The growing number of attacks and violent incidents has made personal security the biggest concern for people. Not only law enforcement agencies but citizens too are going the extra mile to stronghold personal security. As a result, the demand for survival gear is greater than ever today. When it comes to such equipment, ballistic vests are something that you cannot forget. Essentially, these are bullet-resistant vests that act as personal armor.
Since these vests are capable of absorbing the impact of bullets and reducing or stopping penetration, they can be life-saving. This piece is worn on the torso and protects the vital organs in the upper body area.
Now that you know what ballistic vests are and how important they can be, you will probably want to know them better. Here are some amazing and lesser-known facts about them.
Fact #1: They are bullet-resistant, not bullet-proof
Even while wearing a vest can save your life, it is better to be realistic about the armor. You can call it a bulletproof vest, but in reality, it is bullet-resistant. Sounds similar, doesn’t it? Yes, it does but there is still a difference. A bullet can possibly get through it, though the chances of this happening are extremely low. The best thing to do is to choose and wear a vest that has a high safety rating. At the same time, you should avoid being overconfident and thinking that you are invincible when you wear it.
Fact #2: The magic is in the fabric
The next key fact that you need to know about ballistic vests is that the magic lies in the fabric. Basically, it is made with non-woven and/or woven fibers that are extremely strong. The material works by stopping a bullet similar to a net stopping a tennis ball or volleyball. When a bullet hits the fabric, the strong fibers cause it to turn and slow down. The energy of the bullet goes through the whole panel, reducing the impact to a considerable extent. In this way, the fabric tends to reduce the chances of injury caused by a bullet.
Fact #3: You need to choose the right size
While the quality of a ballistic vest’s fabric has a bearing on the protection levels it offers, the fit is equally important. As a rule of thumb, you should get one that is a snug fit and keeps your vital organs covered. Simply speaking, it should neither be too small nor too large. A small one can make you uncomfortable while one that is too big can compromise your security. Remember to buy a perfect fit and replace the vest when you gain or lose weight. A 10% gain or loss means that you should discard the old one and opt for a replacement.
Fact #4: They have a specific lifespan
Ballistic armors are made of a strong and durable fabric but you cannot expect them to last forever. The average lifespan is of five years and you must seek a replacement once this period is over. You may need a new ballistic vest earlier depending on the usage. For example, a police officer’s vest will be used more regularly and may lose its durability faster as compared to that of a normal citizen. Since armor is vital to your protection, do check it periodically for any signs of wear and tear. Replace it after the recommended time period even if it appears good enough.
Fact #5: Keep the vest protected from moisture
A bulletproof vest is a considerable investment and you would want to maintain it in good shape over time. The best advice is to avoid exposure to moisture because it can compromise with the vest’s performance. Water between layers of ballistic material can cause increased trauma and even penetration of a bullet. Water acts as a lubricant and makes the vest susceptible to bullet penetration. So it’s a bad idea to go swimming with the armor on. Even while cleaning the vest, you should only use a damp sponge and soapy water to remove the dirt. Do not wash in a washer or use a dryer for drying it. Do not iron it either because heat can burn the fabric fibers.
Fact #6: Proper storage is equally important
Another fact that you will probably not know about ballistic vests is that they need proper storage as well. Since ballistic panels are made of multiple layers of bullet-resistant fibers, you need to ensure that they stay on the shape. Folding the vest or leaving it crumpled can affect the fiber shape. The best way to store your vest is by putting it on a flat surface. Going the extra mile with proper care and storage will keep your vest performing year after year, though you must absolutely get a new one after five years.
Fact #7: Regular checks can be life-saving
While proper maintenance and storage of ballistic vests are always a good idea, you cannot go slack with regular checks. After all, a vest that is subjected to wear and tear will defeat the very purpose of wearing it. The bulletproof vests issued to law enforcement personnel come with a 5-year warranty according to the NIJ standard. However, the user determines the expected time for the vest to hold its rating. So you must have a good look at the armor every single time you wear it.
Fact #8: Ballistic vests provide protection from more than just bullet wounds
Without any doubt, bulletproof vests can save your life by preventing the penetration of bullets. But that is not all about the protection they offer. They can even protect you from injuries caused by traffic accidents. There are several cases where law enforcement officers have been saved in road accidents just because they had ballistic vests on.
Fact #9: Proper placement of ballistic panels is important
Wearing a bulletproof vest properly matters as much as wearing one that is in good shape. Ballistic panels are made to fit into the carrier in a specific way. The strike face of the panel is tailored to slow down and disperse the bullet’s energy for protection from penetration. Conversely, the role of the panel’s backside is equally important as it is meant to reduce the trauma. If you flip the panel by mistake, it will not give you the protection you expect. So you should be extra careful while donning the vest.
Fact #10: Don’t use duct tape for repairing a vest
The worst mistake that you can make with your ballistic vest is by trying to repair it with duct tape. This sounds like a good quick fix but can affect the ballistic performance of the vest to a considerable extent. Duct tape tightens the vest and makes it less flexible. You may even not be able to move properly, which can be a big concern during critical situations. Rather than going for this quick fix, opt for a new vest if it is damaged.
Knowing these surprising facts about ballistic vests will obviously help you understand them better. This is really important because these vests can make a difference between life and death in dangerous situations. So you must not settle for anything that you don’t feel confident about. At the same time, you should not get overconfident with body armor and should avoid being hit in the first place