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Body Armor User Guide

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages

This user guide for body armor lists its benefits and limitations, provides safety information, and instructs users on the care and maintenance of body armor.


Body armor is available for various levels of protection against ballistic threats. It can be worn as a concealable undergarment or over a uniform. Some armor panels cover the front and back of the torso, and others also wrap around the sides. In terms of limitations, soft body armor is not designed to protect against rifle bullets or edged or pointed weapons. Hard or tactical armor can defeat rifle bullets, but is generally too heavy, bulky, and conspicuous for routine wear. Armor cannot provide adequate protection from ballistic threats that strike close to the edge of the armor or to another impact. Generally, there is a tradeoff between protection and comfort in selecting the material and design for body armor. Safety instructions include being familiar with the both the capabilities and the vulnerabilities of the armor being worn; seek medical attention if shot while wearing the armor; replace the armor immediately if it has been impacted by a bullet or damaged in any way; make sure the vest's level of protection is matched to the types of threats likely to be encountered, and conduct regular inspections of the armor to ensure it has not been impaired. Regarding care and maintenance, the guide advises following the manufacturer's instructions for care and maintenance of the armor. Detailed instructions are presented on what to do and not do in cleaning and/maintaining the armor in top condition.

Date Published: January 1, 1997