Body armor is one of the most important ways you can protect yourself from harm. With over 300 million legal firearms—and an unknown number of illegal guns—owned by private citizens, more and more people find it useful to own body armor. And for those in professions that put them in harm’s way, like police officers or security guards, having comfortable and concealable body armor can be the difference between life and death.
Why would you want to conceal your body armor?
There are situations in which it is important to show your strength and confidence simply by wearing body protection, for example, if you are military personnel on a dangerous mission. But there are many more situations in which it is imperative not to draw attention to yourself with body armor. The first example that comes to mind is that of an undercover police officer. But concealable body armor is also worn by industry leaders who visit dangerous locations or political leaders who attend meetings with security challenges.
What Types of Concealable Body Armor are There?
Body armor has greatly evolved over the years. Today, you can find everything from bulletproof shirts to fully armored suits. But the first type, and perhaps the most popular one, that comes to mind is the body vest. The variety of vests available can be overwhelming, which is why this article focuses on this product.
There are bulletproof vests that can be worn straight off the rack, and there are other products that can be enforced by adding trauma pads or plates for increased protection. Which product to choose depends on your needs, the weight you are willing to wear, and the price you want to pay.
Is Concealable Body Armor Effective?
By its very nature, there are some drawbacks to concealable body armor. Because it is meant not to be visible, concealable body armor has to be less bulky than armor that is worn over your clothes. Despite great advances in technology, less material can also mean less protection. Additionally, concealable body armor often covers less of the body, which also decreases the level of protection.
Thankfully, reliable body armor from credible vendors comes with a ranking set by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice. This will help you determine how effective the body armor is that you are looking at. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the levels of protection that are set by the Armor is ranked from Level IIA, which is tested to stop 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition, to Level IV, which is tested to stop .30cal steel core armor-piercing rifle ammunition.
It is easy to get mislead by false information online, so make sure you read the fine print, especially when it comes to safety ratings and protection levels. Get your information from reliable sources. With that being said, here are our top choices for body armor that is worn under your clothes.
Safe Life Defense Concealable Multi-Threat Vest Level IIIA
This is an ultra-concealable vest that is bullet-, strike-, and slash-resistant. It comes with a Level IIIA rating, which means it protects against all common handgun and shotgun rounds. You have the option of adding two Level IV hard plates to increase protection if you don’t mind the extra weight. The vest comes with full side protection, which offers 15% more overall coverage. The company has engineered this vest with comfort and maneuverability in mind: it is 10-point adjustable and comes with four comfort straps. A cooling mesh liner ensures you don’t break out in a sweat. Safe Life Defense offers a 2-year manufacturer warranty on the vest, and you can exchange it within 30 days of delivery if you don’t like the fit.
CATI® AR600 Body Armor SAPI CQB™ Multi-Curve
This body armor offers an exceptional, ergonomic fit. CATI Armor has a patent pending for a process that creates extremely comfortable, weight-distributing, and concealable armor plates available. The Comfort Quad-Bend, CQB for short, forms a double curve that can be worn in front or in the back. It is extremely light. Each armor is thinly coated to protect it from the environment. It is then treated to a build-up coating of a quarter-inch thick Rhino Linings that mitigates splatter. Plates come in several different sizes; weight is listed in detail for each.
BulletSafe Bulletproof Vest Level IIIA
Here is another lightweight vest that comes with a high level of protection against the most common handgun bullets, stabbings, and slashes. It first hit the market in 2013 and has since undergone several redesigns and upgrades. It is one of the most comfortable and concealable vests available. On top of that, it is very affordable, making this a great choice for the budget-minded buyer. The vest comes in six sizes and has adjustable straps to ensure a proper fit. Front and rear pockets accommodate plates for added protection if needed.
EnGarde® Dual Use™ Undergarment Vest
The undergarment vest is a great choice for anyone looking for concealable body armor. It is meant for those who don’t need daily protection. However, internal pockets accommodate Level III plates for additional protection. With the added weight of the plates, the vest comes in at around 4 lbs. It is designed and built using an ergonomic model and materials that prevent moisture buildup. The company is based in Europe but has a subsidiary in the United States, so anyone can order—with the exception of convicted felons.
AR500 Armor Level IIIA Hybrid
AR500 Armor has a variety of body armor products to offer. Its Level IIIA body armor protects against common pistol calibers. It can withstand multiple hits. The Hybrid soft body armor uses ballistic fabric with ripstop nylon and is ultra-light. The smaller model comes in at just over a pound and is a quarter-inch thick. With these specifications, it can be easily worn under clothes without obvious bulk and without affecting your mobility. Not only do the plates fit into most plate carriers, but they can also be combined with AR500 Armor trauma pads. The armor has a shelf life of over 20 years, and the company offers a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.
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