When people search for information about bulletproof vests and body armor, they may encounter terms like trauma plate, ballistic plate, or ballistic panel. In reality, these three terms are the same. All point to the words SAPI or ESAPI. SAPI means “small arms protective inserts”, while ESAPI pertains to “enhanced SAPI” or ceramic plate inserts. Now, if you are keen on purchasing a bulletproof vest or a body armor, it is best to learn more about the basics of a bulletproof vest, what are SAPI and ESAPI, their difference, and which will work best for you.
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What is a Bulletproof Vest?
Bulletproof means that an object is resistant to the damages brought about by ammunition like bullets and bombs. A bulletproof vest, otherwise called a bullet-resistant vest, is a personal clothing item that works like armor to carry the impact of firearms and explosion shrapnels. It is placed in the torso.
A Bulletproof vest can be in various forms, which include soft vests, body armor, or ballistic vests. Soft vests have multiple layers of woven fibers and are useful in protecting a person from shotguns and shotgun projectiles, plus shrapnels from a small hand grenade explosion. The kind of Ballistic Plate that is for soft vests comes as a metal or ceramic plate. Soft vests are popular among police officers, private individuals who are at risk of violence, security personnel, and bodyguards.
A ballistic vest contains strongly woven fibers intended to catch the bullet fired toward the user. It absorbs the impact of the shot, then brings it into a complete stop, which prevents it from entering the user's body. While it does stop the bullet’s potentially fatal damage, the user may still experience a blunt force trauma. A Body Armor is usually used in tandem with ballistic vests and other protective gear, like combat helmet and eyewear.
Types of Ballistic Plates
Bulletproof vests may have an upgrade by adding ballistic plates, which can be either metal (titanium or steel), polyethylene, or ceramic. These plates increase protection from all handgun and some rifle ammo. An upgraded bulletproof vest is a standard practice in the military, because a basic body armor vest may not provide one hundred percent protection from rifle fires. Additionally, it is a must with corrections officers and security personnel as ballistic plates give more protection against bladed and sharp objects used as weapons.
There are two types of Ballistic Plates: SAPI and ESAPI.
SAPI stands for Small Arms Protective Inserts. The plate consists of ceramic material that has an external durable composite coating. The SAPI comes in different sizes to fit all users. The most massive plate is approximately five and a half pounds, while the smallest plates are more or less three pounds.
SAPI is the official protective gear used by the United States of America military. Typically, a soldier should wear a SAPI in front and behind his or her basic vest, plus two additional plates on the sides. In this case, a single extra-large ballistic vest plus the other inserts could be as heavy as twenty-five pounds.
One of the most widely used SAPI ballistic inserts is Spartan Armor Systems Level IV Shooters Cut Rifle Ceramic Body Armor. It is a combination of monolithic ceramic and polyethylene fibers. While it never fails to provide ultimate safety to its users, it also has the lowest price in the market for a set of two. It is multi-hit .30-06 M2AP tested by an NIJ certified laboratory and can defeat between 2-3 M2AP rounds. It is best to have it placed inside a plate carrier that best fits you.
ESAPI means Enhanced SAPI (Small Arms Protective Inserts), which consists of boron carbide, a form of ceramic. The boron carbide lets the ESAPI be more efficient at a lighter weight. Unlike the SAPI, an ESAPI is not readily available to civilians.
The ESAPI is lighter, which can weigh approximately 6.5 to 8 pounds. Although it can stop bullets from giving the user a fatal hit, its ceramic material is quite tricky to handle. While an ESAPI may not easily break, it should be used with care and not tossed, which somehow defeats the purpose of how a real battlefield works. These disadvantages are what makes the military choose SAPI over ESAPI.
ESAPI is the enhanced version of SAPI. However, as the threat increased in 2008, manufacturers created the next generation’s XSAPI. This body armor is to increase protection against the X-threat. With XSAPI, a scaler system is incorporated for added support. The FBI used XSAPI for the operations last May 2011.
Like ESAPI, XSAPI uses either boron carbide or silicon carbide. However, these plates do not have a military approval nor rating as it has not undergone testing yet.
Choose to be Safe, Pick the Best Plates
How you pick your ballistic plates is your own decision. Loaded with the right knowledge, you can make the best choice. Now, before doing a purchase, research on which plate will best suit your needs. Use the four questions below as a guide to having the right choice.
- Do you have a real threat to face when using the ballistic plates?
- What kind of threats will you encounter?
- Will you be able to move properly with its weight while facing the threat?
- Is going cheap versus getting a reasonably priced ballistic plate going to compromise your safety during a real threat?
These are essential points to remember when buying your ballistic plates. If additional protection does not increase your safety from the threats that you face, then you are just wasting your money. Moreover, make sure to know the material, weight, and capability of the bulletproof plates that you are to purchase. Also, find out which Bulletproof Armor fits it best. The perfect fit will increase your mobility and comfort, which in return increases your chance of survival and safety.
Remember to choose the most durable kind and the one that can withstand multiple hits. Also, consider products that underwent thorough testing. Pick plates that have passed and reached at least a Level III NIJ (National Institute of Justice) standards. Why? Because whether you choose SAPI, ESAPI, or even XSAPI, having the right one may mean your life or death. Do you want to learn more about how to choose the best body armor? Get in touch with Bulletproof Zone, your top bulletproof specialist NOW.