Price vs. Lifetime Cost of Body Armor
When evaluating the cost of body armor, there is far more to the equation than just the up-front purchase price. What other factors will drive your lifetime costs higher and potentially impact readiness, availability and warranty maintenance? For example, to maintain the warranty of traditional ceramic plates, most manufacturers require periodic X-ray or MRI image inspections for hairline cracks. It is also highly recommended to conduct additional image inspections if a ceramic plate is ever dropped from a height of three feet or more. There are costs associated with X-ray/MRI imaging and the lost readiness while the plate is not available for use.
Warranties imply recommended “product life expectations” for body armor. The average warranty for body armor is five years. We strongly suggest looking closely at the warranty, as it may not only address the effectiveness of the body armor plate, but it can also affect your overall investment by 20, 30 or even 50 percent when there is a longer warranty.
If the warranty of a polyethylene plate is three times that of a ceramic plate, ultimately, you may wind up paying more for the “less expensive” ceramic since you will have to replace it every five years.
5-Year Warranty: Single Ceramic Plate Cost is $200
5 year “Product Lifetime” = $40/year
15-Year Warranty: Single Polyethylene Plate Cost is $350
15 year “Product Lifetime” = $23/year
Warranty should be heavily considered when purchasing body armor plates. Not all plates are created equally, and the same is true for warranties. What initially seems like a cheaper price actually turns out to be more expensive than a plate that lasts two or three times as long. In addition to the warranty period, we recommend looking for any special terms and conditions which may be listed in the fine-print.