Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more or his work at The Weapon Blog
A bullet proof vest, or bullet resistant vest, cannot completely guarantee your protection. In a hostile situation, preparation and awareness are far more important than body armor. Having said that, a vest will dramatically increase your chances of survival, and it is important to ensure you are wearing the correct protection. Many are not aware of the various levels of protection available and even more do not realize that Kevlar cannot protect you against everything. For protection against the more powerful weapons, like automatic assault rifles, you need hard armor.
The FN SCAR is one of the most popular weapons available thanks to its adoption by the US Military. Constructed to be extremely modular, it is available in two common variants; the SCAR-L for ‘light’ ammo (5.56x45mm NATO) and the SCAR-H for ‘heavy’ ammo (7.62x51mm NATO). The first rifles were issued to a battalion of the US 75 th Ranger Regiment in April 2009, but the SCAR-L would later be dropped by US Special Ops Command in favour of the SCAR-H. This was quickly followed by plans to adopt conversion kits for the MK17 SCAR-H to enable their use of 5.56mm ammo. As of early 2015 the FN SCAR in various types was used by special ops/police in over 20 countries. The FN SCAR-L requires a Level III bullet proof vest, though only a Level IV vest can protect against the SCAR-H.
The HK415 was designed as an improvement on the M4 and is based on the AR-15 platform. Named for the makers (Heckler & Koch), the HK416 was designed for the US Army, and became famous as an automatic for being used by the Navy Seals to kill Osama Bin Laden. The HK416 was adopted as the standard rifle of the Norwegian Armed Forces and is in official use by countries all over the world. This famous weapon uses a gas system which reduces malfunction and increases the longevity of its parts. A Level III bullet proof vest is necessary to protect against this weapon.
The AK-47 is perhaps the most famous weapon in the world, and has the credentials to back up its popularity. Designed in 1945, finished in 1946, and adopted by the Soviet Army in 1948, the AK-47 is well known for its reliability and accessibility. This automatic is so popular that it makes up approximately 15% of all firearms in the world, thanks in part to its low production costs. Protection against an AK-47 requires the highest level of protection at Level IV.
The M16 is perhaps just as well-known as the AK-47, and was originally designed as a direct US competitor to the AK-47. Originally created as an adaptation of the AR-15 by the US Military, the M16 has been used in a variety of famous conflicts throughout its service history. In 1969 the M16A1 became the US Military’s standard service rifle, replacing the M14. 14 years later the USMC adopted it as their official weapon, and three years later the US army did the same. The M16 is the most produced firearm of its 5.56mm caliber, and total worldwide production of the rifle is approximately 8 million. Protecting against this famous weapon will require a vest at Level III.
IMI Tavor TAR-21
The IMI Tavor TAR-21 is usually abbreviated to either the TAR-21 or simply the Tavor. As its name suggests, it was developed by Israel Military Industries (now Israel Weapon Industries) who wished to develop a rifle that would outperform the dated M4A1 while staying suited to close quarters and mechanized infantry. By adhering to these specifications the IMI hoped to create a weapon that the Israel Defence Forces would adopt as its official weapon. In 2006 it was adopted by the IDF, with the changeover expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The Tavor is purported to be incredibly reliable and durable, as well as easy to maintain. In 2014 the National Rifle Association’s American Rifleman awarded the Golden Bullseye Award as its rifle of the year. To protect against this weapon you would need Level III hard armor.
The FAMAS is a French-made bullpup rifle, as its name explains ; FAMAS stands for ‘Fusil d’Assaut de la Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne’, which translates as ‘Assault Rifle from the Saint-Étienne Weapon Factory’. The first prototype for the FAMAS was designed in the 1950s, but it was not manufactured in any form until 1971. At that time the French Military was looking for a new service weapon, and while there were several German-made options available, the idea of using a German-made weapon could not be reconciled so soon after the end of World War II. Therefore, the FAMAS was created and quickly became the official weapon of the Armed Forces. Protection against this weapon would require a vest at Level III.
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