Best Body Armor | Which Armor Should Small and Big Guys Wear?

Best Body Armor | Which Armor Should Small and Big Guys Wear?

We often write about the specifics of our body armor, but rarely about the outliers who need to wear the smallest or largest of plates. 

As I write this blog I’m 5’8”, but I have a long torso, wide shoulders, and shorter arms.

These traits are normally very difficult to accommodate when we’re talking about mass distribution. 

All the plates I wore in the military constantly dug into my neck and I could never properly bend or crouch. 


Shotstop Level IV body armor


The heavy weight of AR500 steel and the high-profile of the full ceramic armor will dig into either your neck, hips, or thighs with the wrong size body armor. 

Fortunately for the newest generation of American Warriors, Shotstop® has the solution for guys like me and the men and women that stand above 6’0”

One of the reasons why I enjoy this job so much as a veteran, is I know every soldier going into combat now has the opportunity to wear the best available Level 4 body armor. 

Putting on a Duritium® Level/Type 4 body armor plate will leave you stunned.

The first time I held the Duritium® IV+HA body armor plate, I couldn’t believe something so light and thin could stop a  M855 A1, 7.62x63mm M2 AP bullet. 

What Does a Low-Profile Body Armor Plate Mean?

How many times do you read about body armor and you see low-profile or low-drag armor?

I realize we could do a better job of explaining at least what we mean when we talk about low-profile armor. 


Shotsto Level IV+HA Plate


Shotstop® considers body armor to be low-profile when it's thin enough to stay as close to your chest as possible.

Duritium® Level 3 & 4 body armor plates will never get in the way of your arms as you move them from side to side.

Our Duritium® Technology is designed to never be more than 1” thick, and so far all of our armor is under 1” thick. 

We believe that your armor is low-profile if it doesn’t inhibit any movement from your arms, but also your ability to crunch and bend as needed in combat. 

How Do I Know if I’m Wearing the Correct Body Armor Size?

It’s important to understand where your body armor should fall on your chest and where it should sit around the waist.

Once you put on your ballistic plate carrier, ensure that your plate is facing the right direction. 

Since the issue of wearing body armor is as serious as life or death, we want to use the official government standard set forth by the NIJ Body Armor Guide

1. As you straighten your plate carrier and move around to let the vest work on to your body, make sure you can fit enough space for 2 fingers from the top of your belt to the bottom of your plate carrier. 

Failure to give enough space will cause the armor to jam into your crotch area as you sit or pinch the low part of your stomach.

2. Once you know your vest is set up for the correct spacing on your waist, turn your attention to the fit around your neck. 

You want to adjust the armor to cover as high up as possible or until it becomes uncomfortable. 

Body armor that’s too high on the neck will result in rashes, abrasions, and even minor bleeding with enough irritation.


Shotstop Level IV Body Armor


Pro-Tip: When you test the fit around your neck, sit down in your patrol car or humvee and see if the plate carrier rides up into your throat. If it doesn’t you know you have a good fit around your neck.

3. You always want your side panels to overlap by about 2” on each side of the plate carrier to optimize your coverage.

4. The arm holes of your body armor should cover as high as possible without restricting movement to obtain a tactical position.

5. The shoulder straps should fit wide on your shoulders to distribute the overall weight on your back and shoulders. 


Shotstop Level 4 body armor


Us short guys will know if the armor is too big because it will slide down our shoulders if it’s not tightened all the way down.

Big and tall guys will notice the shoulder straps will rest high on their shoulders and traps if the carrier is too small. 

6. The body armor plate should rest evenly on your chest, covering your heart and major internal organs.

7. You want to make sure there is a little room to breathe in your armor. I’ve made the mistake of tightening my plate carrier straps as tight as possible to provide more stability. 

The problem is when you have to run after someone your adrenaline is going 100 mph and there is no room for your chest to expand. 

8. The best way to ensure you have the proper fit is to train with your gear and make adjustments based on your comfort and protection level.

What is the Best Body Armor for Short Guys?

A lot of what you decide to wear is based on your threat assessment and maintaining your physical ability to perform the job. 

In short (pun intended), if us guys that are 5’8” and shorter wear body armor not intended for our body size, it can lead to major discomfort and significantly decrease your combat effectiveness. 


Shotstop logo


For me, an 8x10” or 8.75x11.75” Duritium® IV plate gives my frame the best coverage from top to bottom and still provides enough mobility for my arms to move freely. 

As far as the style goes, I always prefer the Shooter’s cut over the SAPI cut because I prefer the plate to cut the corners all the way down on the side. 

Like I said, I have shorter arms and the SHooter’s cut allows me to draw my pistol and pull up my rifle without any inhibition from my plate carrier or ballistic plate.

What is the Best Body Armor for Big Guys?

If you follow the guide above for establishing the best fit, you’re going to need a bigger plate for men and women over 6’0”. 

The best plate is for sure the 11x14” or the 10x12” Duritium® IV+HA plate. You have to accept the fact that more surface area to protect means more material used. 

Our Duritium® IV+HA plate is only 4.5 lbs per plate in the 10x12” plate and only 5.8 lbs for the 11x14” plate with the Shooter’s cut. 

The good news is that there is no other 11x14” plate on the planet that is only 5.8 lbs and guaranteed to stop multiple hits from a 7.62x63mm M2 AP

SAPI Cut Vs. Shooter’s Cut, Which is Better?

It all depends on the type of coverage you want, versus the level of protection you want.

For example, if you know you’re going to be sitting in a vehicle more often than you will on foot, a SAPI cut will be a better option for you. 

SAPI Cut Pros

  • Provides better protection on the upper chest than Shooter’s cut
  • Corners are cut more than a full-size plate to allow for better mobility
  • Slightly more coverage area with a less aggressive cut angle than Shooter.
  • Same Price as Shooter’s cut

SAPI Cut Cons

  • Slightly Heavier than Shooter’s Cut (due to a bit more material in the plate)
  • Restricts your movement more than a Shooter’s Cut

Shooter’s Cut Pros

  • Offers the perfect balance between mobility and protection
  • Always lighter than SAPI Cut plates
  • Offers a lower-profile than a SAPI Cut plate because of the exaggerated cut to the corners
  • Better cross-body arm mobility

Shooter’s Cut Cons

  • The added mobility will result in less protection on the upper chest and shoulders

  • Why Choose ShotStop®?

    First, there is no other armor that can accommodate more body styles, sizes, and shapes than our  Duritium® Technology. 

    We have the lightest Level 4 body armor and the lowest-profile for any Level 4 armor anywhere in the world. 

    Our competitors often point out that our Duritium® body armor is more expensive than some of the centuries old steel armor still available today. 

    We wish they’d point out the fact that our Level 4 body armor is covered under a full warranty for 10 years

    Most Level 3 body armor companies have a 10 year warranty (ours is 15 years) and they have a 5 year warranty for Level 4 body armor (ours is 10 years). 

    In short, we have the best warranty in the industry, which will result in you paying at least 2-3x less money over the next 10 years!

    If you feel like you’re wearing the wrong size body armor because you only had limited choices, let us help you become more confident and prepared when you come under fire.

    The last thing you should have to worry about is if your armor is going to work or hurt you while you’re maneuvering in combat.

    If you’re interested in learning more about finding the best armor for big and short guys, contact our sales team at

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