Body armor is the only thing you can wear that will provide meaningful protection from gunfire.
Owing to fears over societal collapse or the destabilization of the rule of law, many preppers see body armor as a mandatory inclusion into their stash of survival or just in case gear.
But anybody armor worth owning is quite expensive and represents a significant financial investment.
Is body armor truly worth it for preppers?
Yes, body armor is definitely worth it if you are expecting to be shot at or there is a high likelihood you could be facing ballistic threats of one form or another.
However, the weight, bulk and expense of body armor must be considered against other objectives to determine if it is mandatory, situational or not required for the circumstances.
The easy answer is to, of course, say that someone should always have body armor on hand, just in case, but this is not entirely realistic. We will look at all of the considerations on this topic in the rest of this article.
Armor is Not Always a Necessity
Straight away, I want to clear something up. Body armor is not strictly mandatory in order to consider yourself a well-equipped and well-rounded prepper. It isn’t always a tactical necessity either, even if one is an armed professional going into harm’s way on a regular basis.
Body armor is something of a commitment, and not just financially. Wearing body armor is going to make you uncomfortable, more noticeable and will generally slow you down. Accordingly, it should only be equipped if one has a legitimate threat in the form of gunfire.
Now, technically we are all at risk of taking a bullet considering we live in a society that is chocked full of guns and there will be more than a few people ready and willing to use them when trouble strikes.
So how do we contextualize our armor usage? Simply stated, the decision to equip armor, and what kind of armor, depends on our best and highest need.
If you are an average citizen going about an average life, you don’t have much to fear when it comes to gunfire unless you’re the unfortunate victim of a mugging or armed robbery.
In such a case, you’d certainly be happy if you were wearing body armor for the occasion but considering that you’d have to wear it day in and day out to be ready for a vanishingly unlikely occurrence the social and professional costs for doing so are probably too high.
On the other hand, if you have a high risk job such as a security guard, ATM servicer, or armored car driver a lightweight set of body armor that can be easily worn under a uniform shirt, or perhaps even visibly over your clothing is it likely warranted since these people are routinely targeted by people looking for a large and comparatively easy score.
However, lifestyle and profession are not the only factors that must be considered before choosing armor.
Different Threats Demand Different Armor Solutions
Most gun-savvy readers already know this, but those who are uninitiated may very well not. Armor is not created equal, and the type of armor that you wear should be chosen depending upon what kind of ballistic threats you are facing.
When I say ballistic threat, I’m referring to the type and caliber of the gun that you are likely to have pointed at you. A vest that is inadequate to the task of stopping the projectile may only hinder it a little or not at all.
Vests are rated according to a variety of factors and through various standards, though some of these standards are quite abstract or peculiar enough to not be useful to the average consumer.
Simply stated, some vests are rated only for stopping smaller handguns whereas others can stop pretty much every handgun round in existence.
Other vests are capable of stopping all but the most powerful rifles while others can withstand even repeated hits from the largest typical rifle cartridges.
This adds another wrinkle to our decision making matrix, as the more capable armor is the larger and bulkier it tends to be.
Armor that is capable of stopping modest handgun rounds is often slim and flexible enough to be worn imperceptibly beneath clothing whereas armor packages capable of withstanding multiple hits from a battle rifle are always large and ponderous military style vests that look a lot like you are wearing a turtle shell.
Depending on your specific context, staying low profile and discreet might be mandatory or optional. This will further inform your choice.
However, if one is facing a definite need to remain undetected while wearing armor but has a high likelihood of facing long guns, you could have a difficult dilemma on your hands.
Understand the Trade-off between Mobility and Protection
Another factor to consider when deciding whether or not you need and want armor is the encumbrance factor of armor.
Even the lightest, slimmest low profile vest adds a significant amount of weight to a person and is invariably quite clammy, trapping heat and moisture against the wearer.
Larger vests capable of stopping rifle fire often feature hard plates of ceramic, metal or composite on the front, rear and the sides and can weigh upwards of 20 lb without any additional equipment attached.
To say that this weight burden adds up quickly when considering all of the other things that you might have to carry and the activity you’re going to undertake while wearing it is an understatement.
It might not be that bad if you were simply pushing a post on guard duty or patrolling a broad, flat field or parking lot around a facility, but if you’re forced to maneuver over difficult or dangerous terrain it could hinder you significantly, and can contribute to exhaustion.
This is why military troops are oftentimes heavily armored when conducting operations in urban terrain where fire could come from any direction at any time, but usually wear lighter armor if any when operating in the jungle or heavily forested areas.
The typical abundance of cover in the latter areas combined with the challenging terrain means that the premium paid for ballistic protection does not contribute to mission success.
Determine YOUR Needs, Then Equip Accordingly
One should not be swayed by influential personalities in the preppersphere, or gun enthusiast media, or anyone else when it comes to the choice of equipping armor or not.
As always, your objectives, your mission, must drive the gear train and only by carefully assessing your specific circumstances, your needs and the variables attendant with your projected activity can you make the call.
trust me, you’ll never feel bad or less prepared when you have a body armor on hand, and I believe that if you can afford it then it is worthwhile having some, but it is far from mandatory and just because you have it doesn’t mean you will want to don it immediately when trouble breaks out.
Do the research, consider the variables, and then you make the call concerning your needs. Don’t get swayed by any celebrities!
Is Body Armor Worth It for You?
Body armor is a great thing to be wearing when one is receiving gunfire, but the choice of whether or not one needs body armor is completely dependent upon individual objectives and other circumstances.
The capabilities, weight, and cost of body armor must all be carefully considered against a host of other factors before one can make an informed decision.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.