Why You Shouldn’t Wear Steel and Full-Ceramic Body Armor

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Steel and Full-Ceramic Body Armor

Body armor is not created equally. In this blog, we’ll be covering why you should consider forgoing a steel or fully ceramic body armor purchase. We’ll then discuss the alternative; what to replace those heavy steel, fragile and expensive ceramic plates with.

Steel Body Armor

Steel plates are cheap, and because they’re cheap is why they’re so popular. And while cheap isn’t always an indicator of low quality or less-than-desirable, in this case, it’s not your best option. 

We’ve covered it in one of our previous blogs, What Are the Different Types of Body Armor? | Steel, Ceramic, and Polyethylene vs. Duritium® Body Armor. So, to expand on that blog a little, here are some reasons you might not want to use steel plates for ballistic protection.

HEAVY BODY ARMOR

Steel is not light; it’s incredibly rigid and heavy. And this translates to being uncomfortable. In fact, it’s one of the heaviest materials used to make body armor. And while it can save your life, you’re also more likely to be leaving with something broken. For instance, if you get shot in the rib while wearing steel plates, you’re most likely getting a broken rib or even a collapsed lung in the process. 

Of course, a broken rib is much better than a life lost. But considering there’s a more comfortable, flexible, lightweight option on the market, wouldn’t you rather have that? 

If you’re interested in learning how pounds translate to pain, check out our blog about the Marine captain who figured out exactly how many pounds equal pain in combat.

ARMOR-PIERCING BULLETS

Now, if it’s life or death, any of us would take the heavy stuff if that’s all there was. So, if that’s not enough to convince you to switch your steel plates out for something else, consider this. Armor-piercing rounds can penetrate steel body armor. This means, if you’re shot at with those rounds, you were making yourself uncomfortable, hurting your back, and fatiguing the fight in you for no reason because that bullet is getting through.

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But, maybe you’re not too concerned about getting shot at with armor-piercing rounds. Alright, well, let’s consider those that can’t penetrate a steel plate. Unfortunately, there’s still a chance you’ll get shot. Not because someone shot you in a place where you don’t have armor coverage, but because steel armor can cause a ricochet.

BULLET TRAJECTORY

Here’s why steel causes ricochet; body armor absorbs energy. This means; unfortunately, it also redirects that energy and will cause the trajectory of a bullet to go elsewhere. So, if you get shot on the side, the bullet could bounce off your body armor and into your arm.

NIJ BODY ARMOR CERTIFICATION

Now, let’s talk about certifications because that matters. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) governs ballistic armor. If you’re planning to purchase steel for ballistic protection, keep in mind that not all steel is created equally. And not all steel is certified by the NIJ.

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AR500 STEEL

AR500 steel, a type of steel often used to make steel targets, is NOT certified through the NIJ. And if you’re worried about getting shot with a supersonic rifle caliber, then it’s not guaranteed to stop the round and definitely not guaranteed to save your life.

MIL-SPEC STEEL

However, there is something known as Mil-Spec A46100 steel. It’s rated to stop small arms and explosive shrapnel. It’s the same stuff the military uses for vehicles. It’s also the only type of steel to stop a bullet traveling faster than 3,000 fps.

Full-Ceramic Body Armor

Coming from someone who’s worn ceramic plates, they are more lightweight than steel, which is incredible, until ShotStop® came along, of course. However, there’s still a significant amount of cons that come with full ceramic plates. We’ve covered this slightly in our previous blogs, but today we wanted to expand upon why full ceramic body armor isn’t your best choice (although it is better than steel).

FULL-CERAMIC BODY ARMOR RESTRICTS MOBILITY

Ceramic plates are thick. If you’ve never worn them, they restrict your movement quite a bit. It makes it difficult to get in and out of vehicles, bend over, and depending on your position; even shooting can be difficult or uncomfortable. And chances are, if you’re wearing body armor to protect yourself, you’re also going to need to be able to move, and sometimes move quickly. So, even though that full ceramic body armor is lighter than steel armor, the restricted mobility definitely defeats this pro, in our opinion.

BODY ARMOR HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE

I personally can only speak to my military experience, but I know it seems like every few years, they’re issuing me new armor. It looks the same, but it’s new. If you didn’t know, body armor has a shelf-life, and in the case of standard ceramic body armor, its life is underwhelming, especially giving the cost. 

While steel body armor lasts about 15-20 years before you need to replace it, standard ceramic body armor only last 5-7 years. And those 5-7 years is why you keep getting new armor.

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FULL CERAMIC PLATES SHATTER ON IMPACT

Of course, maybe you don’t really care about the money, and you’re sitting there thinking, “I can move just fine in ceramic plates.” Awesome! But here’s a more critical reason to forgo those full ceramic plates: they shatter on impact.

Yes, your full ceramic plate might stop 1-3 rounds before it shatters, but that ceramic’s stopping power is short-lived. If there’s a chance you’re getting in a fire-fight, there’s also a chance the enemy is toting around more than 1-3 rounds. If you get hit more than three times, there’s a good chance your plate will shatter, and a bullet will penetrate your body.

So, for all that money, you get a plate that can stop only one, maybe even three bullets, but expires in 5-7 years and significantly reduces mobility because of its thickness. And that’s not all. 

Kind of in line with shattering on impact, ceramic plates have to be treated with care. You shouldn’t be throwing them in the back of your locker, truck, closet, wherever you might throw it; in fact, you shouldn’t be throwing ceramic armor at all. This, too, could cause your plate to crack, rendering it ineffective. Which means you spent all that money, and it’s not even capable of doing its job.

Another thing to consider about full ceramic plates is how hard it can be to detect fractures. In some cases, the only way to see one is through an x-ray. Which of course costs more money. If you suspect a fracture in this body armor, then it’s best to get it looked at if you want to ensure you have optimal protection. Or, and it’s going to really cost you, get a new plate, which can decrease the shelf-life exponentially.

Lightweight Body Armor

We’ve covered two prevalent forms of body armor and why you shouldn’t use them, which has probably left you wondering where to turn next. If lightweight full ceramic leaves you with no mobility and cheap steel means heavy, uncomfortable, and not rated to withstand armor-piercing ammo, is there something that gives you all the pros?

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Here at ShotStop®, we’ve created a patented Duritum® technology. We’ve created the lightest weighing hard body armor that doesn’t decrease mobility and won’t break the bank. It also holds up to armor-piercing rounds, such as 5.56 and 7.62. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our lightweight body armor, send us an email with any questions to sales@shotstop.com.


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