Body Armor Plates: Everything You Need To Know

As a law enforcement officer it is paramount that you put on a soft body armor when you are on duty. But what happens when you have to respond to a school shooting or any other incident involving rounds that your armor isn’t built to stop? This is why you need the hard body armor plates that fit inside the front and back pockets in armor carriers. They not only offer protection against rifle rounds but some also protect against armor-piercing rounds.

Since there has been an increase in active shooter incidents, more law enforcement officers opt to purchase body armor plates. It is important that officers know more about their protection options no matter their jurisdictions, whether rural or urban. However, should you decide to buy one, how would you know which kind to choose? Here is everything you need to know about body armor plates.

Shape and size

Over the years, the shapes and sizes of body armor plates have changed significantly. Not so long ago, the standard size was the 10×12-inch plate. It featured a rectangular shape and was designed to maximize the protection of internal organs when placed in the front or back pockets of the body armor. However, this shape and size has its limitations.

The square edges on the upper corners of the front plates obstructed the motions of military personnel and officers when they tried to swim or shoulder a rifle.  To counter this limitation, manufacturers decided to cut off and reduce the upper corners. At present though, companies started to create five size of small arms protective inserts due to the military’s insistence. Therefore, more sizes of body armor plates are now available for law enforcement officers.

With the advancement of shaping technology, there are now smaller side plates that are meant to protect your under arms because they become more exposed when your aiming a rifle. Additionally, you can now purchase a multi, triple or single curve plate which are designed to be wrapped around your body for a better fit thus improving both performance and comfort.

Polythene plates

If you are contemplating on which hard body armor to go for the polythene plates. These plates are made of lightweight unidirectional material that has the ability of resisting bullets itself without the need of other backing materials.  While polythene plates have been around since the late 1980s, it was not until recently that the technology to make them thin enough for practical use was invented.

Friction from a bullet creates heat partially melting the polythene plate until it stops the bullet. Once the bullet slows and stops, the polythene plate then cools and re-hardens. For this reason, polythene plates can stop multiple bullets. However, one limitation about these plates is that manufacturers haven’t been able to create a commercial type 4 plate that is made entirely from polythene because it would require too much material to be practical.

Ceramic plates

Ceramic plates are the most popular types of body armor plates. They are the only other option other than polythene plates. The use of ceramic body armor plates to protect officers from bullets has been around for decades.  These types of plates use different types of backing to protect the material from accidental breakage and increase absorption. While the ceramic is used to break the bullets, the backing materials are for catching the pieces.

Over time, ceramic body armor plates have become stronger and lighter. However, they too have certain limitations. A ceramic plate can crack when drooped or thrown into a car trunk or bag. Also once an area of your armor has been hit by a bullet it will no longer provide full protection against a round.

It is not easy to decide what kind of plates to purchase, but it will be helpful if you looked at the options you have. Everything boils down to the level of threat you need protection from.