Are you tactical and practical? Are you kitted out?

Are you tactical and practical? Are you kitted out?

By : Dalia Paratore

What body armor combination do you use to get the job done and why? Are you limited in what you can use based on agency/department/unit/branch budget or preferences?  We want to hear from you.  If you’re not sure what I mean read on…

If you face ballistic threats in the line of duty you’re familiar with and most likely use body armor.  Different kinds of body armor protect against various levels of bodily harm (or threat levels).  Body armor is rated based on its ability to stop various threats and is broken down into soft body armor and hard body armor; and these can be used together or separately depending upon the level of threat being faced.

Soft armor is soft and flexible, despite the fact that its components can be many times stronger than steel. It’s not as bulky as hard body armor, it’s usually worn underneath a uniform or in addition to some other kind of gear. In some cases, soft armor is used in conjunction with hard armor to provide the user with as much protection as possible.

Hard body armor is plates, typically made of ballistic steel, ultra-high molecular polyethylene or ceramic. Hard body armor is far stronger than soft body armor thanks to the impenetrability of its internal plates and is designed to stop most rifle rounds. But because of its strength qualities, hard armor is less comfortable, heavier and less pliable than soft body armor.

Body armor is certified by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice), the governing body that oversees performance standards and testing for ballistic armor. NIJ is the standard by which all commercially available body armor is judged for safety and ballistic stopping power.  Their ratings are Type 1, Type 2a, Type 2 and Type 3a are all part of the soft body armor levels. Type 3 and Type 4 are hard plates designed to defeat projectiles at rifle speeds and in most cases must be used in conjunction with the soft body armor tested specifically for that combination.

Then there’s the added complexity that hard armor can either be ICW (in conjunction with) or STA (standalone). ICW plates should be used with a IIIA ballistic vests to provide its best protection. The rationale for ICW is that they are more covert and comfortable than STA plates. STA plates can be used alone with only a carrier-meaning without the ballistic vest- and are usually reserved for Tactical situations.  They are heavier and thicker than ICW plates. 

With the rapid development rate that different body armor companies employ, the designs and product categories are rapidly changing and becoming more diversified, allowing your department, agency, branch of the Military (units) or organization to choose the best suited for your job.

Need advice or products?  We have high-level knowledge in the firearms, lasers, training, tactical gear, body armor, EOD gear industry.  Email us at or send us a note at

Paratore Enterprises, Inc team has over 70 years of experience in providing strategy and consulting for the Defense and Tactical industry, as well as retail and commercial markets. We provide know-how in government contracting, vendor relations, trade show/event tactics, Dealer-of-Record implementation, Competitive/Differentiator analysis, sales leadership coaching and development. We enable companies to better target their audiences, improve reach, reduce churn and improve pipeline management



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