Skip to content
Body Armory for Extreme protection

Tactical Armor vs. Conventional Armor | What Does SWAT Wear?

If you’re working in a field that requires you to face deadly weapon fire, you need the correct body armor. We’ve gone over it in detail in previous blogs, such as in our Buyer’s Guide to Ballistic Armor, where we explain the importance of wearing body armor explicitly meant for the type of threat you are most likely to encounter. 


For instance, if you’re only facing a 9mm, then level II armor would suit you. But we know that chances are, you’ll encounter more powerful calibers, and maybe you need level III/IIIA or even level IV body armor. For example, if your potential threat is 5.56 or 7.62mm, you’ll want to have a plate intended to hold up to the higher caliber.

With that in mind, we wanted to write up something about the type of body armor our men and women serving on SWAT teams are likely to need. And how SWAT Armor or Tactical armor holds up in comparison to conventional armor. Is there even a difference between the two types of body armor?

Tactical Armor

To answer the question about the difference between the two body armor styles, it might help, first, to define each. It seems like a lot of businesses are stretching the idea of the term tactical. A lot of companies and people put camo patterns on their products and call it tactical. And if that were the definition, no body armor would be serving any tactical purpose—I’ve yet to see camo-patterned body armor plates.

Considering how much society tosses around the word tactical, I’ll start by describing what makes something tactical in the first place.

Considering how much society tosses around the word tactical, I’ll start by describing what makes something tactical in the first place.

Tactical is a term used to describe the necessary actions needed to get a job done, specifically as it relates to combat. It requires specific skills, techniques, and sometimes tools, and those are all determined through planning. These different things make it easier to get that job done efficiently and effectively. 

If you look up “tactical” in Webster’s dictionary, it says, verbatim:


1: of or relating to combat tactics: such as

a (1): of or occurring at the battlefront

a tactical defense

a tactical first strike

   (2): using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront

tactical missiles

b of an air force: of, relating to, or designed for air attack in close support of friendly ground forces

2: of or relating to tactics: such as

A (1): of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose

(2): made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view

 b: adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose

So what does all that mean exactly? It means for any item to be considered tactical, it needs to relate to tactics, the actions required to get a job done on a battlefield, or where ground forces are required (military, law enforcement, security, etc.). 

Tactical has to do with the planning or maneuvering needed to accomplish the mission. That means, just because your coffee cup has a camo pattern on it, it doesn’t suddenly become a tactical coffee cup.

Technically speaking, if something has the word tactical in front of it, it should be a tool or plan necessary for planning or maneuvering to accomplish a mission related to tactics (some form of combat).

With that in mind, tactical armor is necessary for maneuvering to accomplish the missions. Meaning, all armor can fall into this category of being tactical when employing or using for the planned occurrence of combat (being shot at).

Conventional Armor

Considering that all body armor, based on its use, is needed to accomplish a mission, conventional armor really isn’t a thing. Unless you want to look at definitions again, in which case, conventional (as it relates to this topic) simply means lacking originality or being of a traditional design—according to Webster’s Dictionary.

police in riot gear and armor.png

With that, conventional armor is pretty much all body armor that is just like the rest. It’s the traditional design we’re all used to, and there’s no originality. In body armor’s defense, it’s regulated by the NIJ, which means there shouldn’t be any deviations from it.

However, there is a body armor that’s lighter than the conventional ceramic plates. ShotStop® carries the most lightweight and comfortable body armor around. We have our own patented technology, Duritium®, and there’s nothing traditional about that.

ShotStop® armor is breaking the barriers of conventional. Our tactical armor is not only for use in combat, but its design ensures you can go on completing your mission comfortably, efficiently, and confidently.

SWAT Armor

So what is it our SWAT teams are using? Well, we can’t answer for everyone because there are thousands of SWAT teams throughout the nation. And each unit’s SWAT team will have the gear their department purchased for them. 

But no matter what, considering the job that these SWAT teams are engaging in, they need tactical armor. They need armor that can hold up to the threats they are likely to face. And they need armor they can easily maneuver in while wearing. 

Home Protection.jpeg

ShotStop® offers the perfect body armor for such needs.

But why do SWAT members need our body armor? What is it that they do? SWAT teams do everything from active shooters and barricaded suspects to hostage negotiations. And in all cases, there’s likely a firearm being pointed and shot directly at them. Their expertise requires them to face an active threat anytime they wear their uniform. And with that threat, they’re most likely wearing level IV body armor.


What is level IV armor, and why are our SWAT teams wearing them. Level IV body armor is explicitly rated for heavier calibers. 

Type/Level IV Ballistic Armor was created to not only withstand but defeat an armor-piercing round, like the .30 caliber bullet (M2 AP). Our plates are made with a patented Duritium® technology and can defeat a 166-grain bullet upwards of 3,600 ft/sec, as shown on our Duritium HS level IV V50 report. And if you’re facing a Dragunov, Duritium® can defeat multiple shots fired from such a weapon. 

And since our SWAT teams face some pretty horrific scenarios, wearing our level IV body armor means they’ll be wearing the best tool around—one that can stop nearly any rifle caliber less than a .50 cal BMG.


Ultimately, your body armor can be the difference between life and death. And if you’re not wearing the body armor rated for your threat level, then your chances of survival have drastically decreased.


If you’re working as a School Resource Officer, level IIIA armor may work great. If you’re working on a SWAT team, you might want to consider going up a level.

Want to learn more about ShotStop® body armor? Check out our blog, Ballistic Protection 101: Quick Guide to Body Armor Ratings and Performance, and our level IV armor. Then send us an email at with any question you have! 

We look forward to working with you to get your team the body armor needed to accomplish the mission.

Previous article Stab-Proof vests | Everything You Need to Know
Next article Correctional Officers Body Armor | Everything You Need to Know

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields