ShotStop | Buyer's Guide To Ballistic Armor?

ShotStop | Buyer's Guide To Ballistic Armor?

What is Ballistic Armor?

Body armor comes in two main forms, hard and soft. Under the 2 types, there are 4 cuts. The 4 types are Full Cut, Shooter’s Cut, Swimmer’s Cut, and Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) Cut. Hard armor and soft armor can be made in any of the 4 cuts. Typically ballistic armor is made from materials such as kevlar, ceramic, steel, titanium, and polyethylene. However, ShotStop produces a newer patented compound called Duritium®.

Each material can be used to protect against anything from a .22 caliber round (Type/Level II) to a .30 caliber round Armor Piercing (AP) (type IV). The type of armor you wear will depend on why you’re wearing the armor in the first place. For example, many police officers traditionally wear a Type/Level II or Type/Level IIIA vest since they tend to deal with smaller caliber handgun bullets. Type/Level IIIA ballistic armor will be more flexible and lighter for the police officer who needs to be light and quick.  With the exponential growth of the number of rifles in civilian possession, there is a trend to up-armor to rifle protection. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan wear Type/Level III and Type/Level IV body armor to defeat higher caliber rifle ammo.


What is Duritium®?

Duritium® is a portfolio of technologies including a proprietary formula of  Polyethylene fibers or ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). These polyethylene fibers are woven and stacked by a computer navigated layering process at particular angles which elevate the ability of the armor system to more efficiently diffuse kinetic energy during ballistics impact. The stacked polyethylene is then vulcanized under 5000 lbs. per sq. inch presses while going through various high heat and cold cycles to form the base of the Duritium armor.  Depending on the threat level requirement, the armor system can then be combined with ShotStop’s proprietary alloy composite which offers even further weight and thickness savings compared to other competitive armor options, especially at the higher threat levels.

All of this is controlled via our 3-axis CNC machine for absolute precision. Once our product is finished it’s covered in Polyurea to enhance the life of the armor. After it’s coated for longevity, the armor is sent off to be independently tested by accredited third-party ballistic labs for formal compliance and certification issuance by the NIJ, NATO, STANAG, and VPAM standards. Duritium® was created because our engineers found that the maximized kinetic energy disbursement enables our armor to be lighter and thinner than any other armor at the same any given threat level.  ShotStop’s mission is to help save the lives of those who serve; lighter, thinner, faster armor systems play a major part in that. We encourage all potential customers to never take our word for these extraordinary claims. Instead, read our ballistic reports from the independent studies and decide for yourself. 



Everything we do at ShotStop is backed 100% by science because we don’t ever want our customers to ever doubt our products. The short answer is that Polyurea covered plates will last at least 50 years. We have concluded that 50 years is a low estimate due to our extensive research. We’ve read every regulation pertaining to coating and Polyurea based on the following organizations: 

  1. American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)

  2. National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) 

  3. The Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC)

  4. International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI)

  5. Polyurea Development Association (PDA) 


The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

In order to fully understand why ShotStop® is better than everyone else, you’ll need to understand the levels of ballistic protection. The NIJ provides the standards for ballistic armor based on what caliber bullet it can stop without penetrating through the armor. The NIJ sets for 6 separate standards (levels), which are: Type IIA, Type II, Type IIIA, Type III, Type IV, Special Type. 


Type/Level IIA is an armor that can stop a 9mm bullet that weighs no more than 124 grain (gr), and a velocity of 1,225 feet per second (ft/s). The maximum protection from a Type/Level IIA is up to a .40 S&W Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) no larger than 180 gr and shot at a velocity of 1,155 ft/s. Our Duritium® Armor plates can take up to 6 of these bullets with no issues. 



Type/Level II Ballistic Armor is a touch stronger than Type/Level IIA with the capability of stopping a 124 gr 9mm bullet traveling at 1,305 ft/s. It’s also rated up to a .357 Magnum Jacketed Soft Point (JSP) weighing a 158 gr, and traveling at 1,430 ft/s. We have no doubt that even our least expensive and lightest Duritium® Armor will take up to 6 shots from a .357 Magnum. We don’t even produce Type/Level II because Duritium® is lighter and more flexible than steel and ceramic and can withstand higher kinetic energy. 



Type/Level IIIA Ballistic Armor can defeat a .357 Sig FMJ Flat Nose (FN) that weighs up to 125 gr, and velocity of 1,470 ft/s. Type/Level IIIA can defeat up to a .44 Magnum Semi Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP). As long as the .44 Magnum is smaller than 240 gr, and with a velocity of 1,430 ft/s, this level of armor will save your life. Once again, all of our ballistic armor drastically exceeds these standards.



Type/Level III Ballistic Armor is able to defeat rifle-caliber rounds, such as the 7.62 FMJ with a steel jacket. As long as the mass is no larger than 147 gr, and velocity higher than 2,780 ft/s. For all our soldiers, Type/Level III will not stop a Dragunov hit to the chest, but it will stop an AK-47. With the original AK-47 firing a 122 gr bullet at 2,350 ft/s, ShotStop® Type/Level III will easily defeat up to 6 shots. 

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Type/Level IV Ballistic Armor is specially designed to withstand and defeat an armor-piercing .30 caliber bullet (M2 AP). Duritium® will defeat a bullet traveling at 2,880 ft/s and as heavy as 166 grain. For those soldiers who are under fire from a Dragunov, our Duritium® Type IV will defeat multiple shots to the chest. This armor is so special that it will stop any rifle caliber less than a .50 caliber BMG. A .50 cal is just too powerful for the human body to take without causing fatal internal bleeding. However, if there was a chance to survive a hit by any bullet, it would be the “Big Dog” Duritium® Type IV+HS ballistic Armor



Special Type Ballistic Armor is any armor that is custom made to defeat bullets that are not classified in the standards above. Our Duritium® GT armor is able to defeat an M855 Green Tip with multiple shots. Luckily, our law enforcement officers and Border Patrol Agents shouldn’t have to deal with these rounds as much anymore. The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Administration (ATF) banned the use of green tip ammo because of the armor-piercing capabilities. The NIJ doesn’t include the M855 Green Tip in their current standards because it wasn’t tested until recently. The new standards set forth by the NIJ (0101.07) will be released soon, but our GT armor is confirmed to defeat the M855 Green Tip ammo.



Type/Level III ICW ballistic armor is the combination of Type/Level III hard armor with Type/Level IIIA soft armor. For an armor to pass the NIJ standard for ICW, both the soft and hard armor must pass NIJ regulations based on their reported type. Type/Level III ICW armor will defeat threats up to the M80 (7.62mm x 51mm).

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What is A Full Cut Plate?

Full Cut plates are in the shape of a square or rectangle and used as a backplate or side plate insert. Full Cut is great for a backplate because everyone’s back is pretty similar with only difference in length, width, and muscle definition. You won’t need other cuts for your back because it doesn’t really impact your mobility in any way. 


A Full Cut plate is the heaviest type of plate but offers the most protection of any other cut. These plates can be made for any type of armor (Type/Level II-A-Type/Level IV) and cover your back and side better than anything on the market. Any soldier in a warzone or SWAT officer should wear a Full cut plate. 

What Is A Shooter’s Cut Plate?

A Shooter’s Cut plate is the most common type of armor because it gives great protection and mobility. The Shooter’s Cut plate is similar to a Full-Cut plate in shape (rectangle, square), but the top corners are cut off to allow better arm movement. Shooter’s Cut armor is normally worn as a front plate insert. 

A Shooter’s Cut plate is also referred to as an Operator’s plate because of its application in warfare. Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) refers to a Shooter’s Cut as a SAPI plate based on the corners being cut. Although this terminology differs from the LEO community, the standards are the same. 

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A Shooter’s Cut plate is normally worn as a front plate for soldiers in a warzone, such as OIF and OEF. This plate allows soldiers to shoulder-fire their rifles without obstruction from the plate because the corners are cut at a 45-degree angle. This would be a good plate for Police officers, SWAT, and Border Patrol officers.


What Is A Swimmer’s Cut Plate?

A Swimmer’s Cut plate is normally what our Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, and Air Force Combat Controller’s (CCT) wear. This armor is cut much further down the side to provide the most mobility possible. There will be almost no restrictions with a Swimmer’s plate, but your protection is also decreased. Swimmer’s Cut plates are normally much lighter because they’re smaller than any other plate our soldiers would wear in combat.

According to the LEO community, the Swimmer’s Cut is referred to as the Shooter’s Cut because of its flexibility and maneuverability. LEO uses the Shooter’s Cut term to refer to how the plate is cut and slimmed down on each side. LEO doesn’t refer to their plates by the threat level that it's registered under. 

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A Swimmer’s Plate is cut drastically down from the sides and protects vital organs, such as your heart and lungs. However, this plate does not cover your full chest, making you vulnerable to bullets on the sides of your chest. Typically, only our most highly trained and skilled operators wear this kind of armor. They understand the risk and would rather be more mobile and flexible while in combat. They are often in much smaller units with less back-up and need to be light and quick to do their job. 



The ballistics industry has kind of hijacked the word “SAPI cut” as just a reference to the cut of a plate regardless of its threat level. The acronym SAPI stands for Small Arms Protective Insert.  When the army released that, it represented the full set of requirements for that plate system. The cut that was designated for that small arms protection system was then used by all plates within the law enforcement and civilian armor markets. This is why you see SAPI cut as an optional cut style for level II, II-A, III, and IV plates. 

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SAPI Cut plates are normally worn by soldiers, police officers, and elite operators. You might sometimes see this plate referred to as an “Operators Cut”. The SAPI Cut plate is lighter than full cut and gives the wearer more mobility and comfort while wearing it especially for cross body arm movement when targets are moving. These plates range from Level IIA-IV to fit the needs of the mission. For example, if you’re on the move patrolling on foot or climbing mountains, the SAPI cut is more for you.  It’s the middle ground cut where you still get more coverage than shooters cut, but don’t have the arm movement restrictions that you may find with a full cut.  If you aren’t sure which cut is for you; go with this one. 

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