Browse Interconnective’s range of stab and ballistic protection solutions. We offer a range of different body armour vest styles and protection levels from well-known British manufacturers.

Please pay special attention to the Measurement Guide in the Downloads section of each product. If you are looking to buy body armour for the first time and need some guidance, you are welcome to contact us on 01494 446965.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Body Armour?

Sometimes called a body armour vest, stab vest or ballistic vest, they are essentially protective items of clothing that are designed to defend against very specific threats. The two main categories are soft armour and hard armour. For civilians and private security in the UK, soft armour is by far the most common.

Metal plate style Chinese body armour vests that you can get on Amazon and Ebay could theoretically be called hard armour but they are not rated and certified so we do not really include them in discussions about real vests. If you are looking to buy body armour, we would recommend avoiding these.
After the Soft/Hard category, armour is generally divided into Ballistic Vest and Stab Vests. This refers to the threat that they were designed to protect against and are normally certified to resist. At Interconnective, we only sell certified body armour, normally under the UK or US standard. When you buy body armour, this is the first thing you should look for.

What is Soft Armour?

Soft armour generally consists of a cover or carrier which holds two armour panels, one on the front of the body and one on the back. The panels are generally made from a combination of materials that will include things like Aramid Fibre or Dyneema. They will be flexible and move with the body, how much so being determined by how thick the panels are. Some manufacturers like VestGuard use soft-steel sheets in their stab vests in order to keep the price down. We would still consider this a Soft Armour albeit not as flexible as Aramid or Dyneema blends.

What is Hard Armour?

This is actually more of an enhancement than a stand-alone body armour system. Hard Armour will generally refer to plates that are installed on a Soft Armour vest, usually in plate pockets on the front and back. They are normally made from some form of ceramic and are used to upgrade existing armour to be able to protect against rifle fire. Some people wear hard armours instead of soft armours, like discussed above, but this is not recommended for a number of reasons. Hard armour does not have the coverage of Soft Armour and if it does, it will greatly restrict your ability to move around as it is one, solid, inflexible piece. Hard Armour plates are also extremely heavy for their size which weighs the user down can cause discomfort.

What is the difference between Covert and Overt armour?

Covert and Overt are two broad categories that most body armour can be divided into. Overt vests are the ones that most users will be familiar with. They come in a wide range of types including tabard, zip-front, tactical etc. When you hear about police armour or Community Support armour, what it is referring to is the style of the Overt Cover. The style will include colours, badging, special accessories and things added to the armour to make it more suitable for a specific purpose. Covert body armour is specially designed to be worn under the clothing. The cover will not be made from a rough material like Cordura and will instead use polycotton or fine nylon. The straps will also tend to be much thinner to avoid detection and it will not include things like zips, pockets, badges and docks. They most popular colours for covert armour tend to be white or black. You will also notice that covert armour rarely varies in style.

Will police body armour or tactical body armour protect me more than other kinds?

As discussed above, these kinds of terms actually refer to the style of the covers and not to the armour panels themselves. Body armour panels do not vary a whole lot between styles with the only real variance tends to be in the certified protection level. This means that an HG1 Police vest will probably use the exact same panels as an HG1 Paramedic Vest from the same manufacturer. Indeed, covert armour panels will also tend to be the exact same as the overt panels if they are produced by the same company.

Do I need a body armour vest?

At Interconnective, we work mainly with the security industry and we often hear that a company doesn’t need body armour because they don’t take contracts where it will be needed. We inevitably hear back from the same companies months later, looking to buy body armour. A sad reality of modern life is that crime is sky-rocketing and it is not contained within traditional hotspots. Westminister and Chelsea are consistently in the Top 5 areas for crime in London and it does not appear this trend is changing. The decision to whether you need to buy body armour is entirely yours. You need to make an assessment based on whether you believe there is a possibility that you may encounter a threat during the course of your work or out in your daily life. We have many clients who wear covert armour when working in dangerous areas as a precaution. Most of them have thankfully never had to use it.

I want to buy body armour, which one is the best?

Like with most professional equipment, there is not a single best body armour vest. A piece of body armour is designed to protect against a specific threat. Each type of armour will have its own strengths and its own weaknesses. There is always a trade-off between protection, weight and manoeuvrability. Each type of armour will have its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, HG2 KR2 SP2 Aramid Fibre with Ceramic Plates will offer the best protection against most attacks but be very heavy, hot and your movement will be restricted. KR1 SP1 Soft-Steel Body Armour is light and inexpensive but will only protect you against knife and spike attacked. It can also be a little rigid. It is important to know what qualities are most important to you.

How do I choose the best body armour for me?

Before you buy body amour, you must first ask, what are you trying to protect against? If you are worried about knife, spike or needle attacks, you can go for a stab vest. If you are looking at anything to do with guns, you will need a Ballistic Vest. It is important to note that Ballistic Vests will often also include protection from knives. The way to judge which armour will work is through certification. The main certifications you will find in the body armour UK market are the Home Office Standards and to a lesser extent, the US NIJ (National Institute of Justice Standard). Ensuring that the armour you are buying has been properly tested is essential to judging its protective capabilities.

How do I choose the right size for a body armour vest?

It is extremely important that you make sure that you choose the right size when buying a vest. Ill-fitting armour can reduce its effectiveness. While most decent armour has adjustable straps on the shoulders and sides, this can only help you within the correct range. All manufacturers worth their salt will have a size chart for you to follow. On our website, you can find this in the downloads section. Consult it carefully and make sure you follow the instructions. This is particularly important if you ask for a custom vest as these you may not be able to return if it fits poorly.

What is back face trauma?

Back face trauma, also known as back face deformation, back face signature (BFS) and blunforce trama, is the injury that occurs because of the amount that the vest deforms when shot at. It is measured by shooting the vest against clay and measuring the depth that has been deformed. The current CAST and NIJ standards allow for a maximum BFS of 44mm. It is an important aspect of the protection that body armour provides as it shows the ability of the vest to protect against the energy from impact, not just the ability of the vest to prevent penetration of the projectile. There is the same trade off between the reduction of BFS and weight/comfort of the vest as to reduce the BFS, more layers of armour are needed. Back face trauma injuries range from bruising, perforation of tissue to broken bones or ruptured organs depending on the weight, speed and type of projectile.

Why are there so few female body armours available?

The vast majority of body armour users are men due to the male/female ratio in roles that may encounter knife and ballistic threats. Female armour requires a lot more customization due to variations in bust dimensions which makes it very difficult to offer a standard size for women. The armour panels need to be specially formed and will usually be made to the sizes of the individual. This makes them custom armour which also will be much more expensive than standard armour.
One thing to note is that women who are slight of bust can actually wear standard armour. As long as you fall within the size ranges on the sizing chart, you should not have a problem.

I am outside the S – XL range, what can I do?

Different body armour manufacturers have different rules for what they consider a standard size. Some will include XS, XXL and even XXL in that range while others won’t. If you fall outside the standard range, you will need to have your armour customised to your measurements. Custom vests will usually be £125+ more expensive than standard body armour vests.

What is the UK Home Office Standard for Body Armour?

The Home Office Standard was called HOSDB (Home Office Scientific Development Branch) for decades. All standards that they issued prior to 2017 will be called that. In 2017 they issued a new standard which they renamed to CAST. Some body armour vests will use the former, some the latter. This denotes which standard they were certified under.
After the acronym will be a combination of letters and numbers. HG refers to Hand Guns, KR to Knives and SP to spike attacks. These are the three primary testing points for the Home Office. Following the acronym there will be a number. This number indicates what level of protection that they armour has achieved. Handguns for up to 4(HO4) and Knife and Spike go up to 2 (KR2 SP2). Generally speaking the higher the protection level, the heavier and more expensive the vest will be. CAST 2017 also has a shotgun protection level but few vests that are widely available have this certification.

What are the requirements for the Home Office CAST 2017 Standard?

The Home Office has published a breakdown of their testing methodology. For ballistic protection (HO) they test according to the following:

Protection Level Classification & Calibre Test Round Designation Bullet Mass Range Min. (m) Max. mean BFS (mm) Single Shot BFS limit (mm) Velocity (m.s-1)
HO1 9 mm FMJ MEN 9 mm FMJ DM11A1B2 8.0 g (124 grain) 5 N/A 44 365 ± 10
9 mm JHP Federal Premium 9mm JHP P9HST1 8.0 g (124 grain) 5 N/A 44 365 ± 10
HO2 9 mm FMJ MEN 9 mm FMJ DM11A1B2 8.0 g (124 grain) 5 N/A 44 430 ± 10
9 mm JHP Federal Premium 9mm JHP P9HST1 8.0 g (124 grain) 5 N/A 44 430 ± 10
HO3 Rifle 7.62 calibre Radway Green 7.62 mm NATO
Ball L44A1 or L2A2
9.3 g (144 grain) 10 25 30 830 ± 15
Rifle 7.62 calibre 7.62 × 39 mm surrogate 7.9 g (122 grain) 10 25 30 705 ± 15
HO4 Rifle 7.62 calibre SAKO .308 Win 480A Powerhead or Barnes .30 10.7 g (165 grain) 10 25 30 820 ± 15

For Stab and Spike protection the Home Office test according to the below methodology:

Energy Level E1
Protection Level Energy (j) Maximum Penetration (mm) SPL(mm)
KR1 24 8 9
KR1 + SP1 24 KR1 = 8.0, SP1 = 0 KR1 = 9.0, SP1 = 0
KR2 33 8 9
KR2 + SP2 33 KR1 = 8.0, SP1 = 0 KR1 = 9.0, SP1 = 0
Energy Level E2
Protection Level Energy (j) Maximum Penetration (mm) SPL(mm)
KR1 36 20 30
KR1 + SP1 36 KR1 = 20, SP1 = N/A KR1 = 20, SP1 = N/A
KR2 50 20 30
KR2 + SP2 50 KR1 = 20, SP1 = N/A KR1 = 30, SP1 = N/A
What are the requirements for the Home Office HOSDB 2007 Standard?

The Home Office HOSDB 2007 standard uses the below methodology for ballistic protection:

Armour Level Calibre Ammunition Bullet Mass Range (min) (m) UPL (mm) Velocity (m/s)
HG1/A 9mm 9mm FMj Dynamit Nobel DM11A1B2 8.0g
(124 grain)
5 44 365 ± 10
.357 Magnum Soft Point Flat Nose Remington R357M3 10.2g
(158 grain)
5 25 390 ± 10
HG1 9mm 9mm FMj Dynamit Nobel DM11A1B2 8.0g
(124 grain)
5 25 365 ± 10
.357 Magnum Soft Point Flat Nose Remington R357M3 10.2g
(158 grain)
5 25 390 ± 10
HG2 9mm 9mm FMj Dynamit Nobel DM11A1B2 8.0g
(124 grain)
5 25 430 ± 10
.357 Magnum Soft Point Flat Nose Remington R357M3 10.2g
(158 grain)
5 25 455 ± 10
HG3 Carbine 5.56×45 NATO Federal Tactical Bonded
5.56mm (.223)
Law Enforcement
(62 grain)
10 25 750 ± 15

The HOSDB 2007 standard for knife and spike protection is this:

Energy Level E1
Protection Level Energy (j) Maximum Penetration (mm)
KR1 24 7
KR1 + SP1 24 KR1 = 7.0, SP1 = 0
KR2 33 7
KR2 + SP2 33 KR2 = 7.0, SP2 = 0
KR3 43 7
KR3+SP3 43 KR3 = 7.0, SP3 = 0
Energy Level E2
Protection Level Energy (j) Maximum Penetration (mm)
KR1 36 20
KR1 + SP1 36 KR1 = 20, SP1 = N/A
KR2 50 20
KR2 + SP2 50 KR2 = 20, SP2 = N/A
KR3 65 20
KR3+SP3 65 KR3 = 20, SP3 = N/A
What is the NIJ (National Institute of Justice) Standard for Ballistic Protection?

The National Institute of Justice standards for body armour vests, and ballistic armour in particular, is the most widely used standard globally. The latest version of this standard was released in 2008. With the NIJ standard, it is important to ensure that the armour you are buying actually has the NIJ certification as there are a lot of Chinese knock-offs that claim to have achieved the certification but are not actually registered on the NIJ database.

The NIJ 2008 standard is as follows:

Armour Type Test Bullet Bullet Mass Conditioned Armour Test Velocity New Armour Test Velocity Maximum BFS Depth (mm)
IIA 9mm FMJ RN 8.0g 355 m/s 373 m/s 44mm
.40 S&W FMJ 11.7g 325 m/s 352 m/s 44mm
II 9mm FMJ RN 8.0g 379 m/s 398 m/s 44mm
.357 Magnum JSP 10.2g 408 m/s 436 m/s 44mm
IIIA .357 SIG FMJ FN 8.1g 430 m/s 448 m/s 44mm
.44 Magnum SJHP 15.6g 408 m/s 436 m/s 44mm
III 7.62mm NATO FMJ 9.6g 847 m/s 44mm
IV .30 Caliber M2 AP 10.8g 878 m/s 44mm
What materials are used in body armour?

Depending if it is for stab or ballistic protection, there are a number of materials used. For ballistic protection, Aramid Fibre is by far the most commonly used material. There is more variation in stab vests. Arabid Fibre is used far less frequently due to cost with materials such as Dyneema, Nylon, Steel Cord and other high-tensile materials. Soft-Steel is a lower cost material that some companies use which unlike steel plates, bend with the body. They are still less flexible that fibre/material based armours. Recently, Carbon Fibre has been gaining in popularity. It is more of an armour shell than traditional stab vests but has impressive blunt force trauma resistance.

What accessories are available for body armour?

There are a wide range of extras that you can have attached when you buy body armour vests. Plate pockets can be attached at the front and back of the vest for ceramic hard armour inserts. Velcro patches on the front and back of the armour for badges are common and sometimes even come as standard. Equipment docks like the KlickFast system can be sewn on. Even if you choose a non-high vis cover for your armour, many companies can sew on reflective strips to help you avoid accidents in low-light conditions.