Body Armour the Basics by Shaun Ward Vestguard UK

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The Basics

Body armour is made up of layers of material designed to slow down a bullet and contain it within the vest. Testing is carried out to determine the protection level of each vest according to the composition. There are a huge amount of materials on the market that have various degrees of bullet and edged weapon resistance, and layers of these, or a combination of various materials make up the soft armour packs that are put inside outer covers.Body armour

A unit of body armour is made up of three main components:

Outer cover : This aspect of the vest has no weapon resistance and is designed to be a carrier for the assorted parts that do stop the different threats. The carrier can be of any design, shape, or material that is suitable for the intended use.

Soft Armour panels : Classed as the bones of body armour, the soft panels are made up of materials, sealed in a outer bag that are placed inside the outer cover to stop bullets, knives and other specified threats. Available in several levels of protection, the soft armour panels can stop a range of handguns, shotguns, and sub machine guns depending on the tested threat. This part of the vest is usually provided with a front and back set of panels, with additional panels that can be bought depending on the outer cover that is chosen. Protection areas can range from the collar right down to the groin depending on the threat that will be encountered.

Hard Armour Panels : Component parts of armour that when used with the soft armour panels will offer an increased level of protection from rifle and sniper fire which soft armour alone would not stop. These plates are usually of a rectangular design made from harder materials such as ceramic that shatter the bullet on impact and dramatically slow the bullet down allowing the soft panels to contain the remaining parts. Normally placed inside pockets on the outer cover, hard plates protect vital organs available in a range of sizes and shapes to suit the individual requirements.

The reference table below identifies the threat levels and the corresponding parts required to achieve each level. Further information specific to the stopping capabilities of each level can be found in our article : NIJ Level Body Armour

Threat level

Required components

NIJ level II (2)

Soft Armour Panel pack

NIJ level IIIA (3a)

Soft Armour Panel pack

NIJ level III (3)

Soft Armour Panel pack + Hard Armour Plates

NIJ level IV (4)

Soft Armour Panel pack + Hard Armour Plates


VestGuard has patented technology in every set of body armour that makes our vests up to 60% safer than the test standards we have to achieve. This offers a safer vest without the extra weight and remains very flexible.


VestGuard body armour is dual combination being able to resist both bullet and edged weapon attacks. The level of resistance may vary depending on the level of protection chosen.

We put our name to our products with a free five year guarantee with every vest.


The VestGuard range is available in any style cover. Other covers can be purchased separately and the ballistics can be swapped between covers to meet different operational requirements. Each cover has its own unique purpose, whether for wearing under clothing, over clothing, as part of a uniform, or holding all your ammo, we are sure you will find something in our range to meet your needs.

And if we don’t, we can make it.


No body armour is completely "bullet proof". Body armour is generally known as bullet resistant. Bullets or knives are trapped by the fibres in the soft armour. The layers of Goldflex, which VG body armour is manufactured from, will capture the energy and reduce the speed of the object. The energy is then spread out over a greater area, causing the projectile or weapon to stop within the material. The vest absorb most of the energy, but the force generated by the impact will still cause the body armour to push back into the body just like if you were to push somebody.

The certification by the NIJ and HOSDB measures this deformation of body tissue under the vest which is also known as "back face trauma." VestGuard body armour is made to minimize this blunt trauma by being stiff enough to resist deformation and spread the pressure along the vest rather than through the vest. A well constructed vest will resist hits in the same general area as well as bullets coming in from different angles.

Body armour is rated in terms of its ability to stop bullets. There are two recognised solutions in the world, the international standard set down by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the UK standards regulated by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB)

It would be advised to always buy from certified manufacturers as they have a vest that has been sent to the standards body and has met the high criteria for testing body armour

Shaun Ward Founder VestGuard UK

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