What Level Body Armor Does the Military Use?

To serve in the military is a fulfilling and rewarding experience though it is also dangerous. It is important for those in the military to wear protective clothing to shield their bodies from the effects of threats. As military personnel, you are always exposed to threat where you sometimes have to face danger head on. Proper military body armor is a precautionary measure that is used to safeguard soldiers when out facing danger.

The type of body armor to be worn is determined by where it will be worn. This is because there are various levels of protection for different body armors. The type of threat you intend to face is also a factor to consider. However, the question that needs answering is what level body armor does the military use? The following will answer this question in detail.

What is Military Armor made of?

Bullet proof vests used by the military are made of Aramid fibers which are man-made plastics that provide enormous strength despite being lightweight. Most protective clothing is made from Para-aramid material; an improvement of Aramids. Kevlar® and Twaron® are made from Para-aramids and they are the most common materials used to make protective clothing.

Coolmax® fabric makes vest covers and it alleviates heat produced by a vest which could be uncomfortable for the wearer. It pulls away sweat from the body and maintains a cool body temperature.

Cordura® is a technological advancement that prolongs durability and versatility of overt vests. It is made from high tenacity fibers that permit durability of vest covers giving them the ability to endure wear and tear that damages vest covers.

Gore-Tex® is another material that provides breathability and waterproof properties to vests. This provides comfort when wearing the vest in addition to not having to worry about wetness.

What Level Body Armor does the Military Use?

When acquiring body armor, it is advisable to ensure that the armor is adherent to set protection levels. There are various standards for protection level but the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sets the best standards and is widely recognized. CAST (Centre for Applied Science and Technology) also sets standards in body armor. The military uses NIJ Level IIIA protection in combination with Level III and Level IV, in addition to neck, arm and groin protection.

The standards are set based on the ability of the body armor to withstand bullet speed and caliber. The faster and larger the bullet armor can take, the higher that NIJ will rate it. Standards are tested by taking multiple samples of body armor and subjecting it to wear and tear. Follow up testing continues for months and years afterwards; any body armor that is rated by the NIJ has proven its worth hence is safe to use.

Level IIIA

Level IIIA rated armor is soft like the one used to make Level II rated armor but it is heavier and thicker. Level IIIA rated armor protects against 9mm sub-machine gun and.44 Magnum ammunition.

Level IIIA rated body armor is bulkier than the others preceding it. The level is provided in vests as well as other ballistic protection such as a deployable shield that is made from Kevlar.

Level III

The Level III rated armor handles rifle rounds with small calibers such as a 7.62mm bullet from a SKS or an AK-47 rifle. Body armor that has level III protection is outfitted with firm ballistic plates that significantly add extra weight to the protection. Level III protection is specifically designed to deal with strategic confrontations and situations that involve serious firepower. For a vest to be rated level III, it has to resist 6 shots from a 7.62 bullet at a speed of 2780ft/s.

Level IV

This is NIJ highest rated level. It can endure the force of a 30 armor piercing rifle. This is the main ballistic protection provided in modern day and it is given to the military. It is quite heavy which makes it hard to use if the user has not received enough and proper training.

For those who find the level IV rating to be too heavy, they opt for a level IIIA vest and pair it with rifle plates to attain a higher protection level.

3 - Different levels of body armor

Ballistic Levels

The bullet proof vest is designed to shut in and slow down bullets in their attempt to go through the vest. Bullets proof vest are made as either soft or hard. The soft ones protect against small arms and hand gun types of ammunition whereas the hard ones protect against armor piercing and high caliber rounds.

Edged Blade Levels

NIJ is the yard stick that sets standards for ballistics testing; however, CAST (Centre for Applied Science and Technology) is in charge of standardizing stab-proof vests. There is an assumption that people make where they assume that body armor capable of stopping a bullet can also stop a knife. This is not true as bullet proof vests are made differently from stab proof vests. However, there are multi-threat vests that are capable of providing protection from edged weapons and bullets.

Spiked Weapon Levels

A soldier also has to consider spike threats. Protection from spikes is added to ballistic and stab vests. CAST certifies spike protection in combination with stab protection.


With the rising cases of crimes, it is safe to say that you need all the protection you can get. This is especially so for security officers and in some cases teachers as cases of students turning on their teachers has risen. The military is no exception as they face more serious threats that involve heavy weaponry. It is therefore necessary to provide them with appropriate body armor to enable them better protect the country. The body armor used today is weather friendly where it adjusts to current weather conditions leaving the wearer comfortable. The threats that the armor can withstand has also increased which is a relief to many.

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