Close Menu
Back To Blog

Say NO To Buying Used Body Armour!

Written by: Robert Kaiser

You cannot imagine how much it upsets me when I hear again and again that yet another security professional has purchased used body armour.

I once read a very interesting question in reference to this subject:

“Would you buy a used parachute that you didn’t know the history of, strap it onto your back, jump out of a plane and hope for the best?”

used stab vests
“A used body armour could have been stored inappropriately, it could have been ill-treated or it could have simply passed its shelf life” – Robert Kaiser, CEO

What a great question, and I very much hope your answer is a given.

The English saying ‘better safe than sorry’ makes more sense within personal safety than in any other field. Professionals whose responsibilities include dealing with hostile members of the public simply should not gamble with their own lives.

Just like the previously mentioned parachute, a used body armour could have been stored inappropriately, it could have been ill-treated or it could have simply passed its shelf life. Never mind the fact that the previous owner might have suffered from an assault wearing the very same body armour, leaving the body armour structural damaged (often invisible to the human eye).

Any of these issues could potentially lead to a major performance loss and lead to the defeat of such body armour… which could subsequently could lead to the loss of your life.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) made it very clear when saying:

“Age is not the only factor that affects degradation of body armor. Wear and tear from normal use can also contribute to deterioration. Some substances, such as dry cleaning solvents, harsh detergents, bleach and accumulated soap residue, can damage body armor and reduce its effectiveness. Improper storage also can degrade performance. For example, storing body armor on a hanger, rather than letting the vest lie flat, can reduce the armor’s effectiveness.”

In 2009, NIJ funded the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to conduct a national survey of police officers. Among other things, the survey examined what officers knew about caring for and maintaining their body armor. The survey revealed that while most officers are reasonably knowledgeable about body armor care and maintenance practices, a substantial number did not adhere to the practices they do understand.

Well… your used body armour… the one you just purchased… what do you know about its history?

Well, you might say, money is a major issue in today’s financial climate and body armour are not the cheapest of all products.  Yes, you are certainly right with such statement, but gambling with your life cannot be the solution.  Go to a reputable body armour manufacturer, explain your situation, make a case and give it your best shot.  Sometimes they will listen.. and sometimes they will want to help as much as they can to see you be safe.

There is another saying, which makes quite a bit of sense: “You pay peanuts you get monkeys’, meaning if you expect from a product to save your life and if your life might well depend on it… you will have to pay a certain price for it.  If you are a true professional and really want to be the best you can be, then you really should understand that being ill-equipped or purchasing low quality equipment can have a colossal impact on the outcome of certain situations you may well have to face one day.

Of course, many people have recognised the potential financial gain used body armour can make and try to flog them via eBay or via army surplus stores. What can I say?  These are not the places a true security professional should be looking for when in need of a body armour.

But let us forget the financial gain for a second and think of the morals behind it.  Are these individuals selling used body armour not somewhat gambling with our friends, associates, colleagues or family members’ lives?

Whatever they state and whatever they claim they have apparently done to ensure the quality of their used body armour… as someone who knows a thing or two (or more) about this subject matter I must say that I don’t believe a word.  Not because I believe they are all bad guys, but simply because in my professional opinion it is absolutely impossible to guarantee the protection level of a used body armour without extensive and costly re-testing.

A used body armour, especially when older than four or five years old should be returned to the original manufacturer for a professional re-evaluation using the latest technology, and if the subsequent test reports make it crystal clear that body armour is still performing to the level expected then the manufacturer could look at re-issuing a manufacturer’s warranty.

If you want to speak with me or my team about this subject or indeed have an interest in NEW high performance stab resistant vests or bullet resistant vests, then please call my firm PPSS Group +44 (0) 845 5193 953, email or visit

Related Blog Posts

Created with Sketch. 5 April 2012

Running the Polar Circle Marathon in aid for amputee ex-forces men and women

Created with Sketch. 1 September 2011

Slash & Cut Resistant Body Armour Base Layer

Created with Sketch. 1 May 2017

Understanding Covert Bullet Resistant Vests

Created with Sketch. 9 May 2017

PPSS Group launches new website