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Is Body armor practical for home defense?

Is there such a thing as “too” prepared?

Plate carrier and pistol

Self Defense - Your right as a human being

We will take little time explaining the “why” behind body armor, or any other tool, as a means of self-defense. Preceding rights clarified by the Constitution, you are entitled to defend your right to live against those who would seek to take that right away because of your status as a human being - not because any individual gave you that right. No defensive measure is “overkill” if aids in defending your home and loved ones. After all, as Colonel David Hackworth once so wonderfully said, “if you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.” If you feel that body armor will give you an additional edge in effectively defending yourself, you take that edge, and you give the perpetrator none.

When it comes to protecting the home, people often consider various options to ensure their safety from any type of potential threat. Some of these options include home security systems, reinforced doors, and alarm systems. However, the idea of body armor for home defense has also gained no small amount of attention within the last decade as it becomes more commonplace among the civilian population - and, well, as the world continues to become increasingly more wicked. So while we’ve shut down the debate as to whether or not you should be able to own body armor, the question arises: Is body armor practical for home defense? Why or why not?

The ins and outs of body armor

Level III Body Armor

First and foremost, let’s make sure we understand exactly what body armor is - and isn’t - and how it functions. Yes, we know it may seem redundant to explain the nature of body armor, but trust us; this will set up a foundation for common reasoning behind using body armor for home defense. Body armor, armor plates, and bulletproof vests are designed to protect the wearer’s vital organs from projectiles such as bullets or shrapnel. They are not intended to protect the wearer from getting shot entirely. As I always say, a shot to the arm is easier to patch than a shot through the heart - and who’s to blame?

I’m so sorry. Moving on.

People often wonder why bulletproof armor is commonly so small, typically found in sizes 10x12, 11x14, or even 8x10. The primary reason is simple: mobility. If you’re anticipating a gunfight, you’re going to need full control of your arms, legs, hips, and all pivotal points on the body. If you have a plate that extends down past your torso, as well as armor on your legs and arms, not only will you be significantly slower, you will not be able to function at all, really - not ideal, especially if your attacker is aggressive.

The primary advantage of body armor in a home defense situation is, obviously, that it provides an additional layer of protection between you and any bullets fired at you. In a scenario where an intruder may be armed, donning body armor can save lives - and has, numerous times. It can significantly reduce the likelihood of sustaining serious injuries to vital organs from gunfire, providing valuable time to react, call for help, or escape. For individuals who live in high-crime areas or have concerns about personal safety, wearing body armor may offer peace of mind and a sense of increased security - just don’t let it go to your head and make you go all Rambo-mode. Attempting to sweep your house in search of an intruder is probably the worst thing you could do. Conversely, holing up in a single room with your loved ones behind you, weapon trained on the door while awaiting the police is arguably the best thing you can do, regardless of how well-trained you think you are. This will not only ensure the greatest odds of survivability for your family, it will grant you a tremendous legal advantage when the court proceedings begin.

Of course, everybody in your home does not likely sleep in one single room, so we get the need to potentially have to move throughout the house. Just have a plan beforehand, and remember that even the best of the best gunfighters avoid solo room clearing and house sweeping if at all possible. Take advantage of the fact that you know the ins and outs of your home, and the intruder does not. Keep every edge possible on your side.

Military operator wearing plate carrier and body armor

Body Armor or not, it is crucial to have a plan, and remember your limitations and advantages

Remaining realistic with body armor

With all of that being said, it is essential to consider the limitations and practicality of body armor for home defense. One significant factor to bear in mind is the level of threat faced by you as a homeowner. While lower, lightweight levels of body armor may protect against most handguns and “lower-powered” firearms per se, they will be less effective against high-caliber rifles or armor-piercing rounds. Determining the types of threats one is likely to encounter in a home defense situation is crucial in choosing the appropriate level of protection - chances are though, pistol-calibers are going to be your primary concern, as a vast majority of armed home invasions involve them almost exclusively. Either way, I personally don’t mind opting for higher levels of body armor in home-defense scenarios - they may be heavier, but I likely won’t be wearing it for 10-12 hours anyway.

Although we only briefly touched on it, the comfort and mobility issues associated with wearing body armor are important to understand and explore further. Modern body armor has come a long way in terms of weight, flexibility and design; but it still adds bulk and restricts movement to one degree or another. Wearing body armor for extended periods can be physically demanding and may hinder the ability to navigate tight spaces, such as hallways or doorways, in a home setting. This potential impairment should be taken into account when evaluating the practicality of using body armor for home defense, especially if you DO need to move through the house to gather loved ones while an armed intruder is potentially present. Additionally, if the seconds count (which they often do, since most perpetrators are not going to wait for you to get ready), you need to be able to quickly evaluate whether or not you realistically have the time to put on a plate carrier - because if it’s between a carrier and a gun, the gun should take priority every time.

Did we mention having a plan beforehand? Yeah? Good, because never forget that there are decent odds you will be half asleep when this is all going down. Prepare and train now so muscle memory can kick in and accommodate for drowsiness, if a home invasion happens at night.

Additional Factors to consider with body armor for home defense

What about cost and affordability? These are factors many will need to consider. Every individual has their own budget, and while potential life-or-death scenarios are not something to skimp on financially, most people will prioritize paying their power bill or feeding their family before purchasing the latest and greatest protection available, if they cannot afford both. And that’s understandable; body armor can be quite expensive, especially as a supplement to other home defense equipment (like the keystone to home defense: a firearm). The financial investment required for body armor simply may not be feasible for everyone, especially considering the relatively low probability of encountering a life-threatening situation at home in the first place. But “probability” is what it’s all about, right? We make preparations every single day based on statistical odds. We wear seatbelts to the grocery store, despite probably not needing them - but people are still saved by them every day. We keep fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and carbon monoxide detectors for the same reasons. Somewhere, right now, someone is being saved by each of them.

And thankfully, companies like Predator Armor have found ways to keep costs affordable, while still offering high-quality, American-made body armor and protective equipment.

Level III+ Body Armor

Body armor you can trust, AND afford. Predator Armor.

Building on the concept of prioritizing specific items and tools for home defense, it is important to note that body armor should not be considered a substitute for other security measures - or your exclusive method of defense. While it can certainly offer an additional layer of personal protection, it is crucial to prioritize comprehensive home security strategies. Investing in sturdy doors, secure windows, and a reliable alarm system should be the foundation of any home defense plan. Doorbell cameras and outdoor surveillance cameras are relatively affordable these days, they typically sync with your phone, and have additional uses besides self-defense (like being able to see who you’re ignoring at the door). Body armor should be seen as a supplement to these measures, or even a last-resort, rather than the sole solution. If you have a home intruder, you’d better make damn sure it is only because all other key defenses have failed - and by then, hopefully the police are already on their way to take over. Not having these items in place is already setting yourself up for failure, injury, or death.

Oh - get a dog, too. Little off topic, but dogs serve an outstanding dual-purpose in home-defense: not only will they alert you to an intruder before you hear them, they’ll often scare them away outright. They also make a great, loving addition to any home. Just pray your intruder isn’t an ATF agent.

Less of a joke, unfortunately.

Dog wearing tactical gear. Woman wearing chest rig with pistol and mags

Never count out the tactical doggo.

There is a certain psychological aspect that should not be overlooked when it comes to this topic. I know that “P” word scares some, and makes others lose interest, so we’ll keep this short and to the point: Wearing body armor inside one's home may create a heightened sense of fear and paranoia, potentially impacting one's overall well-being and tactical performance. The mere act of donning body armor may perpetuate a constant state of alertness and hypervigilance, which can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety if used by someone with little or no training. Balancing a sense of security with a realistic assessment of risks is crucial for maintaining mental well-being. We all have thoughts, feelings, emotions, and whether we like it or not, they influence every action we take - either consciously or subconsciously. The most elite gunfighters in the world understand, respect, and train with these thoughts in mind - you should too.

A key consideration often overlooked by most when it comes to home defense are the legal ramifications surrounding body armor. While this primarily applies to those of you in less… free states, it still absolutely applies to those of us in areas that favor individual freedom and self-defense. I’ve seen people in my home state (Idaho) charged with murder while defending their home, believe it or not. Why? Because if you’ve scared an intruder off your property and they are running away, armed or not, shooting and killing them will 100% land you in prison. Do not let emotions overcome reason when defending your home, because laws don’t care about feelings. Laws and regulations regarding the possession and use of body armor may vary between jurisdictions, of course - most areas are fine with it, assuming you’re not a felon - but there are exceptions, and it’s a good idea to check the laws before making it a part of your home defense strategy.

Plate carrier and body armor

Most states allow body armor to be bought or sold - some have exceptions, so do your homework.

Also worth pointing out is that when you end up in a courtroom over your firearm-involved home defense situation (which you more than likely will), 99% of prosecuting attorneys will attempt to use the mere fact that you had body armor available as something to use against you - an excessive use of force, or some other bullshit argument that won’t stand, provided you don’t say something stupid like “I planned to kill them” or “I was just waiting for an intruder.” But yes, you are absolutely within your rights to keep it on-hand, should the need arise. We’ll say it again - just don’t compromise yourself by saying something stupid or “tough” in court.

To plate up, or not to plate up

The question of whether body armor is practical for home defense or not depends largely on several important factors. Each individual's circumstances, personal preferences, and risk assessment should be taken into account when making an informed decision about incorporating body armor into your home security strategy. While it can provide an added layer of protection against certain threats, it absolutely has limitations and considerations that need to be taken into account. It is vital to prioritize a holistic approach to home security, combining physical barriers, alarm systems, and other preventive measures for optimal protection. I know how many of us want to have “set it and forget it” type security in life, but the reality is that people are simply too evil, too clever, and too relentless to allow it - and I hate to say it, but hopefully we all realize it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So let’s be smart about it.

Man wearing plate carrier and body armor, holding a rifle with mags

Every ounce of research you do, every action you take to train, will give you a massive advantage over the untrained or unlearned assailant. Knowledge is power, and power is what wins. In the end, the call is yours to make: is body armor truly a “must have” for home defense? I’d say that is an entirely subjective question each individual must answer for themselves, depending on their own circumstances.

Just bear in mind that saying from earlier: “If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.”

Get out there, and defend what’s yours.



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