Understanding PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds armor - get the best helmets and vests

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ armour system seems pretty simple on paper. Both helmets and bulletproof vests come in three levels and, as you would expect, the level two is better than the level one, and the level three is better than both of them. Simple, right? Well yes, at its core it is that simple, but there is a lot more to it than that. 

See, there are times when you might want to take a level two over a level three, which might sound crazy but is a situation that occurs more than you realise. It is also a good idea to know exactly what each level will do, so you can know when to be aggressive in fights and when to stay passive in order to avoid a quick death. To make sure you never fall foul of armour screwing you over, here is everything you could ever want to know about both helmets and vests. 

Vests

Level 1 Police Vest

  • Police Vest 200 Durability
  • 30% Damage reduction 

With a level one vest, which should be the absolute minimum you have on at all times, you will block around 30% of each shot, which is quite a significant amount. At times, when you are looting a high value area, it can be easy to skip that first level one, thinking you are bound to find a level two before long, but that is a terrible idea, always pick it up. 

The key stats for a level one vest are mostly when it comes to 5.56 ARs, SMGs and shotguns. We don’t have official values for anything in PUBG, but a lot of testing from numerous places suggests that a level one vest means it will take four body shots from a 5.56 AR to kill, instead of three without a vest. For SMGs it pushes the bullets to kill number up by two for all but the Tommy Gun and the same goes for shotguns, pushing the S1897 and S686 to a massive six bullets to kill. 

Level 2 Police Vest

  • Police Vest 220 Durability
  • 40% Damage reduction 

With just a 10% increase in damage reduction the difference between level one and level two isn’t all that big, so don’t be too concerned if you can’t find one. However, there are a few key weapons that this will protect you from, and of course the extra 10% in general is always good. 

A level two will offer better protection against all of the common sniper rifles. A Kar98k goes from just about two shotting you with a level one, to a clear three shot with a level two. While the SKS and Mini 14 will now require four good body shots instead of three, which is much more manageable. It will also just about make the 5.56 ARs five shot you instead of four, but the damage is so close to four shotting that the difference is not all that useful. 

Level 3 Military Vest

  • Military Vest  250 Durability
  • 55% Damage reduction 

The Military Vest is of course the dream, with a massive 55% damage reduction that gives you a significant advantage in close range fights. 

The level three once again adds one shot to kill on most common snipers, with the Kar98k taking four shots and the Mini 14 a massive six. Although if you let someone get six shots on you with a Mini something has gone wrong. It also makes the Micro Uzi and S12K pretty useless, as both will take 10 bullets to the chest to bring you down. 

While 55% damage reduction is great, it is worth remembering that durability is a key factor. Chances are you are going to take multiple shots to the area, and vests will get damaged. If you are rocking a full health level two mid way through the game and then find a quarter health level three on a body, maybe leave that where it is. Chances are that if you take another bullet or two that level three will be destroyed, and you will have 0% damage reduction for the rest of the round. Not an ideal situation. 

Helmets

Ballistic Mask

Here’s something a lot of people don’t realise. The Ballistic Mask is purely cosmetic and will not block any incoming damage. Take it if you think it looks cool, but remember it will not help you out at all in any kind of fight. 

Level 1 Motorcycle Helmet

  • 80 Durability
  • 30% damage reduction 

In terms of damage reduction, the helmets follow the same structure as the vests, just with less durability for each level. However, with headshots being the key to quick kills they are arguably more important, which is why you should never skip over a level one helmet. 

Without a helmet, all snipers and ARs, apart from the VSS, will take you down with one headshot. But with a level one hat, all ARs, the SKS and Mini will take two bullets. That is a massive difference, as it gives you some time to react and hide. It also helps out with all the other weapons, generally giving you a second or two more to battle it out. 

Level 2 Military Helmet

  • 150 Durability
  • 40% damage reduction

While the level two vest makes some big changes in how many shots it will take to bring you down, the level two helmet is more of a small upgrade in this department. Most things will still be capable of taking you down with just two shots, but the damage reduction means that if a head shot turns into a body shot, you will be able to live a while longer.  

Perhaps the key here is the almost double durability. While it may feel like you never manage to hit a headshot yourself, they are actually pretty common and as a result a level one can be gone after just one fight. The level two has a bit more to it, and will last a lot longer. Not having a helmet is pretty disastrous, so keep the durability factor in mind. 

Level 3 Spetsnaz Helmet 

  • 230 Durability
  • 55% damage reduction

The level three helmet is where things get really fun. Only the AWM is capable of taking you down with one shot now, with the likes of the Kar98k and M24 dropping all the way down to two. Purely for this fact you should always take a level three, because getting one shotted is the most frustrating thing in PUBG. Elsewhere, all the 5.56 weapons drop to three shots to kill, which is quite high, and shotguns become pretty useless, upping to four and five shots to kill. Be warned that the AK is still capable of two shotting you even with a level three.

Once again, the increase durability is a big factor, and of course a brand new level three is what you should be rocking. Where things differ from vests is when you should stop taking a level three. The big difference in durability means that a half damaged level three will still last almost as long as a full level two, and the damage block is massively important. Really, you only want to be dropping or ignoring a level three in favour of a level two when it gets down to say 10 or 15% durability. Even then, some people will take a one durability level three over a level two if they know there is a big sniper or two in the game, as that one durability will be the difference between getting killed with one shot, or two.