Choosing Body Armor: Is Steel Armor Worth Your Money?

I recently wrote a couple articles regarding steel armor that may have led some folks to believe that all steel armor is trash. That particular plate is like a stripper: It looks okay, but it’s full of issues. Not all steel armor is garbage, though. As with anything, there are compromises to be made in armor. If you don’t know much about armor, it is tempting to simply purchase armor that has the highest threat level and wash your hands of it. If you know a little bit more about armor, the Dunning-Kruger effect may take hold and you could make some faulty conclusions. Let’s start by dispelling a few common myths.

7.62 > 5.56

NIJ 0101.06 Level III steel armor is rated to stop 7.62x51mm 147 gr FMJ at 2,780 fps. Many folks take that to mean that it can also stop anything “less than” 7.62mm NATO. But level III steel plates are commonly defeated by M193 5.56mm 55 gr FMJ or by higher velocity .223 Rem and 5.56mm ammo such as varmint loads and the 50 gr TSX loaded by Black Hills. Level III UHMWPE plates are commonly defeated by M855 5.56mm 62 gr FMJ. That doesn’t mean either type is garbage, it’s just that they have limits.

Ceramic is Fragile

A ceramic plate that has survived multiple hits with .270 Win, .460 Marlin, .358 Win, 5.56mm, and 7.62x39mm.

A CATI ceramic plate that has survived multiple hits with .270 Win, .460 Marlin, .358 Win, 5.56mm, and 7.62x39mm.

Another common myth is that ceramic plates are fragile and will shatter into a million pieces when dropped or that they can only stop one round. It is true that ceramic plates could be damaged with a drop but most are very robust and will continue to protect, even when abused. I hit a Highcom 4SAS7 as hard as I could with a sledgehammer and it was still able to stop multiple rounds of 7.62mm, 5.56mm, and some big bore rifle cartridges. It is also true that it is possible that a hit that lands too close to a previous hit could pass through a ceramic composite plate, but in practice, even rounds that land directly on top of each other are usually stopped. It is also true that steel plates will generally last through hundreds or maybe thousands of hits. Steel is indeed more durable, but ceramic plates are also quite tough. And let’s be honest: if you are hit even a handful of times in your rifle plate, what are the odds that you didn’t take a round to the brachial artery or face? On the other hand, while both will protect you from a rifle hit, the ceramic plate has significant back face deformation, while the steel plate has effectively zero back face deformation. The back face deformation on a plate rated by the NIJ will be within acceptable limits, of course, and it is unlikely to kill you, but it can certainly take some fight out of you.

Back face deformation from a composite plate (L) and steel plate (R)

Steel Plates Will Kill You With Frag

When a bullet hits a steel plate, it splatters into a gazillion (that’s pi raised to the power of a lot) fragments. If those fragments aren’t contained, they can cause a fairly serious injury. They’ll slice right through a plate carrier and clothing. But they don’t penetrate very deeply into tissue. If you were very unlucky, you could catch a piece in the carotid artery, but odds are more likely that it would just be very painful. And that’s why most reputable steel armor manufacturers coat their plates with multiple layers of Paxcon or similar bed liner coating. When properly applied, these coatings will absorb and completely contain the fragments from dozens of rounds.

M193 Kills All Steel Plates

Just as some folks had no idea that M193 can defeat level III steel plates, other folks are starting to become aware of that fact but erroneously apply it to all steel plates. Several makers produce level III+ plates that can stop M193 and other high velocity threats. Now, III+ isn’t an NIJ rating. It really doesn’t mean anything. It’s just an industry term intended to indicate that a plate exceeds the level III standard. Respectable manufacturers apply the III+ “rating” to plates that actually hold an NIJ level III rating as a way of indicating that the plate meets level III standards but is also special threat rated. Several manufacturers make a level III+ plate that will stop Lake City M193 at 20 feet when fired from a 20″ barrel.

Steel Plates Are Heavier

Okay, this one is true. Mostly. Kind of. Level III steel plates tend to be heavier than level III plates made of other materials, but level III composite and UHMWPE plates are also extremely expensive. From a cost perspective, it may be more practical to compare steel plates to level IV ceramic plates. Here, a coated level III+ steel plate is barely heavier. Steel plates are also substantially thinner than ceramic plates and several companies are making dramatic advancements in curved steel plates such as the CATI CQB. That means that the slight weight difference can be outweighed in terms of overall comfort.

 

Armed with those facts, you can consider which rifle plate best fits your needs. You should consider factors such as threat level, weight, thickness, curve, and of course, price. It may not be a bad idea to look at informal testing such as that performed by Buffman and The Wound Channel as well. While these tests are not scientific, they can give you an idea of what other threats a plate can handle (or not) in addition to its rating. If you haven’t spent a lot of time wearing armor, it might not be a bad idea to borrow a set from a friend and do some yard work in it so you can get a feel for what factors are important for you.



Andrew

Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block (https://www.youtube.com/user/chopinbloc). He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at choppingblocktests@gmail.com


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  • Gee

    When we are talking about “threat levels,” we really mean to say, “threats while in your home (or your mom’s basement”” because the vast majority of those reading this article are not serving in a military setting. Be honest, the zombie apocalypse is what we’re all thinking about here. We are also talking about what most people can afford. Therefore, many people are going to consider whether they NEED body armor at all and then whether or not to spend “X” amount on it.

    • Chop Block

      Yeah, good point. It’s common knowledge that a crackhead’s Hi-Point shoots Nerf bullets and home invaders never carry a Bubbafied SKS they got in their last burglary.

      You could be right that average folks don’t need armor. They may never need a gun, either, but they definitely don’t need some guy in his mom’s basement projecting his issues on their situation.

      • Gee

        My point is not that people shouldn’t have it. I’m saying, price is more a driving factor because if you do feel the need to have it, price is likely going to be the driving factor behind your decision, not what it can/will stop.

        • Chop Block

          Okay, I see. But got $150 you can buy level IIIA, level III, or level IV armor made from a variety of materials, with a variety of thicknesses, weights, and cuts. And not all level III armor protects from exactly the same stuff.

      • iksnilol

        Uhm… Sooo… if you hear a bump in the night, you have the time to put on your armor, your NVGs and then grab your rifle?

        • ActionPhysicalMan

          Twenty years ago somebody tried to kick my door in at 4am. Surprisingly it went on long enough to put armor on, if I had had it, before they probably realized they were at the wrong door and went away. I don’t know what the moral of that story really is but there it is.

          • James Young

            The moral is that sometimes you have time, sometimes you don’t. Small apartments probably don’t, two or three story houses might (there are a lot of rooms and doors before they get to you). Still, the first thing to grab is always the gun.

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            Yeah, I grabbed a 1911 and pointed a directional light at the door and waited in ambush behind some piece of furniture behind the light. I expected the door to fail any second so I never called called 911 or said anything to the kicker. I was pretty relieved when they went away.

          • .45

            As I have been told, a 1911 would simply have jammed on you or had too few rounds for the bad guys present and you would have died repeatedly. Should have used a Glock. ;D

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            It was ’92 and I had a 638, a 6906, and a P226 as well. I think I chose the 1911 simply because the bullets were bigger:-) I also had 3 NY reloads with me. I was fairly new to handguns then.

          • r h

            thanks you owe me approximately 1/8th of a can of soda. since i sprayed it out if my nose reading your post 😀

        • Chop Block

          NODs, no. If I believe I have time to put armor on, yes, I will.

        • r h

          yea i do, when i heard the last asshat who was having a go at my barn door i DID don my body armor before taking my handgun and a bad attitude to figure out what he was up to..
          not EVERY ( read very many) life threatening events are all instant twitch reflex situations.. the belief that if you arnt a 0.0 sec response gun ninja there is no point at all is foolish and ludicrous.
          may i use the fire extinguisher reference now?
          “well what are the chances in a fire youll have time to go to where it is read the instructions get back to the fire and actually put it out?”
          well they are HIGHER then 0 so its WORTH MY TIME..

    • Holdfast_II

      Well, if you spend a lot of time on ranges with newbies, you might decide that wearing some armor is a sensible precaution.

      • Gee

        Unless you’re the only one that does, please show me firearms instructors or range officers that are wearing body armor on the range.

        • CTFish

          I do, but I consider it a conversation piece. I’m the only instructor I know who does.

        • Bill

          In LE, it’s not unheard of, though I and most of my associates don’t.

      • Rick O’Shay

        That’s the one time I legit IRL find myself wanting body armor. I go to public ranges less and less these days.

      • Grant

        I have had to leave a public range more than once because I was worried about something bad happening. I think having good SA is more important than wearing rifle plates.

        I also don’t have a problem with instructors wearing soft armor. It isn’t that uncomfortable once you get used to it. I also will say that it is almost always poor gun handling with pistols that has really worried me.

        Usually with rifles it is people who have mounted their new scope with the recticle set as an ‘X’ instead of a ‘+’ because it looks cool or something else retarded.

    • ActionPhysicalMan

      Do you also insult people who buy sports cars that they will never race or even reach the top speed of? What about people who buy .50BMG guns that they will probably never shoot at real threat? You are a fudd.

      • Gee

        I will insult armchair warriors all day long. As for what people buy, it’s their own prerogative. However, a certain degree of reality can found in every situation.

        • ActionPhysicalMan

          You are cutting such a wide swath that you don’t know who you are insulting. Everyone civilian who buys rifle plates is a lot of people – a diverse lot of people.

          • Gee

            Are you trying to defend your own purchase? I have armor and I’m not defending mine. I’m not here from the “what if brigade” either. I’m just making points of discussion. Achieved?

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            I don’t own rifle plates. I am a of a prepper disposition though, and will get to it sooner or later. What kind should I buy?;-)

          • iksnilol

            The kind that stops 40mm HE.

            THAT’S THE FUTURE, SON, 40MM HE!

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            My tinfoil tricorn already protects me from enemy 40mm targeting systems. I don’t think the type of warhead matters for that, does it?

      • Grant

        I guess the difference is that sports cars and .50 rifles are both fun to play with even if you are not racing or shooting at 1000 yards. Big metal plates on the other hand have a fun quotient approaching zero.

        A heavy plate carrier may also just be a waste of money if you don’t have an actual use for it and it just sits in your closet. Unless you actually wear it and train with it on a regular basis you are better off not using it at all.

        Since plates are heavy and human nature being what it is (we are lazy) most will not wear and train with something that is not comfortable unless they have a compelling reason.

        A while ago I posted the thought that I could not muster the enthusiasm to iwb appendix carry a full sized light bearing gun and there were a few who were really butt hurt and talked about being prepared for a Mumbai style terrorist attack. My question would be why not have a safety cage and 5 point harness installed in your car? Why not wear a helmet when you drive to the corner store? Unless you live in the inner city, you are far more likely to get injured or killed in your car than experience a full scale terror assault.

        I find articles like this interesting. Armor is cool and it is great we have all the options we do. It is nice that all these small companies can experiment and bring affordable plates to the market. I would just question why a typical person would would want a plate carrier.

        • ActionPhysicalMan

          I think it is because once you start preparing for a gunfight you are already imagining it happening and adding to your edge by expensive and uncomfortable means seems more and more reasonable. I realize that with the way I live, the chance that I will be assaulted is likely very very small, but I have steadily and compulsively been tooling up for years now. In the end, I recognize that I have have always had affection for arms I simply enjoy buying and having them. I don’t need them to have any other pay off than I want them. I am eyeing something like those RMA 4.4lb multi-faceted level IV plates as the next way get rid all this extra money I don’t need for more practical purposes;-)

        • Bill

          “Big metal plates on the other hand have a fun quotient approaching zero.”
          Truer words never spoken. I’d contend that the money would be better spent on soft armor, and that money be better spent on training, like, on how to not get shot.

          But chicks dig it. I guess.

          • r h

            i wear my plates sometimes when i work in the yard. it does two things. 1 gets me used to the weight and balance.
            2 helps me get stronger and lose weight..
            getting stronger and thinner may not be “fun” for you but it is for me..

          • BillyOblivion

            Getting stronger and thinner is not fun.

            Being strong and thin will be fun once I get there.

            I hope.

            Otherwise all this effort sucks.

    • Major Tom

      In a zombie apocalypse I prefer mobility to armor. That way if I need to leggit I simply kneecap the guy with armor let him get eated and run like mad.

      • iksnilol

        Yeah, but what if a fudd randomly shoots you in the chest from like 500 meters away whilst you’re strolling along on your merry path?

        • Major Tom

          Then I find out if I’m on God’s good side or not. If I am, I survive. If not, meh.

        • john huscio

          This is why you clear out the fudds ahead of time.

          • iksnilol

            I can’t clear out the entirety of the united states, man. It’s gonna be a road trip exploring hereto unknown places which may or may not contain fudds.

    • James Young

      Pretty sure that goes without saying; people always consider whether need something before buying it. Or they buy it because they just want it. The article is clearing up misconceptions which is good since body armor is all over YouTube these days.

    • KestrelBike

      Who needs the zombie apocalypse when you have Hurricane Katrina?

      • MeaCulpa

        Pro tip! This is a easy mistake to make so no hard feelings, but in a flood it is advisable to use the floaty kind of west and not the one filed with steel.

        • Chop Block

          I don’t think he’s recommending armor for the hurricane itself, but rather for what people do in stressful events when electricity, water, or a police response is more than a day away.

          • MeaCulpa

            I got that, I was only jesting but I do suspect that the risk of drowning during or in the aftermath of the hurricane was much larger than being shot.

          • BillyOblivion

            Which, outside of a few specific locations, is pull together as a community and help each other out, not get in a shootout.

    • LGonDISQUS

      I recommend anyone doing competitive (or noncompetive 2/3-gun) shooting to have some sort of protective plate system (gah, did I just say systems?…).

      Idiots are everywhere and no one wants to die from plinking with pals.

      • Grant

        I think you would be best served with soft armor.It is probably more likely that you would get shot with a pistol and it will also protect your torso from buckshot or a ricochet from a rifle off of steel targets.

        • LGonDISQUS

          Haha, I blindposted and grouped them into the same category of just “armor/plates/etc.”

          Sorry 😅

    • Raginzerker

      Lol stop trolling, don’t make me leave your mom’s bedroom to come cane your a**

    • BillyOblivion

      If you’re worried about the Zombie Apocalypse then gunfire isn’t much of a problem. You’re going to do better with bite + biohazard gear. Like say chainmail over a biohazard suit.

      • r h

        i always thought of one of those big cut proof suits they wear in industrial fishing and butcher warehouses.
        plus lets be real is a zombie even gonna bite through a good set of road leathers?

        • BillyOblivion

          > gonna bite through a good set of road leathers?

          Probably not bite through the leather, but I’ve yet to see a good jacket to helmet interface on motorcycle protection (I’ve done a LOT of riding, and more of it in inclement weather than I really should have).

          You wear the chainmail to protect the tyvek, and you wear the tyvek suit to keep blood and other body fluids off you. It’s also a LOT easier to get biological matter out of. You just boil the chain mail and hose off the tyvek, then rinse it in a hydrogen peroxide solution + soap solution (IIRC). It’s also easier to carry a couple spares.

          Overthinking it?

          Moi?

    • r h

      well thanks for coming and telling us all about yourself in the guise of pretending its about other people..

      • Dan

        Are you implying Zombies are stupid? That is the kind of Stereotype we at the Zombies are people Too or ZaPT are working hard to overcome. Zombies are just as capable as their “normie” human counterps. Please don’t be a Kinemortophob

  • Given that you can buy Level IV ceramic / poly armor from RMA for $135, I’m not sure why anyone is buying steel armor anymore.

    • iksnilol

      Reusability, after the end there won’t be new armor to buy after getting shot once.

      And if you survive getting shot once with armor on… then you’ve only survived til the next time you catch a bullet.

      • ActionPhysicalMan

        I have a hard time imagining living through even one rifle battle. So it is really the first that I am concentrating on right now.

        • Chop Block

          Yeah, I gotta say, I think the odds of not catching a bullet to the face decrease substantially with reach hit to the armor.

        • iksnilol

          Those are rookie numbers. How you gonna survive 20 years after the cordyceps hits if you’re only focused on surviving one battle?

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            I am too soft for a post collapse world. I just want to make it as hard as I can for the guys who are going to kill me and get my stuff.

          • iksnilol

            Ah, be like the honorable fish then.

            Full of bones, hard to swallow.

      • Just duct tape over the bullet impact yo. From the many tests online, each level IV plate can take multiple impacts, often closely spaced together.

        I would expect that from a sheer probability perspective, you’re going to get shot in the arm/head/chest long before you get shot in the chest so many times that your Level IV crumbles.

      • Kelly Jackson

        I would say preppers as well.

        The shelf life of soft armor is usually 5 years, a plate is going to last forever if properly stored.

        So to spend $150 – $200 for a set of armor that I may never use sounds like a bargin to me.

        • Grant

          Quality soft armor will last many years. It is only NIJ certified for 5 and most all agencies will replace it at that time.

          There have been some instances where the fiber used to make soft armor aged dramatically and police vest failed before even the 5 years had elapsed. Second Chance was driven to bankruptcy when this happened. But military test on even 20 year old Kevlar showed it to still perform to spec. So my advice would be to avoid the new big thing when buying soft armor until it has proven itself.

    • Chop Block

      As mentioned in the article, thickness, durability, back face deformation, and still cost. You can buy a level III flat 10″x12″ shooter’s cut for $40.

      • But is anyone wearing a flat piece of steel for armor with no coating?

        By the time pricing in the multi curve + build up coating for AR500, it’s $110 per plate. And with the built up coating, that adds 0.5″- making it 0.7″ thick vs 1″ for the $135 RMA.

        And really, $270 for a front + back set of plates is already cheaper then a Hipoint Carbine. How many rifle-weilding Sicarios are coming for the guy who is so broke they can only afford steel armor?

        • Chop Block

          You forgot back face deformation. It’s fine for you to choose composite plates. I have level IV ceramics in my PC at home. But you asked why anyone would buy a steel plate. I gave several in the article and those reasons still stand.

          • From Buffman’s testing of the RMA plate with M2AP, M80A1, M855A1, and P80, back face deformation is pretty mild, with the exception of the M2AP that looked pretty painful.

            I’m a huge fan of the Chopping Block ( I cite your Federal Fusion 62gr simulated 475yd test as THE gold standard for rifle ammo tests frequently) but I just don’t see the benefit of steel (outside of the reported use of uncoated steel armor by SF in ultra low visibility applications to hide under plain clothes.)

            Frankly I think it would be better to just come out and say that steel is for knights and tanks, and push viewers to spend $100 more on Level IV RMA plates or their equivalent.

          • Chop Block

            That’s the thing, though. Steel does have some limited advantage. Whenever I get around to setting up a PC for my truck, it will have steel plates in it.

          • James Young

            What are you doing to your truck?

          • Chop Block

            Lol. To KEEP in my truck. 😉

          • mosinman

            that’d be so awesome if you placed steel plates inside of your doors and behind the seats

          • Can you elaborate on why you will have steel plates in your truck rig vs other options?

          • Chop Block

            Durability, mainly. I’m also concerned about the effect of heat on the Dyneema backing material in composite plates. It’s probably not an issue, but it’s definitely not an issue with steel.

          • You know, there’s this great youtube channel where the host smashes a ceramic plate as hard as he can with a sledgehammer, and it still stopped multiple rounds of 7.62, 5.56, and big bore hunting cartridges 😉

            Which seems to imply that durability is not much of an issue with Ceramics.

          • ActionPhysicalMan

            Yeah, having as thermally degradable armor in your vehicle doesn’t seem like a good idea. In the summer, when I am not wearing it, I keep my IIIA in the back of my car but I never leave it longer than 10 or 15 minutes, usually much shorter. I keep a lot of stuff in my car because I read “One Second After” and don’t want to start my new short, miserable, life with nothing. Unfortunately my only rifle is an SBR and I cross state lines almost daily. I need to fill out a year long Form 20 for at least Wisconsin, maybe they will okay it.

          • .45

            Concerning back deformation, couldn’t you put, say an 1/8″ piece of mild steel behind a ceramic plate if you were really worried about it?

            I say this from a civilian perspective, where you would be more concerned about idiots at the range, idiot hunters shooting in the direction of your tree stand, and possibly crack heads taking long enough kicking in your door for you to don your PC, than about weight concerns. I know my father used to wear a cheap kevlar vest when he hunted during shotgun season on the premise it would stop buck shot.

          • Chop Block

            In that context, back face deformation doesn’t really matter. Any NIJ rated plate will have small enough back face deformation that it won’t kill you. It’s in the context of a fight that it matters more. 30-40mm of back face deformation is likely to be painful and affect your ability to fight. Wearing steel behind a ceramic plate would be very heavy. Soft armor can help a bit and increase the coverage area.

        • m-dasher

          $100 per plate?……i have a full set of multi curve ar500 coated for $150……front back and sides.

          • That’s per AR500’s website as of a few minutes ago.

        • James Young

          If I owned a shop in a large city like LA or Oakland or similar I would keep a plate carrier for just-in-case robbery or riots which usually involve multiple attackers. Getting shot without back face deformation and a trauma pad sounds better for keeping you “in the fight” than ceramic, but I’m no expert on this stuff.

      • AZgunner

        Is RMA pretty good? I’ve been in the market for plates for a while and was recently looking at their level III hard plates. 3.3 pounds for level III seems pretty good. But I’m open to advice/suggestions.

  • PK

    “That particular plate is like a stripper: It looks okay, but it’s full of issues.”

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/893ef8c8d279148e9fe2a9cfe29bc829f9befe150105c8afdefc0d1b62b1fbe1.gif

  • Cal S.

    Lvl III should also stop common handgun loads fired from PCCs. Lvl IIIA is ineffective against certain calibers shot from rifles.

    • Chop Block

      That’s correct.

  • Bill

    Funny how people who wear armor for a living get out of it as fast as they can when off work. If someone is chewing through my door late at night, putting on one of my several vests will be one of the last things on my to-do list.

    • Chop Block

      Some of us have worn armor in situations where we didn’t “get off work” for over a year. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re the only one who’s worn armor for a living.

      • Bill

        IN that case you’re familiar with things like Operational Risk Management and threat assessment. I’m by no means the only person who has worn armor for a living, but I can articulate evidence and intelligence based reasons grounded in empirical analysis as to why I did. And these are hard rifle plate we are talking about, not concealable soft armor that could be worn on a regular basis. If an average person WANTS to spend their money on plates, they certainly can, but anyone who believes that they NEED plates is either living in the Third World or needs to move.

        I’ve worn plates within the last 2 weeks, serving warrants on a known shooter with intel that he’d been engaged in target practice the previous day. As soon as he and the scene were secure, the plates went back in the SWAT truck so I could do stuff like process a crime scene and not overheat.

        Tell me you didn’t ditch your plates as soon as you were back inside the wire and Hescos…..

        • Chop Block

          If an average person WANTS to spend their money on guns, they certainly can, but anyone who believes that they NEED guns is either living in the Third World or needs to move.

          • Bill

            If you can’t see the difference, you’re being obviously obtuse. That’s like comparing carrying a spare tire in your car, versus carrying an entire an entire mounting and balancing rig and retreading equipment.

            Once again, common sense has proven to be uncommon.

            Plate on, Ninja Turtle.

          • Chop Block

            No, it’s like making your own decisions about what to do with your own money because you’re a grown-up.

          • Bill

            And you can buy your own firetruck and park it in your drive, just in case, too. The odds of you needing it far exceed your need for rifle plates. Be sure to chock the wheels.

        • r h

          fair enough but when have you ever left them behind when you had the chance to don them prior to addressing a threat?
          i didnt buy plates because i want to live my life as a turtle i bought plates BECAUSE I WANT TO LIVE. and if i have the time to don them i will.. EVERY TIME.. i wear them around at least once a week so im always used to their weight and balance ( no not at walmart where i can scare people), and they do a fair amount to sweat out what middle age and pizza has added..
          do you think we will ever be able to go back to having varying shades of an opinion? its always YOU MUST NOT or your and idiot or YOU HAVE TO or your a fool.. what happened to “to each his own”?
          you dont want to wear plates? fine dont. its a free country..
          but implying its not worth it for a person concerned about their safety.
          well thats kinda childish or at the least churlish..
          how about THIS.. you arnt in uniform, an active shooter is present, youre not gonna get any LEOs there in a hurry and a private citizen offers you his plates.. feel free to turn them down. wouldnt want to encourage him… am i saying this is likely? no. but the chance is far higher then 0 and im sure youd be damn grateful to have them..

          • Bill

            Not once have I ever stated that a person shouldn’t buy plates. I have essentially stated that they are kind of pointless to buy, particularly when soft armor is much more usable and appropriate to the threat that the tremendously vast majority of LE and citizenry face.

            My plates are put on when I have time to do so. Active killer events move too quickly to stop, get in the trunk, futz with velcro and get plates adjusted. The first responding, be they cop or citizen, has to go to the fight with what they have, and are lucky to get the rifle out. Watch the video from these events; the guys first on the scene aren’t wearing plates and if they have them they are probably still in the trunk.

            Rock on with your plates, I hope that you have spent an equivalent or greater amount on training and practice ammo.

            BTW, do you own an AED? Which do you think poses a greater threat to your wellness, rifle fire or heart attack?

    • Kelly Jackson

      You have to ignore Bill he claims to be a police officer but most of his comments are why people shouldn’t own firearms or armor.

      Given the current climate of law enforcement officers shooting random unrelated people I’d say wearing armor every day doesn’t sound that irrational.

      • Bill

        Go ahead and plate up. The novelty will literally wear off within a day.

        • Kelly Jackson

          Thanks, but I wore them for 3 years in country while you were busy protecting the mean streets from jay walkers.

          • Bill

            Well aren’t you all that and a bag of chips. I’m now a violent crimes detective, so the only jaywalkers I deal with tend to be running at high speed, into traffic. And when I have advance warning, I’m wearing plates, which seems a lot more reasonable than because zombies may attack.

  • 22winmag

    Steel and rifle plate don’t belong in the same sentence.

    Body armor is great for going on the offensive: ie kicking down doors at the local meth lab.

    Not so much for static defense and patrol (ie making yourself a target).

    • andrey kireev

      Tell that to US military, because apparently you don’t need to wear body armor when defending a FOB or on a foot patrol… what a great logic !

  • Hoplopfheil

    I think VISM/NCStar is now making an affordable UHMWPE level 3 plate.

    I’d love for somebody to test them. Somebody respectable. Somebody with a blog about firearms. Cough.

    • Chop Block

      Email me a link and I’ll see what I can do.

    • Chop Block

      Email sent to NCStar.

  • Chop Block

    It also penetrates inadequately for defensive use.

  • Cal S.

    I’ve carried that in my G22 ever since the Aurora shooter wore ballistic armor.

    • Chop Block

      He wasn’t wearing armor. That’s just something the media reported early on because he was wearing a black LBV.

      • Cal S.

        Oh well, why take chances?

        • Chop Block

          Exactly. Why carry a load with inferior performance to address a low probability event? Carry what has the best chance of working well in the most likely conditions and the widest range of circumstances. Train for failure to stop. Two to the chest, face gets the rest.

          • Cal S.

            That awkward moment where they’re wearing lvl 3a armor and helmet.

            What makes you think it has inferior performance, he asked falling into the trap. I mean, you’re right in that it doesn’t penetrate that far…after going through a ballistics vest. Otherwise, it gets a solid 11″ with a devastating 2.5″ cone at about 4″ in with continued good wound tracking for several inches after that. Regardless, I’m satisfied with the ballistics of the ammo I carry after doing ample research and weighing the pros & cons. Inb4 “I wouldn’t trust it!” First, that’s utterly subjective. Second, there are people out there that wouldn’t trust a parachute.

          • Chop Block

            Bless your heart.
            1: What you did is not “research”.
            B> 11″ is not adequate, even if it reliably reached that depth, which it doesn’t.
            iii. Tiny fragments that penetrate less than the calibration BB and would stop at bone are not “devastating”.
            d- What I’m telling you isn’t my opinion. But if it were, my opinion is a lot more informed than yours.

            Liberty Civil Defense is utter garbage and it is neither issued by a single department or recommended by anyone who isn’t trying to sell you something.

          • Cal S.

            Gee, thanks coach, I’ll try to do better next time. You’re such an inspiration, one day I hope to be as condescending as you are!

  • preacher

    People will hate me:
    Folks – just buy UHMWPE Plates as a raw cut from any source. I just bought 2 plates last week. Charged me 50 Bucks with shipping.
    It´s a thermoplast: Heat it to ~170°C, curve it, let it cool, cut it with any hand saw – done. Your 50USD/pair UHMWPE Plate. Depending on the thickness, you can aprox. the mechanical properties. I took 20mm, should be alright for NIJ LVL 3.
    If you think there is a magical ingridient, like cross-linkin or any composite layers in UHMWPE Plates that are rated and commercial for sale: No. There is just non.
    Low Budget´s live: Better spend the $$$ on quality stuff where you need it.
    This solution sure is not for a private contractor serving 5 of 7 days a week. More for private MacGyver, LowBudget Hunter, Kids, Airsofters and Preppers. All high speed Operator can ask their supply chain to proide them the most exp. set of plates a year on tax payer costs.

    • Chop Block

      First off, actual UHMWPE plates are not homogenous. They are laminated layers with woven material in between (I’m guessing aramid). Second, “should be alright for NIJ LVL 3” from some random guy on the interwebz is about as far from a rating as you can get. Have you even shot these homemade plates? Do you have a link where we can buy? I’m all for homemade, but at least I test the retarded crap I make.

      • preacher

        Nope. They are guessing wrong: There are no fiberes in UHMWPE Plates – just like I told you in the first place. About the rest: Too hard for you to google “UHMW PE” or “PE 1000” and the term “store”? Every plastic store got it. Testing is always necessary, but I can not give you any info because I just crafted them these days like I sayed bevor.

        • Chop Block

          Look, sport, I’m not telling you something I head or something I think. I’m telling you how actual PE armor is constructed based on experience. It is not homogenous and there are layers, sometimes woven layers. Just in case my experience was anomalous, I checked with a friend who also tests armor and his experience was the same.

  • mosinman

    well if you’re driving a truck your fuel mileage couldn’t be that great to begin with 🙂