Best Body Armor Plates Review and Buying Guide

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In today’s world, crime rates increase daily. You can meet an emergency during your routine walk around the district or while being on your duty. Surely, it does not mean you should not leave your sweet home or always be cautious since there is still a little chance exactly you may be harmed every day.

Nevertheless, it is better to prevent especially dangerous situations incompatible with life in especially unstable times. Another situation is if you have an especially dangerous occupation which implies working with crimes or other injure-likely positions like the military. If it is the case, considering an armor plate as an important component of your tactical gear is vital.


In this article, you will know what armor plates and types of them are, how and why to buy them, and some useful tips on wearing one. So, stay with us if it may seem useful to you.

Why May I Need an Armor Plate?

Why May I Need An Armor Plate?

When you definitely need a body armor plate is during SHTF events which destabilize the society and make each day extremely dangerous even causing the deaths of civilians. So while it is impossible to guess how the event may go, it is better to prepare in advance.Especially when it is not so hard to acquire additional protection instead of just being cautious.

Those who are aware of survival tactical accessories know that it is essential to consider buying the gear that offers protection of vital organs, so body armor must not only be reliable in the sense of its shape but also be made of a stopping power material that will not let a bullet touch your skin and especially cause a serious wound.

Also, surely, note that armor is not more valuable than saving food and water during or beforehand the emergency, so take care of your protection only after making sure you do not lack something more vital.

While determining whether you need to purchase body armor, first think of why exactly you need it and how you are going to use it. Luckily, there is a small opportunity a child may need since they will not have to take part in dangerous events such as rallies. Who may really need it are police officers or military personnel who shall protect the civil population. On the other hand, citizens may also need armor plates in order to protect themselves from lawlessness during various high threat level events. So, one should think of using body armor when in need to perform increased mobility through events with the possibility of a firefight.

Therefore, those people who are ready or in need to defend their families, homes, communities, and even countries must think of purchasing body armor plates. Every person may consider themselves capable of it, however, imagining themselves lying on the rifle ground wearing the armor plate with a weapon in their hands makes them throw away these thoughts.

Nevertheless, some people may need body armor even during peaceful times. These are some high-level officials, and police and military servants again. Especially for such cases, there exists a concealable armor and even concealable plate carriers which is a soft body armor and can be used as a kind of underwear to protect the body without showing it off.

So, let’s explore the other types of body armor available to American purchasers in the following part of the article.

Types of Armor Plates

Why May I Need An Armor Plate?

There exist several types of body armor plates in accordance with different materials used and the level of protection they suggest. The majority of plates can overgo multiple hits and come at a good price, so you may feel safe using one. Surely, while wearing body armor systems, there is never one hundred percent guarantee you will be absolutely safe as the one who wears a plate carrier has only the torso being protected mostly. Be aware of your hands and legs, and take special care of the head.

There exist a whole variety of armor plates for different occasions and purposes:

  • soft body armor
  • hard body armor
  • composite body armor
  • hybrid body armor

All of these types are covered by the term body armor plates, which include both soft, hard, and combined plates. At the same time, a plate carrier refers to a vest that carries only hard armor plates. However, with time going on, this term started to be associated with absolutely all types of body armor. So, do not be afraid if you are purchasing something called a plate carrier. However, for the body armor manufacturers, it is still common to produce plate carriers less heavy and therefore better for your mobility, even though the stamina of those armor plates decreases.

Along with types of armor, there also exist several classes of them provided by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ): Level II, Level IIA, Level IIIA, Level III, and Level IV. They are classified according to how they can withstand bullets, and thus the material and its stamina.

Now let’s examine all of the types and classes in detail in case you may want to acquire some of them. First of all, you would know that level II and level IIIA relate to soft body armor plates while others to hard armor plates. NIJ standards are made corresponding to the tests made with shootings.

Kinds of Armor Plates Explained

  1. Level IIA Body Armor. These armor plates are made especially for those who need to cover the protection and still stay safe at some point. Moreover, this kind of armor plate provides mobility for performing great service for spies, government members, and law enforcement officers. It may be applied to civilians who do not need to be involved in the assaults but want to be supplied with some armor.You can purchase level IIA armor in many military shops even without special permission. It is also easy to find plate carriers for these plates, so you can be sure you will face no difficulties to purchase one, especially considering the lowest prices for such soft armor.
  2. Level II Body Armor. This level usually corresponds to a lightweight soft armor plate that can protect you from such weapons as 9 mm Sub-Machine guns, 44 Magnums, and 9mm handguns. It is made with Kevlar material which is famous for the long durability of wearing and great protection at the same time. That is why it is usually used by police officers and the workforce. It is also a good reason for considering it for the civilians as it is easy to find and acquire, not difficult to carry, and still very protective.However, some people consider it a waste of money since in various tactical situations it is helpless to wear it and be sure at a certain level that the assaulter will not use the weapon which is not determined by the level II armor producers. In any case, it is better than nothing, especially for those who want to remain movable during the attack.If the level II armor plates seem worthy to you, we would highly recommend Spike Slash Soft Body Armor by LOF Defense Systems. It is one of the cheapest armor plates on the market and has high stamina against weapons of any spike level.
  3. Level IIIA Armor Plates. These are the most widespread armor plates among civilians as they offer protection from the biggest number of shotguns, are relatively lightweight, and are highly abrasion-resistant which provides durable periods of usage. In general, these are able to withstand any weapon with a shooting caliber from 0.38 to 9mm. Since it is still a soft armor, level IIIA armor plates provide easy and long-lasting wear without the feeling of carrying a burden.If you consider purchasing level IIIA armor, we recommend thinking of this kit with a carrier and side plates. You can be sure that you will be protected at the best level if you wear these plates that can stop pistol rounds from many widely used shotguns.
  4. Level III Armor. These are launching the list of hard armor plates. Level III plates are really hard guys as they can protect you even from AK-47. Usually, such body armor plates are made with steel plates or ceramic plates just like bulletproof vests.There also exists a subgroup of level III+ armor plates which is simply level III armor that does not fall under NIJ standards, even though they are able to withstand even heavier shoots.In general, level III armor is convenient in usage for those who have athletic bodies as it is quite heavy and does not imply easy mobility. Some manufacturers even produce level III polyethylene armor in order to acquire a lightweight feature. One of such body armor plates is this Legacy armor plate of level III. Unlike many other hard armor plates, it weighs only 4 lbs at the biggest size.Note that even though level III armor is not capable of stopping a 5.56 green tip (rounds with steel core made especially for penetrating armor), you can use AR500 steel plates in order to prevent its assault.
  5. Level IV Body Armor. Level IV plates are the most solid and are made mostly for the most hazardous assaults. They are even able to stop armor-piercing rounds! So there is no need to say that common shotguns feel like a spring wind for those who wear them. Level 4 body armor plates are usually made with the strongest steel and are worn with plate carriers made with bulletproof materials, too.Even though the level IV plate seems to be the most resistant and provides the best possible protection, it is also the heaviest of all the range of armor plates. That is why it is not recommended to wear it for common men who did not undergo special military training. Most plate carriers specified for level 4 body armor also require a particular background for the convenient experience of usage.So, if you are thinking of providing yourself with the best possible protection from 0.3 calibers armor-piercing rounds and are not afraid of lacking mobility while wearing, choose MIRA Tactical Level IV Body Armor Plate. It is certified by the National Institute of Justice and will not cost you a fortune. Its weight is about 6 pounds and is of the shooter’s cut which means it restricts extra hand mobility. Nevertheless, it is one of the best level IV body armor plates existing on the certified market and even suggests a kind of hand armor.

Important to know that you can use armor plates along with a bulletproof vest in order to create ballistic body armor. In another case, you can even buy ballistic plates if you feel they will bring you extra protection to withstand rifle rounds, however, even level III armor is able to do so. In any case, ballistic protection is needed only by law enforcement agents and military personnel.

Now, when you know the types and classes of body armor plates and plate carriers, it is time to know how to choose the best fitting kit exactly for you.

How to Choose a Perfect Body Armor?

Guess, we should start by explaining the shape in which you can find plate carriers and plates. A shooter’s cut is a huge form of armor and restricts the arms’ mobility. It is rarely met in soft armor or is just dismissed thanks to the elasticity of the materials. A Swimmer’s cut allows you to move more or less freely by cutting the coverage of the body. However, it lacks protection since the shoulders and chest remain open to the shoots. In any case, you will find the major part of level IV plate carriers in shooters cut as it is specified by NIJ norms.

Talking about materials, you should rely on your purposes and possibilities. Make sure you will be able to carry steel plates for a long time without fatigue if you want to provide yourself with the highest protection. Ceramic systems and ceramic plates are also not lightweight but still weigh less than steel or ballistic armor plates, yet suggest better protection than most types of default body armor plates and are able to stop armor-piercing ammunition. In general, you can choose any of the types except ballistic plates for the most purposes since the latter is needed for especially dangerous cases.

You can also choose from many existing brands. There are several widespread and high-quality plate carriers and armor plates manufacturers: Spartan Armor Systems, MIRA, and AR500 Armor.


Note that soft body armor decreases in its efficacy after being shot once. If you are lucky enough to get one shot at the same place, you are likely to be injured. Therefore, it is better to choose from the variety of hard armor in places with high intensity of the threat. You should also consider acquiring tactical gear in some cases in order to stay warm at night, for instance. Moreover, if you already have a bulletproof vest, you can use it instead of buying a plate carrier.

How to Buy Body Armor in the US?

How To Buy Body Armor In The Us?

As mentioned above, you can find a great variety of body armor plates, plate carriers, and bulletproof vests in specified land-based and online shops. However, it is not eligible to send any of these items to other countries and to Connecticut.

What is more, you do not have to have any special permits or even ID to do so. Therefore, you can purchase plate carriers and plates of any level regardless of any conditions.


Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

What is AR500 Steel and Why is it Used for Body Armor?

AR500 steel is a special hard-wearing material used in the production of body armor plates. It does not change its surface after being hit by other metals, so you can be sure you will not be hurt even if the bullets go right into the vest. It is designed to stop 0.3 calibers.

What is an Armor Plate?

Armor plate is a metal bar (polyethylene, ceramic, or steel) made especially for body armor kits. They are used with a plate carrier or a bulletproof vest that handles the plates and applies them to the needed parts of the body.

How to Choose Armor Plates?

There are several aspects to which you should pay attention while choosing the best body armor plates. These are the brand (e.g., Spartan Armor Systems), the throughput (soft armor and hard armor plates), armor level, and the purpose of usage which is the kind of the threat (e.g., rifle rounds). You should also determine the weight and size of the plates and carriers.

What Makes the Best Armor Plate?

The best armor plate should be durable and able to resist any kind of shoot. Level 4 body armor is the highest class of existing body armor plates, which is made to withstand the majority of weapons available for civilians. If you want to reuse your plates, it is better not to consider soft armor.

How Heavy are the Best Armor Plates?

The weight of the plates depends on the materials with which they are made. For instance, polyethylene plates are the lightest yet are not useful in tough cases. The most useful and widespread bulletproof plates are made with steel, yet some people can not handle them for a long time.

Why Use Armor Plates?

Body armor plates are the best way to protect yourself during the assault. They prevent bullets, rifle rounds, and pistols from injuring your body and provide you with extra confidence. However, it is better not to fully rely on such protection since you still have your arms and legs uncovered.

Where to Buy Armor Plates?

You can find body armor plates in many online and land-based specialized weapon and equipment shops. However, note that armor plates are usually not shipped internationally and cannot be delivered to Connecticut (due to its local laws). You should also have a felony conviction to purchase one.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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