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People often forget that in a gun fight, the other guy will most likely be shooting back at them.

So in planning for the possibility of such an event, you not only want to be able to vanquish your opponent(s), but you also want to be able to survive yourself.

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The Need for Body Armor part 1

Don't overlook this potential life-saver

A typical bullet proof vest, easily and quickly secured by six velcro straps.

Note this particular illustration shows a vest with less overall coverage than offered by some other vests.  Needless to say, more coverage is usually better than less.

Part 1 of a new series on body armor.  See links to other parts of the series on the right.



Most people focus too much on the 'offensive' side of firearms training and personal protection - getting the best weapon for the purpose and learning how to use it.

For sure this is important, but isn't the 'defensive' side of the equation of at least equal importance - minimizing your own risk of injury (and possibly death).

One of the quickest, easiest, and best things you can do to turn the odds more in your favor is to search for military tactical gear at GovX and buy a ballistic vest (also termed 'bullet proof vest' or 'body armor').

Bullet proof vests are legal to own, easy to wear, particularly if you limit your wearing of one to only when responding to a threat at home, and typically cost no more than another handgun.

Surviving is a Key Part of Winning a Gun Fight

Maybe you've heard the joke of the two doctors talking after a lengthy and complicated surgery.  The first one says 'Well, that was a very successful operation.  We did everything perfectly.'  The second replies 'Yes, a shame the patient died, though'.

It is the same when it comes to self defense.  You can train yourself perfectly, you can have a brilliantly accurate gun with very effective bullets, you can shoot accurately and stop - even kill - your attacker.  But he might get off a random (un)lucky shot and fatally wound you too.

What good is it to have stopped your attacker dead in his tracks if you lose your own life in the process, or perhaps get crippled for life?

Unfortunately, as good as you get at shooting at an attacker, there is an unavoidable risk that the attacker might shoot back and with a lucky shot on his part (and some bad luck on your part) land a mortal or massively injuring hit on you as part of an exchange of gunfire.

All the training in the world won't protect you against a combination of good luck on the bad guy's part and bad luck on your part.  This is where you need to think about a defensive 'counter measure' - some type of body armor.

A Bullet Proof Vest - An Essential Part of Your Home Defense Gear

Most people never even stop to think about buying their own personal body armor or 'bullet proof vest' as it is colloquially known.  There is something slightly outré about the thought of wearing a bullet proof vest - people who think nothing about equipping themselves with guns, tasers, pepper spray, batons, lights and lasers somehow stop short when it comes to adding a ballistic vest to their inventory of home defense gear.

Certainly, most people in normal walks of life shouldn't feel the need to be wearing body armor while they are out and about, going about their ordinary life in an ordinary manner.  There's no doubt that body armor can be bulky, heavy, uncomfortable, and also hot to wear.

Where and when are you most likely to have an encounter with a bad guy?  At home, at night.

So think about this scenario.  You're awakened by the unmistakable sounds of an intruder in your house.  Because there are other people in other bedrooms, you need to leave the safety of your own bedroom to go protect them; so you grab your gun, your flashlight, your phone, and - what else?

Why not quickly slip a suit of body armor on top of whatever you were wearing in bed too?  It will take you less than 30 seconds to do this, and worst case scenario, you'll only need to wear it for five minutes or less before you take it off again.

All the reasons for not bothering with a ballistic vest all the time on normal ordinary days suddenly vanish when you have a real specific event at home that you need to respond to.

Body armor is estimated to save the lives of 100 police officers in the US every year.  It could possibly save your life, too.

Bad Guys Can and Might Shoot Back

You need to think through the possible twists of any scenario you might encounter, and don't assume that the bad guy immediately surrenders when you dramatically confront him.

What say the bad guy you are confronting has a gun, too (a reasonably likely circumstance)?  And what say he is as willing to use deadly force as you - again, a reasonably likely circumstance?

Maybe he is up for the third of a 'three strikes and you're out' law, and is willing to use deadly force himself to escape detection and arrest.  Or maybe he is just totally drugged out of his mind and the normal patterns of behavior are completely switched off.

The bad guy might also be a skilled shooter

Furthermore, some studies suggest that the criminals who are most likely to use a gun as part of committing their crime may actually be moderately skilled at its use.  They might even practice more regularly than you (as regularly as every week) with the gun.

The stereotype of an armed criminal as being a person with a mythical 'Saturday Night Special' and unskilled in its use, being almost overcome with panic and very reluctant to use the gun, is seldom correct - not only is your opponent possibly skilled, but he is as likely to have a modern 'state of the art' high powered pistol as you are.  There has been a steady decrease in reported shooting from .38 cal revolvers, and a steady increase in reported shootings from .40 cal semi-autos (per FBI crime statistics on police who are shot).

The bad guy might have been in shootings before

Which leads to one more discomforting thought.  Sure, you might have done a lot of range practice, but the other guy might not just have done what passes for range practice, but may have been in previous live fire exchanges; may have even killed people before.

This is the ugly reality that is seldom completely explained to you when you take a course of firearms training.  Heck, the bad guy might even have taken the same or a very similar course (unlikely but not impossible).

And, to thoroughly discomfort you some more, think about your experience at a range.  How easy is it to hit a man sized target at 15 - 20 ft?  Not necessarily to hit in the inner ring of the bulls-eye, but just to get rounds landing within the target boundaries.  Reasonably easy, right?

So with 15 - 20 ft as a likely maximum range for a home defense encounter (ie from one side of a room to the other), even if the bad guy isn't a highly trained marksman, it will still be easy for him to land shots on you if he is shooting back.

Which leads to an ugly topic - your chances of getting shot.

Part of a multi-part series

Please click the links at the top right of this page to read through other parts of this extensive series on body armor and the protection it offers.


If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.


Originally published 10 Jan 2011, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

Related Articles
Body Armor Series
1.  Do You Need Body Armor
2.  The Need for Body Armor
3.  The Evolution of Body Armor.
Extra parts in this series coming shortly

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Join the Travel Insider at Front Sight, April 2011
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Weather Issues in the NV desert
Traveling and Flying with Firearms and Ammunition


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