Best Body Armor [2019 Tested]: Hard Plates & Soft Armor

Looking to prevent extra holes in your body?

AR500 Armor Tested
AR500 Armor Tested

The world of body armor is confusing…with misinformation abound and tons of technical stuff.

But we’ve got you covered.

The Pew Pew Tactical team and network has been wearing all different types of armor for years.  And we’re bulking up on our actual testing reviews too.

Level 3A Soft Armor with 9mm & .357
Level 3A Soft Armor with 9mm & .357

And before we run through our recommendations…we’ll walk you through the important technical aspects so you can choose the best armor for your end-use and budget.

Ready?  Let’s go!

Table of Contents

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Will I Become Bulletproof?

In short–no.

They’re bullet-resistant, meaning that they increase the rates of survival, decrease the severity of injuries that occur, and give you a better chance. 

wonder woman
You’re Not Wonder Woman.

All body armor can be defeated–it may just be a matter of what is shooting at it or how many times you’re hit.

And don’t think you can simply get up after getting shot while in body armor…chances are you’re going to be in a world of pain with possible broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Back to the Future, Doc Bulletproof Vest
Back to the Future, Doc Bulletproof Vest…Nopes

That’s a TV/movie trope.

And lastly…be sure to check out threat level ratings when shopping for armor, too.  Get the level which is appropriate for the types of threats you might face.

Now… let’s squash some misconceptions on body armor legality.

Body Armor Laws in the U.S.

There’s a myth that it’s illegal for civilians to own body armor, and it certainly seems true when you’re shopping around.

Some companies will only sell to you with the proper documentation indicating your status as an LEO or military member.

Truth is–all civilians in the U.S., with the exception of felons, can legally own body armor.

Brewster Body Shield
Body armor has come a very long way.

There may be some local regulations, so you should check out your local laws to make sure you’re in the clear.

Don’t just take our word for it.

And unfortunately after mass shootings…there’s been some lawmakers calling to add body armor regulations on regular civilians.

Do I Even Need Body Armor?

Even if you don’t work in a vocation that requires protection from flying lead, there’s still plenty of reasons to want a set of body armor…

Fallout Power Armor
Not gonna lie–we kind of want power armor to be a thing.

Main one is…because you can.  Second is because you’ll look cool.  But here’s some of our other favorites…

SHTF

Ok let’s get this one out of the way…there’s some pretty inexpensive (and long lasting) hard plate body armor packages if you’re planning on protecting your home or roaming for supplies.

Pew Pew Tactical Shooting with MIRA Safety Gas Masks
Gas Masks in the Desert

Home Defense

You probably don’t have time to don some armor…but piece of mind is a good reason.  I recommend a Tough Hook system.

Tough Hook
Tough Hook

Range Safety

You’ll probably look more like a goober if you’re donning plates at the local range.  But if you shoot in the open (or go to terrible ranges)…it doesn’t seem that bad of an idea.

Larp-ing

Live action role playing…uh, yea…we don’t do this…we swear 🙂

Competition

The main reason for our team wearing body armor. 

It gives you a workout, an excuse for why you were slower than your buddy, and protects against potential negligent discharges.

Our editor Eric always wears his for night shoots as do most of his squad…

And now…there’s new competitions called Tactical Games which mixes CrossFit and shooting…where you gotta wear a 15+ pound rig.

The Tactical Games
The Tactical Games

The training begins!

But first…what’s the two biggest types of body armor?

Soft Armor vs. Hard Armor

There’s a staggering variety of body armor types and rating codes, so don’t feel bad if you’re left scratching your head. 

1. Spartan Armor Assortment, Elaphros in Middle
Spartan Armor Assortment

We’re going to break down the details a bit for you.

One of the first categories you’ll discover is soft vs hard armor

Police officers and and anyone looking for a more comfortable but less protective armor option usually go with soft armor.

It’s made out of a flexible, incredibly strong woven net fabric (like Kevlar) that stops the projectile and spreads its impact energy across the entire vest.

AR500 Soft Armor Flexing
Soft Armor Insert, Flexing

This type of armor is commonly found in complete vests, but also can be found in inserts that can be added to bags, carriers, or behind stronger plates.

US Armor Enforcer 6000
US Armor Enforcer 6000

Soft armor can protect against many pistol calibers, as well as other threats like knives (if rated) and debris.

Level 3A Soft Armor with 9mm & .357
Level 3A Soft Armor with 9mm & .357

Hard armor is…hard.

Jackfruit Armor
Jackfruit Armor

It’s also harder to conceal but it offers far more protection.

It is constructed from either steel plates, ceramic composite, or ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (plastic).

Soft vs Hard Armor
Soft vs Hard Armor

Generally, hard armor plates are worn in a plate carrier, which is a vest that fits over your other clothing.

Invictus Plate Carrier, Front
Invictus Plate Carrier, Front

Hard armor plates have a variety of ratings, but the strongest can stop some pretty serious rifle rounds.

Body Armor Threat Levels

Body armor levels are yet another confusing aspect of shopping for armor.

These standardized ratings, however, are set by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, based on tiers of threats. 

NIJ Armor Protection Levels, Justnet.org
NIJ Armor Protection Levels, Justnet.org

Even with these ratings, it’s important to keep in mind that a combination of factors can affect the effectiveness of a vest. These include but are not limited to bullet material, bullet mass, and especially velocity.

That’s why when you dig down into the weeds…the ratings are set for certain calibers AND velocity.  

Unfortunately that means even if you have a protection level for a certain round…if you’re too close and the round hasn’t had time to slow down…you’re still screwed.

Mario Target, M193 and Commercial 223
Mario Target, M193 Penetration

Our recommendation is to check the manufacturer in the NIJ’s database (slow load) of tested companies and body armor models.  All of our choices down below are already vetted!

The body armor industry has stepped up with their own III+ rating, which falls somewhere between the to NIJ Level III and Level IV ratings. Just know that this rating isn’t made by the NIJ and it can differ between companies.

Here’s one example:

NIJ Ballistic Threat Level Chart for Body Armor
NIJ Ballistic Threat Level Chart for Body Armor, AR500 Armor

Check out more details on body armor levels, common threats, and a huge list of body armor at The Prepared.

Now…what do we recommend?

Go with Level IIIA soft armor if you only think you’ll have handgun threats…or if concealment is the priority.

Spartan Armor, Level IIIA
Spartan Armor, Level IIIA

For best bang-for-the-buck hard armor…go with Level III+ that stops 5.56 M193 and M855 since those are relatively common rounds.

Coatings (Lightweight III+ Regular, III+ Regular, III+ Build Up)
Hard Armor: Left to Right: Lightweight III+ Regular, III+ Regular, III+ Build Up

For max protection…or if for some reason you’ll be against true armor-piercing rounds…get something Level IV ceramic.

AR500 Armor, Level IV Ceramic
AR500 Armor, Level IV Ceramic

Keep those in mind as we dive deeper into the world of body armor…

What is Body Armor Made Of?

AR500 Steel Plate Armor

Armor made from material such as AR500 steel is the most affordable hard armor on the market at around $70-100 a plate (you’ll want a front and back).

But it’s also the heaviest at 8+ pounds each plate normally.

It’s seriously durable since most range targets are constructed out of AR500. And it can also can maintain its integrity for years if properly stored. 

Paxcon Standard Coat on Level 3
Level 3 with M80 (7.62×51) Hits

It can stop almost all handgun rounds and most non-armor piercing rifle rounds.  But one threat to keep in mind are very high-velocity rounds such as the 5.56 M193 which can still zip on through Level 3 armor.

It’s a small hole…but it went right on through…

Level 3, M855 & M193
Level 3, M855 & M193

Another thing to consider is spalling, or the frag that flies off from a hit.

spalling
Ouch

Even if the round doesn’t penetrate your armor…you’re going to have a bad day if sharp metal hits your throat and face.

Paxcon Spalling
Paxcon Spalling

Enter Paxcon, or any other kind of surface spray for AR500 based armor.  It helps keep in the spalling…but we’ve found you want the build-up layer for it to be truly effective.

Paxcon Build Up Coat
Paxcon Build-Up Coat

You can hope your carrier catches the majority of it…or suck it up and get the build-up.

Ceramic Armor

If money is no object, ceramic armor can stop some pretty extreme bullets, like the fast M193 and M2AP (30.06 armor-piercing).

30.06 M2 AP in Garand Clip
30.06 M2AP in Garand Clip

The trade-off is that this is the most expensive at $200+, most bulky option in terms of thickness–but it is lighter and is normally Level IV.

Level 4, M2AP
Level 4, M2AP

Ceramic armor isn’t the most durable…so if you drop it or fall on something while wearing it…you will likely have to replace it.

It’s also mostly rated for a single hit or multi-hits not in the same area.  The lighter, thinner, and more hits a ceramic plate can take…the most it’s going to cost.

Cash Cannon
Cash Cannon

Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene Plastic (UHMWPE)

Plastic may not seem the most protective, but it falls somewhere between ceramic and steel on factors like cost and durability. UHMWPE plastic is super light at around 3 pounds a plate–it even can float on water.

But it is a great deal thicker than its steel counterparts.

1. Spartan Armor Assortment, Elaphros in Middle
Spartan Armor Assortment, UHMWPE in Middle

Common rounds, like the M855 green tip, will punch through plastic, but it offers protection from pretty much all pistol calibers. It stands up to repeated shots, but only about as well as ceramic.

How to Fit Body Armor

Obviously, the better fitting your armor is, the more comfortable it will be and then better protection it will offer.

Too large or too small plates may not cover you properly, and poorly cut shapes can restrict your movement or leave uncomfortable pressure points.

Micro Plate Carrier
AR500 Armor, Micro Plate Carrier (8″ x 10″)

Here’s what to look at when it comes to choosing the right size of armor.

Sizing

There isn’t really an industry standard when it comes to sizing plates, and wrong-sized plates usually can’t be returned for safety reasons, so you want to get it right the first time.

10” by 12” is the most common armor plate size along with tiny bois (8” by 10”) and big bois (11″ by 14″). 

AR500 Armor Tested
AR500 Armor Tested (10″ x 12″)

You can find other sizes, as well, but these are the easiest. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s sizing charts, and get a little help measuring yourself if you need it.

Body Armor Anatomy
Body Armor Anatomy, sixty-six.org

You want to be sure that the armor plate touches your sternal notch (follow down from your Adam’s apple to where you’ll gag when you press in).

You’ll also want the width to cover your nipples.

It’s going to look a lot higher than you think.

Position of Body Armor Plates
Position of Body Armor Plates

The point of armor is to protect your heart and lungs, not your guts.

Cuts & Shapes

Most manufacturers produce armor in just a handful of shapes, but you’ll choose depending on the type of coverage you’re looking for and your body’s unique shape and motions.

These shapes are:

  • Rectangular: These plates offer the most coverage, but the least mobility. They’re also popular for back plates, since they cover so much.
  • SAPI: These plates offer a lot of the same coverage of rectangular plates, but the upper corners are removed to give you better range of mortion.
  • Shooter: These plates are similar to the SAPI, but the corners are cut more aggressively down. May be handed, where one side is shaped differently to accommodate a buttstock for right or left-handed shooters.
  • Swimmer: These plates are aggressively cut down on all corners, offering the least protection but the most mobility.

Again…it might vary among manufacturers who come up with their own cutesy names.

Different Cuts of Armor (L to R, Advanced LW Shooters Cut, SAPI, Advanced Shooters Cut Left)
Different Cuts of Armor (L to R, Advanced LW Shooters Cut, SAPI, Advanced Shooters Cut Left)

Curvature

Curved and flat plates both exist–but each has different uses. Plates can curve from top to bottom, or from your chest to your belly, but they can also curve from side to side, or shoulder to shoulder. 

Plate Armor Curve (Top is Level III+, Bottom is Level IV)
Plate Armor Curve (Top is Level III+, Bottom is Level IV)

Your body is curved, so it’s well worth your comfort to spring for the curved chest plate, even if it’s a few dollars more. Curved plates are contoured to the natural shape of your body, so they often have the best fit.

Flat plates can be good for back armor, but you may still find that uncomfortable. Choose what fits your body best.

After all…you don’t want to feel miserable wearing it.

Choosing the Right Body Armor

Now that you have a grasp on all the intricacies of picking out body armor, it’s time to choose the right one.

Ultimately, it comes down to you–your protection needs, your budget, and your body. 

We’ve got a few recommendations…starting with soft armor, moving into hard plates, and then ceramic.

Best Body Armor

Almost all manufacturers are under a big lead time due to current events…so be aware!

Best Soft Armor for Civilians

1. AR500 Armor Level 3A Hybrid

We’re big fans of AR500 Armor (yes, confusing name) who is likely the largest player in AR500-based armor.  And who we’ve tested ourselves.

Check this video out for all their offerings: 

As well as our full review of all their products.

AR500 Body Armor Group
AR500 Body Armor Group

They also make Level 3A soft armor which defeats almost all pistol calibers up to .44 Magnum.

They held up to our mags of 9mm and revolvers full of .357 Magnum.

Level 3A Soft Armor with 9mm & .357
Level 3A Soft Armor with 9mm & .357

Easy to conceal under clothing with their covert carriers…and light at around 1.5 lbs. 

We like their “Hybrid” model which is thinner and lighter than their “Rimelig” model.

AR500 Soft Armor Flexing

Pair it up with a Concealment Carrier and no one except you will know.

AR500 Armor Concealment Carrier with Level 3A
AR500 Armor Concealment Carrier with Level 3A

Now how about something for our boys in blue?

Best Law Enforcement Soft Armor

These are from well-known companies that sell exclusively to police and military.  Sorry, normies!

They are usually custom fit since they are meant to be worn all day long.

2. Safariland Matrix Ballistic Panel

If you were looking for something more concealable than a plate carrier, Safariland should be one of your go-to’s. Trusted by law enforcement, Safariland offers a variety of soft ballistic panels, including the Matrix Ballistic Panel.

This soft armor is rated Level II, which means it protects against stabs and most pistol caliber threats. It’s thin and lightweight so it can be concealed under clothing or uniforms, but offers a significant amount of coverage and protection.

Safariland Matrix Ballistic Panel Layers
Safariland Matrix Ballistic Panel Layers

It’s less than a quarter of an inch thick, and its ergonomic design makes it much more comfortable to wear on duty or for long periods of time.

600
at Safariland

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It pairs with a covert carrier, which will allow you to wear this armor under your clothing.

3. Safariland SX Ballistic Panel

Another pick from Safariland, the SX ballistic panel is the thinnest, lightest, and one of the strongest panels on the market.

It’s rated Level II, so you still get protection from many pistol calibers and stab threats, but it is a mere 0.16 inches thick. 

Safariland SX Ballistic Panel Layers
Safariland SX Ballistic Panel Layers

Safariland designs their ballistic panel with comfort and ergonomics in mind. Protecting your life doesn’t have to mean neglecting your comfort!

Like the Matrix panel, the SX needs to be worn with a covert carrier.

970
at Safariland

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. US Armor Enforcer 6000

Want to know what other brand of body armor is trusted by law enforcement? US Armor creates custom-fitted armor solutions, like their Enforcer 6000 soft body armor.

These ballistic panels cover threat levels at either Level II or Level IIIA, depending on which model you select. The Level II panels are 0.17 inches thick, while the Level IIIA panels are 0.26 inches thick–making this an extraordinarily comfortable covert armor to wear.

nforcer 6000 Womens
Enforcer 6000 Women’s Cut

US Armor also uses Outlast Fabric technology, which helps keep the wearer cool and dissipates heat handily. 

While US Armor does offer standard sizing, they’re best known for their custom fittings so your armor can be tailor-made to fit your form.

The downside is–custom-fitted armor requires a bit more work, a bit more time, and, of course, a bit more money as well. 

1100
at US Armor

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Check out US Armor’s Master Product Catalog and get in touch with their sales team to place your order.

Now…time for some affordable hard plated armor!

Best AR500-Based Steel Armor Plates

5. AR500 Level III+ Lightweight

We’ve tested all of AR500 Armor’s different steel armor…and our favorite (and what we wear most of the time) is their Level III+ Lightweight Steel Body Armor.

As we mentioned, Level III+ isn’t an NIJ rating, so pay attention to the details. AR500 uses independent testing and is very clear about what their armor can and cannot handle.

Level III+ takes care of the zippy M193 5.56 rounds (which are standard NATO rounds).  

Level 3+ Lightweight, M855 & M193
Level 3+ Lightweight, M855 & M193

Plus…it’s much more lightweight and thinner than their regular III+ counterpart.  

Lightweight III+ vs Regular III+
Lightweight III+ vs Regular III+

We’d also recommend going with their curve for comfort and build-up layer of Paxcon to mitigate spalling.

110
at AR500

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on the AR500 Armor Level III+ Lightweight?

Readers' Ratings

4.8/5 (10)

Your Rating?

6. Spartan Armor Level III+

Another big player in the AR500-based steel armor space is Spartan Armor.

Their plates look better and they have more movement-inducing cuts compared to AR500 Armor.

7. Spartan Armor, Level III, Swimmers Cut
Spartan Armor, Swimmers Cut

They also use a nicer feeling/looking coating comparatively and a rubbery material on the back…if that matters.

Spartan Armor, Level III, Shooters Cut, Back
Spartan Armor, Shooters Cut, Back

Again, we’d go with their Level III+ plates for proper rifle protection. 

They are NIJ certified and we’ll be bringing their plates out to the desert soon for our own testing!

Desert Armor Testing
Desert Armor Testing

We recommend upgrading to the Full Coat Frag Mitigation Coating for additional protection from shrapnel. It will increase the weight of your plates a bit, but will protect you from spalling.

118
at Spartan Armor Systems

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best UHMWPE Body Armor

7. Spartan Armor Elaphros Level III UHMWPE

If you want ultra-light protection that still will defend you against rifle-rated threats, check out Spartan Armor Elaphros Lightweight Level III UHMWPE body armor. 

1. Spartan Armor Assortment, Elaphros in Middle
An assortment of Spartan Armor plates, with Elaphros in the center.

These plates were designed for operators who needed maximum maneuverability but still wanted great protection at an extended distance. They’re also stab-resistant for close-quarters protection and are multi-shot rated.

Manufactured using Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) Hybrid Fibers, these plates weigh in at a mere 3.5 pounds per 10×12 plate.

650
at Spartan Armor Systems

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Spartan offers a 5-year warranty, and these plates have a 5-year shelf life.

Best Ceramic Level IV Body Armor

8. AR500 Level IV Ceramic

If you’re looking for a little bit more serious protection and don’t mind the bulk, AR500’s Level IV Ceramic/PE armor might be what you’re looking for.

Like the AR500 steel plates, you can find their ceramic plates in a variety of cuts and sizes.

AR500 Armor, Level IV Ceramic
AR500 Armor, Level IV Ceramic

You’ll pay a little more per plate than you would for similar steel plates, but you do get an extra level of protection from high-powered rounds. 

These plates run about an inch thick, and weighs about 8.3 pounds a plate. They also come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty and have a 10-year shelf-life.

Oh yea…and they stopped a couple shots of 30.06 M2AP armor piercing rounds.

Level 4, M2AP
Level 4, M2AP

If you’ve got the dough…

199
at AR500

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

9. DFNDR Level IV Plates

Obviously, rifle-rated plates are going to give you a little more protection than pistol rated plates, but you do have to make a trade-off when it comes to bulk and weight, which can be a hard choice to make.

DFNDR Plates
DFNDR Plates

DFNDR’s Level IV Rifle Rated Plates make that choice a little easier. These heavy-duty plates have been tested at muzzle velocity and are multi-hit rated, giving you lots of protection, but they’re also incredibly light.

These armor plates are constructed from Fiber-Lite Laminate, a UHMWPE and resin composite, with a Crystalline Ceramic Strike Face and a Spall-Tek coating to protect you from spalling. They’re on the thicker side, at 1.1 inches thick, but come in a variety of sizes and cuts.

What we liked about DFNDR’s plates is that they came with a state-of-the-art Trauma Mitigation Base, which helps absorb ballistic energy so it doesn’t transfer through the plate and into your body.

550
at DFNDR Armor

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

DFNDR backs these plates with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.

10. Velocity Systems Special Threat Ceramic Plates

When price is no object for the right protection.

Their body armor is top-of-the-line and trusted by law enforcement and military personnel, and it’s for a good reason.

The Velocity Systems Special Threat Ceramic Plates are multi-strike rated and tested against 7.62×39 Mild Steel Core, 7.62×51 M80 Ball, 5.56×45 M855, and 5.56×45 M193, which puts this armor at around a level III+ (though Velocity doesn’t specify).

Velocity Systems Special Threat Ceramic Plates Side
Velocity Systems Special Threat Ceramic Plates side view

These plates only come in a 10×12 inch traditional cut size, but they’re tripled curved to hug the contour of your body and are 0.60 inches thick. Each plate weighs 6 pounds, which does put them on the heavier–but more protective–end of things.

335
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It can be hard to get ahold of Velocity Systems armor since the company will only sell directly to law enforcement or military, but it can be found at other retailers.

Best Plate Carriers & Trauma Pads

Whether you’re planning to pick up some standalone plates or spring for a set, there’s still plenty of must-have accessories to go with your shiny new armor.

Plate Carriers

We mentioned it a few times above, but all the stand-alone plates that we talked about are worn inside of a plate carrier–a tactical vest with special pockets designed just for your body armor plates.

Spartan Armor Carriers
Spartan Armor Carriers

You can find carriers with velcro and MOLLE so you can attach all your gear to it, and you can also find carriers that can be hidden under your clothing for more subtlety.

Choosing your plate carrier will depend on the type of plates or panels you buy.

You may be able to mix and match brands between your plates and your carrier, but when in doubt–stick with the same brand. Some armor systems work best when all parts are from the same manufacturer.

That being said, let’s look at some of our favorites!

The AR500 Veritas Plate Carrier and armor panels
The AR500 Veritas Plate Carrier and armor panels

We’ll start with the AR500 Testudo Gen 2 Plate Carrier, which is sized for AR500’s larger plate offerings. It features a fully adjustable cummerbund and shoulder straps, 3D Mesh technology to increase breathability, and plenty of gear-mounting options.

Testudo Plate Carrier, Loaded
Testudo Plate Carrier, Loaded
159
at AR500

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

There’s also the AR500 Veritas Modular Plate Carrier, which is the smaller version of the Testudo. It has all the same great features, it’s just sized for smaller plates and smaller bodies.

Veritas Plate Carrier
Veritas Plate Carrier
79
at AR500

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Both the Testudo and Veritas carriers are available in coyote, olive drab, multi-cam, and black.

For a super-light option, check out Crye Precision’s AirLite SPC. The entire system weighs just over one pound, so you can cut the weight without sacrificing your protection. The mesh design also offers superior breathability.

Pew Pew Tactical Shooting with MIRA Safety Gas Masks
Rocking our Crye Precision AirLite SPC and some super-cool biohazard protection.

You can get it in ranger green, multi-cam, black, and coyote.

169
at Crye Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Finally, if you’re looking for a covert carrier, we’ve got you covered with the Safariland M1 Covert Carrier. Not only is it low-profile and highly durable, but it’s easily washable, which is a big plus for people wearing protection every day.

100
at Safariland

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The anti-microbial, wicking mesh lining will keep you dry and cool all day long for a truly comfortable covert body armor.

It’s available in a variety of colors, including tan, olive drab, navy, black, and white.

Trauma Pads

You may not realize it, but body armor plates are only designed to stop a bullet–not make it comfortable. Body armor absorbs the ballistic energy of a bullet to some extent, but you’re still going to feel pretty dang sore afterward.

Trauma Pad Demonstration
Trauma Pad Demonstration

One way of mitigating the soreness is by wearing a trauma pad, like the AR500 Trauma Pad under your armor.

These are non-ballistic pads, which means that they don’t provide additional protection. What they do instead is instantly harden upon impact, increasing the rigid surface area of your armor and helping to decrease the amount of energy transferred from your armor to you.

45
at AR500

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

AR500 offers trauma pads cut to match all of their different plate sizes, so all you have to do is match them to your plates.

Final Considerations

Choosing body armor isn’t something that should be taken lightly. After all, it’s your life you’re entrusting to a few inches of steel, ceramic, or plastic, so you want to feel confident in your decision.

Tru Spec 24/7 Concealed Armor Undershirt
Tru Spec 24/7 Concealed Armor Undershirt

We hope we’ve helped you find some great options, but be sure to do a little research into what threat protection level suits your needs and take time to measure yourself, so you can find the right armor plates.

For most civilians…we highly recommend AR500 Armor’s Level III+ Lightweight as the way to go.  One more time for our video!

Did this help?  Any other brands we should check out and test in the future?  Let us know.  All this talk about M193 defeating regular Level III armor?  Check out our Best 5.56 Ammo article.

13 Leave a Reply

  • RogerDodger

    Please publish updated list for someone looking to spend 2k on a few new plates b4 the crab people arrive :O

    2 days ago
  • Larry

    Any information about the difference between MIL–A 46100 armor and AR500?

    4 days ago
  • Jay

    Nice article, but what about CATI ARMOR? Their 3+ plate is multi curved, and is rated for m193!! I don’t feel this is a totally accurate list

    1 week ago
    • Robert

      Cati for sure. Watched a plate take 6 5.56 green tips at 20yards at the range this spring and bought a pair the next week.

      1 second ago
    • Eric Hung

      We're already working on an update list!

      1 week ago
  • Steve

    Great article! Thanks

    1 week ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Steve!

      1 week ago
  • Anrae Godley-Cooper

    I wear both hard and soft armor and I personally don't care about how the public view me or any of us that choose to wear body armor.

    1 week ago
  • Lynda Carter

    Who says I’m not Wonder Woman! Besides - why not use both at the same time?

    1 week ago
  • Chuck

    Should check into RMA Defense. When I was looking around for rifle plates for duty use I came across them and saw they boasted 5 rounds of M2AP. Called them direct and they had great customer service. After I bought it saw a youtuber shoot one of their level IV plated with a 338 Lapua Mag with no penetration.

    1 week ago
    • Eric Hung

      For sure, we're already working on an update list!

      1 week ago
  • Johnny

    I want something I am going to where every day and every where (walmart, mcdonalds, movie theater, etc).....so soft armor is my pick. Try doing that with hard armor and a plate carrier. What I wish is for a jacket carrier. Take off when at the office, put on when leaving office.

    1 week ago
    • Eric Hung

      I've seen something like that at SHOT...looks like a regular jacket. Check out Miguel Caballero.

      1 week ago
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