Body Armor for Preppers – Do You Need It?

Body Armor for Preppers

Body Armor for Preppers

A lot of preppers are really focused on buying things like body armor but do preppers even need to worry about buying body armor? Does it make sense for preppers to buy body armor?

Body armor for preppers makes sense but it shouldn’t be the first thing you buy. Once you’ve stored enough food, water, and medicine for your family, you should start looking at things like body armor. I would recommend getting level III body armor.

Choosing the right type of body armor for your situation makes it much more effective. This basic explanation of body armor will let you choose what’s going to work best for you.

Thanks for supporting Ready Lifestyle! We participate in the Amazon associates program and other affiliate programs. We earn a small commission on qualifying orders at no expense to you.

Prepper Body Armor

In an SHTF situation, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, but the thing that scares me the most is other people and what they will do when they get desperate. A lack of food and clean drinking water will drive people to do just about anything they have to do in order to get access to food and water.

If you’re asking if you need body armor for SHTF, then you can probably already see where I’m going with this. The answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean that the first thing you should run out and get is body armor when you’re first getting started.

Food, water, and medicine are all more important than body armor for preppers. If you don’t have a month (or more) of those things already stored, then you need to do that first! Body armor and weapons should only come in after you get that initial buffer of food and water built up.

Different Levels of Body Armor

Body armor comes in a variety of levels that are based on what they’re rated to stop. You probably have heard people talking about hard and soft armor as well. This just means that the armor panel is either soft or hard and doesn’t necessarily mean anything about what the body armor can stop.

Body armor is classified by its protection level according to the National Institute of Justice standards.

Level IIA Armor

You’d want to wear level IIA armor when you need concealable body armor and need protection from pistol rounds…but it only protects from some pistol rounds meaning that there’s a very good chance that the threat you’re facing can still defeat your armor!

For this reason, we always suggest that you wear level II body armor as a minimum level of protection.

Level IIA armor is capable of defeating some pistol rounds. These include the 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP & .38 Special.

Level II Armor

Level II body armor is the minimum level of protection that we recommend if you think you need to defend yourself from pistol rounds and still need (or want) to conceal your body armor. With level II armor you’re getting much better protection that you would with level IIa and it’s still almost as concealable.

Level II body armor can keep you safe from all but the most powerful pistol rounds. If you don’t need to have concealable body armor, we’d suggest going for level IIIA armor instead of level II.

Level II armor is capable of defeating most pistol rounds. These include the .357 Magnum, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP & .38 Special.

Level IIIA Armor

Level IIIA body armor is designed to protect you from practically any pistol round. It can stop up to a .44 magnum so you’re not likely to come across a pistol that will defeat it under normal circumstances.

Level IIIA can come in both soft or hard versions with the soft armor panels still being pretty concealable.

Level IIIA armor is capable of defeating most pistol rounds. These include the .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP & .38 Special.

Level III Armor

Level III body armor is hard armor designed to stop many rifle rounds out there. These are plates worn on top of soft armor or by themselves.

Make sure that you know exactly what you’re buying from the manufacturer since level III armor is sometimes improved upon to provide guaranteed protection from certain rounds that can defeat other level III armors.

Level III armor is capable of defeating most rifle rounds. Steel plates are usually capable of protecting from 5.56mm green tip “penetrator” rounds while UHMWPE level III armor usually cannot.

Level IV Armor

Level IV body armor is the highest level of protection available. They typically weigh about as much as level III armor but are made of materials that make them more expensive.

Level IV armor is capable of defeating most rifle rounds .30 caliber and smaller.

Level V+ Armor

You may have heard of level 5 body armor, and you probably have seen people asking if there’s such as thing as level 5 or higher body armor. There is no such thing as level 5 body armor. If you see someone trying to market body armor as level 5 then they’re either lying or don’t know what they’re talking about.

Choosing the Correct Level of Body Armor

Choosing the right body armor level for your particular situation makes body armor make a lot more sense. If you choose body armor that doesn’t protect against the threats that you’re probably going to face, then that body armor is useless.

If you choose body armor that protects against higher levels of threats, then you’ll be protected, but you’ll be carrying a lot more weight than you need to. It’s a delicate balancing act between weight and protection.

You can use this flow chart to decide what type of armor is best for your situation.

Other Prepper Body Armor Considerations

These are some common body armor questions that get asked a lot and you may want to take into consideration.

Can civilians buy level IV body armor?

Right now there are very few restrictions on who can buy body armor, including level IV body armor. This changes based on the state and country so make sure that you check in your particular area before you make any purchases.

There is a movement among lawmakers in the U.S. to push for more limitations and laws on who can buy body armor and what types of body armor are legal.

What level body armor do police wear?

Police usually wear level II or level IIIA body armor because they’re most likely to encounter a shooter with a pistol in a common caliber. Level II and IIIA both protect against that type of threat.

They also normally have a plate carrier with level III or level IV plates in it close by in case they have to face someone with a rifle.

Is it illegal to wear body armor in public?

Wearing a bulletproof vest in public is legal in most states as long as you aren’t a convicted felon. In some areas, it’s illegal to wear body armor on school grounds so make sure that you check ahead of time if you plan on wearing body armor in or around a school.

You can read all about the legalities of wearing body armor in public here.

Most states have some kind of provision that makes it illegal to commit a crime while wearing body armor. Committing a crime while wearing body armor will result in everything from an additional fine to extended sentences to additional felony charges.

How much does body armor cost?

The cost of body armor varies a lot! Some companies charge very little for basic plates and plate carriers, like AR500 Armor. Other companies focus more on the government and military so they tend to charge more.

If you’re looking for something that will get the job done, then I’d suggest giving AR500 Armor a look. They make solid products that usually won’t break the bank.


I definitely suggest getting body armor at some point if you’re a prepper but don’t do it if you don’t have the basics like food and water covered. Always start there and then get the “extras” like body armor and other gear later.

If you’re interested in more ideas and information about body armor, make sure you check out our complete body armor guide before you go.

Scroll to Top