In the realm of fiction, a concealable vest is capable of defeating anything from a 9mm to a Libyan AK round. In reality, not all vests are created equal. The protective power of a bulletproof vest depends largely on the type of material the vest is made from as well as the round used to hit it.
Just like its many inaccurate portrayals of romantic relationships and one-man armies, Hollywood gets bulletproof vests wrong. Here are just a few examples:
Alien Nation (1988): In this science fiction thriller, a .454 Casull casually blows a hole through a soft armor vest at a police firing range. In reality, soft armor vests used by police are rated at Level IIIA, capable of stopping most handgun rounds up to .44 Magnum. While the .454 Casull is a larger round than the .44 Magnum, independent testing has shown that it will not likely be able to penetrate soft armor. However, even if a victim wears a IIIA vest, they will still suffer from heavy internal bleeding from the sheer force of the round.
Back to the Future (1985): In this classic time travel action-comedy, the eccentric scientist Doc Brown gets riddled with AK rounds by angry Libyan terrorists who were cheated out of their plutonium, an event which forced his assistant Marty McFly to travel back in time to warn him. One full-length feature film and a time skip later, Doc Brown dons a bulletproof vest and gets shot again, but is saved thanks to his new bulletproof armor, which in reality would have not done much to stop the 7.62x39mm AK rounds. Being soft armor, the maximum rating for these bulletproof vests would be Level IIIA and the vast majority of centerfire rifle rounds would have punched straight through. In contrast, Level III and IV bulletproof armor is made of rigid ceramic, steel, or UHMWPE plates, and these are the only types of armor meant to stop centerfire rifle rounds like the .223 or the AK’s 7.62x39mm.
Batman Begins (2005): Batman’s bat suit is both flexible and bulletproof. It is made from a Nomex outer shell with a sublayer of bulletproof armor. This armored layer would be feasible if it was made from a lightweight material like ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, the same material BulletSafe bulletproof vests are made from.
Realistically, though, Bruce Wayne asks his head of R&D, Lucis Fox, to make a suit that’s more resistant to dog bites. Even though a vest might be rated to stop high velocity ballistic rounds, the same vest might not be rated to stop things like knives or other sharp, narrow objects like dog fangs from piercing it.
Hollywood often portrays bulletproof vests as being capable of stopping any round, regardless of the caliber or type. However, the reality is that bulletproof vests are not perfect, and they can only stop certain types of rounds up to a certain caliber.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has a rating system for bulletproof vests, which goes from Level I to Level IV. Level I vests are the least protective, and they can only stop pistol rounds up to .357 Magnum. Level IV vests are the most protective, and they can stop rifle rounds up to .30-06 Springfield.
It's important to note that even Level IV vests cannot stop all rifle rounds. There are some very powerful rifle cartridges, such as the .50 BMG, that can penetrate any bulletproof vest.
So, if you're looking for the best possible protection, you need to choose a bulletproof vest that is rated to stop the types of rounds you're most likely to encounter. And, it's important to remember that even the best bulletproof vest cannot guarantee complete protection.
BulletSafe bulletproof vests are made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), which is one of the strongest and lightest materials available. BulletSafe vests are rated to stop a wide range of pistol and rifle rounds, up to and including .30-06 Springfield.
BulletSafe vests are also comfortable to wear and can be concealed under clothing. They are ideal for law enforcement, security personnel, and anyone else who needs the best possible protection from ballistic threats.
Click here to learn more about our bulletproof vests and to place an order.