Ballistic Vest
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Basic Information

The modern Ballistic Vest is a form of armour that covers the vital areas of the torso. It is intended to reduce and prevent injuries from stabbing and gunshots. It should be noted that not all vests are dual resistant and some are ballistic only - those which only resist stabbing are called stab vests.

Rating System

The U.S. National Institute of Justice has a rating system to classify the effectiveness of various ballistic vests and other body armor. The system uses the following classifications:

Type I Protects against .22 LR and .380 ACP handguns
Type IIA Protects against .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, and .40 S&W
Type II Protects against .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, and .357 Magnum
Type IIIA Protects against .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, and .44 Magnum Hollow Point
Type III Protects against .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .44 Magnum Hollow Point, and 7.62x51mm NATO rifle bullets
Type IV Protects against .22 LR, .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .44 Magnum Hollow Point, 7.62x51mm NATO and .30-06 Springfield M2 armour piercing rifle rounds.

In general, the better the grade of armor, the more protection it gives. Larger and faster bullets will penetrate lighter armors, though damage may be reduced somewhat by the armor slowing the bullet. Don't get too cocky, though - hits on seams and weaker areas can still penetrate, non-penetrating hits can still crack ribs, and the armor doesn't cover every square inch of your body. The actual classification system has a lot of additional information concerning bullet velocity, but the above should be good enough for gaming. Not only that, but many of the higher levels of protection are generally only over a limited area of the vest (usually a ballistic insert protecting the heart and lung roots) and are only good for a small number of impacts before the protection is downgraded. Even hits which fail to penetrate will permanently degrade the armour - which is generally easier to replace than repair.

Bulletproof Vest

Informally, such armor is often called a "Bulletproof Vest", but that term is on the outs because of a psychological issue. Use of the term tends to fool the wearer into thinking they are better armored than they are, which can lead to overconfidence and risk-taking.

The term "Bulletproof" is no longer commonly accurate, anyway. The term originated in the 16th Century, and it meant armor that had actually been shot with a gun and was not penetrated. This would leave a dent in the armor as proof that it could resist bullets. Armor on display for sale in the era would often have the dent circled in chalk to draw the potential customers attention to it. In the modern day, manufacturing standards allow for consistency in the armor's performance, and no need to test any given vest by shooting it before sale. Which is good, because the pressure of a gunshot degrades the armor, and "proofing" armor in this way can actually make the armor less effective.

Materials and Construction by Era

Sources

Bibliography

Game and Story Use

  • As evidenced above, ballistic armor is available in multitude of eras and settings.
    • Effectiveness and mobility vary, but have an inverse relationship. As always, body armor remains a trade off, where better armor comes at the cost of reduced speed and stamina.
    • Mounted troops (whether horse or vehicle-mounted) tend to thus prefer heavier armor than dismounted infantry.
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