I own several types and brands of body armor. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I will summarize them below.

Back in 2018, I bought some body armor for my wife and me. Since we were working as teachers, I got a set for each of us to keep in the classroom. The vests that I bought are made by Bulletsafe. The vests that I got are the Level IIIA vests, cost $300. I found them to be too bulky to wear concealed. With the trauma plates, the vests are upgraded to Level IV, but they are quite heavy when worn that way. My wife’s vest is still in her classroom. Since I no longer teach, my vest is next to the bed with the home defense gun and a set of electronic hearing protection. If I need to clear the house, having a Level IV vest on is a great idea, and the weight isn’t a concern since I won’t be wearing it for long. The company was OK, with the first vest and plate coming on time, but the plate for the second vest wasn’t delivered after two months. I originally cancelled the order, but the company made it right. It looks like they were just too successful and were having trouble filling the large numbers of orders they had. I’ve worn this set a couple of times to clear the house, and twice while I was teaching when we went on lockdown. Mine has a FAK and a couple of velcro tags on it that indicate my blood type and say “Paramedic” on them. One problem that I have with this product is that it covers the shoulder and makes shouldering a long gun kind of difficult.

Fast forward to 2020, and I placed orders for two more sets of armor. The first was a Testudo Gen2 carrier and a set of Level III+ steel plates from AR500. I also put a set of pouches on it that can hold five 30 round AR magazines, a full sized handgun with two magazines, a first aid kit, an accessory pouch, and another pouch that will hold two smoke grenades. (Yes, I have smoke grenades) Delivery was actually faster than the quoted 8 weeks and cost me about $500. One thing: I bought my own pouches elsewhere, as it was cheaper. Even so, at 25 pounds (with armor, handgun, and other gear) that loadout is as heavy as I can wear in Florida’s summer heat without being uncomfortable. Toss in an AR, and I am toting about 35 pounds of gear. I would recommend (if you have the cash) that you spend the extra for the lighter plates to reduce weight. That will save you about seven pounds, but will cost another $500 or so. This vest is my Antifa emergency loadout and I haven’t worn it other than to see how it fit and how heavy it felt. The good and bad of this setup is that it only covers the vital organs. This leaves the shoulders unprotected but allows long guns to be comfortably shouldered.

The last experience I had with armor was the most promising, but was the worst of them. The company was called Bulletproof Everyone. A concealable Level II vest, it looked interesting:

The product was less than ideal. It was just a sweatshirt with pockets for the soft plates sewn into it. It is obvious that it contains body armor. It smelled like chemical scented ass and took months to get delivered. Even though it was only $350, I expected a better product. The first vest I got didn’t fit even though I measured. After some complaints and a call to the company’s owner, I got one that fit properly, but as you can tell, I wasn’t impressed. I don’t think I have ever worn it other than to check fit.

So that is my experience with armor.

Categories: Gear


Noveskes Rock · December 2, 2022 at 8:14 am

After I blew my knee doing martial arts I can’t run well or fast. Instead I walk with my level IV / 20# old school vest under a sweatshirt (so as not to startle others). It’s free, excellent exercise plus gets you used to wearing the armor regularly. Gives you a solid idea of range of motion effects and familiarity is important in the event you need to use it as it was intended. Happy not to have to wear armor / full kit every day any more. I’m too old for that now!

Elrod · December 2, 2022 at 11:17 am

I’ve got a couple sets, too, one of which is a full coverage IIIA (shoulders to hips with full wrap-around sides – not cummerbunds – and groin panel) with F & R ceramic plates. Wear it for a hour in summertime and you’ll prefer just getting shot instead.

Michael · December 2, 2022 at 2:17 pm

Been shot, worn armor in the Sandbox I’d prefer the armor thank you very much.

If you’re not liking your body armor, please sell or donate it to someone else.

nick flandrey · December 2, 2022 at 4:00 pm

I like the price and fit of my AR500 plate carrier. I got the soft and curved hard plates. They had a problem with long lead times and poor communication, but did deliver the goods.

I’ll point out that the .mil groin armor flap is a good size for a backpack insert, or bookbag insert, and they are much cheaper than other shapes and styles of panel in the used market.

Might not be ideal, but it’s better than wishing…


and fwiw, I was talking with a deputy here in Houston who was shot responding to an active shooter a couple of years ago. He was standing behind his car, and the guy shot THRU the car and hit him in the upper chest. He wasn’t wearing a plate, but he was in the habit of wearing two layers of soft panels on his chest. The soft panels stopped the round and saved his life. Two inches higher and it would have gone thru his neck… ANY armor is better than none, but luck doesn’t hurt.

#Sand · December 2, 2022 at 10:26 pm

I’ve bought plates from multiple companies including AR500 (heavy as hell), tried ceramic, and now have a couple sets from ShotStop. I’d give them a look if you want to actually use them and have them on for any length of time.

Dick Tickles · December 3, 2022 at 3:28 am

People really should research Lvl IV armor and understand that it’s rated to stop ONE round of a projectile they are very likely to never be shot with (Armor Piercing .30-06). Most, if not all, Lvl IV plates are ceramic, which is easy to crack if dropped, of course you don’t know if your plate is cracked, so you’re relying on a hope and prayer it isn’t. The videos people have done on Lvl IV plates show they can last a few hits before failing, but steel and UHMWPE plates can take a lot more hits, they just aren’t rated for AP .30-06, which again, you will likely never be shot with.

Steel plates are great, they’re practically indestructible, they last decades with proper storage, and can be shot dozens of times with projectiles they’re rated for and still keep going. The issues with them is they are still heavy and after a few rounds the bullets that hit them splatter and send lead and copper jacket shards perpendicular to the impact, which means into the arms, legs, head, and neck. IMO, steel plates are best used for rear plates and as a backup for front plates.

My preference for a front plate is the UHMWPE. They’re as thick as the Lvl IV plates, but they weigh 3-4 lbs and can take a dozen or more hits before failure. Since the layers are plastic, these will have a shorter lifespan and 5 yr warranty, but should last 10 yrs before needing replacement.

For soft pistol plates, given they also only have 5 yr warranties, my opinion is buy the cheapest ones and replace every 5 yrs. The cheapest I know of that works is VISM and the test videos I’ve seen, yeah, they don’t look as neat after they’ve been shot compared to other soft plates, but they stop bullets just as well as any other soft plate does.

Always buy shooter’s cut plates.

Brian_E · December 4, 2022 at 3:28 pm

If your’re going to have steel plates – they can stop nearly anything you’re likely to be hit with -but- spalling is a problem and can be nearly as deadly. Look for either a spall guard (plate fits inside it and it catches the flying bits) and/or a spall coating that captures spall. Also consider a trauma pad or you can end up with broken ribs and/or very nasty bruises. FWIW – a multi curve plate is more comfortable if you are slim enough to look down and see your belt buckle.
I’ve had very good experience with Caliber Armor – they make a III+ rated multi curve plate in AR550 that’s avail in regular and shooters cut – and have a spall coating available that tests very well.

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