You have come to the conclusion that you want to join tens of thousands of Americans and purchase your own set of ballistic body armor. A big step in this process is choosing who to purchase your new armor from. This goes beyond choosing a manufacturer with a product that you like or suits your needs, but as far as what the country of origin is. In this article we are going to discuss some of the reasons why it is important to ensure that the body armor, that you trust your life with, is made in the good ole United States of America.
For the U.S market, the industry standard for testing is the US Department of Justice’s, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard-0101.06. This 89 page document outlines everything there is to know about the testing, evaluation, ratings, and definitions when it comes to the ballistic resistance of body armor. These standards are what allow you, the consumer, to know exactly what you are getting when you purchase a plate with a specific rating.
This is important because most of us do not have a deep enough pocket book to purchase multiple sets of ballistic armor to test and see how effective it actually is.
Because these standards are set by the US Federal Government, it can become tricky for US based companies to be claiming their product meets or exceeds a standard, when in fact it does not. Not only do they open themselves to legal issues with customers, but they also could fall under federal false advertising laws.
Because of these potentially company-ending issues, you can ensure that when an American company says its products meet or exceed a NIJ standard, they are staking their very livelihood, and the existence of their company, on that claim.
When you order from a company that does not operate within the United States, and just uses domestic distributors or dealers, they can get away with more “gray area” when it comes to their claims of quality and their advertising since the US may not have the ability to pursue them outside of blocking future sales of their product.
Additionally, the United States may only be a portion of their sales, meaning a ban or recall would not hit them as hard as a US company that only sells domestically.
When it comes down to it, the most important factor is trust. When it comes to the day to day living in our country there are different levels of trust we associate with every company and business we interact with. This is based on their experience and performance for a given task and how vital that task is to us. I trust McDonald’s to make me a consistently mediocre breakfast sandwiches, but I do not trust them to get my order right all the time. I have a low level of trust for McDonalds but I still do business with them, because when they get my order wrong, the consequence is I lose a little bit of time getting it corrected.
This is a low risk interaction.
Would I trust that same cashier to handle a more important financial transaction that has more severe consequences? Absolutely not.
When it comes down to the use and application of body armor, this is the highest risk activity you will find yourself in and requires the highest amount of trust in your gear and its makers. If it is something you wear and use on a daily basis, then you are more than likely protecting, in some capacity, the citizens of this great nation from foreign and domestic threats.
Who would you trust to have your back (and front) when called upon to do your duty? Some foreign entity that cares not if you live or die? Or your countrymen who have a vested interest in your wellbeing and want you to make it home safe? Since this in turn helps keep their family safe as well. Especially, when you analyze the purpose of the 2nd Amendment and how it essentially makes us uninvadvable as a country. Our citizens are capable of matching the capability of any military's small arms; this includes body armor.
Do you really want a global competitor making the armor that helps keep our country free?
This is not as much of a worry with steel ballistic plates, as it takes a lot to physically damage steel plates and that damage is easily seen with a visual inspection. But, with Ceramic plates it can get a lot trickier.
The best way to inspect ceramic plates is with x-ray machines that can scan and show any cracks within the plate.
Due to the nature of ceramic plates, they are more prone to damage if improperly packaged or handled.
The importation process has multiple steps involved that require products to get transported from the factory to trucks, to containers, to ships, to trucks, to dealers and then finally to you. There is a higher (still relatively low, but higher than 0) chance of damage happening, due to the increased handling.
With a US manufactured product you cut out a lot of the middle steps. Especially, if you are ordering directly from the manufacturer.
Now, you may be saying, if it's damaged when it arrives I’ll just return it. This is true if the damage is obvious. But with ceramic plates that are sandwiched between other layers of material, that damage may not be as obvious.
This is not some new kitchen gadget that if it fails the worst that will happen is a ruined meal. If this product fails, there are far more dire consequences that can’t be as easily fixed with a return shipping label.
We see it all the time in almost every industry, “support and buy local”.
Let's dive into that a bit.
When you make the active choice to buy American you are doing more than just choosing to keep your money within our own economy, which is by itself a moral decision. You are making the choice to be able to see the impact that your dollar can have on your neighbors and countrymen.
When we as a community make a foreign company successful, we never see the impact that has, even the positive impact, due to it not happening in our own backyard to our friends and neighbors. We are allowing other nations to prosper from our hard earned income, giving them jobs and taxes to assist their citizens.
When we choose an American company to purchase our products from, and watch it grow from a small business, it is common to have a feeling of pride because you are a part of that growth.
You helped them hire more staff at the new, larger, factory. You helped them start a new product line. You helped them and their employees achieve that lifelong goal of the American dream that millions come here seeking. It isn’t the accomplishment of one person but the collective that makes those dreams possible. This is perhaps the greatest reason to purchase American made products, especially your body armor.
We have discussed both the benefits of the product and the positive social impacts of buying your body armor from an American manufacturer.
The impact of your dollar has far more weight than you give it credit for, and has the power to change lives and industries for the better.
The question for this article started as “Why buy American”, but, maybe the more pertinent question that you should be asking yourself is “Why not?”