Body Armor Protection Level and How It Relates to Cost

Most people would think that higher protection equals higher cost. Although this seems intuitive, it is often not the case and it is important to understand why. Steel body armor is effective at protecting against high threats; but because it’s made of steel, an inexpensive, readily available material, it is typically the cheapest of all body armor solutions. The reality, however, is that steel’s weight makes it an impractical solution as users are reluctant to wear it routinely. Level IV equals Level 0 if it is not being worn!

Body armor panels made of 100% polyethylene, which currently protect against rifle threats up to Level III including 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm, and 7.62x51mm fired from rifles such as the AK-47 or AR-15, can cost more than a plate that may stop greater threats. Buyers must consider the threat environment they expect, the operational tempo, as well as budget constraints in order to weigh the importance of each factor – weight, performance, comfort, durability, price, maintenance and lifetime costs. (See chart below)

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  • What threats do you face regularly? (Click here to view stats from the FBI)

  • How often do you wear your armor?

  • How many hours a day do you wear your armor?

  • How important is mobility when wearing armor? (And how does this affect compliance to procedure and wear-rates with your field operators?)

Determine your particular needs and then compare price and lifetime costs based on the various options that meet those needs.