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How technology tackles 3 of the biggest rifle-resistant body armor challenges

Outfit your officers with armor that tackles design, material and affordability issues


Sponsored by CATI Armor

By Yoona Ha

Wearing heavy steel armor on a sweltering summer day isn’t normally a hazard of police work. But it is a problem for officers who deal with the challenge of wearing body armor so uncomfortable that not wearing it at all is tempting at times.

The CQB armor can be as little as 1/8 inch thick, which is rated Level IIIA for handgun threats. (image/CATI Armor)
The CQB armor can be as little as 1/8 inch thick, which is rated Level IIIA for handgun threats. (image/CATI Armor)

It’s widely known that body armor saves lives. A recent report also showed that among 637 officers observed, those who wore body armor were 76 percent less likely to be killed than those who did not wear any body armor.

Recent events involving deputy shootings that have resulted in the death of several officers have prompted serious discussions on the need to properly protect officers with quality ballistic gear.   

So why isn’t wearing body armor on the job a requirement for officers? Surprisingly, a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of local police departments found that in 2013, just 8 percent of departments required uniformed field officers to wear armor in some high-risk scenarios.

According to Brian Moore, owner of CATI Armor, having uncomfortable rifle-resistant body armor for your department not only deters some officers from wearing the right protective equipment, it can also hinder officers from performing at their best when they do wear armor.

The Combat Quad-Bend Technology (CQB) developed by CATI Armor helps solve three of the biggest challenges officers face with rifle-resistant body armor: ill-fitting design, heavy materials and costliness. Recent technological advances in body armor design have made steel core armor so comfortable that it’s entirely possible for officers to wear it during their shifts and for extended periods of time.

Here are three ways body armor with CQB technology can help you overcome those challenges:

1. IT’S DESIGNED WITH MANY BODY TYPES IN MIND

Before Moore started CATI Armor, he realized that steel core armor, the hard armor well known for stopping rifle rounds, wasn’t designed with comfort in mind.

“Much of the steel core armor that already existed had this single-curve shape that doesn’t fit well with your body,” said Moore, “so that’s what inspired us to create armor that is multi-curved and shaped in a way that fits different body types as closely as possible.”

The common problem with armor with single-curve plates is that, since it doesn’t fit the contours of your body, it ends up pinching and bunching up at the top in a way that moves the protective plates away from your body.

Having armor that’s bunched up in the front could leave you vulnerable.

“It’s almost like you’re constantly fighting your armor when you’re wearing one of those,” said Moore.

2. IT’S MADE WITH LIGHTWEIGHT MATERIAL

Another challenge officers often face is body armor that is so bulky and heavy that it’s not sustainable to wear it for an extended period of time. This can put you at risk, especially if it drains your energy to the point of slowing you down.

But with lighter body armor, sometimes there’s a question of whether it would hold up as well as a bulkier, heavier model would.

CATI Armor’s CQB technology solves this problem by creating multiple levels of thinner, lighter plates that meet NIJ standards for ballistic protection, said Moore. The CQB armor can be as little as 1/8 inch thick, which is rated Level IIIA for handgun threats. The 1/4-inch CQB plate is a Level III armor that stops rifle rounds. The 1/4 inch plate is also available in an ultra-high hardness steel that is tested for special threats with M193 5.56 at close range.

Knowing that there’s a lightweight, powerful alternative that can be worn even during hot, grueling days can be a huge relief for officers who don’t want to trade protection for comfort. and because the weight of the armor won’t weigh you down, you can be at your peak performance for longer periods of time, no matter what the weather conditions are.

3. IT’S MORE AFFORDABLE

Price is another huge deterrent for many police departments when it comes to purchasing steel core body armor. Money can be tight for many police departments, and department leaders often think that they have to make tough sacrifices in quality and comfort to choose the most budget-friendly body armor for their officers.

Quality body armor doesn’t have to be expensive in order to be a reasonable buy, said Moore. Look for armor that is tested to meet the NIJ ratings for the level of protection you need. A variety of price points are represented on CATI Armor’s website and the NIJ Compliant Products List.

You don’t have to tolerate discomfort. If you’ve ever considered not wearing your rifle-rated body armor because of the inconvenience it causes, explore your options. Body armor manufacturers continue to develop new armor products to better serve the needs of their law enforcement customers. 

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