With the number of active shooter situations in the rise in the United States many concerned parents have sought out backpack armor as a modern addition to a kid’s school supply list. Backpack armor consists of a standard kid’s backpack to carry notebooks, pens and pencils, and folders, but also with a protective ballistic insert sewn into the front of the pack for use during active shooter situations. While backpack armor seems like a good safety investment, there are several things parents should know about backpack armor:
- Most backpack armor can stop handguns but not the long rifles typically present in active shooter situations. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the governing organization for body armor and other ballistic articles like backpack armor. Most backpack armor is designed to NIJ level IIIA, providing protection from handgun threats like 9mm and .44mag. Long rifles, like a .223 caliber rifle, shoots rifles bullets at a velocity of over 2,300 feet per second, much faster than a handgun. Be aware that backpack armor has certain limitations.
- Backpack armor that could stop rifle rounds, like a .223 caliber rifle, would need a level III rating from the NIJ. While most backpack armor has a soft and flexible IIIA ballistic panel, all level III panels are thick, rigid and stiff panels designed to stop rifle rounds. Backpack armor designed to stop handguns only will not be effective against rifle bullets.
- Most available backpack armor has limited protective coverage. The idea behind backpack armor is ‘something is better than nothing.’ Backpack armor usually can cover a 2-foot by 3-foot area such as the center mass of the body. if you buy backpack armor you should train your kid to hold the backpack armor up against their chest or as a protective barrier to their head. Knowing how to properly use backpack armor can greatly increase its effectiveness.