level III Body Armor
Level III Body Armor
Level III Armor: Setting the standard
Level III Body Armor
Perhaps the most common type of hard ballistic body armor on the market today, Level III has become an industry staple for armor manufacturers. According to the NIJ Standards of Protection, Level III must be capable of stopping 6-rounds of 7.62x51 M80Ball traveling at 2780 FPS. Subsequently, Level III armor is also rated to stop these common calibers:
7.62x51 M80 Ball (Up to 6 Rounds)
Why Level III Armor?
With so many body armor options available, why is Level III Armor so prevalent? In large part, Level III Body Armor owes its popularity to being an official NIJ rating. The standard for any company to market their armor as 'Level III' is very cut and dry: it must stop up to 6-rounds of 7.62x51 M80 Ball and a minimum of 2780 fps. If the armor doesn't meet those requirements, it's not a Level III plate.
The NIJ chose this standard in largely due to the popularity, accesses, & common use of firearms that shot M80 rounds. After all, NIJ Standards strive to categorize armor ratings by the most common threats that military, law enforcement, & citizens may encounter.
This transparency helps consumers make educated purchasing decisions when it comes to choosing the armor that best fits their needs. Now, vetting companies to ensure their products are reliable and hold up to what the marketing material advertises is still 'best practice'; especially when it comes to life-preserving gear. There really isn't an excuse with how easily accessible independent product review videos are online. This being said, there are a lot of reputable companies leading the charge in manufacturing and producing dependable Level III armor plates.
Steel Body Armor vs Polyethylene Body Armor
It is an exciting time in the world of Body Armor; there are many quality companies producing varying types of armor options. Two of our favorites types of ballistic body armor are UHMWPE (A.K.A. Polyethylene Armor) & Steel. While the subject of "best" armor is highly debated, the truth is each type of armor has its pros & cons.
We like Polyethylene Body Armor because it is lightweight & has excellent ballistic stopping capabilities. Polyethylene plates are made from multiple layers of UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene). These layers of UHMWPE are stacked together and pressed under heat and pressure to bond them together. Once bonded you have a hard piece of UHMWPE Body Armor. Due to the process and materials used, Polyethylene Plates are quite a bit thicker than other types of armor plates, not uncommonly exceeding 1" in thickness. While the plate itself is lighter weight, thickness can often offset that weight advantage making it difficult to maintain mobility and properly performing some tasks, such shouldering a rifle. However, Predator Armor's Lightweight Polyethylene Plate achieves a thickness of only .8" and weighs 3.5 lbs.
Steel Body Armor is highly debated as an acceptable armor option, mostly due to frag & spalling concerns. However, nearly every reputable company that manufactures and sells steel armor also provides a frag mitigation solution as well. Couple that with the fact that there has never been a reported case where frag or spall resulted in fatality, and the histeria for those concerns begin to dissipate rather quickly.
The upside to steel armor, especially in a world where resupply is not available and traditional means of distribution have been disrupted, is that it holds up to a lot higher round counts. It is also of the most economically friendly options for first time buyers of body armor. Predator Armor's Level III Plates are .25" thick and weigh only 7.5 lbs.
Kevlar Wrap Vs Base Plate
Predator Armor offers base plate & a proprietary kevlar wrap option for steel armor. The base plate comes with a powder-coated finish to protect against the elements & rigorous use. The kevlar wrap is a solution for frag & spall mitigation that is a concern when running steel body armor.
Left Photo is the Predator Armor UHMWPE (Polyethylene) Body Armor. Coming it at 3.5lbs, this is one of the most lightweight and field-proven Level III Armor Plates on that market
Middle Photo is the Predator Armor Level III base-coat plate showing impacts from various calibers. This plate effectively stoped .30-06, .308 Rem., 5.56 Green Tip, as well as a few lesser rounds.
Right Photo is the Predator Armor Level III plate in both the Kevlar Wrapped and base coat options. As stated above, Kevlar Wrapped plates is Predator Armor's proprietary solution to mitigate frag & spall concerns. Videos showcasing the effectiveness of Kevlar Wrapped plates can be found here.