When someone sees a steep price tag on a product, the normal thought is it must be good if it’s so expensive. However, in our experience, this isn’t always true. This blog is dedicated to understanding why some body armor is more expensive than others and if high-priced armor is worth it. We hope that by reading this blog, you’ll see why ShotStop® is the best ballistic protection for the money.
What Makes Body Armor Expensive?
This is one of the most difficult questions to answer because there are many different factors that make up the final cost of a product. Nevertheless, we’re going to do our best to give you an idea of what makes body armor expensive.
For the sake of not turning this blog into a full novel, we’ll stay focused on a couple of major price points. The manufacturing process, from the materials used to how the armor is made and marketed, as well as the value it brings to the operator, makes up a majority of the overall cost.
In order to gain a better understanding of what makes some armor more expensive than others, we’re going to have to discuss materials. There are dozens of materials companies can use to make armor, but we’d like to focus on the majority for the sake of time.
STEEL BODY ARMOR
Steel body armor has been around for thousands of years, with the first recorded steel weapon around 1650 B.C.E. with the Hittites in Anatolia (Turkey today). Once the first steel weapon was created, our ancestors saw a need to make steel armor.
With that being said, steel is relatively cheap for producing a body armor plate. Once Henry Bessemer refined the process in the 1850s, steel became a very affordable way to produce in mass quantities.
You see more steel body armor companies than you see made from Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) because steel is cheaper to produce than most other materials.
Before you start thinking about your grandma’s fancy ceramic china that nobody ever uses, ceramic body armor is not the same. Ceramic body armor is normally made from one of the world’s strongest materials, Boron Carbide.
The U.S. military uses this material in many of the vehicles I was able to drive or ride in such as the Abrams A1 Tank and the HUMVEE. In short, it’s a material that the government trusts with our lives.
The problem with using a full ceramic plate is that they are very heavy compared to UHMWPE plates and they are far more expensive than steel plates to produce, and it’s not near as effective, especially if ballistics impact points are nearby one another. Stand-alone Ceramic plates are on average 5-8 lbs. per plate, whereas UHMWPE plates are about 2-4 lbs. per plate. (one always retires/replaces a plate after it’s been hit with a bullet regardless of what it’s made of.)
The body armor world only knows about Spectra-fiber and Dyneema. Please make links to these. You can leave Twaron in too.. But best to lead with the two well-known ones in the industry.
Para-Aramids were the next phase up from steel armor in production cost and practicality. When DuPont™ created aramids from synthetic fibers in the 1960s, the game was changed for the better. Para-Aramids are incredibly strong, heat-resistant, lightweight, and flexible, which are all great characteristics of body armor.
Twaron® is the most common Para-Aramid and is widely used in different applications from body armor to construction materials. General speaking, Twaron® is an affordable option that offers more comfort and flexibility than most other materials (not UHMWPE)
Twaron® is one of the most versatile and widely used para-aramids in the world. Many companies that use Twaron® were created decades ago when Twaron® was the best material to use for a flexible body armor vest for police officers.
Twaron® is more expensive to produce than steel but generally less expensive than UHMWPE body armor. Twaron® should be given credit for bringing in the newest generations of armor that are conforming to the body and offer superior protection without sacrificing comfort.
ULTRA-HIGH-MOLECULAR-WEIGHT POLYETHYLENE (UHMWPE)
Fortunately, we’ve discussed, in great detail, Polyethylene and Body Armor in our different types of body armor blog. By reading those two blogs, you’ll have all the knowledge you need.
We haven’t, however, discussed the cost of producing body armor made from (UHMWPE). Based on our previously listed blogs, we already know that UHMWPE is the lightest material on the market today. There is no other body armor being produced today that gives a police officer more protection and comfort than armor made from UHMWPE.
As you can imagine, processing a sheet of UHMWPE from start to finished ballistic plate is an expensive and time-consuming process. Normally, armor made with UHMWPE is going to be the most expensive material to make for body armor.
ShotStop® uses a combination of UHMWPE and polymer composites to create our patented material, known as Duritium®. We’ve proven with the backing of the NIJ listing, that our Duritium® technology is the next step in the evolution of ballistic protection.
Duritium® enhances the hardness and ability to more effectively disperse the kinetic energy of the armor and provides more durability over the years. We chose to use our proprietary UHMWPE because it’s light, flexible, and has an incredibly high tensile strength. Once we combined our full Duritium® system to the UHMWPE and vulcanized the plate, our armor took the next step.
There are many ways to make body armor and many different ways to save money. Duritium® is not easy, nor cheap to make but we all agree that our customers deserve the best. We don’t believe in doing anything less than 100% and once you put on your first Duritium® armor, you’ll know what we mean.
We use a 3-axis CNC machine to cut the armor plate to near-exact specifications. Many companies stop here and put on a nice finish to make it shiny and look the part. ShotStop® goes a step above by hardening the plate with a lightweight, abrasion-resistant polymer composite. Once the plate is reinforced, we vulcanize our plates to make them near indestructible. This added step is all about providing the best ballistic protection we can for our customers.
WHAT ABOUT THE NIJ?
When you look at a lot of the body armor companies’ websites, you will notice that body armor that is NIJ-listed is more expensive than body armor that is not NIJ-listed. This is to offset the costs of the stringent testing the government requires from manufacturers. ShotStop® understands that cost and is happy to take that burden.
DOES THE NIJ DICTATE WHICH MATERIALS ARE USED?
The NIJ doesn't decide which materials need to be used to make body armor. This is to allow manufacturers (ShotStop®) the freedom to experiment with and use any material on earth. This leeway allowed us to create our new Durtitium® technology.
This is important to understand because some companies will use new terms or makeup words to describe the material. This allows them to upcharge for the “newest” technology on the market. We don’t make claims until they’re fully backed by accredited third-party ballistic labs and listed by the NIJ. You can read our evidence on any of our product pages.
Why Choose ShotStop®?
If someone were to ask us if we thought expensive armor is worth the cost, we would say no, of course. As our readers and customers know, we try to be as transparent as possible with any claims of our product prowess.
ShotStop® has a 15-year warranty on every Level III plate and a 10-year warranty on our Level IV plates. You can search all day (like we did) and you won't find a company with a better warranty. For those of you wondering why this matters, it’s about the overall cost.
If you buy one set of ShotStop® Level III+ PS plates for $459.00 per plate (as example) (large size), that’s all you have to spend for 15 years! For example, you can the lightest, thinnest, and most comfortable hard armor plate set for well less than $1,000. It’s hard to say what the average price is for an armor that is NIJ-Listed and under 6 lbs for a set because there is no other company that gives you what we can.
Although there are no companies like ShotStop®, we can compare some products that are NIJ-Listed and close to our specs. For example, you're going to spend about $400-$1,000 per plate for armor that is relative to us in weight, certifications, and overall profile.
All of those companies only offer a 5-7 year warranty on their armor plates. This means that if you try to save a little money up front, you’re going to end up spending triple the amount of money over 15 years.
I know it sounds too good to be true, but we take ballistic protection very seriously and don’t want our customers paying 3x the amount they would over time because of a warranty. People ask us why 15 years? The answer is simple; ShotStop® believes in our product line, and we’re confident enough to offer a warranty that’s 3x longer than the standard warranty.
Why Should I Buy ShotStop® Body Armor Now?
If you’re looking for the lightest, most durable, and comfortable hard plate armor, there is no other place than ShotStop®. And we’re so confident in our product that we’re continuing our 15% discount until the end of March. Simply use the code Protect2021 at checkout and you’ll be the proud owner of quality ballistic protection without breaking the bank.
If you have any questions about our products, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.