Body Armor

Which armor plate is right for you?

Thankfully, there hasn’t been a federal ban on these yet but don’t think anti-gunner politicians aren’t trying!

In the world of armor plates we essentially have two sides of the spectrum - ceramic plates and steel plates. Yes, there are side plates and trauma pads but that’s besides the main concerns people on the market for armor plates will have (unless you have an occupation or situation that may require soft armor).

Some people are completely anti-steel armor plates and there are some good reasons behind that sentiment for sure but would you rather be in a firefight with no armor at all? Additionally, anti-spall coating technology has come a long way for steel armor plates (we would advise to not use steel armor plates unless they had a certified anti-spall coating).

Ceramic plates have significantly increased in popularity, given what we’ve been seeing since the Ukraine War conflict - but if you don’t have access to expensive, lightweight ceramic plates, then steel plates come in pretty handy and at a much more affordable price as well. 

Understanding Armor Plate Levels

Regardless of whether you choose ceramic or steel plates, you have to know what level armor makes the most sense for you. How much protection are you looking for and are you able to deal with the potential weight that comes with higher level armor? These are some of the factors body armor buyers should consider.

Level II

You don’t see these as much on the market but essentially if you find any soft armor under this designation it should protect you from hand calibers .22LR up to .45 ACP, 9mm and even .357 MAG.

Level IIIA

Level 3A armor is typically soft and you’ll often see police officers or security guards wear this type which should protect you from everything Level II armor does including .44 Magnum. 

Level III

Level 3 plates are where we start to see some rifle rounds coverage. While it may resist high velocity rounds such as 7.62x39, 7.62x51 or 5.56’s M855 rounds, the armor may not be able to take too many hits without experiencing penetration or at the very least some deformation, so keep that in mind. 

Level III+

Level 3+ has recently become a sort of industry standard as it provides the most all around protection from rifle rounds and can resist more impacts compared to Level 3 plates. Some brands have designed hybrid products that don’t completely adhere to the NIJ’s standards and definitions for what body armor should be able to cover in terms of ballistic protection. One example of this could be the Hesco L210 Special Threat plates - where you may lose M80 ball protection but can stop several AR-15 and AKM light armor-penetrating rounds.

Level IV

This is where armor gets real expensive, most sets costing over a thousand dollars if you’re looking for a lightweight set up. Under the NIJ standard, a level 4 armor plate will be able to stop 7.62x63 or 30-06 armor penetrating rounds.