We’ve received a lot of questions lately about some of the newest technology to hit the body armor market in 2021. The newest ballistic protection that we’ve seen are the bulletproof hoodies.
Some of these new hoodies are really cool and outstanding for a civilian to wear. However, sometimes in life, when things seem to be too good, they’re too good to be true.
We’re writing this blog, not as an attack on these companies, but to educate our customers to ensure everyone is safe.
Frankly, we believe bulletproof hoodies can be dangerous because as new companies work with material that the NIJ due to lack of formalized standards can ’t test, there’s no way to regulate the product.
What is a Bulletproof Hoodie?
Let us start by saying that nothing is ‘bulletproof’. There are always bullets out there that can penetrate armor - especially soft armor, as with a low profile hoodie. Always remember, at this stage, John Wick is just a fictional character… and so is his ‘bullet proof’ jacket.
A bulletproof hoodie is a relatively new fashion design that has companies place soft armor inserts into the interior of a hoodie. We really like what some of these creative clothing designers have been able to do.
To be fair, unless a company is using soft body armor inserts in their products, there is no regulation for alternative armor. Therefore, there really is nothing they can do about being NIJ-Listed.
The tricky part is that some companies use soft inserts and some don’t. So, some SHOULD be NIJ-Listed and others don’t have that opportunity.
What is a Bulletproof Jacket?
Some companies that we list below sell both “bulletproof” hoodies and jackets. These jackets are incredibly heavy with some reaching 18lbs. That’s a lot of weight for a product that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars.
We understand the desire to try new technology that provides optimal mobility, blends in anywhere, and protects us from handgun bullets. We just want you to do the research to see what they’re using and how they can prove their claims.
Why is the NIJ Important?
Normally, most of our readers are members of the LEO or military communities and have read countless blogs regarding the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
Most of the most successful ballistic protection companies have achieved success, in part, because they could get their body armor approved by the federal government.
We use the NIJ worldwide along with the NATO STANAG international standards to rate body armor capabilities.
The NIJ 0101.06 Body Armor Protection Standards are set for a reason; ballistic protection is a life or death situation. Some competitors might see this in a negative light, but we don’t put these facts out because of hate.
Shotstop® truly cares about people and the only thing we’d hate to see is a person trusting a hoodie to protect them against a gun.
We understand there are a lot of videos on YouTube that show these hoodies stopping a .357 Magnum at close range.
However, as of right now, I’ve yet to see any bulletproof hoodie company prove their claims within the worldwide standard of the NIJ.
What Does “Tested to NIJ Standards Mean?”
As you read this blog and do your own research, you’re going to run across many of the bulletproof hoodie companies that say their armor is “Tested to NIJ Standards”.
There are many variants of the phrase that companies will use to make you believe their products are NIJ-Listed/certified.
However, like I said before, some bulletproof hoodie companies are legit and want to do the right thing. It’s just impossible for them because there is no regulation for alternative armor.
Finding out which brands are built with integrity as a foundation and which are strictly in it for the money is the question of the day.How Do I Know Which Armor is Legit?
Simply put, the NIJ only tests for 2 types of ballistic body armor, soft plate inserts (Level II-IIIA) and Hard Plate Inserts (Level III-IV).
Companies that are using a material composition that the NIJ doesn’t test have to do their own testing.
We don’t want to knock ethical companies that want to do the right thing, but don’t have the capability to get their product certified or listed. That would be unfair and unethical to judge a company on something they can’t control.
There are things you can do as a consumer to find out if a company you’re looking at is honest. If we were trying to buy a bulletproof hoodie and knew they couldn’t be NIJ-Listed, we’d at least ask for their ballistics report.
And with that, specifically look at the backface deformation showing on that ballistic report. What good is a ballistics protection hoodie going to do that allows the 9mm bullet to go 4 inches into your torso before finally stopping it’s forward momentum?
What Should I Do if a Company Refuses to Provide a Ballistic Test?
If they don’t provide that information, I’d walk away and find another company that doesn’t have anything to hide. If you’re depending on this to save your life, you should be able to know if it passed the ballistic testing.
Some companies will list their report on their product page, but some just don’t. It’s not a big deal to not list it on the product page, but if they refuse to give you a copy, then we’d worry.
Companies may not be able to become NIJ-Listed but they can have products tested by accredited independent ballistic labs. PS — uncle Bob shooting it in the backyard or at the local range doesn’t get the pass. The lab reports should be formal and in legitimate ballistic labs.
If they’re selling ballistic hoodies, they’ve done ballistic testing and should be happy and willing to provide you with that information.
What Style of Bulletproof Hoodie is the Most Popular?
The single most popular hoodie is the Sherpa Hoodie. Sherpa Hoodies are built with all sorts of material, but wool and down are two of the most popular. As most outdoorsmen/women know, Down and Wool are thick, insulating, and breathable.
Sherpa Hoodies are made by almost every major clothing company because they’re big, comfortable, and will keep you warm in the Winter.
I have at least 3 Sherpa Hoodies that I wear every year when it gets cold and I love them. The Sherpa Hoodies that I have are already heavy and bulky.
The last thing I want is to be weighed down with 10-15 extra lbs if I’m in danger. To make matters worse, the authorities can prove none of their claims.
How are Sherpa Hoodies Made into Body Armor?
There are multiple ways companies are building these hoodies, but the most common practice is to sew soft armor inserts into the inside of the hoodie. This hides any presence of armor from the outside.
Other companies are using different materials altogether and are coming up with some cool and creative ways to offer ballistic armor.
The big problem is with no way to be regulated under our government, they can be difficult to trust with your life.
Are Bulletproof Hoodies Stab-Proof?
This is also a question that you’re going to have to ask before you pay hundreds on a hoodie. Similar to the NIJ Ballistic Standards, there is another standard known as the NIJ Standard for Stab-Resistance of Personal Body Armor.
We suggest you familiarize yourself with the spike and slash resistant standards of NIJ and ask the manufacturers about it. Again, ask for lab results.
We’re not suggesting the hoodies won’t hold up, but it’s a question we’d ask before we ever bought it.
Even if they can’t get their products tested because they don’t have soft armor inserts, they can go through independent testing laboratories and offer that evidence to their customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about Stab-Resistant or Stab-Proof Armor, read our blog, Stab Proof Vests | Everything You Need to Know.
Are Sherpa Hoodies NIJ-Listed?
We always suggest for our customers to do their own research. There are some companies that sell bulletproof sherpa hoodies and use soft armor inserts and some that don’t. The only way to know is to research the company, the product, and ask questions.
Body armor is a serious topic, and it will undoubtedly be beneficial to spend the hours researching.
In fact, one of top priorities of this blog is to provide our customers with the resources to conduct research. We’re very conscientious about the resources we provide to ensure you know what’s true.
We wholeheartedly believe that our products are the best in the world. However, all the resources we provide are federal and state run organizations that are 100% authentic.
Are Bulletproof Jackets NIJ-Listed?
There are plenty of companies that sell both ballistic jackets and hoodies. Similar to the hoodies, you need to know what the ballistic and stab-resistant reports say before you buy one.
Similar to the bulletproof hoodies, the jackets fall into the same issue with the NIJ. If they’re using soft armor inserts, they should get them tested by the NIJ.
If they’re using alternative body armor material, then they should provide an independent ballistics report.
How is Shotstop® Different From Most Companies?
If you are actually thinking about this question, I appreciate the opportunity to show you how we’re different from everyone else online.
- We will always use the correct verbiage for the NIJ because it’s vital to our reputation and status that we never indulge or exaggerate our products.
- Shotstop® provides our NIJ Compliance letter with almost every piece of armor we sell. Our Level IV+HA and HS plates don't have the compliance letter yet. However, they are in NIJ testing process and we expect to get our compliance letter soon.
- We include the independent lab reports for every plate we sell. It’s not to boast, but to ensure our customers never have that feeling of “I hope this works”.
- Our warranty is 15 years for Level III body armor and 10 years for all Level IV body armor. No other we’ve seen yet matches the length and coverage of our warranty.
Is There An Alternative to a Bulletproof Hoodie?
Yes, there are many alternatives that are NIJ-Listed, offering true protection, more comfort, and much lighter weight than any of the ballistic hoodies and jackets available today.
In the winter months, most of us in colder climates are wearing big and heavy jackets that could probably conceal an AR. If you’re already wearing a big jacket and want to be discreet with your body armor, we can easily accommodate your needs.
Duritium® Level III+PA Plate
The average weight of the 10 companies I specifically researched is about 8-15 lbs per jacket or hoodie.
The average threat level these companies list is Level II and some with Level IIIA (jackets). This sounds like a good thing, but who wants to wear a 10-15 lb jacket that may not even do what it’s supposed to do?
The Duritium® Level III+PA is the fastest, lightest, and thinnest stand-alone Level III plate ever made. We currently have 5 different plate sizes to fit the smallest and largest of people in both our SAPI cut and Shooters cut.
Our Duritium® Level III+PA plate with 10”x12” in our Shooters cut is only 2.7 lbs per plate and an astonishing 0.7” thick!
What makes it even more of an easy decision is that most of these ballistic hoodies and jackets cost around $350-$1,000. Our Duritium® plates will last more than a decade longer and cost around the same for a full set.
Why Choose Shotstop®?
When we state on our website that our armor will protect you against a specific threat, we back it up with FACTS. The Duritium® Level III+PS plate will protect you against every handgun and to a 7.62x51mm M80 bullet.
Instead of making promises we can’t keep, we believe in integrity and transparency. Therefore, I’ve included our NIJ notice of compliance letter for our Duritium® Level III+PS plate.
This letter proves our claims under the federal regulations and guidelines that are independently tested and reviewed.
For all first responders around the world, from Canada to India, we offer special discounted rates to ensure we always maintain true to our motto, “We Protect the Protectors”.
For more information, please contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will gladly answer any questions and concerns you may have before you buy.