The Difference Between Level II and Level IIIa Armour

Image of a soldier wearing tactical gear with a MOLLE system backpack.

When purchasing body armour, it is essential to know the difference between various types because of the vast range of armour available. Deciding between body armour can be simple if you know what you need. The size, the shape and the protection are all essential factors that determine your purchase.

Level II and Level IIIa are two of the most popular types of body armour, but what is the difference?

Both types of armour are typically soft and made of woven materials, although Level III armour can also come in a hard plate as well. Despite these similarities, the two levels differ greatly. Level III armour is much stronger than Level II. It can protect the wearer from multiple rounds from a handgun as well as sub-machine gun rounds. Level II armour can also protect the wearer from bullets and is primarily tested against the .357 Magnum bullet. Whereas Level IIIa armour is designed to stop .44 Magnum bullets.

Level IIIa armour typically protects the wearer from some heavy-duty guns. But, some Level IIIa armour can actually reduce the risk of knife and spike injuries too, however, this depends on the fabric of the body armour and can differ with every product. SWAT teams and certain military members are most likely to wear this type of body armour.

Despite its strong protection level, Level IIIa armour is often too heavy for daily use by certain professions, like police or security personnel. It is a thick armour and is designed for a strong battery-firing device (BFD). Therefore, Level IIIa is better suited to those who may encounter a severe threat.

Whereas, Level II armour is better suited for security or police as it is more lightweight and allows the wearer to have greater mobility. Although the military rarely uses Level II, it is not weak body armour. In fact, the armour is more than adequate at protecting the wearer from street violence or 9mm handguns. This armour provides the ideal protection whilst also being lightweight. It is easy to run in, especially in fast-paced situations. First-time buyers usually purchase this type of armour.

However, SafeGuard Clothing provide a great variety of body armour and even offers a lightweight Level IIIa armour – a product not always seen. This is ideal for police or security who want more heavy-duty armour but in a lightweight style. The product allows the wearer to be protected from more severe threats, whilst having great ease of mobility.

When purchasing body armour, customers frequently buy a carrier alongside the armour. The carriers come with a MOLLE system and allow the wearer to have a hard ballistic plate under their armour for added protection. Carriers are easy to take on and off and are extremely lightweight.

Before using either of these body armours, ask yourself what your needs are and what level of protection you require.