Covert body armor is one of the greatest of modern marvels – it provides discreet protection in a number of scenarios and can be used by anyone – from professional security operatives, soldiers and cops to gun enthusiast and survivalists. It has saved thousands of people from death or serious wounds. But for the majority of American population covert level IV body armor remains something that only law enforcement officers are required to wear. With the exponential increase in threats in our daily lives, however, this is far from true.
As you may know body armor comes in different sizes and levels of protection that are defined by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The covert/overt style of the vest refers to the way it can be worn – over or under your clothes. Naturally, the higher levels of body armor provide more protection against fire and melee weapons and every succeeding level covers the threats of the previous. This means that the Level IV body armor protects against all calibers that level I, IIA, II, IIIA and III do.
Unlike lower standard vests (I and II), which are referred to as ‘soft’ – level III and IV body armor is considered ‘hard’. This is because of the materials used by manufactures and, more precisely, hard armor plates on top of the soft part of the vest. Essentially, this allows the body armor to remain soft and flexible without compromising its higher level of protection even against armor-piercing rifle rounds.
Level IV body armor protection specifics
These hard plates are designed to defeat Armor Piercing projectiles and are tested with a single impact of the test caliber, which is a 30.06 M2AP 166gr (armor piercing) that is travelling between a speed of 2850fps and 2900fps. In the USA this caliber specified in the N.I.J. standard represents a common threat to the Law Enforcement and Security community.
Since it covers the threats all previous levels have been tested for, this means that the Level IV body armor also offers protection against 9mm semiautomatic and 44magnum rounds travelling between a speed of 1400fps and 1450fps (a submachine gun velocity); 9mm and 357 magnum and .22 and .38 Special rounds.
Statistically speaking, it is important to understand that no body armor is 100% bulletproof but the increase in levels will decrease the likelihood of the wearer from suffering a serious or fatal trauma from gunfire.
Covert level IV body armor also provides protection against most slashing attacks, although it is not as effective against thrusting attacks with daggers or ice picks. Pointed and streamlined objects can penetrate the fibers when thrust with enough force. This is particularly true of covert ballistic-resistant body armor, so wearers should exercise caution in these situations.