Body Armor Levels 101: What Do the Different Ratings Mean?

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Body armor plays a crucial role in protecting First Responders from a variety of threats, including bullets, knives, projectile objects and physical attacks. Let’s delve deeper into the meaning of body armor levels and what they mean for the First Responder.

What are body armor levels?

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) defines the different levels of body armor and holds responsibility for setting and upholding standards in the body armor industry. NIJ’s body armor ratings enhance safety of the equipment for law enforcement and first responders, boosting users’ confidence in dangerous situations.

The NIJ defines five body armor ratings – higher levels provide more protection but usually come with more bulk and weight.

Understanding Body armor Levels

Level IIA: tested to stop 9mm and .40 S&W short barrel handguns

Level II: protects against 9mm and .357 Magnum short barrel handguns

Level IIIA: protects against .357 SIG and .44 Magnum

Level III: rifle-rated protection shields against rifle rounds such as 7.62 and FMJ lead core ammunition

Level IV: the highest rifle-rated protection defends against armor-piercing rounds

Choosing Between Body armor Levels

“Angel Armor prides itself on the comfort and mobility of all our RISE Body Armor System carriers and Armor Packages. So next we assess the environmental threat levels, considering location, occupation, mobility needs, and budget,” says Aaron Pettigrew, Angel Armor’s Director of Sales.

Assessing environment threat levels:

Inquire about the common weapons and ammunition used in the community, the duty rounds carried by your department.

Consider mobility and comfort:

Striking the balance between protection level and comfort is key. Often higher-level protection plates are bulky, heavy and offer little flexibility.


Budget considerations vary among departments and first responders. It’s essential to determine your budget and select the protection that aligns with it best.

NIJ Certified Body ARMOR from ANGEL ARMOR

First Responders can have confidence in knowing that NIJ-certified body armor has undergone rigorous testing and meets the performance standards set by the NIJ.

Every Angel Armor vest on its own meets or exceeds NIJ body armor ratings Level II or Level IIIA standards. The system offers tiered protection up to NIJ Level III when paired with Truth SNAP rifle plates.

Angel Armor’s knowledgeable sales team is here to help you decide which RISE Body Armor System is right for you and your department. Reach out today for more information.

Inquire Now


Drop us a line, and we will get back to your promptly!

Inquire Now

Drop us a line and we will get back to you promptly!

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