Pt. 1 - The Difference Between Stand Alone and In-Conjunction With Armor Plates

For the first post in TAG’s What You Need to Know About Armor series, we’ll be tackling what the difference is between a stand alone designation and in-conjunction designation armor.

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The first thing you should do is asses your threat level with regards to the types of rounds you expect to encounter and where you will be needing the armor. (The National Institute of Justice issues threat level standards for police and LEOs.) Do you need/want just pistol round protection? Or will you need to stop rifle threats, and what types of rifles do you expect to encounter? Making this assessment will help you make an informed choice on what armor you should opt for.

Stand-alone armor speaks for itself. This kind of armor, like our HESCO Level IV stand-alone armor, requires no other protection to stop a prescribed level of threat. Stand-alone armor is ideal for responding to volatile active shooter situations. The vast majority of body armor is considered stand-alone — no soft armor backer required to meet its threat rating.

HESCO Level IV Stand-Alone Armor

In-conjunction with armor requires multiple pieces to provide protection against a prescribed level of threat. A typical ICW armor combo is: a soft armor vest (handgun threat levels II, IIA, and IIIA for example) combined with a ballistic plate of a higher threat level to provide protection against something like rifle threats. ICW armor elements earn NIJ certifications as a single system. To be NIJ certified, you have to pair elements with the manufacture-recommended companion pieces of armor.

Fugitive Armor Carrier

Regardless of the type of hard insert you choose, it’s always a good idea to wear a soft armor backer if you can, even if it’s stand-alone armor, to help reduce blunt force trauma. Don’t be dumb — there’s no such thing as “bulletproof,” only bullet resistant. And remember, armor is essential, but so is sound judgement – so choose wisely.

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All armor types have pros and cons, each of which falls under the categories of weight, threat level, and cost. So, do you prefer stand-alone or ICW armor? Let us know in the comments.