By Chris Taylor
Even the most prepared Survivalist may not consider wearing body armor for a number of reasons; some simply do not consider its benefits, whereas others think that body armor is a paranoid purchase fit only for military and the ‘hardcore survivalist’. However, protective clothing in the form of a bullet proof vest is an invaluable purchase, and should be a central aspect of any survivalist’s preparation.
As any good survivalist knows preparation can spell the difference between life and death, particularly as it will be much harder to find the things you need after the world has ended. In the event of the world ending you will need to be prepared if you want to survive, and yet body armor is necessary wherever there is the threat of attack. Of course, be it by nuclear attack, virus or something much more fantastical, the collapse of society certainly increases the threat of attack.
In these doomsday scenarios your preparation will dramatically improve your chances of survival, but it may also make you a target. Preparing for the collapse of society is not common, and those who did not have the foresight to prepare will likely desire everything you have. Therefore, you need to be able to protect yourself against people who may try and take what you have by force. Protective clothing covers a wide range of products, including helmets and shields, but the most important equipment is body armor. However, even this can refer to a number of different things.
Different Types of Body Armor
Body armor comes in a wide range of products, including bullet proof vests, stab proof and spike vests, and even these vary based on the level of protection and the style in which it is worn. It is most likely that firearms will be the major threat to any survivalist, as they will be the first weapon anyone will look for. However, bullet proof vests are graded according to the ammunition they can protect against, and so it is important that you pick a level of vest that can stop the right ammunition.
Bullet Proof Vests
It is usually recommended that survivalists carry a handgun, because of its relative ease of use. This is exactly the logic many others will follow, and even where society has broken down a handgun is the easiest type of gun to get your hands on. Therefore, it is important that your bullet proof vest can stop handgun ammunition. The National Institute of Justice tests and standardises bullet proof vests (NIJ Levels), and vests from Level I-IIIa are capable of stopping the vast majority of handgun ammunition.
Of course, some avoid body armor because of its perceived weight and bulk. However, bullet proof vests are increasingly lightweight and flexible, and can even be worn underneath clothing. These ‘covert’ vests are designed to be worn comfortably for extended periods, and some even include breathable materials that can help regulate your temperature. Covert vests have the advantage of being very discreet without sacrificing protection, making them ideal to be worn at all times, even before the collapse of society.
On the other hand, there are benefits to vests that are worn over clothing, in an ‘overt’ style. Some feel that displaying body armor in this manner can help deter potential attackers, and act as a statement of authority. These overt vests are just as protective, lightweight and flexible as their covert counterparts, and so it is a matter of personal choice as to which is most appropriate.
High Caliber Protection
Even protection at higher levels is available in both covert and overt styles. It may be that handguns are not the only or even the main weapons you will face, and the threat of rifle fire and high-caliber ammunition is far greater. In these cases you will need armor at Level III or IV, which utilises rigid panels of ceramics or polyethylene. While these are still relatively lightweight, they will increase the weight and bulk of your vest, while decreasing its flexibility, and so should only be worn when absolutely necessary.
Stab and Spike Protection
It may be that firearms are not the only weapon you will be facing, whatever the caliber, and in a world where your attackers may use whatever they can get their hands on, edged and spiked weapons may be more of a threat. As time passes and ammunition becomes scarcer and scarcer, your attackers will likely use knives or spiked weapons, which a bullet proof vest will not protect against. Bullet proof vests use protective fibers that can ‘trap’ and slow a bullet, flattening and slowing it to a complete halt. However, an edged weapon will simply cut through these fibers, while a spiked weapon can pass through the minute gaps between them. As a result, for complete protection you need to ensure that your bullet proof vest comes with stab and spike protection in the form of chainmail and/or a layer of laminate.
Body armor is a necessary part of any survivalist’s equipment, and yet it is not only suitable for the end of the world. Covert armor allows for discreet and lightweight protection that can be worn anywhere and everywhere. This is useful for everybody, and such a simple solution to an otherwise deadly situation that can occur at any time should be utilized by all.