What is concealed body armor?
Though we may often associate body armor with the robust protective items worn by SWAT teams and the military, body armor is often concealed when worn by the general public and high-ranking officials.
Body armor can be concealed either under clothing or in clothing itself. It can also be carried with as a covert accessory to be worn in an emergency.
Concealed Bulletproof Vests
When thinking about non-visible body armor, people generally think of a bulletproof vest that is being worn under an individuals normal clothing. We’ve often seen the scene in a movie with an operative goes undercover but keeps a layer of protection on in case things go wrong. Bulletproof vests worn to be concealed have some differences than those worn on the outside. They must be able to conveniently and unnoticeable hide under clothing. This means they can’t be bulky or stiff. They must sit tightly against the body, so as not to be overly visible.
Less well known to the general populace is the large amount of products on the market combining both fashion and security into a single piece. Cutting edge technology in defensive materials has allowed the creation of everything from bulletproof suits to ballistic shirts. They come in a wide variety of styles, from casual jean jackets, to formal tuxedos. Some utilize existing, designer materials, like Armani suits. When carefully combined with ballistic materials by an expert a stunning Armani bulletproof suit is the result.
Other companies imbue the ballistic material right in to the clothing at the time of manufacture – it is not separately added on. Often there will be several layers to the clothing, with the outermost layer being the most aesthetically pleasing and flexible and the inner layer providing stiff protection.
Who wears concealed body armor?
Because, by definition, we do not see concealed armor, it is natural to assume overt armor is most commonly worn. In fact, concealed body armor is worn with much greater frequency. The most famous speculation is with regards to the United States president.
Previously presidents would generally only wear armoring when visiting visit a foreign country or other high risk situation. When a president travels numerous security measures are already in place. In recent presidencies the wearing of security clothing has become more common place. It was widely reported that Barack Obama wore ballistic clothing to his inaugural address. A historically new presidency, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
Similarly it has been noted that Donald Trump regularly wears either undercover armor or bullet resistant suits. During his campaign he added that he is exhausted afterwards do to the weight, but he is more confident of his security. Of course, now under the care of the United States secret service he may not feel the need to anymore.
But presidents are only the most famous people to wear concealed body armor. Many others do to. Typically of course it will be those who highly value their lives. It may be CEOs or other leaders of industry when visiting dangerous locations. Or it may be other political leaders who fear oppression. Either way, the wearing of a concealed body armor is probably for those who are at the intersection of three things:
- They are a valuable target (either financially or politically)
- They are in a dangerous location
- They do not want the focus to be on their protection
Types of Concealed Ballistic Clothing
- Concealed bulletproof vests
- Bulletproof suits
- Bulletproof jackets
- Bulletproof shirts
Benefits of a concealed bulletproof vest
A main benefit of concealed armor or bulletproof clothing is that it does not attract attention to oneself or a client. In the majority of day to day cases, obscurity is the best form of security. Wearing overt protection can make you stick out like a sore thumb and actually attract the criminal attention you are looking to avoid.
A related benefit is with regards to presentation. Obvious ballistic protection indicates that you fear attack. This may present the wrong message, particularly if you are of political persuasion. But this is also a reasonable factor in many other situations. For example, the CEO of an oil extraction company may realistically be at threat due to the high profile nature of his position, and ballistic protection should be warranted. However the lower level employees who he or she is speaking to should not be frightened and think that their lives are in danger as well.
Finally, covert armor allows for wearing one’s preferred fashion. Aside from style, in today’s business environment executive represent their brand, and formal clothing may be appropriate. Bulky overt armor is not exactly stylish.
Downsides of concealed armor
In contrast to some aesthetic preferences mentioned previously, in other cases visible ballistic vests and other armoring may make the preferred statement. Sometimes we do want others to know that we are protected and armed. A great example are SWAT teams and other professionals. Here visible security may be an important aspect of security from “intimidation”.
Hidden ballistic vests can make higher levels of ballistic protection impractical. Needing armor to fit under ones clothing (or in one’s clothing) means it’s thickness can only be so great. Though great technologies have been invented and discovered in recent decades, even the highest end protective material has it’s own physical limitations. Simply put, thicker amounts of material is going to provide higher levels of protection. Concealed body armor has a challenge in protecting from high power rifle shots.
Additionally, concealed vests may not have as good coverage. Again, they must conform within the restrictions of one’s outer clothing. This can provide less overall coverage, for example around necks and midsection.
Despite these limitations, in many cases ballistic clothing or concealed armor provides significantly more protection and peace of mind then alternate forms of security or no armoring at all.