AR-500 vs 12 Gauge Slugs… AR500 Wins

AR500 armor has quickly grown an excellent reputation for being able to stop most threats, but its primary detraction has been its creation of spall compared to currently ceramic plates. They have been working on it for some time, using commercial truck-bed liners to catch the spall.

They recently put their latest coating it to the ultimate test, 1 Oz of of 12 gauge fury.

Yep, I’d wear it.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • J-


    Shotgun slugs are soft lead, they have to be to deform when passing through a choke tube. I wouldn’t be surprised that a 1/4 inch thick hardened steel plate would stop a shotgun slug.

    I have some Level IIIA soft armor that says (paraphrasing) “Warning: this body armor will stop a shotgun slug, however the impact form a shotgun slug is enough to still kill you.”

    • BryanS

      You might be able to block penetration, but you cant block physics.

      • ghost

        Absolutely. A can might protect you from the crusher, but the can being crushed will kill you. The object is, not to be hit, or, not be in the can. I will not argue that any protection is better than none however.

    • RealitiCzech

      The benefit of a solid plate is that it will spread that impact over a wider area than soft armor will.
      You’re likely to have pretty bad bruising afterwards, but bruises are preferable to bulletholes.

      • Ethan

        If you look around online you’ll find people who have been shot in the plate saying it felt “like simunitions”. Very little pain, especially in the context of the adrenaline you will undoubtedly be feeling.

        Soft armor, even IIIA is a very different story. That’s why they do clay-deformation testing on a lot of soft armor.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          I have scars from UTM but all still more appealing than holes.

      • J-

        Yeah, of course, you are 100% right. My point was that a shotgun slug is not hard to stop, even soft armor that is only rated for magnum handguns will stop a shotgun slug or buckshot. The large frontal area, soft construction, and relatively low velocity of a slug means that they are not good armor penetrators. This was not a challenging test for an AR500 plate.

        The downside to AR-500 plate armor (besides weight) is coverage area. In the military, you are more likely to get shot at by a rifle, which takes a hard armor plate to stop the bullet. Soft armor doesn’t do much against high velocity, pointed, rifle bullets. So you are stuck with limited coverage of your vitals regardless of plate materials (Steel or ceramic like SAPI).

        In the civilian world, you are more likely to get shot at by a handgun (87% gun crimes). Pound for pound of armor, I’d rather have more of my body covered by soft armor which can’t stop a rifle bullet, than less of my body covered by armor that can stop 7.62 AP. Underarm coverage and lower abdominal coverage is key, especially since a gut shot (if you survive) will screw you up for life.

        This is what I find so funny when I watch cops run around in plate carriers like they are Delta Operators in Afghanistan. They think they look all high speed and cool but they are not protecting themselves against the more realistic threats they will face out on the city streets.

        I get that AR500 plates don’t expire and you can keep them around for years for a poop-hits-the fan, teotwawki moment, but as someone who has worn body armor daily for a job (cash handler, refilled ATMs), I feel safer in the wrap around coverage of a Level III OTV style armor.

        P.S. I still have my vest for a poop-hits-the-fan moment. The biggest threats to kevlar is oxygen and UV, so mine is stored vacuum sealed in plastic, laid flat under my bed in the dark. I figure, undisturbed, it should still be good for 10 years.

        • Ethan

          There are a lot of systems (though not enough quality ones IMO) that combine the two, though at the cost of weight and bulk.

          However I would like to see a system made that has soft armor extending from the bottom of the plate down to the waistline, and covering the sides up to the armpits; but only covering the front and back enough to overlap a hard plate by 1″ on each edge.

          Make the soft armor removable and you can mix-match any combination of soft and hard armor to achieve the balance you want.

    • Jim_Macklin

      Soft body armor requires a soft base, a torso to support the fabric. Steel or ceramic plates stop bullets with or without a cushion. But if a 1/2″ thick [super-ball] rubber sheet supports the plates and soft armor
      I recall news of an Arizona sheriff wearing soft armor that was pistol rated being shot with a 350 grain .45/70 Marlin rifle. News said he died with the soft vest dragged several inches deep into the rib cage and lungs and heart were penetrated. The vest contained the bullet.
      If the armor is 100% effective against all possible weapons, nobody can wear it and walk and/or fight.
      You have to stop penetration and spread the impact over a wider area and a longer time [milliseconds].

      • J-

        You are right. My point was it is not a challenge for an AR500 plate to stop a slug. A 1/4 inch of cold rolled A36 low carbon sheet steel can stop of shotgun slug. Soft armor that is only rated for pistols will stop a shotgun slug. The test is not that impressive.

        • Ethan

          Yeah, lower velocity combined with a massive frontal area is not a recipe for penetration. Still, its good to know.

  • Ethan

    A set of these plates should be in the closet of every Patriot in America.

    You all have swords aplenty, now go spend $160 and get a top-notch shield.

    • Nicks87

      I agree 100%. Buy em now while you still can.

    • iksnilol

      Eh, carrying a pistol and a couple of mags is much easier and draws less attention than wearing a pair of steel plates. Besides, with armor you move much slower (10-15 kg doesn’t sound much but it will slow you down).

      Realistically, soft armor is way better for most situations you are going to encounter (+ it won’t slow you down much).

      • Ethan

        “A set of the plates should be *IN THE CLOSET* of every Patriot in America.”

        You misunderstood – the situation referred to involves carrying a rifle and many spare magazines. This is not a suggestion for EDC. 😉

        • iksnilol

          Body armor is still a hassle and it draws unwanted attention. There is a reason modern ships are well armed but not so well armored (increased probability of not getting hit is better than increased survivality of getting hit). Pro-tip: For SHTF and whatnot you don’t want to be attractive. So try to look unattractive, keep your rifle hidden, make your stuff look battered and worthless (paint some parts reddish-brown to make it look rusty), try to keep “hot” items (primarily rifle optics, explosives and other things like jumper cables for some reason) hidden until needed.

          Source: Several people who survived the things you guys dream/fantasize about.

          • Ethan

            As my buddy from Tennessee says, You don’t seem to be smellin’ what I’m steppin’ in here. 😛

            *IF* you are in a social situation that calls for a Rifle (Rioting, anti-tyranny response, anti-terrorism response like at Beslan, RU), soft body armor (while better than nothing) is totally insufficient. Soft armor is great for more frequent use to defend against lower level surprise threats (IE Handguns), but not in rifle fights – which would include the majority of high-level social threats.

            The only time you would be carrying a rifle is when you know trouble is coming. That being the case, you don’t want to be the one wearing pistol armor to a rifle fight. Dig?

            Plate armor CAN be concealed without too much trouble, it just requires dressing for the part – much like the difference between carrying a compact pistol VS a full sized pistol.

            You’re right – the soft armor pairs better with a pistol and spare mags, but the hard armor better be at the party when your AR-15 comes out to play.

          • iksnilol

            I am understanding what you mean. You mean a situation like a riot/war or something similar. Armor attracts attention, attention that will get you killed because someone wants your plates.

            A “party” that requires ARs is a party you shouldn’t partake in. You are soft and squishy, even with armor (then you are just slow in addition to soft and squishy). Ambushes and guerrila tactics are your friend. A rifle can easily be concealed along the back under a backpack. Won’t be a part of your outline and can be accessed somewhat quickly if needed.

            And in a rifle fight, I would rather be the guy with pistol armor. Know why? Because I can move quickly in it. Move quickly = less likely to get shot, since even with plate getting shot is uncomfortable and can put you out of the fight or distract you long enough for someone to hit you a couple of times more. And even more prefereable would be to engage at a distance with a 308 or something. Of course the best is to not be there when shooting starts.

          • Ethan

            I’d love to avoid said party, but the whole point of hard plates is for when you don’t have that luxury.

            That said, you’re still approaching this equation with subtlety as your top priority, and I will re-iterate that
            1) You can conceal plates if necessary.
            2) Plates are for usually situations when there are more important priorities than blending in.
            ..and I will add that
            3) There are situations when you do not want to blend in – like protecting a storefront during rioting. We recently saw guys in Ferguson wearing plate carriers and ARs – in front of their store – no one bothered them. Unless we’re talking suicidal Jihadis, the majority of predators look for the easy targets, not the most heavily armed and armored one in sight.

            No one WANTS to be in CQB battle or under the threat of ambush from a party of riflemen, but history (especially recent history) is replete with examples of exactly that happening.

            Soft armor and hard armor are usually for two different roles. Each has its advantages but they are not generally interchangeable.

          • n0truscotsman

            The “low profile” plate carrier designs are starting to get traction. Your concerns about drawing unnecessary attention are good though. That means your thinkin’.

            Something like this

            can be worn under a size up t-shirt, sweatshirt, or long sleeve. or carhartt jacket. good stuff.

            armor vs no armor is a contentious issue among, shall i say, “defense/prepping enthusiasts”. Matthew Bracken has argued for no armor. I cant say I necessarily agree, but his experience in the manner is very valuable.

          • iksnilol

            Regarding armor, I am interested in the plastic plates that weigh about 1.5 kg each while providing 308 or AP 308 protection (can’t remember the level, it was pretty high). But they melt. Otherwise, armor is heavy, At least for me. Though I will admit if I was standing guard or something I wouldn’t mind armor. But for general purpose, the extra agility is much better (at least in my opinion).

            But yeah, a problem among preppers is that a part of them focus only on guns/weapons and not on other things that keep you alive (food&medicine and how to improvise). Sure, a weapon is vital but other things are vital as well. You can’t eat bullets, or stop bleeding with a rifle.

    • n0truscotsman

      I agree. They’re not as comfortable as the newest nano-ceramic 2000 plates that weigh a pound a piece and can stop ought six AP, but still, if they stop 7.62, shotgun, and 5.56, thats good enough for me. I dont intend on “testing” my plates with multiple sots.

      Of course, the easiest solution to the weight and comfort problem is to:
      1.) Do PT
      2.) Wear your plates more than annually

      thats half the cost of a new gaming system 🙂

  • ghost

    I can stop most anything. I may not survive it tho.

  • tony

    Lead slug, yes it will stop
    Anything harder than lead, the plate will fail.

    • Ethan

      What is “You’re Extremely Wrong” for 500 Alex?

    • sianmink

      I’d like to see what solid copper sabot slugs would do.

  • Brandon

    I still don’t buy into the hype. There are plenty of videos of ar500 being defeated by common m193 55gr 5.56 rounds. I’ve noticed a common theme with their videos is testing with all these different calibers but the never test with anything with a muzzle velocity over 3200fps. I want to see some more thorough testing using higher velocity ammo.

    • Ethan

      I’ve been following AR500 reviews for a while now and I’ve never seen or heard of that.

  • Blake

    I’d be interested to see how it holds up against a few higher-SD loads one would be likely to encounter in the real world, such as:

    147gr 9mm
    180gr 357 mag

    & just for fun, 180gr 7mm Rem Mag 🙂

  • Anonymoose

    Still waiting for AR-600 armor to become a thing.

  • Zugunder

    Spoiler right in the title? Good job!

    Just kidding.

  • derfelcadarn

    12 gauge at thirty yards is not my weapon of choice here. What happens at more realistic ranges with the 12 gauge , like under 10 yards ? What about rifle rounds normally chambered in defense style rifles ?

  • Ethan

    Very interesting! Some good info I was not aware of. Thank you.

    • J-

      You are welcome.

      What I would really love to see as a ballistics test is somebody getting a bunch of the large restaurant grade cutting boards from Sam’s Club or a restaurant supply and shooting those. They are usually 20-24 inches wide by 18 inches hight and half an inch thick. Moreover, they are made from high density polyethylene, which is very similar to UHMWPE that body armor is made of.

      I’d be curious to see what a heavy duty cutting board can withstand (maybe a .22 or .380) and how many cutting boards stacked together it would take to stop a 9mm and 45 ACP.

      I’d do it myself but in Chicago all the ranges are indoor and we can’t shot anything but the paper targets sold by the range.

  • Ethan

    Thanks for posting!
    I’m really not sure if this is BS or not. How can it reliably stop 62gr Steel core penetrators but not lead/copper 55gr bullets? Seems very unlikely..

    Either way, thanks for posting. I’ll look into this more.

    • RealitiCzech

      Velocity does the majority of work for penetration. It would be interesting to see how an insanely fast round like 204 Ruger would perform.

    • Cody M

      skeptical myself but is what i found.

  • Ethan

    This test exceeds NIJ LVL3 standards. Now you’re into LVL IV territory or beyond. Very good to know! Thanks for posting.

  • Brandon

    Velocity makes all the difference with body armor. Everything I’ve seen of AR500 looks like it works fine against any rifle round under 3000fps. Bullets do strange things above 3000fps. Even though common sense says that it should stop it because it’s not a penetrator or AP round but the 55gr projectile is traveling so fast that when the pointed tip of that bullet hits the plate it releases an incredibe.amount of kinetic energy on a very small area which allows it to pu ch right through

  • Jon Ugalde

    Ok, now go and try those,

  • Jon Ugalde

    Tester, if you want to try them seriously, fire those to them,