Many people think of body armor as something law enforcement wears like a bulletproof vest, but everyday body armor is becoming very common – even to the point of having body armor-type school bookbags. Body armor has specific ratings evaluated by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). They are in charge of setting, testing and enhancing ballistic protection standards that are tied to body armor consumers purchase. The standards are responsible for ensuring certain levels of safety and can assist when deciding the type of protection that works best. There are currently five basic NIJ ballistic protection ratings that are associated with the type of armor. These range from Level IIA to Level IV.
Body armor has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient tribes and warriors. In Europe, body armor consisted of metal plates, but technology has helped create what we know as the bulletproof vest and body armor vest. While there are some types of body armor made with very strong materials like metal, soft body armor is made from advanced woven fibers that is sewn into vests and other types of soft clothing. You may have also heard the term Kevlar, which is a lightweight clothing fiber that is five times stronger than a piece of steel the same weight. How Kevlar works is simple – it stops bullets from reaching the body and is very powerful. Other types of body armor are being developed, such as silk body armor, which is constructed out of spider silk. The result is called Biosteel, which is known to be up to 20 times stronger than a normal piece of regular steel.