So you need to purchase body armour and are not sure what you should be looking for. There are many options and suppliers, however, in South Africa there is a host of “me too” suppliers that will sell you some very ‘dodgy’ equipment:
1) Identify your threat:
You need to know what the threat is that you are buying your body armour for. In the security industry, it would mainly be handguns like a 9mm. Cash in transit guards and farmers would possibly be AK 47 and 5.56mm rifles. Anti-Poaching units would be the bigger hunting rifles like the .375 and .458. Buying Body armour to meet all threats would be extremely costly and would be too heavy for you to function.
2) Know your area of coverage:
When comparing different manufacturers offerings, it is important to know what area of coverage is being offered. Do you want side protection, only front and back or even more? Some vests only have a small 30cm by 30cm panel of protection. Bearing in mind that the protection area is only valid 76mm from the edge of any panel (see our forthcoming blog on testing), you effectively are left with a protection area of 14.8 cm by 14.8cm. Not comforting at all.
Newer technology material will reduce the weight of your body armour, however, they come at a premium price. Long term operations in heavy body armour have been shown to reduce your efficiency and concentration at an increasing rate. It is best to try and aim for an optimum price versus weight point.
Typically soft body armour (handgun Protection) is made with Aramids (DuPont Kevlar, or Teijin Twaron) or UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) Often referred to as Dyneema (Dyneema is a trademark of DSM and only fabric from them is true Dyneema). Protection from Rifle rounds is achieved with Up Armour Plates. These can be made from Ceramic combinations or pressed UHMWPE. Steel plates are available but we highly recommend against them (This will be covered in a future Blog). Each of these materials has pros and cons. It’s important to ensure that your salesperson is able to advise you of these. At Ballistic Body Armour we have more than 30 years of experience and understand the correct usage of these materials.
Make sure your supplier has knowledge and a proven pedigree. You are protecting a life after all. You would not go out and buy a car that has been made in a backyard, so too should it be for your body armour. Finding out that you have bought a substandard product in body armour might well be too late.
Should you have any other questions, get in touch with the Ballistic Body Armour team today!