Although they offer ballistic protection from bullets, knife resistance requires separate considerations.

Body armor encompasses more than just bulletproof vests; any protective equipment worn on the body can be considered body armor, including stab and spike-proof vests.

Vests specifically designed to shield against bullets are not effective against edged and spiked weapons like knives, bottles, or needles.

Does a Bulletproof Vest Stop a Knife

Likewise, a vest that provides resistance against edged blades may not offer protection against spiked weapons.

Check out our article for more insights on NIJ standards.

Within the NIJ standards is a term called spike rating which correlates to the level of protection body armor will provide against knife attacks.

What is a Spike Rating

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) developed the Spike rating to gauge armor’s stab resistance.

Level 1 protects against attacks up to 17.7 foot-pounds, level 2 up to 24.3 foot-pounds, and level 3 up to 31.7 foot-pounds.

A foot-pound represents the energy to move 1 pound by 1 foot.

Additionally, the NIJ’s “edged blade” resistance chart confirms that level 1 Spike-rated armor also safeguards against slash threats of equivalent intensity.

Spike Rating vs Stab Protection

A bulletproof vest functions by capturing and flattening a bullet within protective fibers, which disperses the energy across the vest.

However, when it comes to edged weapons like knives, these weapons can cut through the protective fibers, rendering the vest ineffective.

Similarly, spiked weapons can pass through the small gaps in the fabric, also making the vest ineffective. Therefore, a bulletproof vest cannot provide protection against edged or spiked weapons.

bullet proof vest

The terms “edged” and “spiked” weapons are used to describe “stab” and “spike” respectively, although they are often used interchangeably. Edged weapons refer to items such as knives or bottles, while spiked weapons refer to objects like syringes, ice picks, or stilettos.

Stab proof vests offer protection against edged blade weapons and utilize materials like Aramid fiber or Dyneema, similar to bulletproof vests.

However, to effectively protect against edged weapons, these vests need to incorporate either chainmail or laminate. Both materials have their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, chainmail is heavier but provides increased protection against edged weapons, while laminate offers defense against spiked weapons.

Spike proof vests differ from stab proof vests as they require a tough and solid surface to prevent penetration by spiked weapons. Therefore, a spike proof vest incorporates layers of laminate with Aramid fiber to ensure effective protection. This sturdy plastic layer acts as a barrier to prevent penetration and slows down the spiked weapon.

Whether you need a stab proof or spike proof vest, it is essential to ensure that it meets the appropriate standards set by organizations like the NIJ (National Institute of Justice) and CAST (Centre for Applied Science and Technology).

What To Look For in Body Armor To Ensure Its Spike Rating

A colored shape containing a number in the upper right corner of the label.

If the armor is in the “Edged Blade” protection class, the shape must be a solid blue square of 1.0 inch. If your armor is in the “Spike” protection class, the shape must be a solid green equilateral triangle of 1.0 inch in height.

The number inside each shape must be white in color and 1.2 inches in height. The number must relate to the protection level of the armor.

A stab-proof vest provides a different level of protection compared to bulletproof and spike-proof vests. It specifically guards against attacks from edged weapons, but it does not offer protection against spiked weapons.

It is crucial to understand the potential dangers you may encounter in order to select the appropriate body armor.

For many, multi-threat body armor is the ideal choice, especially for professionals like police officers or prison guards who may encounter a wide range of threats, all of which can be potentially lethal without proper protective gear.

multi threat body armor

Do Different Body Armor NIJ Ratings Have Better Stab Protection?

When evaluating the extent to which different ballistic armor ratings provide stab resistance, it is worth contemplating whether higher-rated armor offers superior protection.

Although there isn’t a universal answer to this question, generally, ballistic armor with higher ratings is more effective in thwarting knife assaults compared to lower-rated armor. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) establishes various ratings for body armor, and it is worthwhile to take these into account when selecting armor for defense against knives.

In conclusion, while bulletproof vests are not explicitly designed for safeguarding against knife attacks, they can still provide some level of protection.

Stab-resistant ballistic armor, on the other hand, is specifically engineered to offer defense against knives, and there is a selection of materials and ratings available to choose from.

When deciding on body armor for knife protection, it is important to consider the level of protection afforded, the materials employed, and the armor’s rating.

Why Law Enforcement Should Use Stab-Resistant Body Armor

It is important to note that stab-resistant armor can still provide protection to police officers in scenarios such as being stabbed with a contaminated needle or being slashed by an assailant during an arrest.

The second most common weapon used in the commission of a homicide in the USA are knives. On average more than 1,500 people are murdered with a knife each year in the USA. These statistics are not intended to instill fear but rather to offer an understanding of the likelihood that a police officer may encounter edged blades while on duty.

These figures highlight the significance of considering the risks faced by police officers and the potential benefits of wearing stab-resistant armor. While firearms may pose a greater threat in some situations, the dangers associated with edged weapons should not be underestimated. Equipping oneself with appropriate protective gear can provide an added layer of defense against such risks.

It is important for law enforcement agencies and individual officers to recognize the potential hazards and make informed decisions regarding the use of stab-resistant armor. By doing so, they can enhance their personal safety and minimize the risk of injury or harm when confronted with edged blade weapons in the line of duty.

In Conclusion

When it comes to defending against knife attacks, bulletproof vests can provide a certain level of protection, but they are not specifically designed for this purpose.

Stab-resistant ballistic armor, on the other hand, is specifically engineered to withstand knife assaults and offers a higher degree of effectiveness. When choosing body armor for knife protection, it is crucial to consider the level of protection, the materials used, and the armor’s rating.

Assess the potential threats you may encounter and choose the right armor accordingly. Take into account the ballistic armor ratings provided by the NIJ, as higher-rated armor generally offers better stab resistance.

If you have any questions and want to speak with us about your concerns or which armor to choose, we’d love to hear from you.


*Originally published on the ShotStop Blog