Armor Plates and Inserts
Whether you are in law enforcement, military, a body armor enthusiast, or someone who is simply preparing in case of an emergency, having high-quality body armor plates or armor inserts with your plate carrier or bulletproof vest is an important component to ensure your safety.
Ballistic plates, also known as body armor plates, bulletproof plates, or simply as armor plates, are anti-ballistic panels usually fitted into Plate Carriers and some Bulletproof Vests or Tactical Vests.
There are also several manufacturers who are now offering armor plates that can be used with bulletproof bags and backpacks.
They are available in different types (hard armor - steel plates, ceramic plates, etc. or soft armor), cuts (Swimmers, Shooters, SAPI, ESAPI), sizes, and different materials.
Much like any other body armor gear, the choices and options are endless, so make sure you do your homework before purchasing ballistic plates so that you can make the most out of it. Our buyer's guide for the Best Body Armor Plates for Every Situation might just help you with that.
Are Body Armor Plates legal?
Here are the basics of body armor legislation you should remember that we also mentioned on this blog post:
Where can you sell body armor?
- Body armor can be shipped to 49 states of the United States. Sales people looking to purchase body armor in Connecticut can do so only through face to face transactions.
- Body armor can be sold to anyone in face to face to transactions. There is no need for background check or ID and no need for special permits.
- Body armor can be sold at gun shows, stores, websites, through catalogs, or over the phone.
Where can you not sell body armor?
- You cannot take, ship, send, or bring body armor outside the US without Federal permission.
- Body armor cannot be shipped to addresses in Connecticut.
Given the constant changes in today’s world, always make sure to check with your national and local regulatory departments for more information on specific body armor laws in your area.
What are the NIJ Armor Protection Levels?
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sets the levels of protection for body armor, which are Level IIA, Level II, Level IIIA, Level III, and Level IV.
They are tested against various ballistic threats to ensure that they meet standards, ensuring a certain level of safety and assisting buyers in making an informed decision based on the level of protection they will require.
NIJ ratings are divided into soft armor and hard armor categories. Below is an overview of the different plates level:
SOFT ARMOR PLATES LEVEL
As its name implies, soft body armor (NIJ Level II to Level IIIA) are flexible and soft, yet their components can be a lot of times stronger than steel plates. Since it isn’t usually as bulky like hard body armor, it’s more likely worn underneath a uniform, especially for law enforcement officers, or it serves as an addition to a type of gear.
In other cases, soft armor plates can be used instead of hard armor plates to provide users with the highest possible level of protection. Typically, soft body armor is made up of fabric-like materials with high strength level including Twaron, Spectra, Kevlar, and much more. Soft armor may come in numerous forms and shapes, yet it’s often used in incorporation into a bulletproof vest or concealable plate carriers.
Even though soft armor plates are easy to wear and flexible, it isn’t as strong as hard armor plates. Level IIIA soft armor is rated to stop the pistol-caliber ammunition and not rated to provide protection against rifle-caliber shots or armor piercing bullets.
This armor plates level is for the least effective but the most concealable armor for those who need to be undetected, such as a law enforcement officer, undercover agents, spies and intelligence gatherers, and high net-worth individuals.
Level II body armor protection has an ideal balance between weight, flexibility, protection, and possibility of concealing the armor. Armor plates in with this level can cover specific handgun and shotgun fire.
The most universally recommended body armor plates level that offers protection against most rounds of handguns and shotguns. Level IIIA armor is able to stop magnum rounds from handguns and everything from a .38 Special to a 9mm.
HARD ARMOR PLATES LEVEL
Hard armor plates (NIJ level III to Level IV) are mostly made of ceramic, steel, or polyethylene. Plates are inserted in plate carriers or bullet proof vests.
Plates that are made of ceramic are coated in strong protective material for added strength. Due to the strength qualities, hard armor plates are less pliable and heavier in comparison to soft body armors.
Several users report that it is less comfortable to use and it can get hot once used for a long period of time especially with plate carriers. In spite of a few small drawbacks, hard armor is rated to protect users from high caliber rifle shots and the body armor of choice of law enforcement and military when it comes to tactical situations.
Level III armor protection is where the world of hard body armor starts. Level III body armor plates are rated especially for rifle rounds; capable of countering AK 47 rounds.
Level III+ armor plates indicate a special threat testing that shows the armor's capabilities beyond the NIJ Level III. This means the plate can withstand high-velocity rifle rounds as well as other threats like M855 "Green Tip" and M193.
Currently, the (+) is not recognized by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), but body armor manufacturers use it to indicate that a particular armor plate is better than level III, but not capable of stopping armor-piercing rounds like level IV.
Level IV body armor plates are the most advanced body armor rating with outstanding capacity to resist most rifle, handgun, and shotgun strikes. However, its bulkiness and weight limit its usability.
Choosing the best armor plate for you
Hard body armor or soft body armor? Shooters cut or swimmers cut? Kevlar, steel, or ceramic? Selecting the correct body armor size, cut, material, and plates level is an essential step in purchasing ballistic plates to go with your plate carriers.
This determines the level of protection, coverage, and mobility during combat or dangerous situations. It can be overwhelming especially if this is your first time purchasing body armor, so make sure to check out our Ultimate Buyer's Guide to help get you started and make sure you only use the best body armor for your protection.
Our body armor plates are designed with the highest quality materials to ensure your safety in all types of situations. Aside from that, they make excellent gifts for active military members or law enforcement professionals.
We also offer Body Armor Bundles complete with plate carriers or vests with armor plates available on our site.
At Bulletproof Zone, we partner with quality brands like AR500 Armor, Spartan Armor Systems and BulletSafe to ensure you have access to only the best Body Armor Plates, Plate Carriers, and Ballistic Body Armor for law enforcement, military, and civilians alike.