Body armor, ever since it was invented, has always been a compromise between protection and mobility.
The idea of protecting every last inch of a body has been around for centuries. Take a look at the Knights of the medieval era; they were intent on having everything covered. They would wear so much armor that their vision was often impaired and they needed special apparatuses just to get on their horses. And that was fine when they were going up against similarly-clad opponents who had an equally difficult time moving. Of course, for most of history, a simple cut could lead to a life-threatening infection (especially on tetanus-ridden battlefields), so it was important that you didn’t get hurt at all.
Now that we are in the era of modern medicine and can deal with a slash to the arm, body armor has done its best to strike a balance between what to protect and making sure you can get out of a situation quickly, thereby avoiding getting shot in the first place. Today it’s a focus on protecting the head and vital organs of the chest and stomach.
But let’s admit it…wouldn’t it be nice to be completely covered so that your arms and legs would be protected from bullets? Sure, but it’s harder than you think. Why?
The areas that remain exposed by traditional hard body armor are the areas that you need to flex the most. Sure, you could put AR-500 plates on your arms, but we’re guessing you’d like to be able to actually use your arm instead of looking like the Michelin Man. Soft body armor is incredible, but it’s not Level IV rated, and it probably won’t be anytime soon. And the weight and heat it would add would be intolerable.
Will we ever see Level IV armor for every inch? Yes, but it could be years to come. For now, protect your vitals with a plate carrier vest and top-notch AR-500 body armor plates.