Which Soft Body Armor Ballistic Panels Are The Best? [Video]

Once again my kids are returning to school for another year. This is the year I insert soft ballistic inserts into their backpacks.

There are very few things that can save your life that are legal in all 50 states, on airplanes, and at school. Ballistic inserts for bags are one of them! You can turn an ordinary backpack, briefcase, laptop case or purse into a life-saving protective shield. 

Due to the great demand by parents, university students, and professionals a new industry has been created with these “inserts.” I needed to know which ones to purchase for my kids backpacks so I set out to do a head to head comparison.

The Experiment – Comparing Backpack Bulletproof Inserts

I purchased comparable products (All NIJ Level IIIA) from 6 different companies and took them to the range with our Director of Training, Riley Bowman. We used a variety of guns and calibers along with some clay to help us measure backface deformation. This video shows all the details:

In the below chart you can click through to each of these company's products. The price listed is for the product that is as close to 10×13 inches as possible.


Price: $99

Click Here to Shop


Price: $99

Click Here to Shop

Citizen Armor

Price: $97

Click Here to Shop


Price: $139.99

Click Here to Shop

Safe Life

Price: $99

Click Here to Shop

VISM by NcStar

Price: $84.99

Click Here to Shop


Taking all things into consideration I feel the Citizen Armor is the best of the group we tested. Depending on what matters most to you some of these other products might be preferable. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of ConcealedCarry.com. ConcealedCarry.com provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. DON SCHALK on August 22, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Kudos to you for keeping an open mind about potential solutions to this crisis. However, I must offer the following:
    1. Often new products to solve a crisis often become very popular not because of their effectiveness but because they give the concerned party some degree of confidence in the safety provided.
    2. My first thought when I saw these products was: What part of the body did most of the wounds show up in after these school shootings? I know from media reports, many victims received head wounds, implying that a “hardened” backpack would be useless in the same situation.
    3. In most of the school shooting situations, the victims were surprised in their classrooms. In many schools, the students will take their needed materials out of their backpacks, which are then left in the back of the room or under their desks. It is unlikely that terrorists will take a cigarette break while they allow students to go get their backpacks. And even if a student can act in a stressful situation like this and grab a backpack to hold in front of them, the assailant will simply target another part of the body such as the head. Testimony from some of these events clearly showed that many students who attempted to hide or turned away suffered head wounds.
    4. I think that more research needs to be done before marketing a product that offers great hope for increased safety but may not be effective in saving that many lives in a real-life situation.
    5. The only effective security measure to stop these massacres is the absolute denial of entry to armed terrorists by trained weapons experts who upon discovering a threat will deny anyone associated with that threat access to a school and detain the person(s) with deadly force (if necessary). These “experts” must be “mission focused” so that they will not allow their actions to be confused or sabotaged by any feelings other than their “mission” to protect the lives in that school. The cost could easily be absorbed into the liberal budgets of athletic departments, which means that this solution will never come to pass. What a shame!
    Respectfully submitted,

    • Riley Bowman on August 23, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      Don, I don’t disagree with you. And we recognize that these body armor panels will not protect or defend against high-powered rifles (although they potentially can with a couple of books in front of them) nor against head wounds. But that is not the point. It is at least one option that CAN help in SOME situations. Plenty of mass shootings have been committed with handguns, and these panels would stop those rounds, so there’s that at least. And what I would say about my children using them is either they are huddled in a classroom where than can sit on the floor and pull up the bag to cover most of their major vitals and head. Or if they are caught out in the open, to run away as fast as possible with their head ducked down (which most people do naturally anyway). It is not a perfect solution. It is not the ONLY solution. But it is A SOLUTION which we can proactively take responsibility for immediately while we wait, hope and work towards hopefully getting our schools on board with better, more comprehensive ones. Thanks for your thoughts!!

    • George Smith on August 24, 2018 at 5:34 am

      Don, I agree overall, but I will say you don’t need “experts” (in #5) in the schools to stop or reduce a threat. While “experts” would be nice, the fact is many school systems can’t afford School Resource Officers or other “experts”, which is why some are arming teachers.

      In my opinion, the first line of defense, is as you say, deny entrance. This can easily be accomplished by just locking the outside doors. If the doors are locked, the terrorist/whomever will need someone to open the door for them to get in. If no one opens the door, they can’t get in.

      Granted, this doesn’t mean they can’t still injure or kill students because they can shoot through windows. However, if they can’t get in and are shooting through windows, it’s a lot easier for law enforcement to locate and neutralize them since they can’t hide inside among the students.

      Thus the first line of defense is locked doors. The second line is for those who open the door (expert, SRO or just a faculty member), if in doubt, call the cops. Some steps they can take would be to have the student take off their jacket and turn around, have them open their backpack so the faculty member can look inside. Yes, this can be embarrassing to the student, but if they aren’t accompanied by an adult, at least it’s a way to potentially reduce the number of school shootings.

      And the best thing is, it’s zero dollars to do this.

  2. Bill in FL on August 22, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Great idea!! Just so school employees don’t confiscate them!

  3. John Shriver on August 23, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for the comparison trial. Great information. Wife is teacher so definitely something to consider.

  4. Michael David Vick on August 23, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    As mentioned by someone else, do the tests with 3 or 4″ of textbooks in a back pack. Just for the record, I own an AR500 Level IV vest and what you used was a SIDE panel from a maybe level III vest…

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