I have recently posted about BALLISTIC PLATES. In a post yesterday I wrote the following:
A comment on plate carriers: There is a certain amount of resistance to the idea of plate carriers. Some of this is justified – depending on the situation / mission it might not always be appropriate to wear one. However, when I see some comments, it reads to me like self justification due perhaps to the fact that people don’t want to spend on ballistic plates, or perhaps they know their fitness is not up to it, or whatever for a multitude of reasons. Let me just say this: if you knew you were going to be involved in a shoot out, you would likely want to be wearing a PC. Am I right? If you have operational experience in environments where enemy fire has been cracking and zipping, death or injury is seconds and inches away, and death stands at your shoulders, you will appreciate the benefits of ballistic plates. True, they don’t make you bullet proof or invincible, but much of what I see out there in the form of intellectual arguments is mere excuses. I tell you what, if the SHTF happens and combat arrives, I will be wearing plates if I can! I tried to make the Ballistic Plates POST fairly non-committal, but that is straight up my opinion.
Using plates is a judgement call, and will depend on the situation. I have been looking for a solution that balances the weight of the plates against the stopping ability. The idea being that if you can get the weight of the plates down to something reasonable, it is not too much of a weight penalty to wear them, versus the potential life saving protection they offer. The DKX level III plates looked like a great option, at 2.9 lbs per plates, polyethylene – it’s almost as if you are not wearing plates. However, the issue is that the current DKX plates, until they come out with a level III+ plate, do not stop M855 green tip. What is loaded into most people’s operational load magazines in North America? M855 green tip!
Now, let’s look at the NIJ levels:
The level IV plate is tested to stop against 1 round of 30-06 AP (Yay! for all the porch snipers!) Given the balance of weight versus protection, I don’t believe it is necessary to go to level IV (i.e. calculated risk).There is however a gap in the specs between level III and Level IV. That gap is occupied by M855 green tip! In fact, 5.56 is not even mentioned at level III, but standard level III armor should stop multi-hit of standard 5.56 FMJ rounds. This is where the ‘level III+’ comes in, which is not even a real NIJ standard (more on that below). So what we are really interested in is a balance of weight versus WHAT A PLATE WILL ACTUALLY STOP, not NIJ standards at all. After all, we are not working for ‘an agency’ and thus we can make our own decisions on what is best for us.
Enter this new plate just on the market at bulletproofme.com, with the following details:
Level III + Stand-Alone Independent Lab Tested for compliance with NIJ 0101.05
A Ceramic and Polyethylene Hybrid construction brings this plate down to 4.6 lbs. – while still stopping the .223 / 5.56 mm threats that Level III plates are not rated to stop
Disclaimer: I am not receiving a financial incentive for this post. I have ordered a set of these plates, which I will pick up today, and I have agreed to do a video test of an additional spare plate against M855 green tip, which will be coming over the next couple of weeks. The plates I ordered were shipped, front and back, for $463!
So these are the new level III+ plates. They have a ceramic front over a polyethylene plate. They weigh 4.6 lbs each! No doubt DKX will bring out a level III+ plate at some point. However they will still be in the region of $1000 per set. Why? How are these plate cheap? Because they have tested them in the lab to be compliant with the NIJ standard. However, they have not paid the $25,000 required to be certified by NIJ (with a NIJ guy overseeing the testing, which is $25,000 per each new cut or style of armor product. A scam). I am interested in weight versus protection measured against cost, and I only care what the armor does, not if it is certified by NIJ. I will be shooting M855 green tip against a plate shortly anyway…..
Need a plate carrier? There are many on the market and you can make your own decision. My personal favorite is the Crye Jumpable Plate Carrier (JPC):
I will also be shortly trying out the CTAV:
CORTAC has developed a passive cooling, trauma attenuation and ventilation device called the CTAV. The CTAV is a flexible, lightweight textile air-bladder system that is affixed to or integrated into body armor carrier systems and base layer shirt systems. For optimal performance, the CTAV maintains direct contact with the end-user’s combat shirt, uniform shirt or base layer.
The CTAV delivers improved comfort and functional performance of Personal Protective Equipment, specifically body armor. In addition, subjective field reports, combined with the objective physiological and ballistic testing data supports the CTAV’s ability to improve the performance and survivability of military and law enforcement personnel.
Key Performance Capabilities
So, this post is for information in order to help you make the right decisions if you decide that ballistic plates are a good idea. The level III+ plate rating is the way forward – I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ wearing level III only, as M855 green tip is zipping through the plates!