We offer a range of ballistic vest styles and construction methods and protection levels from various manufacturers. Please pay special attention to the Measurement Guide in the Downloads section of each product.

If you are looking to buy police body armour or any type of ballistic protection 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 a Ballistic Vest?

A Ballistic Vest is a type of body armour that protects users against bullets. It is specially designed to resist a large amount of force over a small period of time. Some Ballistic Vests will also have stab and spike resistance. This will be explicitly stated one the armour and any sales material. Most Home Office certified ballistic vests, like police body armour, will have this added protection. NIJ (National Institute of Justice) certified armour in many cases will not so you will need to double check.

What do Ballistic Vests consist of?

There are two main parts to any body armour. The armour panels and the cover. Armour panels make up the bulk of the vest and are the most expensive part. The panels are what make the vest bullet resistant, the covers are just there to hold everything together and for aesthetics.

What are Ballistic Vests made from?

The armour panels are mainly made from Aramid Fibre (Kevlar). Aramid Fibre is the gold standard when it comes to anti-ballistic materials and most vests will include some of it in varying quantities. Aramid Fibre is quite expensive so manufacturers will mix it with other materials to reduce the cost. This can include nylon, foam, resin and other fabrics. Armour Panels from a single manufacturer tend to only vary between protection levels and not between styles. If something is called police body armour and it has the same protection level as something named paramedic body armour from the same manufacturer, then the difference will normally lie in the covers, not the panels.

What standards and protection levels are there for Ballistic Vests?

Many countries have their own standards, TR in Germany, VPAM for Europe generally and GOST in Russia. In the UK the most common standard is the Home Office HOSDB/CAST standard, and to a lesser extend the US NIJ Standard.

The Home Office Standard is used by most companies and public sector bodies in the UK. Army, Council and police body armour will have this standard. The NIJ Standard is the most widely used globally. Most UK manufacturers will use HOSDB/CAST, those that don’t will probably be buying white label armour from elsewhere and not manufacturing it here. Companies like Vestguard will offer both standards.

What is the Home Office Cast CAST/HOSDB Standard?

This standard was developed by the Home Office as a guidance on what armour should be considered safe to use. Originally, it focused mainly on police body armour but has since been expanded. The testing methodology revolves around multiple gunshots from different calibres and weights. They set a maximum penetration limit on how far a bullet can penetrate on any given shot. Additionally, attention is paid to back-face trauma, which is how much kinetic force is transferred into the body after the bullet has been stopped.


The HOSDB 2007 standard is as follows:

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 CAST 2017 standard is very similar and can be seen below:


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
Will a Ballistic Vest protect against all bullets?

No. While the myth of “bullet-proof vests” is wide spread, there is no single protective solution that will protect against everything. Ballistic vests are certified to protect against certain threats. If you anticipate that threat, then you can buy the armour that would best protect you against it.

Soft Armour like HG1/HG2 Aramid Fibre Vests will protect against most handguns. If you are concerned about rifle fire, then you will need a hard armour plate. Hard armour plates are stored in plate pockets on soft armour or strapped to the body as a stand-alone piece. The trade-off for this protection is an increase in weight and reduction in flexibility.

What types of Ballistic Vest covers are available?

Like all body armours, there are covert and overt covers. Covert covers will be softer, cause less irritation and be made from materials such as polycotton. Overt covers are more varied come in various colours, with and without zips and pockets. There are a large number of accessories and add-ons that can be included with overt covers. These accessories will determine the style or purpose of the ballistic vest. Police body armour is usually just an overt zip-front with chequered high-vis strips, klickfast docks and a badge that says Police.

What accessories or add-ons can be included with a Ballistic Vest?

There are a number of things that can be sewn on to a ballistic vest cover, most notably being plate pockets. Plate Pockets are used to house hard armour plates and are only needed if you anticipate rifle fire. You also will not be able to use them with zip-front covers.

Badges are very common. The badges usually determine the purpose of an armour, police body armour with have police badges, security body armour will have security badges etc. The most common types are reflective and embroidered badges. Reflective badges are normally encapsulated plastic, and embroidered is fabric. They are available in difference sizes and colours.

Hi-Vis strips are also quite common. Either plain or check stripes of reflective material can be sewn on to the vest cover. This is either done vertically, horizontally or both depending on the company.

KlickFast docks are also another common sight on covers, normally sewn into the left shoulder.