What kind of armored plate should I get?
AR500 Body Armor
Armored plates are the most important aspect you should research when understanding proper protection from a bulletproof vest. Currently, on market there are 2 main types of AR500 body armor commonly used. Split in two main categories, soft and hard body armor. Soft body armor includes materials like Kevlar, made by DuPont, or its generic competitors Honeywell and Dyneema. The other is hard body armor, this includes materials like steel and ceramic plates. Each plate has several characteristics that are applicable to each consumer based on their required needs. Lastly, individually these plates are tested and rated based on the standards set by the National Institute of Justice. This governing body is responsible for setting criteria for body armor to compile under, and thusly creates a rating based on results.
What are NIJ standards
The National Institute of Justice sets the standard in body armor level of protection, their standards are commonly followed by law enforcement and corrections officers. Before any plate can be NIJ certified it must go through a very tedious testing process. The said body armor and carrier is forced to endure a week long extreme element test. This process put the vest under extreme environmental factors like extreme heat or cold. Next, the vest is fired on by a programmable cannon in a controlled environment. The vest must pass the firing of the cannon to the full standard set by the NIJ, regardless of torture testing effects. This certifies that the vest and carrier will maintain protection level despite ecological factors. This extreme testing demonstrates all of NIJ verified plates on the market are made to withstand the elements and after be able to perform their functions. They also have established a ranking system based on the level of protection provided. Level 1(NIJ I) has the ability to withstand from small hand guns. Level 2 (IIA), has the ability to resist small handguns and low velocity hand guns. Level 3 (NIJ II) has the ability to guard you from all firearms listed before plus high velocity hand guns. Level 4 (NIJ IIIA) can protect you from all formerly listed guns, with the addition of high powered hand guns and submachine guns. Level 5 (NIJ III Max), this high level fortification has the capacity to shield you from all above mentioned firearms, with the addition of high powered and assault rifles. Each level specifies the level of protection, understanding the level of protection provided by each type can help make your decision on your protection needs.
Kevlar is a para-armid synthetic fiber created in 1965 by DuPont chemical company. This lab created fiber was made to withstand lower velocity weapons, it makes a great fit for an antiballistic. This means the fiber is strong enough to with stand NIJ levels IIA, II, and IIIA. Although Kevlar has been proven to be stronger than steel, its multiple layers have a hard time stopping higher velocity weapons, like rifles. This armor is most commonly used in police body armor, because of its combination of strength and lighter weight. Since most officers rarely encounter high velocity weapons, Kevlar is a great fit. Also the weight being much lighter allows for officers to move accordingly, in the instance of any required exceeded physical excursion, like a foot chase. The only negative to Kevlar, is that the fiber itself degrades after prolonged exposure to ultra violet light and water. Also when shot out Kevlar absorbs the impact and the force of the firearm is often felt by the consumer. Bullet is resisted in passing through the armor but still provides a thrust of energy to the wearer.
This type of armored plate is usually laser cut for precision, and it is also one of the heaviest options available in hard body armor. Each steel plate can weigh anywhere from 7.5 lbs. to 9 lbs. What you are gaining in weight, you are also gaining in protection. Steel plates have a protection level up to NIJ III Max, which is the highest regulated protection level. We recommend this level of protection if you know you are going to encounter higher velocity weapons. All of our steel plates are created, and verified in the USA so we can ensure each steel plate is surpassing NIJ standards. The only real downside to this type of plate is the extra weight and that when shot at there is a possibility of ricochet from the bullet from impact. You can rely on steel, to withstand any environmental factors and have a longer life span.
We do not offer a ceramic option, but it still available as one of the options on the market. Ceramic plates are very strong and have the ability to absorb bullet force by breaking the tile in the plate. Essentially this type of plate was crafted to take a bullet and shatter in the little areas hit. This type of plate is extremely effective in protecting from high velocity weapons, and it rated to protect up to NIJ levels III, IV. However, if this plate receives multiple hits in the same area, there is an increased risk of piercing the armor. We do think it’s a great alternative for those who don’t need prolonged usage.
Summary: The most important factor to consider, when purchasing a bulletproof vest, is plate selection. The type of plate you choose for your carrier is the crucial element that determines your protection level. We offer several option for armored plate selection, and each is unique to its level protection, material, and features. You can rest assured that we only offer the best possible quality available for purchase.