U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Assessment of body armor design impacts on user perceptions

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2009

This study investigated body armor configurations (3 levels) on usability perceptions following simulated tasks.


Body armor is a critical part of the law enforcement uniform. It provides protection from ballistic impacts during critical events. Despite many agencies providing armor to its employees, compliance with use standards within agencies has been reported to be low due to discomfort. Few studies exist in the public domain that have documented specific design features that contribute to the non-compliance issues. Results indicated that differences in design ratings, overall ratings, and rating of interference differed for each configuration studied. Specifically arm, shoulder, and neck movement was identified as being restrictive. Further, it impacted the ability of the officers to gain control of reach essential equipment (e.g., handcuffs) and in the completion of essential tasks (e.g., suspect restraint). Therefore, design considerations affect user perceptions of the armor and may be responsible for non-compliance issues.

Date Published: October 1, 2009