Deadly threats are never just limited to firearm projectiles and powerful explosives. To be well-rounded and fully protected against any kind of known threat, one must consider knives and sharp-tipped instruments as well.
Classifying Ballistic and Stab Proof Protection
Although many body armour applications will protect against both bladed/sharp-edged attacks and ballistic threats, not all of them do. Essentially, there are differences in the construction of the two types of protection. The typical ballistic-resistant protection will often have a unidirectional, looser weave that’s constructed of heavier deniers. This armour does not only have the characteristic of stopping a powerful projectile from penetrating but it’s also designed to limit crushing or blunt trauma for the wearer. It works by distributing the force of a projectile over a large surface area of the protective application.
In the case of spike and stab-proof protection, the fabric used is very tightly woven and is made of finer aramid fibres than ballistic applications. To repel any sharp-pointed objects, the fabric is woven and layered in such a manner that will create sufficient friction on a spiked instrument. When the weapon makes contact with the stab-proof application, it is drastically slowed down and the force is virtually eradicated. It will not be able to penetrate.
Actual Tests Performed
A mandate for testing a body armour application using a commercial ice pick as the trial penetrator was issued by the state of California Department of Corrections in the 1980s. The trail was performed by a drop mass measuring apparatus that contained the icepick. This particular testing method was to simulate the ability of a human attacker to distribute impact energy with their upper body force. With the help of gravitational force, the drop mass was set above the stab-proof application with the precise proportion of height to the force of impact energy. To this day, similar tests are still used to assess the strength of stab-proof applications.
Classifications of Stab Proof Protection
Proper testing on stab-proof applications is conducted with two specific areas in mind: “Edged Blade" instruments, most notably high-quality commercial knives, and “Spike” instruments, most notably syringes and improvised prison-style weapons. And there are three levels of stab-proof body armour protection, Levels 1, 2, and 3.
The specified levels of stab-proof body armour conform to the standards set by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). In determining these standards, the NIJ measures a potentially deadly strike by joules, with each level having its own limitations: Level 1–24 Joules, Level 2–33 Joules, Level 3–43 Joules (all standard of maximum penetration limit of 7mm).
What Exactly Can the Stab Vest Protect Against?
The stab vest is designed to protect either a slashing or a powerful stabbing attack. Being that stab instrument attacks are classified into two categories, Edged-blade and Spike, anything that’s meant for stabbing, makeshift instrument or not, can be repelled by a stab vest according to the standards set by the NIJ.