Best Lightweight Level 3 Body armor

Best Lightweight Level 3 Body armor

Everyday before I think about a topic to research and write about, I look at which topics our customers and readers are searching for the most.

It’s been clear to us that the majority of our customers are looking for lightweight level 3 body armor, that is NIJ compliant, and can be worn in public places.

Even though we are actively trying to bring in new customers from law enforcement organizations and the military, our Shotstop® body armor is for everyone

Before we get started on which armor is the best for specific situations and missions, I want to ensure everyone knows the laws and rules (at least on federal level) for wearing body armor in public. 

To learn about body armor laws, read our blog, Is it legal to wear body armor in public?

Is Level 3 Body Armor Illegal?

One of the constant questions we get that I may have failed to explain better in the blog above is whether or not the Level of armor makes a difference in legality. 

To be clear, there are many states that have different laws about body armor, so it’s important to research your own state before you buy.

However, there is no law by the federal government preventing a law-abiding American citizen from purchasing or wearing Level 3 body armor

Every American is entitled to finding the best available protection for themselves and their families. 

How Can I Know For Sure Which Body Armor is NIJ Compliant?

This is one of the most popular questions we get on a daily basis because there is always so much misinformation on the internet. 

Read our NIJ Guide to Body Armor for more information about how the NIJ operates.

There are 2 ways to figure out if your body armor is NIJ-listed and on the active compliant list with the Criminal Justice Testing and Evaluation Consortium (CJETC). 

  1. The first way to check before you ever buy body armor is to go to the CJETC Body Armor Compliant Page

For more information on the Body armor Compliant Products list, read our blog, What is the Compliant Products List (CPL)? Guide to Certification.

  1. The second way to tell if a body armor is NIJ-Listed is to look at the back of the body armor plate. 

Every plate that is NIJ-Listed will have the official seal of the NIJ. The NIJ-Listed Model mark will be displayed on the back of the armor plate. 

If you don’t see this mark on the back of the plate, the NIJ has not recognized the plate as compliant. 

In short, the body armor is not assured by the federal government if the NIJ-Listed Mark is missing.

What are the Lightest Level 3 Plates?

Now that we got the legal and compliance out of the way, we can talk about why we’re here today. 

No matter what, I’ve never heard or seen anyone request the heaviest body armor because no one wants to be bogged down when they need to move quickly. 

There are many companies that make AR500 steel or full ceramic body armor that claim they produce the lightest Level 4 body armor on the market. 

Armored Republic AR500 

Anytime we mention another company, people sometimes misconstrue our words as hate or jealousy. 

We love the fact that Armored Republic has well over a dozen Level III plates that are NIJ-Listed. We applaud their dedication to doing things the right way and ensuring their customers are protected. 

However, this blog isn’t about our respect for other companies in our industry, it’s about the lightest Level 3 body armor. 

With that in mind, as I look at their Level III+ body armor plate, I notice that it’s at least 8 lbs per plate and 9.5 lbs for their added finish for a 10x12” plate.

Spartan Armor Industries

Spartan Armor Industries is another good company in the body armor industry that we have a lot of respect for. Many of its products are NIJ-Listed and with the amount of products they sell, it’s more impressive they have so many NIJ-Listed products.

When we compare Spartan Level III body armor with our best Level III+ body armor, it’s not even close when it comes to the weight of the plate.

For example, Spartan Armor AR500 in their NIJ-Listed Level III is at least 8.6 lbs per plate and 9.7 lbs if you add the extra finish. 

Shotstop® Ballistics

With the advancements in polyethylene and manufacturing, we’ve been able to create body armor that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. 

Not only are all Shotstop® Level 3 body armor plates NIJ-Listed, but they're only 30% of the weight of some other  body armor companies, including the 2 listed above. 

Duritium® Level III+PA Body Armor Plate

When it comes to wearing the lightest stand-alone Level 3 body armor, there is nothing even close to the Duritium® Level III+PA plate

Specs

Threat Level Protection

Level III

Weight per Plate

2.7 lbs (10x12”)

Sizes Available

    • 8x10”
    • 8.75x11.75”
  • 9.5” x 12.5”
  • 10" x 12" 
  • 11" x 14" 

Special Threat Assessment

  • 5.56x45mm 55 grain ball (M193)
  •  7.62x39mm PS ball (MSC)
  • 7.62x51mm 149 grain M80 FMJ

Thickness

0.7”

Material

Duritium®

Warranty

15 Years

Finish

Polyurea

Edge-To-Edge Protection

Yes

Compliance-Tested


The Level III+PA plate is on an entirely new level that simply can’t be reached with AR500 steel, regardless of the production method. 

Imagine wearing both a front and back plate that is 0.7” thick and 5.4 lbs in total weight. Now, consider wearing the lightest Level III plates from Spartan Armor or Armored Republic. 

Even in their lightest configuration, the closest they can come is 10.6 lbs heavier than our  Duritium® Level III+PA plate. 

I'm not the greatest at math, but that means our Duritium® Level III+PA plate is at least 67-75% lighter than our top competitors.

Duritium® Level III+PS plate 

The Duritium® Level III+PS plate is our most affordable stand-alone NIJ-Listed Level 3 body armor plate. It provides the same level of protection as the PA plate, but it’s not as light and it’s 2/10” thicker. 

Regardless, the Duritium® Level III+PS plate is still significantly lighter than any of our competitors. Each plate only weighs 3.2 lbs for the 10x12” SAPI or Shooter’s Cut design. 

Specs


Threat Level Protection

Level III

Weight per Plate

3.2 lbs (10x12”)

Sizes Available

  • 8x10”
  • 10" x 12" 
  • 11" x 14" 

Special Threat Assessment

  • 5.56x45mm 55 grain ball (M193)
  • 7.62x39mm PS ball (MSC)
  • 7.62x51mm 149 grain M80 FMJ

Thickness

0.95”

Material

Duritium®

Warranty

15 Years

Finish

Polyurea

Edge-To-Edge Protection

Yes

Compliance-Tested

  • U.S. NIJ Level III 0101.06
  • NATO STANAG 2920 Level B4
  • German VPAM Level 6 
  • Tested compliant by accredited independent laboratories
Besides Weight, What Are Important Factors for the Best Level 3 Body Armor?

One of the big reasons we’ve been a successful company is we’re very critical of ourselves and are always trying to find ways to be better.

We’re aware that sometimes even if a company has such an advantage in one characteristic, it doesn’t mean it’s better than another overall.

For example, there are some steel armor plates that are 0.25” thick, but weigh 10 lbs per plate and are not NIJ-Listed.

Plate Thickness

When you compare a plate to another, you’re looking for the overall weight because it makes such a difference on your health and safety. 

The thickness of the plate affects your ability to maneuver and remain comfortable if it’s too thick.

Whether you’re sitting, crouching, or laying prone, you want your armor to not stick out as much from your chest.

I remember in my 2nd tour, I was being engaged by AK-47 fire from 500-600 yards.

As I went to lay prone, my armor, my magazines, and other gear attached caused me to be raised up from the ground more than a foot. 

I wasn’t too worried about my safety given the range and weapon system, but I would have been in trouble if they were closer.

The point of my story is to share an example of why it matters so much when we boast about the 07” thickness of our Duritium® Level III+PA plate. 

Many of you probably have heard the term, low-profile, which is exactly what I’m talking about now.

Shotstop® prides itself on providing not just the lightest plate on the planet, but one of the lowest profile plates as well.

Read Best Body Armor | Understanding Pain & How to Fit it for more info on why weight matters

Body Armor Material

We’ve discussed in great detail the difference between the most common plate materials used by companies around the world.

If you’d like to learn more, you should give a quick read of our What Are the Different Types of Body Armor? | Steel, Ceramic, and Polyethylene vs. Duritium® Body Armor.

The important thing to consider with materials used is how effective and durable that material is.

For example, we know full ceramic armor can’t hold up against multiple shots, especially with rifle caliber rounds.

We also know that steel armor isn’t good at absorbing shock and will undoubtedly cause serious injury to your ribs, chest, and internal organs. 

However, Polyethylene is like the 3 Little Bears when it comes to the perfect balance of weight, thickness, and shock absorption. 

When you consider the effectiveness of Polyethylene, then you add other composite materials to reinforce that material to make it stronger, more durable, lighter, and more comfortable, you get what we call Duritium® technology.

Body Armor Warranty

I’ll keep this as simple as possible; Shotstop® offers a 15 year warranty on all of our Level III+ plates. This warranty is 2-3 times longer than any of our competitors, giving you more confidence in the longevity of our armor.

If you’re a soldier or police officer, your career is over at 20 years for the average public servant. 

We’re offering you body armor that will not only last, but excel in any environment you find yourself in for more than 75% of your career. I’d love to hear from any other company that can challenge us on that fact.

Validity 

Maybe in some industries, proving your claims isn’t as important (i.e. best video game, card  game, pants, etc…), but that’s not the case with body armor.

We take great pride in our transparency in providing the world with our validation from the NIJ and other international ballistic testing organizations, such as the erman VPAM, and NATO STANAG standards.

You will not only see the NIJ mark on all of our Level 3 body armor plates, but you’ll also receive the NIJ compliance letter PROVING OUR CLAIMS.

Body Armor Edge Protection

Many body armor customers have heard of the term “edge-to-edge protection”, in regards to the capability of the body armor. 

I first learned about edge protection of body armor when I deployed for the first time. One of my sergeants would say, “just hope you don’t get shot at the edge of the armor, and you’ll be fine”. 

As a 20 year old E-2, I didn’t think anything of it and thought that it made sense for armor to not be as efficient on the edges.

However, the advancements in body armor technology, specifically, our Duritium® Level III+ plates have allowed us to offer true NIJ-Listed edge-to-edge protection

It’s important to know if your armor provides edge protection because you should know whether or not you can take a bullet in the softer edge or not. I’ve known many guys that have taken gut shots in-between the space of their belt and the bottom edge of the armor. 

Shotstop® assures that if you buy our Duritium® Level III+ plates, your armor will hold up, even if you take an edge shot on the armor. 

Even if you decide that you want to go with another company, ask them “do you offer edge-to-edge protection that is NIJ-Listed?”

The answer you get should give you enough to know that it’s more uncommon to offer the added protection that our Duritium® technology WILL give you.

Conclusion

There are dozens of companies that sell great body armor to the masses, but no other company provides body armor as lightweight as Shotstop®. 

We’ll never ask our customers to take our word for it, because we know that the men and women we strive to protect deserve better. If you’re looking for the best lightweight Level 3 Body armor, look no further than Shotstop® Duritium® Level III+ plates.


Older Post Newer Post


0 comments


Leave a comment