Rifle plates – especially NIJ 0101.06 certified Level IV ones – can be heavy and cumbersome. It makes sense considering a Level IV plate is supposed to stop a .30-06 M2AP round with less than 44 mm of back face deformation. Making a plate that provides this level of protection almost certainly means it will be quite heavy when compared to armor designed for lower threat levels.
RMA Armament announced a new Level IV plate that is claims is the “world’s lightest plate in its class.” How light is light? According to the company, the ALPHA Armor Series Level IV plate is a 10″x12″, single curve plate with a shooter’s cut and it weighs only 4.4 pounds. According to the company, back face deformation from the prescribed round was only 35.58 mm.
While 4.4 pounds may seem like a lot, it is relatively light for a Level IV plate. By way of comparison, the company’s existing 10″x12″ ceramic plate weighs in at 6.9 pounds each. A Level III (a lower level of protection) 10″x12″ shooters cut AR500 steel plate weighs in at about 8.0 pounds with an anti-spalling cover.
The ALPHA plate is made of a silicon carbide composite, which is a form of hard ceramic that has been used in other armor plates. It would be interesting to know what, if any, advancements were made in the composite to give it additional strength at a lower weight.
This plate is listed on the company’s website for $399. Last year, the company introduced a multi-hit, special rifle threat plate that was also very light, only 2.05 pounds, though it did not offer the same level of protection that this one does.