Thanks to recent violent events and the fear they will happen more frequently in the future, parents are concerned about the safety of their children, and certain people are increasingly worried about being targeted in a random act of violence in public. The first question that the anxious parent or the safety-conscious individual might ask is “how much does a bulletproof vest cost?”
The short answer is “it varies.” There is more than one type of bulletproof vest on the market, and in the case of this particular type of product, choosing the most expensive armor may not always be the best choice. A businessman who wants to wear his armor concealed under his suit does not want to come to work every day wearing a tactical vest, and a mother sending her child to school does not want to stuff her child into an IOTV.
The different types of bulletproof armor exist for a reason. If you’re a first time armor buyer, with the help of this short guide, hopefully you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
IOTV - $1,500.00
Only available to government agents or law enforcement personnel, the IOTV or “Improved Outer Tactical Vest” is the United States Army’s third generation body armor. Capable of accepting numerous attachments such as deltoid and groin protectors, this current iteration of Uncle Sam’s infantry body armor when combined with the appropriate E-SAPI plates is rated to stop .30-06 armor piercing ammo, equivalent to NIJ Level IV armor in the civilian world.
The armor is large and bulky, but its weight is evenly distributed through the user’s body through a belly strap. In emergencies, when a medic needs access to injuries, a ripcord on the front of the vest can be pulled for easy disassembly.
Tactical Plate Carrier - $4,000 to $449.97
The plate carrier by itself is not armor, but an external vest that accepts ballistic plates. The plates themselves are made of ceramic and can be rated at either Level III or Level IV. Level III rated plates are designed to stop up to 7.62x51 M80 FMJ (.308 Win), while a Level IV plate can survive a hit from a .30-06 armor piercing round. Plate carriers at higher price points are usually more expensive due to brand names and addons to the plate carrier like extra pockets or accessories but would have the same protective power as plate carriers on the lower scale.
Enter the BulletSafe Tactical Plate Carrier Kit. This complete kit offers everything you need and nothing you don’t, keeping the price point low, and consists of a plate carrier and Level IV inserts, and is just as capable of stopping high caliber armor piercing rounds as the Army’s IOTV, for only $449.97.
Plate carriers are lighter than IOTVs and are the vests often worn by tactical teams and special operations forces. Airsoft players may buy the carriers without the inserts, while civilians who want to use plate carriers for tactical practice or weight training may choose which plates best suit their needs.
Soft Armor Body Vest - $3,000 to $299.99
Plate carriers and tactical vests may seem threatening to civilians with their numerous pockets and mag pouches. Knowing this, some security companies and law enforcement agencies may sometimes require their personnel to wear something less formidable looking.
For this, most employ a soft vest like BulletSafe's VP3. This bulletproof armor, rated to Level IIIA, is designed to stop pistol rounds up to .44 Magnum. A soft vest requires no inserts like our previous examples. Instead, the entire vest is constructed with bulletproof fibers. This special lightweight construction provides the wearer with flexibility that is absent in any armor requiring plates.
Some soft body armor may be worn under clothing, perfect for those who require something more covert for their self-defense needs. However, since soft armor cannot stop rifle rounds, they are never worn in high risk environments where potential threats are armed with rifles, such as conflict zones.
The $2,000 price point of ordinary soft armor is part of why BulletSafe was founded in the first place. Founder and president Tom Nardone thought it was unfair for security personnel and law enforcement to have to pay that amount of money for a product he could manufacture for far cheaper. To this day, BulletSafe still manufactures soft bulletproof vests with NIJ certification for $299.99, and is perhaps the best price point for value of any body armor brand on the market.