How To Buy Body Armor – Plus 3 Need-To-Know Tips

There are many ways to purchase body armor and in this article, we’ll cover the top places you can purchase body armor in the United States along with 3 need to know tips before you buy.

Where can I purchase body armor? In the United States, body armor can be purchased online and shipped, or it can be purchased in person. Purchasing online will give you the widest possible selection and pricing. Buying in person gives you the added benefit of being able to try on your body armor before purchasing to ensure it’s a comfortable fit. It is legal for anyone to purchase and own body armor in the USA so long as that person has not committed a felony.

Two places you can purchase body armor

The top two methods for purchasing body armor are either at a store in-person, or online. Both methods have their pros and cons, and we’ll discuss the best options for each method.

Purchase body armor online – Our Top 5 Picks

Purchasing armor online gives you the widest possible selection. Nearly anything you could want can be found with a simple search and there are many companies to compare prices with.

If the price point is more important than an NIJ Certification, there are many overseas stores where body armor can be purchased at a significant discount. Below you can find our top 5 picks for buying body armor online.

AR500 Plates and Carrier

AR500 launched back in 2012 with its line of body armor and is known as one of the top leaders in the industry today. With many different options available at price points that can fit almost any budget, they take the number one spot on our list.

Also, since they have risen in popularity, you can find real-world testing of their products all over YouTube to see how effective their plates are.

Safe Life Defense EMS, FIRE

Safe Life Defence is one of the best suppliers and manufacturers for soft body armor. On their website, you can find detailed reviews and of course, lots of body armor. As one of the go-to sources for law enforcement, they have responsive customer service just a phone call away if you need any assistance while purchasing.

Pricing with Safe Life Defence will normally be on the higher end of the spectrum, but you can be sure you are getting a quality product with an NIJ level of protection.

Spartan Plates and Carrier

Spartan Armor Systems has a wide selection of armored plates and plate carriers to suit many needs. With a 10% discount for law enforcement and military and first responders, it makes their already affordable prices look even better.

One of the things Spartan Armor Systems is known for is their body armor packages/kits, so be sure to check them out for extra savings.

Body Armor Direct Lineup

Body Armor Direct is a newer company that began in 2018. Although, the company was founded by a former executive of the largest body armor manufacturer, Point Blank Body Armor. They have taken a page out of Point Blank Body Armor’s book by having one of the largest selections of armor. Everything from hard armor, soft armor, plate carriers, active shooter kits, and even specialty armor.

Survivor 1 BallistiPax Backpack

Veteran owned with a unique product line, BalistiPax has a solid line up of products and is our recommended manufacturer for bulletproof backpacks called the Survivor 1. With solid customer reviews, a great reputation, and an affordable price point, we highly recommend you take a look at their inventory before making any final purchase decisions.

Purchase body armor in person

Ready to get your first set of armor but unsure about how the weight and fit will feel? The best option, if possible, is always to try on what you want before purchasing. The only way to do this without messing with returns is in person. While not quite as easy, let’s dive into the ways to find body armor suppliers locally.

How to find a physical location to buy body armor.

The chance that you have a store dedicated to body armor near you is slim. But that chance that you have a gun store that also sells body armor nearby is of a high likelihood.

Begin by searching on Google for “Gun Stores Near Me”. Before jumping in your car and heading to the first store, call first. This is a specialty item not carried by every store.

In addition to asking if they sell body armor, be sure to ask how large their selection is, and what levels of armor they sell to be sure they have the level that fits your specific needs.

When at the store, don’t hesitate to ask to try it on. If you are looking at the plate with plate carrier style, be sure to place the plate you intend to wear inside the carrier to ensure a proper fit and to get an idea of your actual mobility while wearing it.

The last thing you want is an armor that limits your mobility and causes pain/discomfort after only a few hours of wear. Especially if you are a law enforcement officer or someone required to wear armor daily, you want to ensure not only proper protection but comfort as well.

It’s important to note that while physical locations have the added benefit of being able to see, touch, and try on armor, they often lack selection and you will pay more for the same armor you could get for less online. It is one of the pros and cons you’ll need to weigh a d understand before you make your purchase.

Top 3 Tips you should know before buying body armor.

Here are 3 important tips to consider before heading out, or online, to pick up your first set of body armor.

NIJ Certificate

1. Understand which body armor is NIJ Certified and which is not.

The National Institute of Justice is the regulating agency responsible for the different levels of body armor and the ones tasked with certifying body armor stand up to those requirements.

Body armor manufacturers can choose to submit their armor to the NIJ to get it certified. Not all manufacturers do though. Why? Because it comes at an average cost of $30,000 per certification making it an extreme expense for many manufacturers.

What ends up happening is that some manufacturers will submit their highest-end products for certification and the rest of their stock will be self-certified (you have to take their word for it or view independent reviewers of the armor).

NIJ certified armor comes with extra peace of mind, but it also comes with a higher cost.

If your goal is to save money, our recommendation is to find cheaper body armor that is not NIJ certified, but where the manufacturer of that armor has other armor that is certified.

This will let you know that the manufacturer is cable of creating armor that is NIJ compliant making it very likely your armor is built to the same specifications.

One other non-scientific testing you can look at for added peace of mind is YouTube reviews on the armor in question. Chances are, someone has had the same question as you and has taken the armor out for real-world testing for your watching pleasure.

2. Where you purchase your armor may prolong when you receive it.

Many cheaper body armor alternatives come from overseas. Israel is a popular country of origin. If purchasing from overseas, beware that shipping times can often exceed 8 weeks from the time of purchase. If you need your armor quick, buy from the US.

3. Plate Carrier vs Soft Body Armor

Lastly, if you’re brand new to body armor, you’ll want to become familiar with the two major types of body armor, plate and plate carrier vs Soft Body armor. They both have their pros and cons so do your research on your specific use case to find out which option is best for you.

You can read more on this topic in our review here.


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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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