There are 3 main styles of protective vests out on the market, outlined below.
- Ballistic Vests (Soft Armor):
These vests are made to protect against firearms to a specified NIJ Level (IIA, II, IIIA). Why? Due to a loose weave style it allows for the bullet too caught up in the ballistics getting entangled in its fibers. However conversely this also allows for a sharp object such as an Ice Pick or Knife to penetrate through its weave. Short answer ballistics protect against firearms only, not stab proof.
Understanding NIJ 0101.06 Armor Protection Levels
- Spike Vests:
These vests are made of tightly woven material and are rated to Spike 1, Spike 2, or Spike 3. Due to the tight weave, they are able to catch the point of an ice pick or knife. However bullets will pass through with little, if any, resistance. The short answer is that Spike Armor only protects against Spike weapons, with no firearms ballistic protection.
Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor, NIJ Standard 0115.00 (starts on page 3)
- Combination (Dual Purpose) Vests:
Dual Purpose Vests are made to protect against both firearms and stab threats. These come in the following levels:
IIA, II, and IIIA are ballistic protection levels, while S1, S2, and S3 are spike only protection levels. If you feel you work in an area in which you may be subjected to both threat styles, dual purpose ballistic vests are another viable option.