Many people are unclear about bulletproof ownership laws. Some may have read things about the legality of buying bulletproof vests that were contradictory or even untrue. Although there are many legitimate reasons to own a bulletproof vest, most people have been told that wearing such a vest is illegal if you are not a law enforcement officer, such as in the military or police force.

A bulletproof vest (also known as a ballistic vest) is a vest that aims to safeguard you from bullets and thus save your life. It is generally worn over your torso to protect your body from light shrapnel and small-arms fire from explosive devices. Most ballistic vests come with multiple layers of tightly woven, fine fabric (normally Kevlar) that absorbs and reduces the impact of high-speed projectiles.

Often asked the question: is it legal for citizens to buy bulletproof vests? Can citizens own bulletproof vests? Luckily for you, this post will discuss some common misconceptions about bulletproof vest ownership and set the record straight once and for all. Without further ado, let’s dive into our post!

Can Citizens Purchase and Use Bulletproof Vests? 

Under federal law, a ballistic vest is regarded as “body armor,” which is controlled by statute, 18 U.S.C. A section 931. Citizens are legally able to buy bulletproof vests. As long as you don’t have any felony convictions, you can buy a bulletproof vest online. Convicted felons have no right to own bulletproof vests legally pursuant to federal law. However, felons can buy ballistic vests if their employer needs them and they obtain written permission to do so. If they buy those vests illegally, they can be prosecuted. Retailers will not be held responsible for what happens to bulletproof vests after purchase.

Some states are in the process of passing laws that make it difficult for citizens to purchase bulletproof vests. That’s why we highly recommend that you buy your bulletproof vest sooner before such laws are implemented. If you feel you need the protection a bulletproof vest offers, you should obtain one while they are inexpensive and readily available.

Many citizens feel the urge to wear a bulletproof vest in everyday situations. These people include but are not restricted to:

  • Hunters
  • · A.T.M. repair technicians
  • Judges and lawyers
  • Bodyguards
  • Private investigators
  • Pawnshop owners
  • Victims of abuse
  • Couriers
  •  And more

Whatever the reason, personal security and safety are extremely vital to well-being. Owning a ballistic vest has never been more reasonable than now.

When is it illegal to own a bulletproof vest in the United States?

The federal law restricts any person convicted of a felony from possessing a bulletproof vest unless anyone wearing the vest is an employee of the company and is doing so to execute a lawful business activity and has previously obtained a written certification from the employer.

Is it legal to wear a bulletproof vest in public? 

Most states will not restrict anyone from wearing a bulletproof vest anywhere while considering federal laws. However, some states will forbid the wearing of bullet-resistant vests in schools unless they are doing a job that needs it. In addition, most states will forbid you to wear the vest if you are a convicted felon or are involved in criminal activity.

Wearing a bulletproof vest in public is lawful in most states as long as you are not a convicted felon. In some areas, it is deemed illegal to wear a bulletproof vest on school grounds, so be sure to check ahead of time if you want to wear the vest around or in school.

Most states will have some type of provision that makes it unlawful to commit a crime while wearing a bulletproof vest. Committing a crime while wearing these ballistic vests could result in extended sentences, an additional fine to extra felony convictions.


Specific laws for buying bulletproof vests in different states: Know Your Rights

Depending on where you reside, different states have various regulations for citizens who want to purchase bulletproof vests. For instance, it is legal for citizens in Connecticut to purchase a bulletproof vest, but it should be done on a face-to-face transaction basis. However, Connecticut law offers exceptions for public officials and police departments.

This post will offer helpful information about state laws for citizens to buy bulletproof vests legally. The information that we offer here is to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publishing this post.


There are no additional bulletproof vest ownership laws in Alabama apart from the federal laws. Adults can use and purchase bulletproof vests and other body armor, except for those with felony convictions. You can buy bulletproof vests online or face to face.


Adults can purchase and utilize bulletproof vests, except for people with felony convictions. You can buy the vests face to face or online. Like many states, Arizona has put a law that makes it illegal to wear a bulletproof vest when committing a crime.


In Alaska, citizens can use and purchase a bulletproof vest unless they have any felony convictions. Bulletproof vests can be bought online or face to face.


Adults can use and buy bulletproof vests, except for people with felony convictions. Ballistic vests can be bought face to face or online.


There are no additional bulletproof vest regulations apart from the federal laws. You can buy the best body armor and bulletproof vests, except for people with felony convictions.


In Colorado, anyone can buy and use a bulletproof vest unless they have been convicted of a felony. Body armor and bulletproof vests can be bought face-to-face or online.


You can purchase and use bulletproof vests and body armor in the state of Delaware unless you have any felony convictions. Like in other states, Delaware has bulletproof vest laws that make it unlawful to wear such vests when committing a crime.

New York

In New York, any citizen can use and buy a bulletproof vest unless they have been convicted of a felony. You can buy the vests online or face-to-face. But a citizen is guilty of illegal wearing of a body vest when committing a crime.


The state of Tennessee has a law that forbids anyone to wear a ballistic vest when committing a crime. The illegal wearing of a body vest is classified under class E felony.


In Michigan, there are no additional bulletproof vest ownership regulations besides federal laws. Citizens can buy the vest online or face to face.


In Oklahoma, you can use and buy bulletproof vests online or face to face unless you have any felony convictions.

How to choose the Best Bulletproof vest for civilians

Bulletproof vests are important for citizens, the military, and other law enforcement officers. They protect against projectiles like shrapnel and bullets. However, they come in various types and styles, making it hard to find one that suits your needs. To help narrow your search down, we will look at crucial factors you should look at when purchasing a bullet-resistant vest:

  • Assess Your threat level

The initial thing you need to figure out when looking for a bulletproof vest is the threat level you face on a daily basis. For example, if you have a high chance of coming across a rifle threat, you need to wear a vest that not only safeguards you from threat. You will require a vest that will safeguard you from such threats.

Bullet-resistant vests offer different levels of protection, and it’s important to determine the one that suits your needs. For instance, according to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) level I.I.A. vest is sufficient for someone who is faced with pistol threats regularly. Still, if you are a military or police officer, who faces regular riffle threats, you will require a higher-level bulletproof vest.

  • Obtain the Right Fit

You should never purchase a bulletproof vest that is too small or big since it will offer you the required protection. Besides, consult your dealer on how you can correctly measure yourself for the right side of the vest while wearing your casual clothes. If they don’t provide this service, it may be advisable that you measure yourself while wearing your ordinary underclothes. They also have body armor specifically for women.

  • Make sure the vest is certified for stab resistance.

Not all ballistic vests will safeguard you against all knife attacks. To ensure that your body vest will safeguard you from such attacks, make sure that it is certified at stab resistance level three or beyond by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

  •  Find a bulletproof vest that works for you. 

When it comes to ballistic-resistant vests, there is no one-size-fits-all. You must identify one that meets your preferences while offering sufficient protection versus your threat level. You also need to factor in things such as your budget because these vests come in different sizes.

Other things to consider are features such as durability, customization, and comfort options. You also need to check how easy it is for you to wear the vest if you require quick access to it in case of an accident or emergency.

Is a Level 4 bulletproof vest legal for citizens?

Many Americans have always asked about level 4 ballistic vests for events such as hunting in public areas or having the best protection for their loved ones in case their homes are invaded. The good news is that most Americans are legally allowed to wear bulletproof in public places if they want to do so. Not unless you are trying to do criminal activities or you are a convicted felon.

Myths that Citizens Have Towards Bulletproof Vests

Movies and popular T.V. shows have many people thinking that a ballistic vest is impenetrable protection that deflects bullets like they are nothing. But bulletproof vests can only offer a particular protection level, and some can break even after being impacted by numerous rounds. If you are in the market for body vests, it is crucial to know the truths and myths about bulletproof vests.

Myth #1: Bulletproof vests are bulletproof

Contrary to what many people think, ballistic vests are not actually bulletproof. They are known as bullet resistant, implying that they assist you in mitigating the effects of bullets, safeguarding them from penetrating your skin. Ballistic vests assist you in saving the lives of police officers and other security officers daily but don’t necessarily safeguard wearers from going to the hospital after the attack.

Myth #2: Bulletproof vests can also safeguard you against stabbing weapons

Many citizens wrongly believe that if a bullet-resistant vest cannot be penetrated by bullets, then it can also stop stabbing weapons. However, that is not the case. In fact, there are different classes of vests with the capacity to safeguard you against stabbing weapons.

Myth #3: Bulletproof vests are not resistant to stabs

Ballistic vests wearers should understand that these vests are not knife-resistant vests. Stab body vests are built of weave and fiber than bullet-resistant vests.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you buy a bulletproof vest?

In most states, you can either buy bullet-resistant vests online or face-to-face from vendors.

Can you wear a bulletproof vest in other countries apart from the U.S.? 

The regulations on ballistic vests vary across the world. In some countries, like Australia, bulletproof vests are classified as prohibited equipment.

There are no specific restrictions on bulletproof vests in the United Kingdom. However, the E.U. prohibits citizens from buying bullet-resistant vests made for military usage, which might include Level III and level IV body armor.


While most states strictly abide by the federal law concerning bulletproof vests, some add their laws to it. But, the use and purchase of ballistic vests by citizens, in general, is lawful. Again, if you have a felony conviction, then it is illegal to buy and use the body vest. But you need to know that bulletproof vest is the same as stab vests because most of them provide protection against firearms and cannot help with sharp stabbing objects like knives. In addition, committing a crime while wearing a bulletproof vest in most states constitutes a felony.