Soft armor is simply a combination of hard armor and soft armor that is designed to be worn on the same vest, shirt, or pants to provide maximum protection against handgun projectiles fired from close range. Soft armor was first developed for police officers and soldiers to wear under their shirts, vests and pants while working in close contact with large caliber firearms. Recently, this type of armor has been incorporated into the military as a stand-alone plate carrier and rifle sling; proving its worth and effectiveness at ranges beyond the 500-meter mark. Soft armor has proven itself to be highly effective in many situations, especially at ranges where a soft armor jacket is unable to stop shooting due to a lack of bullet velocity, such as at close range. In fact, many law enforcement agencies have upgraded their entire vest and rackets with soft armor and rifle sling attachments, because of how effective these attachable items are.
Hard armor is a lightweight, bullet proof vest made of reinforced Kevlar and other metal layers that are inserted onto a standard plate carrier and secured with metal clamps, lock pins or other fasteners. Because of the high stress associated with carrying a handgun round and transferring it to a rapidly revolving round, plate carriers and rifle sling carriers have become extremely strong and sturdy to prevent penetration and blast damage. The thickness of hard armor plates used in soft armor has been measured in pounds and inches, while soft armor plates are often classified as pounds per inch in order to allow for a specific thickness that is required for specific applications, such as pistol carriers. These specific thicknesses are also applicable to shotgun and rifle cartridges.
While most vest manufacturers make soft armor for pistol carriers and rifle holsters, most manufacturers of hard armor prefer to make their own plates to fit specific applications. Some manufacturers specialize in making pistol and rifle projectiles hard armor, which can be beneficial if an individual is interested in carrying both weapons at the same time, but the costs of customized armor can be costly. Other companies that produce both types of armor have made universal armor which can be attached to a variety of concealable belts and rackets. This type of armor is more versatile and can be adjusted for a wide range of applications, but its greatest weakness is its inability to withstand pistol and rifle projectiles. For this reason, soft armor is commonly used for concealable carry and transport by most law enforcement agencies.