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Federal agents test a bulletproof vest in 1923, while Metro PD looks on.

The whimsical scene of Sheriff Andy Taylor patrolling Mayberry unarmed and without body armor is belied by the fact that more than 3,000 police officers have been saved by body armor since the mid-1970s. Today’s patrol officers serve as frontline troops, our “first responders” in the war against terrorism, rampaging killers and whatever sociopaths come up with next.

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MISSION READY: Body armor has become a reality of life for harm’s way operators like these wearing LBT Sentinel Releasable plate carriers, and fielding rifles equipped with select rifle accessories from Mission First Tactical. MFT’s products are made in the USA and feature unique DuPont Military Plastics. Steve Belkowitz/MFT Photo

Incidents of heavily armored suspects armed with rifle-caliber weapons, sometimes full-auto, have dictated a change in tactics. Ever more officers are being trained and equipped with patrol rifles, and the use of concealable soft body armor is pretty much a universal fact of life for those who serve in harm’s way.

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Point Blank R20-D

If one could go back to almost any point in history, the complaint would be the same. Armor—made of leather, chainmail, plate or Space Age fibers and ceramics—is heavy, hot, uncomfortable and limits mobility. Regardless, wearing armor is far better than the alternative.

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Ballistic shields, like this Diamondback MUST shield, offer excellent protection for an individual or team and can be quickly deployed.

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Federal agents test a bulletproof vest in 1923, while Metro PD looks on. The whimsical…