The military, police officers, and other law enforcement personnel wear soft body armor when doing routine patrol and community monitoring. What if you have to go to actual combat, such as a shooting incident or street riot?
These crucial scenarios are when hard Ballistic Plates come in. They are essential inserts in the front and back pocket of armor carriers, which can be the thing that will save you from harm or even death. But the question is: Are ballistic plates necessary? If yes, what type of ballistic plate should you have?
Ballistic Plates: What You Need to Know
The number of scenarios where Ballistic Protection is a must increase in the US every day. Unfortunately, this need is not limited to the law enforcement officers, but now also extends to regular civilians in urban and rural areas across various States.
As the need grows, here are some basic what-to-knows that will help you understand what ballistic plates are and how to choose the best.
Body Armor vs. Ballistic Plate
Body armor is a Bulletproof gear that aims to protect the user's vital organs and not the whole body per se. It can either be a soft or hard armor. A soft armor has materials that are pliable and can be bent in various directions. Most soft body armor have NIJ (National Institute of Justice) levels II, IIA, and IIIA, which can repel handguns.
On the other hand, if you face a threat with powerful projectiles, protection with hard armor or ballistic plates is best. Most ballistic plates have compressed polyethylene or ceramic plus a steel sheet in front. However, various types are now available in the market, which gives users more options to choose from.
Ballistic Plate Materials
As mentioned earlier, soft body armors have lower levels under the NIJ standards. On the contrary, ballistic or hard plates have type III and IV NIJ levels, stronger to halt rifle rounds.
A ballistic plate's ability to stop a bullet is mostly attributed to its materials. Two of the most common materials are ceramic and polyethylene.
Ceramic plates have ceramic tiles that can halt the projection of an incoming bullet. Various layers of backing materials, like Kevlar and steel, act as absorbing agents to support the ceramic and prevent accidental breakage. A typical material in making ceramic plates is lumina oxide. If you want a lighter plate, choose one that is made of silicon carbide. However, please take note that it costs so much more than lumina oxide. The top-tier material is boron carbide, a high-density material that is both lightweight and reliable, reaching up to level IV NIJ protection rating.
One of the downsides of a ceramic ballistic plate is what happens when a bullet hits it. It indeed stops a shot, but it's design dictates that the ceramic will break as the bullet lands on it. Its mechanism means that it can only take a limited number of rounds as the plate gets damaged and weakens every time a bullet hits it. Eventually, it will no longer be sufficient enough to protect the life of its wearer.
Another concern for ceramic plates is its weight, which is based on the size of the plate. A standard ten by 12 inches plate is approximately 7.5 pounds. Therefore two plates (back and front) will have a total weight of 15 pounds. It means that other than the weight you carry for your Bulletproof Vest, you can have an added weight of 15 pounds if you have two add-on ceramic plates.
Other than ceramic, another favorite among the military and law enforcement officers is polyethylene plates. Aside from being lightweight, it can resist more bullets than that of a ceramic plate.
Polyethylene ballistic plates do not need backing materials, making it about 50% lighter than other material types. This material usually undergoes high-pressure treatment, which further improves its durability and lowers its weight.
Moreover, polyethylene plates do not break after a bullet's impact. It is more flexible than a ceramic, making it a better option for combats and high-risk incidents, such as a school shooting.
One consideration that a user must take note of is a polyethylene plate's price. It is costlier than a ceramic plate. Nevertheless, with its resilience and weight, you can worry less about your safety while wearing something that will keep you protected.
Various Types of Plate Cuts
The Plate Cut and size affect the plate's weight and the coverage it gives to the user. There is a good variety of ballistic plates choices based on cuts and sizes available in the market. Here are four of the most common ballistic plate cuts.
A full cut ballistic plate is either square or rectangular. It protects the whole back, hence its name. The downside of this cut is that it sometimes hinders some movements of the user.
A shooter's cut ballistic plate has a rectangle shape and distinct cut-off corners above to enable its user to move better and improve their agility. It is known as shooters cut because it is best for those who need to carry weapons or artillery on their shoulders.
A swimmer's cut is a modified shooter's cut plate. The difference is that more area of the upper portion of the plate is removed to allow more movement in the shoulders and upper back.
SAPI means small arms protective inserts, which are preferred by the military. The inserts weigh from about 3 to 5 pounds depending on its size.
Keep in mind that when choosing your plate cut, make sure to assess your needs. Analyze how much of your torso needs additional coverage and the amount of body movement that will allow you to move fast.
Fitting in The Armor
We know the difference between body armor and a ballistic plate, plus how to choose the best type of plate based on your needs. The question now is, how exactly should a ballistic plate fit you?
Ballistic plates' design aims to protect its user's vital organs, the heart, and the lungs. It is not to protect the whole body or torso. To know which size will best fit you, get a measuring tape. Measure the height by placing the end of the measuring tape above your collarbone going down to your navel. Stop at about 2 to 3 inches on top of the navel. An undersized plate will not provide the necessary protection it aims to give, while an oversized one will add a burden to its user.
Ballistic Plates: Your Added Protection Against Blunt Force Trauma
A blunt force trauma is a type of endangerment to your vital organs by a blunt object like a bullet. Body armor and bulletproof vest are best to prevent this kind of trauma, but having an added protection, such as placing a ballistic plate, could be the thing that will save you from injury or death. Choose the best now at Bulletproof Zone. Remember, a little more investment for your safety will always be worth you every penny.