Best Lightweight Level 3 Body armor

Best Lightweight Level 3 Body armor

It’s been clear to us that most 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 the federal level) for wearing body armor in public. 

ShotStop Duritium body armor for LEO

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 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 protection for themselves and their families. 

ShotStop Body Armor for Civilians and Military

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

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

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.

       2. 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, body armor that doesn't have the NIJ seal of approval is not NIJ-Listed. 

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 bounce. 

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.

Duritium® Level III + PA Vs. AR500 P2 Series Level III Armor

Our competitors, such as Armor Republic (AR) have some great options for armor but remain a step behind us in lightweight body armor.

The Duritium® Level 3 plates comes in 5 different sizes with 2 separate plate cuts to accommodate any body type, size, and mission.

The AR500 P2 series may be lightweight relative to their steel armor, but with 1 size option and still 3.5 lbs. make for a very limited armor plate.

Relative to the full-ceramic armor I wore during my time in OIF (2008-2009), 1” thick is great, but it’s not great for modern polyethylene armor. In fact, AR states a con for polyethylene armor is it’s too thick.

ShotStop takes pride in creating the lowest profile of any lightweight body armor with a 0.7” thickness to a Level III+ plate.

As much research as I could conduct, I couldn’t find any product number and noticed that the armor label on the back of the plate doesn’t have the NIJ seal of approval.

ShotStop Level 3 Body Armor

This means AR can’t claim they have multi-hit lightweight NIJ-Listed Level III armor without providing an independent test from an NIJ-Listed Laboratory.

Does AR500 P2 Have Any Advantage on the Duritium® Level III + PA Plate?

Yes, if you look at the MSRP, AR armor is $300 cheaper than the Duritium® plate. However, after taxes and the trauma pads, you’ll around spend $500 per plate.

Not only is our Level III+PA plate a stand-alone plate, it also features a 10 year longer warranty than Armor Republic.

This means that you can buy a set of Duritium® Level III + PA plates once and give you confidence and protection 3x longer than the AR500 polyethylene plate.

So, yes, they have an advantage on the front-end, but our 3x longer warranty gives us the advantage over your lifetime. 

 

Duritium® Level III + PA

AR500 P2 Series

Weight (10” x 12”)

2.7 lbs. (Shooters Cut)

3.5 lbs. (Only in 9.5” x 12.5”)

Thickness

0.7”

1”

Multi-Hit

6+ hits

Maybe?

Sizing Options

·       8x10”

·       8.75x11.75”

·       9.5x12.5”

·       10x12”

·       11x14”

·       (9.5” x 12.5”)

Multi-Curve

Yes

Yes

Stand-Alone

Yes

Yes (Highly recommend trauma pads)

Plate Cut Options

·       SAPI

·       Shooters Cut

·       SAPI

·       Shooters Cut

Warranty

15 Years

5 Years

NIJ-Listed

Yes

Maybe?

MSRP

$702.99

$399.99

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 with 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. 

How is Duritium® Better Than Steel-Core Armor?

We know Spartan Armor is a good, ethical brand, but we also share the hardships in getting body armor through the NIJ testing procedures.

It takes a lot of money, time, and energy, but it’s worth it to provide objectivity in a business as serious as ours.

This is obviously comparing apples to oranges here, but the Spartan Armor Omega AR500 armor plate is being sold as a lightweight, multi-hit plate with no evidence to back up their claims.

We’d never want to be accused of misleading the public, so for this very reason, we include independent lab test results on every product page.

As you can see from the quantitative data below, our Level III+PA plate is 6.99 lbs. lighter (per plate) than the Spartan Armor Omega Shooters Cut plate.

Our plate might be just under half an inch thicker (0.45”) than the Omega steel core plate, but thickness only tells part of the story.

Steel body armor will never be better at energy absorption than Polyethylene plates and sure as hell not even close to Duritium® plates.

This is why Spartan Armor and Armored Republic sell trauma pads with their steel-core armor.

Duritium® absorbs impact by giving a little to reduce the force of energy hitting your bone structure (ribs, clavicle, sternum).

Duritium® has a unique ability to take hits without destroying the soft tissue behind it.

We often refer to this as keeping in the fight, because our Duritium® technology will not only absorb and deflect some of the energy from the bullet, but it will also give you the best chance at staying in the fight after being shot.

Staying in the fight is not only a police matter but also vital to your survival of us civilians that choose to wear armor.

Even though Spartan Armor has 9 ballistic plates that are currently NIJ-Listed, the Omega isn’t on the active list.

It’s impossible to objectively say the Omega is multi-hit capable and stand-alone under NIJ standards.

If they offered an independent test from an NIJ-Listed Laboratory, it would be different. 

 

Duritium® Level III + PA

Spartan Armor Omega AR500 Shooters Cut

Weight (10” x 12”)

2.7 lbs. (Shooters Cut)

9.69 lbs. (full coat)

Thickness

0.7”

0.25”

Multi-Hit

6+ hits

Unknown

Sizing Options

·       8x10”

·       8.75x11.75”

·       9.5x12.5”

·       10x12”

·       11x14”

·       8x10”

·       10x12”

·       11x14”

Multi-Curve

Yes

Yes (Costs $55.12 Extra)

Stand-Alone

Yes

Maybe?

Plate Cut Options

·       SAPI

·       Shooters Cut

·       SAPI

·       Shooters Cut

Warranty

15 Years

5 Years

NIJ-Listed

Yes

Not According to the NIJ Compliance Products List

 

Which Body Armor is Safer, the Duritium® Level III+PA or the Spartan Omega Level III?

Steel body armor is frankly outdated and is bad for the wearer’s physical health. According to United States Marine Captain, Courtney Thompson as little as 15 lbs. of extra weight can have an adverse effect on our joints.

If you’re wearing the Level III Omega plate from Spartan Armor, you wear at least 19.4 lbs. of extra weight (with no gear, ammo, guns, side plates, etc.).

However, if you were to wear a ShotStop Duritium® Level III+PA plate, your added weight is only 5.4 lbs. and 7.2 lbs. if you include the NIJ-Listed Level 3 side plates.

ShotStop Motto

ShotStop also provides 2 extra sizes over the Omega Level III plate (8.75x11.75” 9.5x12.5”).

The 2 extra sizes help people that might have a tall torso, but shorter arms and legs find the right fit.

We’re all built differently, with many shapes, sizes, and body configurations. ShotStop’s advantage in sizing options significantly improves the versatility of the plate over its competitors. 

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. 

        Level 3+ Body Armor 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 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 almost 7 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 in 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 on my 2nd tour; I was being engaged by AK-47 fire from 500 to 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.

        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, 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.

        ShotStop Ballistic Plate

        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 for 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. 

        Level 4 Body Armor

        We’re offering your body armor that will not only last, but excel in any environment you find yourself in for over 75% of your career. I’d love to hear from any other company that can challenge us in 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 German VPAM and NATO STANAG standards.

        ShotStop ballistic Test Results

        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”, regarding 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 thought nothing 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

        ShotStop Level 3 Body Armor

        It’s important to know if your armor provides edge protection because you should know whether 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 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.

        ShotStop Level 4 Body Armor

        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.

        Our Duritium® body armor plates are the lightest, thinnest, and most comfortable plates you'll ever wear.

        We also understand that our armor is an expensive initial cost compared to our competitors.

        Even though our 10 (Level 4) and 15-year (Level 3+) warranties make our armor cheaper over time, spending more than $500 on a set of plates is a lot at one time.

        ISO 9001 Certified

        With the ever-increasing interest in personal ballistic protection, it would mean a lot to us to be there for our fellow Americans.

        Showing our customers that they can trust our name means everything to us as a team. We show proof of our receipts on each product page as NIJ Compliance letters and independent ballistic lab tests results. 

        ShotStop® Flash Sale!

        10% off all ballistic rifle and handgun backpack inserts and handgun-rated clipboards.

        This is a rare opportunity for every customer to save $50 on a pair of Level IIIA Clipboards that weigh only 1.3 lbs per item. 

        Use code SSBINSERTS4242

        Good through May 31, 2022

        While supplies last. Limit 6 per customer. Please be aware that rifle-rated inserts may need a longer lead time for delivery.


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