Does it hurt when you get shot with a bulletproof vest on? Top Questions Answered!

One of the first questions that pops into everyone’s head when talking about body armor is, “does it hurt when you get shot while wearing a bulletproof vest?” In this article, we cover the answers to all your questions about getting shot while wearing body armor….even the questions you probably don’t have but still want to know.

Does it hurt when you get shot with a bulletproof vest? While wearing a bulletproof vest, yes, it does hurt if you get shot. Some might say it’s like getting hit in the chest with a hammer. Although, if the armor is rated for the caliber that hit it, most users only suffer minor injuries as a result. In some cases, it can break ribs or fracture the sternum.

The Top 5 Questions Asked About Getting Shot With A Bulletproof Vests

Does it hurt when you get shot with a bulletproof vest?

The simple answer is, yes. Yes, it does hurt…extremely bad. One man that was shot while wearing a bulletproof vest described the pain as getting hit in the bare chest with a metal hammer at full force.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like something I want to experience. What we need to remember though, is that bulletproof vests were not created to eliminate any and all pain, but simply, to preserve the life of the wearer in the case they are shot.

In reality, the majority of people that are shot while wearing a bulletproof vest survive with only minor injuries so long as their vest is rated for the weapon they were shot with.

When a study was done by a police department in Akron, they concluded that 85% of individuals shot while wearing body armor only received minor injuries such as bruises, light bleeding, and large welts. In much fewer cases, broken bones like ribs could also be an effect.

In the majority of cases where someone wearing body armor died, it’s due to the fact they were shot with a larger caliber of bullet than their vest was designed for.

The more protective a bulletproof vest is, the heavier it is to wear. This is while individuals that need to wear bulletproof vest daily, like policemen, often choose body armor only rated for handguns due to it’s lightweight and flexible nature. Since most shootings happen with handguns, this protects the officers in most cases.

Can a knife go through a bulletproof vest?

If the armor is rated as slash and stab-resistant, then no, a typical knife would not go through a bulletproof vest. There are, however, some armors that are not rated against slashes and stabs. In these cases, a knife very easily could go through a bulletproof vest being that it was not designed for that kind of impact.

While bulletproof vests get their level of protection rating from an organization called the NIJ, slash and stab-resistant ratings are completely different tests done by a different organization. These two tests have no correlation to each other and the stab resistance of a vest is often dictated by the material and outer layer.

How many bullets can a vest stop?

The answer to this depends on the armor in question. Steel armor is often rated for multiple shots. There are YouTube videos demonstrating a single piece of armor stopping upwards of 15 shots before letting one through.

Soft armor, on the other hand, is not as resistant to multiple shots and can fail rather quickly after the first shot weakens the armor. The real determining factor is what level the vest is rated for and what caliber of bullet is hitting it multiple times.

While a small round like a .22 caliber might be able to shot a level 4 vest upwards of 100 times, a larger caliber round like a .223 might only take 5-8 shots before it pierces the armor.

Check out this video to see a live demonstration of how many bullets it takes to pierce a single piece of body armor:

Can an AK47 shoot through a bulletproof vest?

Some bulletproof vests can stop an AK47. The AK47 fires a 7.62×39 round that has a velocity of around 2,350 ft/s. This means that body armor rated at level III or above should be able to stop the bullets from an AK47.

There are 3 levels of armor that do not have the ability to stop the bullets from an AK47. These levels would be IIA, II, and IIIA.

If you are interested in what would happen if a fully auto AK47 shot a steel body armor plate, then check out this video:

Can a bulletproof vest stop a 50 cal?

Yes, body armor does exist that can stop a 50 cal bullet, but in most use cases, it is not practical to use due to its size and weight. 50 caliber resistant body armor was first used in the 1990s during the Gulf War to protect pilots. Although, due to its size and weight, few pilots chose the wear the armor.

There are newer versions of 50 cal resistant body armors on the market that are said to be lighter and easier to wear. In this video, you can see a demonstration of a 50 cal round being fired into a newly designed armored vest. Take a look for yourself and see if it actually stopped the bullet:


You will likely live if shot while wearing a bulletproof vest, but we surely don’t recommend you try it. Bulletproof vests are made for a worst-case scenario in order to protect the life of the person wearing it. Not to prevent any pain.

Bonus Fact:

Bulletproof vests have a shelf life, just like the food you buy at the grocery store. Soft body armors made up of tightly-woven fabrics in a web pattern normally have the shortest life span of about 5 years. After that, the armor is no longer rated at its original stopping capacity. Steel armor, on the other hand, often has a useable shelf life of 20 or more years!


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Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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