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Stab Vests and Body Armour - Choosing the Right One

Body armour and stab vests provide an effective solution to a many frontline professionals who are in need of extra protection in their chosen job. Professionals dealing with potentially hostile and intoxicated members of the public and those working for enforcement and emergency services are fully aware of the increase in lack of respect and the many changes within occupational health & safety laws.

One of the first choices you will be confronted with is the choice between overt stab vests and covert stab vests. Please note that wearing overt body armour can often be perceived as confrontational and subsequently can lead to an escalation of an incident rather than 'prevention' of aggressive behaviour or physical action. Personally I really believe that the advantage of wearing covert body armour will outweigh all benefits overt body armour can offer you.

Dealing with hostile, intoxicated and aggressive people or other individuals who have a passionate dislike for your authority or are unhappy and unsatisfied with your organisation, means dealing with people who are likely to overreact at anytime to anything you say or do. Many times those kind of incidents result in horrendous injuries and harm.

We have carried out extensive research projects into the advantage of covert body armour and stab vests, and the majority of these research projects indicate clearly that purchasing covert stab vests will most likely result in a lower risk of being attacked while at work - compared to wearing overt or visible body armour.

Wearing covert body armour or stab vests will allow you to deal with a potentially hostile situation, primarily using your positive personality, excellent diplomacy and negotiation or communication skills, while being effectively protected in case the situation erupts. Wearing covert body armour or stab vests allows you to deescalate a potentially hostile situation, where overt body armour or stab vests will tell people immediately who you are or represent, and in my professional experience this is certainly not always be an advantage.

Overt stab vests can however be very useful, especially if your objective is to be seen as 'authority', 'law enforcement' or visual deterrent. Overt stab vests also make sense if you are required to put on and take off the body armour very frequently during your line of work. They are certainly more 'convenient'.

And what about the big questions what is better... flexible or rigid body armour?

For me personally this would be a very easy decision, even when I am fully aware that the majority of frontline professionals would put comfort before safety. I never agreed with such a thought process in the past and certainly would and will not do it in the future.

Stab vests and other knife proof equipment manufactured using polycarbonate (identical to materials used for motorbike helmets) instead of Kevlar or other aramid fibre might be more rigid, but offer unrivalled protection from blunt trauma, potentially caused by punches, kicks or blows. Based on my many years of professional frontline experience and a number of research projects carried out over the past years I can certainly verify that an impact based assault is a more likely event than an attack involving an edged weapon or needles.

So many manufacturers of Kevlar or aramid fibre based stab vests have recently made irresponsible claims in reference to blunt trauma protection. Let me assure you that the level of blunt trauma protection in Kevlar based stab vests is extremely low. These kind of body armour will not offer your ribs, spine or bones enough protection in case you get hit by a solid stick, iron bar, telescopic baton or blunt object e.g. chair or table legs.

So, I ask you, why choosing flexible stab vests that offer you nothing else but stab protection only? Why not issuing your frontline employees with stab vests which go way beyond basic knife or stab protection? Blunt trauma related incidents can cause horrendous, longs lasting and even permanent injuries.

Most so called 'soft' or 'flexible' body armour and stab vests are manufactured using Kevlar, a material with an official shelf live of 3-5 years. The life expectancy of DuPont Kevlar is reduced by its exposure to either UV light or moisture. Meaning if Kevlar based protective body armour are stored in the boot or frequently worn in the wet, the body armour will fail to protect you at a much earlier stage.

Kevlar or other aramid fibre based body armour or stab vests need to be replaced after 3 - 5 years (a common procedure within Police, Border Control and Immigration). Please check your existing body armour. A date stamp on the label will clearly indicate the date the product has been manufactured.

If you have any question in regards to body armour or stab vests simply try to look out for me and I will try my utmost to answer your questions.