Cheap Level IV Plates – And No, They’re Not Made of Steel

RMA Armament Level IV

RMA Armament announced the company is now selling Level IV plates for $115 each. These plates are NIJ 0101.06 certified and they are not made of steel. Rather, these plates are made of monolithic ceramic and polyethylene. This reduces the concerns about spalling that metal plate manufacturers try to control with the application of coatings.

Of course, this price level suggests RMA Armament is using older design materials and technologies that have seen dramatic price reductions in recent years. That means the plates are thicker and heavier than some of the cutting edge designs. In fact, these single curve, 10″x12″ plates weigh in at 8.3 pounds each and are 1″ thick. However, the materials are proven to work and you can get a pair for less than $250.

This model (the 1155) is made in the USA (Iowa to be specific), is water resistant and is backed by a 10 year warranty. As a result of the NIJ testing, the company is able to state that these plates will handle multiple hits from 30.06 M2AP rounds.

If you are looking for something thinner and lighter, the company also offers the model 1199. These plates are just 4.4 pounds each and are also NIJ 0101.06 certified. However, they are more expensive at $399 each. However, based on plated I’ve priced in the past, that is still a pretty reasonable number.



Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is http://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/.


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  • PK

    Good. I like having options. Besides, the more available (and affordable!) arms and armor are to every day people, the better it is for everyone.

    • neckbone

      Is there any ar15 round that can defeat this that you know of?

      • disqus_sgMcKYCZZ3

        I dont think so

      • Charles Applegate

        If it’ll take .30-06 AP, I think it will shrug off 5.56.

        • Drew Coleman

          That’s not always the case – small and fast is harder to stop. So 556 AP might give it trouble. I’d have to look up the NIJ specs to be sure, can’t do that at work.

          • Sunshine_Shooter

            In steel, you are correct. In ceramic, not so much. There should be testing videos on YouTube by now, so we might try checking over there.

          • PK

            Good thinking on SCHV being harder to stop than M2AP, but in this case the model 1055 level IV plates are special threat tested for M855 by the NIJ.

          • No one

            Correction, you’re mixing up Level IV with III.

            Level III is specifically tested for M855 and M80, Level IV is well above them so it’s just listed as “Will also defeat all threats listed in X, Y and Z” etc.

      • PK

        I have no idea, I haven’t tested one. I’m leaning toward buying one to confirm the IV rating.

        If it conforms to IV rating, then no, there’s nothing commercially available from 5.56x45mm chambering that with defeat it.

        However, to be pedantic, you can get .50BMG AR15 uppers, so yes, there are AR rounds that can defeat it – and with one shot!

        • Ryfyle

          We really could use more mutants and creatures to fight in these parts.

      • No one

        M995 probably could at reasonable ranges.

        Good luck finding any of that on the public market ever though.

        • We hope to have some M995 to test soon. It’s a tough call. I know it’s big brother slices through Level IV (M993) 😀

  • TVOrZ6dw

    I need to check with Accounting to see if I can expense the lighter weight set as a travel expense to my Chicago South Loop work site…

    • GaryOlson

      Expense it as safety equipment; the auditors don’t scrutinize that category so strictly.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        Even if they did, it would still be safety equipment suited for the unique problems that particular environment presents.

        • Kurt Akemann

          Quite concur, especially if you had to leave work late.

      • Sianmink

        Simple PPE

  • Ken

    Maybe imported materials? They’re heavier than the Chinese made ceramic plates by a good bit, so maybe not. It probably just is cheaper but heavier materials as suggested.

    • No one

      Chinese milspec level IV equivalant ceramic is usually Al2O3 for reference. Sometimes sheathed in a coat of laminated THE to prevent multiple hits from cracking it too widely. (Ceramics are known to be brittle obviously.)

      • No one

        *THS, I hate auto correct.

        • mosinman

          i actually thought that this was a Chinese plate

          • No one

            Doubtful, RMA manufactures all their own plates in Iowa.

            It’s also unlikely they use the same materials and design layouts.

          • mosinman

            no i mean i watched a review of a Chinese plate of the same construction and look a few hours ago

          • The 1145/1155 plate is a monolithic construction. One solid sheet of ceramic. Their 1189/1199 plate is a tile array design, that’s uses some type of adhesive to help bind the tiles together. I’m waiting to get the 1199 to test. Their 1189 stopped M2 AP @ 3200 fps, 3 shots at 45′

    • Jonathan Page

      Nope. I just moved from the town these are manufactured in. Dupont material. They have an open offer to go to the plant and shoot one for yourself. They are constructed differently than most other ceramic plates but their materials are top notch.

  • Nicks87

    That 10 year warranty is worth the price alone. I’ve dropped ceramic plates before and had them shatter so the warranty is a nice idea.

    • Havok

      It always bothers me when a company doesn’t update their warranty statement to reflect the advertisements. In the link they provide on their website, it says their is only a 60 month warranty.

      • Warren Ellis

        Either they’re too lazy to update or they’re trying to fool people with false advertising you think?

      • Their warranty guidelines state either 60 or 120 months, and the warranty period is stated on the panel’s info sheet. If the 10 yr stipulation is part of NIJ Certification then it’s got a 10 yr warranty..

    • Lonesome Whistle

      is the warranty refund only to the original purchaser, or can the estate executor claim it?

      – Pedro’s widow is getting remarried…

  • Brett baker

    Waiting for the TFBTV test.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    Still not as cheap as a book, but I guess books arent rated for .50AE.

    • mazkact

      Encyclopedia Britannica not bullet proof.

  • Got a chance to talk with these folks at SHOT Show. I was impressed with their quality and warranty. There is another mid-weight option as well, and Level III options as well.

  • Seth Hill

    Interesting. Now to find a source of reasonably priced quality pig skin leather and Cordura so I can build my vest.

  • nova3930

    Not a bad option for “idiot insurance” at public ranges I’d think….

  • Vhyrus

    AR500 makes their level 4 composite plates for only $155 each and they’re a pound lighter. This isn’t exactly ‘neva been dun befoh’ territory.

    • iksnilol

      BUt that’s almost a 50% cost increase for a 12% weight reduction.

    • These are actually NIJ certified. Not tested in compliance with NIJ, but these actually appear by model number on the NIJ’s certification list. These have 10 year warranty and are NIJ 06 ceritied, whereas the AR500 Armor only has a 5 yr warranty, and what plate of theirs is actually “certified” is a mystery since the model #s listed are not ones that appear on their website.

  • Lonesome Whistle

    whatever book it was I am sure they never read it.