The biomechanical response of a finite element model of the human thorax and a protective body armor system was studied under impact loading from a projectile. The objective of the study was to create a viable finite element model of the human thorax. The model was validated by comparing the results of tests of body armor systems conducted on cadavers to results obtained from finite element analysis. A parametric study was undertaken to determine the essential components of the model. The results from this investigation determined that the path of force propagation from a body armor system to the thorax upon bullet impact is directly through the vest to the sternum and then through the skeleton to the rest of the body. Thus, any parameters that affect the components in this pathway were essential to the model. This included the muscles, their geometries, material properties, and viscosity, as well as the Young’s modulus of the sternochondral cartilage and the bones themselves.