ Fast Response Metropolis Vest from UARM that has MOLLE webbing and can accommodate any type of gear and a lot of additional ammo.
This will make it more cumbersome but it will also make you more effective in combat.