Can Anything Defeat a Level IV Plate Body Armor?

by Andrew

Aside from huge rifles like .50 BMG and the like, that is. NIJ 0101.06 Level IV specifies that the plate must be able to stop .30-06 M2AP at 2,880 fps. I’m case you’re not familiar with M2AP, it is a copper jacketed projectile with a hardened steel core. It was issued during WWII originally as special purpose ammunition, as is typically the case with armor piercing ammo, but eventually replaced M1 .30 caliber FMJ due to its superior performance. Joes loved it because it could get through almost anything and it was quite terminally effective. It’s so good at getting through barriers that armor designed to stop M2AP has been able to stop almost anything else thrown at it. YouTube armor testers such as Buffman R.A.N.G.E. and The Wound Channel have determined that .300 Winmag is no match for level IV and only one really hot .338 RUM load was able to get through an Armour Wear Level IV.

But then Buffman managed to get his hands on a unicorn and a pegasus. M993 AP 7.62x51mm NATO and B32 API 7.62x54mmR ammunition. He tested each against’s Level IV plate and RMA’s Level IV plate.

Russian B32 7.62x54mmR API
American M993 7.62x51mm AP

Now, right up front, we should point out that neither plate is rated for these threats. Both plates conform to NIJ Level IV standards and they have been shown to stop .30-06 M2AP in other tests, along with many other threats. With that out of the way, there are a couple things to take away from these tests. The first is ‘Merkah, dammit! Damn commies lose, we win. The M993 dramatically outperformed the B32. The second big takeaway here is that, no matter how good armor is, there’s always something that can defeat it. Not only was the M993 capable of perforating both plates, it carried a great deal of energy into the ballistic gel block and passed all the way through. You can also get a really good view of what is happening in this “naked” video of the RMA plate.

What does this mean in practical terms, though? It means that if you wear armor for a living or keep it for emergencies, you should be aware that it isn’t an enchanted aegis. There is ammo that can defeat it. It’s also important to consider that it doesn’t cover your face. Armor is intended to increase your chances of surviving in the event you get shot, but you should probably mainly try not to get shot.


Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block ( 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

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  • Dmh Dmh on Jul 11, 2017

    with that level of shock transmitted, is it even necessary that the round penetrate?

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    • Secundius Secundius on Jul 11, 2017

      @Buffman-RANGE Both Kevlar-29 and AlON are Commercially available to the General Public. It's just a matter of how much you're willing to spend. AlON is produced by Surmet Corporation of Boston, MA. And DuPont makes Kevlar. But the "Cheapest" source for Kevlar is "Alibaba" which is Chinese owned...

  • The Brigadier The Brigadier on Jul 16, 2017

    There is a new material named ALON whose name is an acronym for Aluminum-Oxygen-Nitride. If you remember the old Star Trek movie where Scotty goes to a metal manufacturer in San Francisco and gives them the formula for transparent aluminum so they can make tanks for a couple of sperm whales, then reality mirrors that old classic. ALON is truly an optically clear metal and they are currently making it in thickness up to 1.62". They tested this thickness with everything up .50 BMG and yes indeedy it stopped the .50 BMG leaving only a very small mark. This amazing new metal is lightweight and will probably replace other metals for most cars and it will also double up for the windows as well. Imagine helmet face shields that can stop 50 BMG! : )

    I was stoked when I read the report. While Level 4 is the new standard, this material should rapidly replace it. It will be the king of body armor until hand held rail guns finally become a working reality. They are still three or four years away, but companies are solving the problems with downsizing rail guns piece by piece. So the usual cycle of new armor being defeated by some new penetrator goes on. Until it does, I am going to get some ALON and make myself some plates and maybe some greaves and gauntlets as well.

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    • Secundius Secundius on Jul 17, 2017

      @The Brigadier Down Wash of Heat Exhaust of MV-22 Osprey Engines in either Take-Off or Landing Mode is in Excess of 3,092F!/? If Helicopters ALONE, a Thermal Protective Barrier to the Flight Deck wouldn't be Necessary...