You’re preparing for every level of endgame imaginable, from homeland invasion to EMPs, floods and civil unrest, and let’s not forget the riots over the span of 2020 to boot.
You want to protect yourself, but that doesn’t just mean having a weapon. Sometimes it means preparing against what the other guy has, and that’s when we need to account for someone else being as prepared as we are.
Body armor is the way to go. Level 4 body armor can stop armor-piercing rounds and high caliber bullets, so if you’re up against the unknown, you’ll be as prepared as humanly possible. But how do we get it, and is it even legal for us to own?
Let’s find out.
Understanding Body Armor Levels
Body armor levels are commonly referred to NIJ levels, which stand for National Institute of Justice. They have created the guidelines for how we gauge and rate body armor plates and materials.
Body armor levels are relative to the level of protection. You have multiple levels to choose from and properly understand before you can make a decision of which body armor type is best for you and your bug out bag/homestead armory.
Level I Body Armor
Level I body armor does exist, but with stronger, more advanced body armor available, it’s rarely purchased. Level I armor will defend you against .22 rounds or 48 specials up to about five shots.
We commonly see this armor referenced in television shows that police officers wear, because the one major benefit to this over other levels if mobility and being lightweight.
Level II Body Armor
There are two grades of this armor: level II, and level IIA. Level II armor is made of soft woven fibers that can withstand up to one .9mm FMJ round, and is made of Kevlar, Spectra, and other known fibers designed for body armor use.
So the difference between level IIA armor is that, while still made of fibers instead of plates, you’re able to withstand stronger FMJ rounds, such as from a .357 magnum. This rating exists because it’s slightly better than level II and used for ballistic shields.
Level III Body Armor
Level III armor is a soft body armor, meaning it’s not using the plates that we find in level IV armor. Level III armor still has plates in it, they’re just not as heavy or as thick as level IV armor.
These softer plates can withstand six NATO FMJ rounds — full metal jacket bullets — as long as they’re spaced and don’t come from an automatic weapon. That’s some powerful stuff. These are lighter than level IV, and heavier than level II for the most part.
Level IV Body Armor
These are the most powerful components of body armor available. The main goal here is that a level IV body armor will be useful to receive one armor-piercing bullet and effectively stop it without actually exiting through the back-end of the armor where your torso is created.
This seems like an oxymoron, because it’s an armor-piercing round. That’s a name given to specific ammunition that is designed to pierce armor, but it’s just a name — the metrics matter.
Bullet velocity, distance, and what the bullet is going up against all matter, and NIJ IV body armors are designed to handle all armor-piercing rounds that can be purchased by the public.
Is Level 4 Body Armor Sold to Civilians?
Yes, you can buy level IV body armor, although it’s not as straightforward as you might think.
A simple search will tell you everything you need to know about where you can find it, suppliers and what not, but you don’t just simply point and click and level IV body armor shows up at your door.
Most online body armor options require customization. You have to go through and select which areas you want fortified, and with which level of armor rating you desire.
Commonly, level IV plates will be placed in the chest and back portions of the vest (every one is different), and level IIA or III will be placed on optional shoulder attachments for better coverage.
Your specific armor requirements will depend on a few different factors. What are you expecting to go up against? (Always prepare for more than you expect.) How much carry weight can you actually handle?
Most individual plates weigh around four to six pounds, depending on the manufacturer, and they add up quickly. Vest s are designed to hold onto this weight, meaning the fibres and materials in the vest also add a considerable amount of weight as well.
Where Can I buy Level 4 Body Armor?
There’s a few sites that are known for supplying quality level IV body armor and make the entire experience customizable. I’ve listed a few of them here.
- Spartan Armor Systems: Known for being a top-tier supplier to law enforcement and homesteaders alike, Spartan Armor Systems is reliable and delivers consistent results. During times of civil unrest, orders are pushed back by up to eight weeks (body armor is about quality over quantity), so it’s best to get your armor before the next string of riots take place.
- Armored Republic: Buy entire armor, or pick it up plate-by-plate: Armored Republic gives you the option. THey have excellent prices, reliable products, and would rather furlough your shipment than deliver something underwhelming, which is always appreciated.
- UARM: While in no direct competition with the others that we’ve mentioned, UARM does tend to have slower shipping times, but deliver on their quality product. Customizing your body armor on their site is extremely intuitive and makes the entire process painless.
These three sites are some of the best places to get level IV armor that’s as affordable as it can be.
Yes, you can customize your armor and the numbers can get pretty high (more coverage in more sections of the body armor equals higher costs), but we know that they actually give level IV body armor, which we’ll get into in a moment.
How do I Know if I Actually Got Level 4 Body Armor?
Many people want to go ahead and say that a weight difference is enough to tell whether or not you’re working with level III or level IV plates.
That’s not always the case. If I get level III plates from one manufacturer, they could be the same weight as level IV from another – there’s no regulation on the weight.
Instead, you have to look at the material list and the thickness of the plates as well. Even armor-piercing bullet plates will take damage (they’re only good for one shot), and if the material in them was any thinner, it wouldn’t serve its purpose.
Material type/quality and the dimensions of the plate matter. Wider isn’t necessarily better, but you want the plates to be nice and thick and NIJ certified.
NIJ certification is basically the stamp of approval that we all need to see, since we can’t exactly test these armors without shredding them in the process.
Can You Upgrade Your Armor to Level 4?
If you have the actual vest for body armor, you can absolutely upgrade it yourself. The thing is, unless you’re buying level III with plates, then you might run into a problem upgrading your armor.
Level I and level II are mostly made of woven materials, so there’s no real way to input your newer armor plates into slots or sleeves. If you purchase level III and have the ability to do that, you can upgrade it.
An alternative method would be to purchase an armor vest and find low-level plates as inserts. Get enough to cover the entire body armor, and then slowly over time, you can upgrade them one at a time until your armor is maximized.
Why would you do this?
Because having some protection is better than having none. Full level IV body armors can cost you from $1,800 up to $4,500 or so, depending on how many plates there are and where you’re getting them from. This is some high-level gear we’re talking about.
I don’t know about you, but most people don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around that aren’t in a rainy day fund or being used for other survivalist purchases. It’s a lot at once, so doing this will space the costs out and give you protection in the meantime.
Always Being Ready for Anything
Level IV body armor is seriously powerful. It’s the best you can get, and even for civilian use, it’s viable in a hostile military takeover or a home invasion.
Whether or not you believe something like that could ever happen doesn’t matter, because if you’re prepared for it, then you’ll never be filled with regret.
I hope that nothing even similar to what I just mentioned actually happens, but who really knows the future? You can protect yourself and your family when moving through a hostile landscape with level 4 body armor.