Top 9 Level/Type III Ballistic Armor Plates

Top 9 Level/Type III Ballistic Armor Plates
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Here at ShotStop®, we take pride in building the best possible ballistic body armor that we’re capable of creating. We’ve spent the last few months educating our readers about the different armor types, why the NIJ is so important, and our dedication to law enforcement and the inclusion of women into body armor design. Now, we’re going to show you the top body armor companies and why we believe we’re the best.

What Does Level/Type III Body Armor Protect Against?

Since this whole blog is about our competitors and where we stack up, it’s important to know what Level III means. Level III armor must be able to stop the penetration of rifle caliber bullets, such as the 5.56 x 45mm 55-grain ball (M193) 7.62 x 39mm PS Ball (MSC) 7.62 x 51mm 149-grain M80 FMJ. If your armor is certified with the NIJ as Level III, you’re protected against

For a Complete Understanding of the NIJ Standard-0101.06, read our blog, National Institute of Justice (NIJ), What it Does and Why it Matters

  1. ShotStop® Duritium® III+PA Body Armor

We believe we’re the best body armor on the market today, and this blog will prove it. We chose our Duritium® III+PA plate because it’s the lightest, fastest, and lowest profile Level III plate that’s certified (Listed) by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Our Duritium® III+PA plate is only 2.7 lbs and is used as a stand-alone plate. It’s only 0.7” thick to provide the operator the lowest possible profile and better mobility. 

Specs

  • 2.7 lbs per plate (10″ x 12″)

  • 0.7” thick

  • Polyurea Covering

  • NATO STANAG 2920 Level B4

  • NIJ Listed 

  • SAPI Cut or Shooters Cut

  • Multi-Hit

  • Made from Proprietary Formula Duritium Polyethylene

  • Buoyancy Positive (it floats!)

  • 15-Year Warranty

  • All 3rd Party Ballistic Lab Results Readily Available on ShotStop website

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Price Per Plate

It all depends on the size needed to cover your torso and back. If you’re above 6’0” and 250 lbs, you’ll need the larger size, which will be more expensive. The Duritium® III+PA plate starts at $300-$600 per plate. When you add side plates to your armor system, you’re going to spend hundreds more on our competitors’ products than you will ours. 



2. Spartan Armor AR550 Level III Advanced Triple Curve

The AR550 Level III armor from Spartan is an NIJ certified steel armor, a great entry-level into ballistic protection. The triple curve armor design is created to enhance comfort, so people will want to wear armor. Spartan Armor is listed at a great price and provides similar protection to our Duritium® armor. However, the overall weight for a Spartan Armor set with a plate carrier would be well over 20 lbs (at least). 

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For my first tour in 2007, I wore steel armor every day for 12 hours a day (at least). 15-20 ls might not sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly when you consider everything else you have to wear on top of the armor. Steel armor is very effective, but it also has more downsides than ceramic or polyethylene.  

Do You Want To Learn More About Body Armor? Read our blog, “Why You Shouldn't Wear Steel and Full-Ceramic Body Armor”.

Specs

  • 8.9 lbs per plate (10” x 12” size)

  • 0.6” Thick

  • Corrosion-Resistant Coating

  • Multi-Hit

  • NIJ Listed

  • Shooter’s Cut & Swimmer’s Cut

  • Made From Steel

  • Triple Curve Plates

  • Buoyancy Negative (Doesn’t Float)

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

  • 5-Year Warranty

Price Per Plate

Even if you add the advanced coating and the triple curve, the plate is only $182.95. We can’t argue with the difference in price because you could save a lot of money with Spartan Armor. However, the weight of steel plates is drastically heavier than 2.7 lbs per plate from ShotStop®. 

3. Armored Republic AR500 Level III Body Armor

The Armored Republic is an excellent company with high-quality ballistic protection. This specific body armor is one of the closest plates to what we offer at ShotStop®. This plate is a multi-Hit plate, capable of stopping the same AK-47 and AR-15 caliber rifles. The AR500 Lightweight Armor is not only buoyancy positive, but it’s also incredibly lightweight at 2.7 lbs. 

Many people might think that the AR500 Lightweight Armor offers the same protection as the Duritium® III+PA plate. However, their polyethylene armor can’t provide the same protection against a 7.62 as our patented Duritium® technology

Specs

  • 2.7 lbs per plate

  • 1” Thick

  • Multi-Hit

  • Stand-alone Plate

  • Polyethylene

  • Buoyancy Positive

  • NIJ Listed 

  • 5-Year Warranty

Price Per Plate

AR500 Armor is a great company, offering a lightweight, affordable option for Level III armor. You can get these plates for $349.99 per plate at the Armored Republic. To get certified Level III protection at this price is well worth the money. 

4. Safariland Protech® Tactical Model 2120-5 

Safariland is one of those companies we like to root for because we think they do it the right way. The Model 2120-5 is an NIJ certified Level III body armor plate that’s relatively lightweight and affordable. The 1000-Denier coating on the plate ensures that the durability is great, and the plate will last many years with proper care. 

Specs

  • 5.8 lbs per plate

  • 0.95” Thick

  • Multi-Hit

  • Ceramic/Polyethylene/Glass Composite

  • Buoyancy Negative

  • Shooter’s Cut

  • NIJ Listed

  • 1000-Denier Cordura Coating

  • 5-Year Warranty

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

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Price Per Plate

It’s difficult to find the price anywhere online, but if you look hard enough, you’ll notice it’s at least $490.00 per plate. We believe it’s a competitive price for a high-quality product, but it doesn’t measure up to our Duritium® III+PA plate. 

5. Tacticon Level III+ Body Armor

Tacticon is a veteran-owned and operated business that sells affordable steel core body armor. Since the plate is built from high-quality steel and coated with a unique frag mitigation composite, it provides additional protection. It adds about ⅜” to the overall thickness, but is well worth it when you consider how easily it deconflicts fragments. Unfortunately, Tacticon body armor is not certified by the NIJ. This makes it very difficult to say this armor will hold up to Level III NIJ standards. 

Tacticon conducts its own stringent field testing by shooting the steel armor plates with the Level III calibers. Tacticon is the most affordable option per plate that you’ll find for any Level III armor. The caveat is even if their company tests it, the federal government has not approved this armor for Level III protection. 

Specs

  • No Specified Weight

  • No Specified Thickness

  • Non-compliant with the NIJ

  • Multi-Hit

  • Buoyancy Negative

  • Steel Core Construction

  • Shooters Cut, SAPI Cut, Hybrid Cut

  • Lifetime Warranty (Police Report Required for Return)

  • Trauma Pads

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

Price Per Plate

For $119.50, you can own a nice, durable ballistic plate designed to withstand a high-velocity rifle caliber bullet. We’re always ready to support our veterans and recommend Tacticon if you're looking for a unique set of hard plates. Personally, I’d like to know for sure that my Level III armor is certified to withstand a shot from an AK-47 before I take a 7.65x51mm bullet to the chest.

6. SA-Rampart Level III+ Ballistic Plate

Survival Armor is an NIJ certified body armor plate with many similarities to our Duritium® III+PA plate. Many people believe that the Rampart Level III armor is one of the most comfortable plates to wear due to the flexible rims on the plate’s edge to promote better mobility. Another benefit to the flexible edges is your arms don’t get chafed as you’re wearing the plate. Many companies don’t think about this as much and sacrifice comfort for durability. 

Even with the similarities in construction materials (polyethylene) to reduce the plate’s weight, they’re still unable to reach the low weight of our Duritium® III+PA plate. The Rampart is a single-curve plate that helps with the added comfort of the flexible plate edges. However, our Duritium® III+PA plate is almost half the weight and significantly thinner than the Rampart Level III. 

Specs

  • 4.3 lbs per plate

  • 1.1” Thick

  • NIJ Listed

  • Multi-Hit

  • Made from lightweight Polyethylene

  • 10-year Warranty (1-year for covering on outside)

  • Shooters Cut, Full Cut

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

Price Per Plate

Each plate is roughly going to cost $571.43 for the Shooter’s Cut Rampart Level III. As good of a price as this is, it’s difficult to spend hundreds more for a product that is much thicker and heavier than what we can offer our customers. 

7. DFNDR Level III Special Threat Tested Plate

DFNDR Armor is a company that’s been around a long time, thriving on the use of their technology and expertise in understanding ballistics. DFNDR is a company that sells a lot of different armor products, including a Level III plate. However, the NIJ hasn’t recognized their armor in years since the NIJ Standard-0101.06 was adapted. 

The armor itself is incredible, with a weight of only 1.4 lbs per plate and a thickness of only 0.6”. The problem is that the plate is only 7”x 9.7”, so it’s not practical for most adult men over 170 lbs. They use a combination of ceramic and polyethylene that is held together with an epoxy resin. They even use similar adhesives to bind the armor together that is used in building space shuttles. We believe DFNDR is a great company to take a chance on but still has a way to go before catching up to our Duritium® III+PA plate. 

Specs

  • 1.4 lbs per plate (7”x 9.7”)

  • 0.6” Thick

  • Non-Compliant with NIJ

  • Full Cut

  • Ceramic, Polyethylene Construction

  • Multi-Hit

  • 5-year Warranty

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

Price Per Plate

The Special Threat Level III plate from DFNDR is $349.00 per plate. With the advanced technology put into this plate and the durability of it, we recommend giving DFNDR Armor® a chance. 

8. TYR Tactical Level III HA3/ST Hard Armor Plate

Most people in the tactical communities know a lot about TYR Tactical and its efforts to provide some of the best tactical gear on the market. They may not get the publicity for their body armor as they get for their tactical gear, but they provide a certified Level III ICW body armor plate. The large size for most men is only 2.72 lbs per plate and is only 0.82” thick. They use similar polyethylene to form their plate and even added an elastomeric urethane foam for added protection and durability. 

Specs

  • 2.72 lbs per plate

  • 0.82” Thick

  • NIJ Listed

  • Multi-Hit

  • Polyurea Covering

  • Buoyancy Positive

  • Polyethylene & elastomeric urethane foam construction

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

  • 5-year Warranty

Price Per Plate

TYR Tactical is known in military communities as one of the best products you can get your hands on. It’s also known as one of the most expensive brands on the market. Each plate will cost a minimum of $895.00

9. High Ground AFC3 Level III Armor

Many people have not heard of High Ground as a body armor company. We believe they deserve credit for the great job they do and think they’ve earned their place on this list. They only offer a Shooter’s Cut plate, but that’s the most common plate requested. They use a combination of ceramic and polyethylene to cut down on weight and provide rigidity to their plate. The plate is a little thick for our liking at 1”, but that's still much better than dozens of other companies. 

Specs

  • 5.4 lbs per plate

  • 1.0” Thick

  • NIJ Listed

  • Ceramic, Polyethylene Construction

  • Multi-Hit

  • Cordura Covering

  • No 3rd Party Ballistics Lab Test Available

  • Limited Warranty

Price Per Plate

Each plate is sold for $445.95 and comes with a limited warranty and return policy if you don’t like the armor. With the technology they use, this is a good price per plate.

WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE THE DURITIUM® III+PA PLATE?

As you can see from the products above, there is no other company that provides NIJ certified armor at the weight, thickness, and price point of ShotStop®. The reason is our Duritium® technology, which cuts weight without reducing the effectiveness of the armor.

 We offer discounts to both law enforcement and military organizations to ensure our men and women protecting us are protecting themselves. The ShotStop® warranty on Level/Type III body armor is on average 3x longer than every other company with no requirement for X-rays or MRI. 

When you consider the price of every other company, you’re going to be paying those pricing 3 times before you’d ever have to replace a ShotStop® armor plate. If you’re interested in learning more about ShotStop®, contact our team at sales@shotstop.com.

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