We offer a range of stab vest styles and construction methods from various manufacturers. Please pay special attention to the Measurement Guide in the Downloads section of each product. If you are looking to buy a security stab vest or any type of 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 a Stab Vest?

A stab vest is a type of body armour that is designed specifically to protect against knife and blade attacks. They can be made from a wide variety of materials and differ in composition a lot more than ballistic vests.

Essentially, anything that is worn and protects users from being stabbed can be called a stab vest but there is a big difference between professional police, security stab vests and they types that can be bought for less than £100 of Amazon or Ebay.

Cheap stab vests are generally made from either metal plates or use inferior anti-slash weaves. They are not certified by the Home Office, or anyone for that matter, and can bring a host of problems. It is always best to buy stab vests that you know you can trust with your life.

 
What are the stab vest UK certification standards?

The most common standard you will find in the UK is the Home Office HOSDB or CAST Standard. In order to sell stab vests to public bodies like the police, foreign office or local councils, your armour needs to be certified.

HOSDB refers to any Home Office Standard before 2017. CAST refers to any standard since then.

If a piece of armour has a stab vest UK certification, it will have a KR and SP rating. The most common is KR1 SP1. This will usually be listed in the product position explicitly. If you do not see this then it is most likely not certified. KR refers to knife, blade and cut resistance. SP refers to spike resistance.

During testing, a machine is used that delivers a fixed amount of force using either a spiked or bladed head at two different energy levels. They then measure the amount of penetration that has occurred. The Home Office sets a maximum for how far the head can penetrate through the armour before being considered a failure.

The test specifics are as follows:

  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 are Stab Vests made from?

As stated above, a Stab Vest can be made from any number of materials. There is far more flexibility in their production than that of ballistic vests which rely heavily on Kevlar. Kevlar (Aramid Fibre) is also used in stab vests but due to costs, will generally be blended with other materials like steel cord or nylon. Dyneema is another popular material used in a number of construction methods as it shares similar properties to Aramid Fibre. Most of your softer armours will use these materials.

On the harder side of things, you have Carbon Fibre and Soft-Steel. Carbon Fibre is very rigid but offers a lot of resistance to blunt force trauma. Soft-Steel sits between Carbon Fibre and Soft Armours as it is not nearly as rigid as the former but more-so than the latter. It tends to be used in more cost-effective models.

Metal Plates are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to stab vests. The coverage of the body tends to be limited to specific areas on the front and back of the body. They are not contoured which restricts mobility greatly and they tend to be heavier than other models. They will stop a knife if you are hit in a protect area but hoping to only be stabbed where it is convenient is not the best way to go about ones duties. If you are looking to buy stab vests, it is best to avoid these. Most will come from China and have no certification and little quality control.

 
What types of Stab Vests are there?

Broadly speaking, there is Covert and Overt. These designations refer to the covers that house the armour panels.

Covert covers will be thinner and are less obvious when worn under a shirt. They tend to be white or flesh coloured but darker colours are available.

Overt covers are more varied and will depend on the purpose they are used for. Tactical covers will have more pockets and incorporate MOLLE or PALS loops. Tabard covers will be bare across the body where as zip-fronts will, unsurprisingly, have a zip down the middle. When you hear people talking about a security stab vest or a police stab vest, what they are mainly referring to is the differences in the covers, not in the armour panels themselves.

The differences between armour panels lie in the certification. If one company produces a KR1 SP1 security stab vest and a KR1 SP1 police stab vest, 99.9% of the time, the armour panels will be exactly the same and interchangeable.

If you are looking to buy stab vests, just remember that most overt covers can have badging added to them so you do not actually need to go for a specific “type” just because the cover sounds like it was made for you.

 
What material is best for stab vests?

When we talk about the materials or construction method of body armour, we are referring specifically to the armour panels. Stab Vests normally consist of two parts. The armour panels and a cover.

There is no best material for armour panels. If it has stab vest UK certification then you will be at least equally protected when compared to another model made from a different material. The difference between construction methods and materials lies mainly in how the vest feels and moves. Softer materials are more flexible which makes them easier to wear for long periods. Harder materials will offer more blunt force protection but be harder to wear for long shifts. This needs to be taken into account, particularly for police or security stab vests.

Covers vary between Covert and Overt. Covert covers tend to be made from softer materials such as polycotton or sometimes nylon. This is because it is thinner and causes less irritation on the skin when worn under clothing. By being thinner it protrudes less and is more inconspicuous.

 
What does a stab vest protect me from?

While the stab vest UK standard specifically tests against blade and spike, the protection you receive actually carries across a lot of different types of offensive weapons. Knives, screw drivers, ice picks, shards of glass, machetes, swords, claw hammers and more.

Things get a little trickier when we start talking about needles. Hard armours protect better than soft armours generally but some of the better brands will include needle protection in their design. There is no specific standard for this so it is rare to see it mentioned.

 
What is the best stab vest UK brand?

There are lots of great brands from the UK. The number of companies that have Home Office Certification is not nearly as numerous as the NIJ standards so manufacturers tend to be UK based, or on occasion, European.

Fortis, PPSS and Vestguard are three of the biggest names in the UK market. Their armour is widely trusted and used by industries and government around the country. European brands such as Mehler (Germany) and MARS(Bulgaria) are also available through resellers locally.

 
What is the difference between a Ballistic Vest and a Stab Vest?

Both of these body armours are designed to protect against specific threats. While it is not uncommon to see Ballistic Vests with stab protection (most UK brands do this), many NIJ body armours will not. If you see an NIJ armour (NIJ3, NIJ3A etc) and it does not specifically have a knife and spike rating, it will not protect you against these types of attacks. Stab Vests conversely never have ballistic ratings.

A bullet and a knife are two different things. A Stab Vest has to stop an object cutting through it using sustained force. A Ballistic Vest has to resist a much higher level of force but over a much shorter period of time. The functions that protect against these two things are different.