One of the common questions about the bulletproof vests and protective elements I’ve heard is “How much does a bulletproof vest weigh?”. Short answer: from 4 lbs (~1.85 kg) to 22+ lbs (~10 kg).
But it’s hard to answer this question CORRECTLY just in one sentence or a few words. It really depends on the many parameters, such as:
- Is that a concealed carry vest, or plate carrier?
- Are we talking about hard armor plates, or trauma pads?
- What square of the protection we are talking about?
- What is the protection level we need to know about?
Let’s take a closer look at these parameters, to provide comprehensive and full information.
How Much Does a Bulletproof Vest Weigh: Concealed Carry Vest VS Plate Carrier
Concealed Bulletproof Vests
Usually concealed carry vests weigh way less than plate carriers, and may be considered as the most lightweight option for the protection. But you should also consider the next points:
- Concealed carry vests use soft armor protection instead of hard armor plates.
- Soft armor protection provides a lower level of the protection (usually levels NIJ I to IIIA).
- Usually concealed carry vests provide protection from the stabs and small handguns calibers (up to .44 Magnum).
- Reduced weight of the CCV has been made because of the multi-layered (typically 18-24 layers) para-aramid fiber, which is not sufficient for the protection from the larger calibers.
What about the weight? Standard Mil-Spec weight for this kind of vests is about 1.5-4 lbs (depends on the level of protection and size).
As a rule, plate carriers provide a higher level of protection, but their weights are higher as well. After all, the plate carrier weight depends on the weight and material of the hard armor plates used in this plate carrier.
Average weight of the hard armor plate made of steel is about 7-8.5 lbs, and about 3 lbs for the composite armor plate made of ceramic (silicon carbide, boron carbide, UHMWPE, aluminium oxide, etc.). So pair of the hard armor plates may weigh from 14-17 lbs, and a pair of ceramic armor plates – about 6 lbs.
Plate Carrier Weight & Additional Protective Elements
Alright, we already noted that the plate carrier weight is about 14-17 lbs. But as I wrote above, this applies to the bare minimum of the protection (like, 2 ballistic plates and that’s all).
As you may already seen, military and law enforcement often use heavy protective gear that looks like the next:
Of course, this is not a “bulletproof vest” in its classic way – it’s rather a bulletproof “costume” with additional protective parts.
But sometimes people need “something in between” – not a heavy armored costume, but not just a plate carrier as well. In this case, we should consider at least two protective elements: groin protection, and neck protection. They’re looks like a bulletproof collar and a lower pouch:
The weight of these protective elements may vary, but if you are considering buying it, consider also adding 3-5 lbs to the total weight.
How Much Does a Bulletproof Vest Weigh: IRL Examples
To answer you how much does a bulletproof vest weigh, I’d like to share some examples of the protective gear used around the world.