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Body armor: Why 4 panels are better than 2

Propper’s new 4PV armored vest provides greater comfort and protection than a two-panel ‘clamshell’ design


The following is paid content sponsored by Propper International.

By Joyce Varma for PoliceOne BrandFocus

Body armor can save your life, but only if you wear it. Police officers often don’t wear their vests because of discomfort from reduced mobility, increased weight from the vest, heat and chafing. With vests that ride up to your chin each time you sit down, it can be tempting to go on duty without your armor.

Propper’s four-panel armor allows for a more custom and comfortable fit and enables better mobility while officers are performing a variety of maneuvers on the job. The 4PV-FEM model is specifically designed to fit a female officer. (Photo/Propper)
Propper’s four-panel armor allows for a more custom and comfortable fit and enables better mobility while officers are performing a variety of maneuvers on the job. The 4PV-FEM model is specifically designed to fit a female officer. (Photo/Propper)

Propper International wants to change that. Propper’s new 4PV four-panel armor line offers a more customizable fit for better comfort – and better protection.

The IACP reports that body armor has saved more than 3,000 officers since it was first issued in 1972. Over 70 percent of law enforcement agencies issue body armor, and department chiefs usually encourage officers to wear protective vests.

“You never know when something might happen where an officer might need that protection,” said Erica Simpson, armor program manager for Propper. “Armed confrontations happen in the blink of an eye.”

Better fit means better protection  
For body armor to be most effective, it must cover your vital organs, so it needs to fit properly and allow a wide range of motion for everyday use. 

The typical police-issue armored vest has two panels, one on the front and one on the back of the wearer, with overlap on the sides. The problem with that “clamshell” design is that the fit is hardly customizable. If the wearer is larger than the vest, there is a gap on the sides of the torso that creates vulnerability, and on a thinner officer, there is an uncomfortable overlap.

The 4PV armor features two torso panels, plus two independent “cummerbund” panels on the sides of the vest. These add another level of protection against ballistic intrusion in vulnerable areas.

Because the two side panels move independently of the front and back panels, the Propper 4PV vests allow for a more custom and comfortable fit. And the four-panel design enables better mobility while officers are performing a variety of maneuvers on the job, said Skip Church, Propper vice president of armored products.

“The 4PV is a leap forward in officer protection,” Church said. “It was created to eliminate issues that have plagued the outdated two-panel design for years.”

Four 4PV options available  
Propper offers four different models of the four-panel armor: 4PV, 4PV-FEM, 4PV-U and 4PV-TAC. Each comes in coyote (khaki), navy, black and white, and ballistic and spike options are available. 

Each vest includes soft armor panels sewn into the front, back and sides and features a front pouch that can accommodate an independent trauma plate for higher-level protection. All concealable armor, no matter the brand, is custom fitted, and officers need to be measured for the right size. Be sure to wear your duty gear while taking measurements.

The 4PV (men) and 4PV-FEM (women) models are concealable armor that can be worn under a shirt and are designed to stay hidden. These vests feature NIJ Level II and Level IIIA ballistic panels. The 4PV-FEM is specifically designed to fit a female officer without bunching, billowing or scooping on the chest and neck.

“We looked at what was on the market and knew that we could do better,” said Simpson, the vest’s designer. “Having a woman design a vest made for women just makes sense.”

The 4PV-TAC is designed to be worn on top of a uniform and is meant to be used in a high-intensity situation, such as a SWAT or tactical team. The panels from the 4PV fit into the 4PV-TAC, making it a complete system. In addition to the four standard colors listed above, this vest also comes in red.

With so many options, Propper’s 4PV armor provides customizable protection to fit a variety of needs. Don’t let an ill-fitting vest stop you from protecting yourself on the job.

“It’s a matter of life and death,” said Simpson, “so we’ve designed our 4PV to be more comfortable to encourage officers to wear it.”

For more information on armored vests, visit Propper International.

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