Canadian Security Magazine

Body armour for close protection

By Tom Bowman   

Features Expert Advice Opinion body armor body armour

Being personally responsible for the safety of another human or their family is a uniquely rewarding experience that only close protection operatives can understand.

Good covert body armour is a necessity for anyone in the close protection field. Even though the best operatives the private security sector value the safety of those they protect over their own, that doesn’t mean they are cavalier with their personal safety.

The bottom line is, in order to protect someone you need to be protected yourself. Close protection operatives are putting other peoples’ lives, as well as their own careers, at risk if they’re performing at anything other than the optimal level.

The best close protection operatives know that preparing ahead is the best way to keep everyone safe. Protection operatives are well-trained in threat recognition and risk assessment — you likely are constantly collecting and analyzing all relevant information to keep your principal safe.

But it’s important to understand that you can’t plan for everything. Occasionally, things will not go according to plan, and something unexpected will cause chaos. It’s in these situations that you, the close protection operative, are most valuable. But here, you’ll be relying on split-second decisions, not necessarily planning — you need to be comfortable relying on the gear you have to protect you.


And concealable body armour is perhaps the only equipment you will own that can directly save your life. Body armour is rated between levels I and IV by the National Institute of Justice, with level IV offering the most protection.

A serious personal protection officer will go for the highest level of protection one can get from soft body armour — level IIIa. That armour offers many benefits:

• Protects from most common street weapons, including 9mm FMJ and .44 Magnum rounds.
• The interior panels — made of tightly woven strands of ultra-strong synthetic fabric, Kevlar — minimize blunt force trauma from bullets, maximizing the wearer’s ability to act after being hit.
• Modern body armour is very light-weight — you can likely find covert body armour that weighs less than 2.5kg overall.

• Modern body armour can be lined with cotton or other comfortable fabrics, like CoolMAX lining. This allows your vest to be worn for hours without any discomfort.

Obviously, the ballistic level of your body armour is very important. A bullet proof vest allows you a tremendous tactical advantage if any incident occurs– knowing your torso is protected, you can take positions you otherwise never would have dreamed of if you weren’t wearing a vest.

How covert your body armour is also matters greatly. Believe it or not, dress code for close protection operatives is actually a routine concern — you’re required to protect your principal wherever he or she may travel. Since you’ll always want to blend in, this means sometimes adapting your outfit to specific situations.

Whatever the situation is though, you’ll want to get a vest that can be completely concealed. Everyone is safer when the close protection operatives can blend into the crowd. This not only hides their identity from anyone planning something criminal, but it also allows the operative to observe the situation undetected.

The best close protection operatives will remain both protected and undetected, putting themselves in the optimal position to protect their principal.

Tom Bowman is a sales executive at SafeGuard ARMOR.

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