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Body Armor. What to get?

edited 30 Dec 2012 in Ask a Officer
So I have been looking into purchasing body armor as I am about to graduate the academy and most departments in my area don't supply the armor. I just wanted to know what to get or what other officers recommend. I have been looking at vests on GALLS and other places. I haven't fully decided yet but should I get a body armor vest and plates, or just a plate carrier and plates? I am more inclined to get the body armor vest & plates, and I know if I do I would get a level III but again I would like to know what other officers suggest. Thanks.


  • What do you mean by vest and plates?? I assume you mean trauma plates. Mine is second chance and I use both the hard and soft trauma plates at the same time. Make sure you try on as many different styles as you can and talk to someone in person about them. Each cut is a little different and they fit a little different. With the NIJ standards though, they are all about the same quality wise..
  • edited 31 Dec 2012
    What I mean by vest and plates is I have seen the option of purchasing a vest that has a ballistic value with Kevlar plus trauma (soft Kevlar) or even ballistic plates (metal or ceramic). OR I can purchase a vest that has no ballistic value (Plate carrier) and put ballistic plates (metal or ceramic) into it. I will add some links below so you can see what I mean. These links aren't necessarily what I plan to purchase though.

    Vest with ballistic value:

    Ballistic Plate (Comes in 8x5 or 8x10):

    Soft Trauma Plate:


    A plate carrying vest that appears to have no ballistic value unless you insert plates:

  • edited 2 Jan 2013
    I wear a department-issue gator hawk lvl IIA with a soft trauma pack. Not real crazy about the carrier but the panels are lightweight and comfortable. Prior to being hired full time I wore a galls (point blank) lvl II and loved it. As far as the plate carrier, I've not seen or heard of anyone wearing hard plates for everyday patrol. Not only would they be bulky and unattractive, but extremely uncomfortable after extended wear and while seated in a cruiser. Ask any military vet who's worn one. A good option for extra armor if you have the resources would be to buy the plates and a carrier with MOLLE webbing you can outfit to your preferences. Then throw it in the trunk of your cruiser in the event a rifle threat/active shooter situation arises and you need extra armor fast. I'd definitely recommend waiting until you're hired on somewhere to see if the agency provides a vest and/or will allow you to carry a tactical vest with you.
  • Purchase the best armor you can afford. There isn't really a more important piece of equipment. I have the US Armor IIIa concealable body armor with titanium trauma plate. It is custom fitted and was approx $900. It took a month or so to break it in but it's as comfortable as I could hope for and I wear it every single shift.

    Like weightx said, the ballistic vests are cumbersome and uncomfortable but they would be great for an active shooter situation. I plan to purchase a plate carrier and set up an active shooter vest in the future but for now my concealable body armor is sufficient for everyday patrol.
  • Thanks for the comments and suggestions guys. I know I want to get a lvl III and I will definitely get the concealable body armor now. An officer that I have ridden along with several times I know for a fact wears a metal trauma plate all the time however most officers I have spoken to just use the soft trauma plates. But I can see how that can get very uncomfortable. Also I have heard of the idea of carrying the extra armor in the trunk of a cruiser or in a bag of some kind (I have heard being called a "GO BAG") but I wasn't sure if they would carry another concealable vest or the plate carrier. Also having been on many ride alongs with a majority of the area departments almost all of them have told me that I would have to get my own armor when I first start, some even make you put your belt and gun on your own dime. But anyhow thanks guys for all the insight for sure.
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