Level IV plates are currently the highest-rated armor recognized by the NIJ.
According to the NIJ ratings, level 4 plates should stop the six hits of spaced M80 ball, all 5.56 threats including M855 and M193 that level 3 is rated to stop.
Additionally, level 4 should defeat at least one round of armor-piercing .30-06 Black Tip.
With that type of rated protection, it seems to be a reasonable investment. But, understanding the nuances of body armor can seem a bit daunting.
If you’re considering buying level 4 body armor, we’ll clear the air for you and provide some guidelines as you consider this life-saving investment.
Types of Level 4 Body Armor
Steel Armor Plates
Steel Body Armor is the most common and the cheapest of all body armor.
When choosing steel armor, I personally wouldn't buy anything that didn't say Mil-Spec A46100.
Although steel is commercially graded between 100-900, Mil-Spec steel is tested against ballistic threats.
According to MIL-DTL-46100E, the A46100 steel is tested and rated to defeat all small arms and shrapnel from explosions.
A46100 steel is the same steel our military uses in constructing armor plating for vehicles and body armor.
The A46100 steel is the only steel that is rated to defeat a bullet traveling faster than 3,200 feet per second (fps). A round with a velocity higher than 3,200 fps will pass through the steel armor and into your chest.
Ceramic Armor Plates
Ceramic is an inorganic, non-metallic material, customarily made from nitride or carbide.
It's been used in body armor since around the Vietnam Conflict for its lightweight properties.
With the ever-changing technologies out today, many soldiers have worn both steel and ceramic body armor plates.
Ceramic is better at absorbing and dispersing energy than steel. This will result in less broken ribs, broken sternum, and collapsed lungs. Additionally, it performs better against supersonic and armor-piercing bullets than steel armor does.
However, ceramic armor plates are often thicker than steel, cannot handle multi-hits in the same area, is much more expensive, and will only last roughly 5 to 7 years. Additionally, ceramic plates need to be x-rayed frequently for cracks since they are susceptible to damage from drops and other impacts. These unseen cracks can render the armor plate useless which becomes a liability to the person wearing it.
Polyethylene Body Armor
Polyethylene is the most common type of plastic used in the world today.
The UHMWPE is rated as the most durable thermoplastic produced. It's known to have excellent chemical inertness, self-lubricity, and impact resistance.
Polyethylene body armor is lighter than steel and ceramic armor plates and can defeat multiple hits in the same area of the plate.
The downside is the price. Polyethylene armor plates are more expensive than steel and ceramic.
Duritium Armor Plates
Duritium is our patented technology that combines UHMWPE with composite materials for the lightest, thinnest, and most durable body armor.
Construction of Duritium plates includes polymer covering sheets that are cut using a 3-axis CNC machine. After the plate is hardened and reinforced with polymer, the vulcanization process finishes it off for a perfectly cut armored plate.
This process ensures all Duritium plates can withstand multiple hits in the same location without losing the armor's integrity.
Our Duritium plates are better than most other plates on the market for good reason; they are lighter, stronger, and have the best warranty in the industry.
ShotStop Duritium Level IV armor weighs in at an incredible 5.3 lbs. versus 10.2 for steel, 8 lbs. for ceramic, and 6.5 lbs. for polymer combined with UHMWPE.
Level IV Duritium is less than 1" thick (0.9") and will stop any rifle round, including the 7.62x54R M2 round fired from an SVD Dragunov sniper rifle.
What Does Level 4 Body Armor Stop?
Level IV body armor can defeat a .30-06 AP (armor-piercing) round.
This means that Level 4 body armor will also stop all smaller rounds, including armor piercing 308, all pistol rounds (including Five-Seven, 500 magnum, and 50 Action Express), and shotgun slugs.
NIJ, however, only requires one test shot per plate with an Armor Piercing (AP) round. We've conducted additional threat tests against our level 4 Duritium plates to ensure optimal protection.
How Many Hits Can Level IV Armor Take?
Although NIJ testing only requires that it defeat a single 30 caliber AP round, our level IV plates are testing to defeat multiple hits.
Can Civilians Own Level 4 Body Armor?
The good news for most civilians is we are allowed to own and wear Level 4 body armor in public spaces if we choose to do so. That is unless you’re a convicted felon or are using the body armor to commit a criminal act.
Most people buy body armor and hope they never have to use it. It’s similar to gas masks or home defense weapons. It’s one of those things that is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
However, body armor, especially level 4 body armor, is not cheap, so it can be a difficult call. It all comes down to knowing potential threats in your local area and if it makes sense to have some type of body armor available just in case.
Think about it; natural disasters, economic collapse, pandemics, nuclear threats, and political instability may or may not unleash mayhem. Understand your threat landscape and calculate the risk to determine if purchasing body armor makes sense to you.
Why Choose ShotStop Level 4 Body Armor?
ShotStop® is more expensive than any other body armor that I’ve seen online, but only on the front-end.
For example, you may spend double the amount of money at first, but our 10-year warranty for Level IV plates is at least double that of our competitors.
ShotStop® understands our competitors will highlight the advantage in price, but that’s all superficial arguments with no context.
If you’re looking for the best ballistic protection with the best customer service and performance, our Duritium® Level IV+HS plate has all the evidence you need for peace of mind.
We also offer a 10-year warranty for our Level 4 body armor. The industry standard is 5 years for this level of protection.
As a thank you to the men and women who serve our communities and nation, we offer at least a 15% discount to all LEOs and soldiers. If you’re interested in buying the most advanced and lightweight Level IV body armor, please contact our sales team at email@example.com.