Body Armour Law UK

first responders stab vest

Body armour law UK​

We are very fortunate in the UK when it comes to law and restrictions as to owning and wearing body armour, there are currently no restrictions on purchasing and owning body armour at present

There isn't a single comfortable, lightweight vest that is designed to protect against bullets, knives, bottles and needles.
Sir Galahad

Other countries including America, Canada and Australia either limit or ban the wearing of body armour. USA laws vary from state to state, in Kentucky, wearing body armour whilst committing a crime is a separate crime. In the state of Louisiana, it is illegal to wear body armour whilst on school premises!

So, body armour is a posh word for ‘stab vests’ right?

The average person probably thinks of body armour simply referring to bulletproof vests, stab vest etc. In actual fact the term ‘body armour’ covers all protection equipment that is worn, including stab and spike proof vests.

body armour


There’s a big  difference Between Stab and Spike Protection


Bullet proof vests trap and flatten a bullet within its protective fibres and disperses the energy across the area of vest.

Whereas an edged weapon such as a knife will create a similar impact however, it will cut these protective its fibres, warranting the vest as useless.

A spiked weapon such as syringes, ice picks, stilettos, etc will penetrate the minute gaps in the vests fabric, and also rendering it useless.

So, a bullet proof vest cannot offer protection against an edged or spiked weapon. 


A stab proof vest will protect against edged blade weapons, such as knives and will utilise Aramid fiber or Dyneema® in the manner that a bullet proof vest does. Having said that, to protect against any type of edged weapon the stab proof vests must use either chain-mail or laminate build. The two materials have their own pros and cons; chain-mail, for instance, is much heavier than a laminate build, although it will provide increased protection against edged weapons. Laminate, however, will protect against spiked weapons.


A spike proof vest differs to a stab proof vest in that they must have  a tough and solid surface to prevent spiked weapons from penetration. So, a spiked proof vest must have layers of laminate added to Aramid fiber to render full protection. Its exceptionaly string layer of plastic will prevent penetration and will hinder a spiked weapon. Whether you require a stab proof or spike proof vest, it is important to ensure that it meets the appropriate standards as outlined by the NIJ and CAST.

Who is CAST/HOSDB? (Home Office Body Armor Standard for UK Police)

CAST (Centre for Applied Science and Technology), also known as HOSDB (Home Office Scientific Development Branch), comprises teams of researchers and engineers to research and develop technological crime fighting solutions. CAST works with many universities, academies as well as being in direct contact with the essential bodies that use body armour, such police, where they have developed  test standards for stab and bullet proof vests.

These standards, like NIJ, describe the methods and minimum requirements for bullet and stab proof vests against knives, spikes and bullets with focus on protecting the torso.

Multi-Threat Body Armour

If we accept that a stab proof vest is different from a bullet and spike proof vest in both protective capacity and manufacture; the stab proof vest will only protect against edged weapons. So, it will not protect against spiked weapons. Thus, we must be mindful that threats that are likely to be faced must be so protected by appropriate body armour.

There are however, many personnel  who cannot accurately determine what threats they will be facing- on the other hand, some personnel may have a pretty good idea that they will be facing multiple threats involving different types of weapons.

With this in mind, people who choose between a ballistic or stab vest would leave them inadequately protected, therefore body armour that offers protection against a variety of types of threat is essential.

This is where multi-threat vests come into their own, they use a tighter Aramid fiber/Dyneema weave together with either chain-mail or laminate to offer protection against stab and spike weapons.

A multi-threat vest offers ideal protection for Police or Prison Officers, for example, because they are likely to face a vast array of threats, all of which can be fatal without proper protective body armour.


Hard and Soft Body Armour

So there’s a difference in stab proof body armour, but what about the ‘bullet proof vest’ ?

Because both types of body armour (edge and spike) incorporate a number of different things, namely ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ armour.

Hard and soft armour refers to the materials used to create the special protective clothing.

The ‘hard’ part of the body armour, as the word implies, is made of harder materials than soft armour.

The two are generally divided along the lines of their protection, hard armour is tougher therefore offering greater protection than it’s soft counterpart.

Always check to see if your chosen body armour is tested and graded  the appropriate standard according to your needs.

Body armour 'carrier' and 'plates'.

If we said a sofa can be split into two parts: the frame and the upholstery, body armour too can be split into two parts; the carrier and the plates.

The carrier is the protective vest itself, this carries the plates that represent the armour and  make it protective.

These protective plates differ and that depends on if they are ‘soft’ or ‘hard’.

The plates in soft armour are generally made of  Aramid fiber or Dyneema, a flexible and light plastic-based fabric that protects against a lot of firearm ammunition and impact trauma.

The plates in hard armour, are made of extremely tough materials such as ceramics, steel or titanium.

The biggest  difference between the two types of body armour is the actual size and weight.

Hard armour is naturally  much heavier and bulkier than the soft counterpart.

This renders any protective vest with these plates more uncomfortable, with this in mind it is not recommended that hard body armour is worn for long periods.  The upside is, if the situation demands it then it will offer unequaled personal protection.

A big issue with hard armour is temperature control, this is a common problem with body armour anyway, but, the thicker and heavier the hard plate is, the more the temperature increases.

Ask any Police Officer, what the worse part is,they are likely to tell you that their body armour is simply too uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.

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