With crimes waiting to strike in the shadows, more and more people are finding it necessary to buy bulletproof vests. Nobody knows when the next bullet hits or who will be the target. Wearing a bulletproof vest, therefore, offers a protective measure. Even police authorities are investing heavily in such garments, especially when there are daily operations and encounters.

In the United States, the sale of bulletproof vests has been growing due to increasing demands. Walk around high-end malls or browse e-commerce sites. You’ll find a variety of options to choose from. But even with its wide-ranging availability, it is vital to take note of essential considerations before buying.

Here are five practical facts you should consider before buying a bulletproof vest. 


1.    There’s No such thing as Bullet “Proof”

That may surprise you to the core! But that’s the reality, and sadly, the way these items are advertised makes you feel like you’re Iron Man whose immune to strikes and penetration. Of course, a bulletproof vest works at some level. But it does not necessarily protect you from all ballistic threats. 

Remember, a bulletproof vest is a  fabric-based garment, not an indestructible barrier that Captain America wears. That is because every armor can be wrecked by bullets depending on the weight, velocity, speed, caliber, and the angle the shot has been fired. Yes, a vest can be an outstanding fabric garment, but none of which is “bulletproof.” It’s more proper if we describe these items as “bullet-resistant.” 

But again, it still makes sense to wear one especially a kevlar vest. After all, it saves hundreds of lives a year from untoward incidents. 


2.    Your Vest Should Halt the Rounds Fired by your Firearm

Local enforcement authorities and government personnel wear different forms of bulletproof vests and choose various protection levels. It’s hard for your or your affiliation to identify which handgun and round represent the most pressing threat. 

But here is one threat you should expect: Your Sidearm. If your chosen vest does not stop the rounds you fired, then expect it won’t immune you from the bullets others fired. Better consider testing. Just make sure you are applying full safety protocols and procedures. 

Now, if you’ve heard the news, you’ll be shocked to find out that many law enforcement and police authorities are shot with their guns after their weapon has been grabbed or accidentally discharged. Their colleagues even shot some during a fire exchange with criminals they’re pursuing. 

Again, that shows the need to ensure that your body armor should defeat the rounds you and your colleagues use. 


3.    Stab resistant vests differ with bulletproof vests

Every bulletproof vest offers a level of stab protection; even if it is a sturdy and razor-sharp knife or machete. In many cases, however, the effectivity is minimal, and a lot of security personnel still fall victim to stabbing and hacking. 


On the other hand, don’t expect that a stab-resistant vest will offer some level of ballistic protection! That’s except if your body armor is designed to withstand stabbing. If so, you’ll likely play safer during knife attacks.


Take note. There is a big difference between both threats and the technology applied to protect from both threats varies too. It would be better to issue a “Dual Purpose Vests,” or “Multi-Threat Vests,” if you’ve identified a realistic operational ballistic and edged weapon threat. There are available stocks like these, but they are mostly thicker and more substantial. You would not want walking in public like you’re wearing a very thick jacket even though its summer. 


In most cases, these types of vests are far more expensive. It would be much more advisable to purchase these as an organization or as an agency. 


4.    Dispose of your Vest After You’ve Been Shot

The above rule is of prime importance. Let’s give an analogy to explain it further. Let’s say you’re wearing a motorbike helmet and you got into an accident and that, you’re head hit a wall or the ground. What should you do after that? 

Get rid of the helmet, regardless if there is a visible crack or not. You never know. There might be structural damage to the helmet which you cannot see. After that, it’s no longer sure if it can still give you the level of protection it could have given before you had an accident.  

In the same way, when you’ve been shot, your body armor may no longer be as resistant as it was before. It’s not because a bullet did not penetrate the vest that it might have had to work to its best capacity to ward off the round. You may not see it. But even just a bullet has already wrecked internal damage. Therefore, your vest might not offer the same level of protection the next time you get hit. 

So what should you do? Replace it with a new one. The best replacement would be a kevlar vest. Don’t take the risk of thinking that your garment will give you the protection of a lifetime. 


5.    Don’t Ever Wash your Ballistic Panels

Sure. You’d love always to keep your body armor looking shimmering and splendid. It’s your life’s defense, after all. But don’t be hyped and reckless. There are proper ways of clearing your ballistic panels. Experts would recommend that you make use of a damp sponge and perhaps, some gentle soap.

Never throw them in a washing machine and apply bleach as if you’re washing clothes. Don’t even put them in the dryer or try ironworks. If you do that, you risk damaging your ballistic panels and weaken your body armor’s level of protection. Here is the thing. Ballistic panels are designed to fit into your courier in a very flexible way. That is why getting it wrong after washing the outer cover and re-integrating the ballistic panel in the wrong way can cost your life!

You should also know this. Ballistic panels are composed of various layers of bullet-resistant materials. If these are bent out or reshaped, they cannot be ironed or straightened out again that easily. Moreover, if you squash a wet vest into the bottom of your cabinet, it will dry in that shape.

So how do you prevent that? It’s always best to lay your bulletproof vest flat down in a dry environment. Another option is to hang it on a simple coat hanger but make sure it’s away from an area where people could accidentally stamp on it. Remember. The level of care you give to your vest can impact the level of protection it provides when you get into trouble.