Private investigators are hired for numerous assignments, including performing surveillance on spouses suspected of infidelity, checking employee backgrounds for evidence of fraud, and tracking down missing persons. Depending on the case at hand, working as a PI can involve elements of danger: conducting interviews and monitoring individuals may attract unwanted attention, with some people taking exception to being investigated.

To stay as safe as possible, private investigators may need to wear body armour from time to time, depending on the level of danger they expect to encounter on a given assignment. On today’s market, a vast range of vests is available, with numerous styles offering various types of protection. How can a PI find the right armour to keep them secure on the job, and what are their options?

Bullet Proof Vests – A User’s Guide

For most private investigators, wearing bullet proof vests will likely be the best precaution, though stab and spike vests are also available. Certain cases – infidelity, missing persons, fraud, background checks, insurance scams – may all involve dangerous individuals who have something to lose if exposed.

If they discover the investigator’s activities, they may seek to threaten them off the case, or take more aggressive direct action. Though the use of guns might seem extreme and unlikely, preparation is key: as some investigators may have police or security experience, they should already be aware of assessing the level of risk before entering certain situations. Understanding the potential dangers involved with a course of action is essential to finding the right armour.

Bullet proof vests are made with multiple layers of protective material, most commonly Kevlar: this is a fibre woven into tight grids, which absorb a bullet’s energy on impact and stop bullets tearing through. These vests are available in a range of levels, each offering protection against specific types of ammunition, from handgun bullets to armour-piercing rounds. While the likelihood of encountering an individual armed with heavy-duty, high-calibre guns is slim, private investigators may feel safer in the toughest form of protection available. These vests at the higher-end feature plates (of either steel or ceramics) to stop bullets fired at high velocities.

In the past, bullet proof vests were bulky and often uncomfortable to wear for long periods, but modern manufacturers make them as lightweight as possible. Even the toughest vests, featuring ballistic plates, are streamlined enough to wear for hours on end – which is key for investigators performing extensive surveillance. As PI’s also need to maintain a low profile on the job, bullet proof vests should be able to sit comfortably underneath clothing: covert vests are available, which are designed specifically to fit under other layers.

Covert vests are thinner and more lightweight than standard designs, often featuring breathable fabrics which wick sweat away from the skin; this makes them more comfortable, and keeps investigators cool in warm climates & high-pressure situations.

Additional Protection

For investigators wearing bullet proof vests, they may also want to add stab and spike protection to their armour: this can be done with most modern models. This provides a more complete package, offering defence against sharp objects that may be used during attacks. Stab and spike protection typically features a tighter weave, which creates friction against blades and traps pointed tips (respectively).

Knowing the risks an assignment may bring will help investigators choose the best vest to maximise their personal safety, but if in doubt, always seek expert advice.