AR15.Com Archives
 Plates and/or soft armor?
jbourne66  [Member]
2/15/2012 9:14:58 PM
OK, couple quick questions for those in the know.

I have both hard plates and soft armor for maximum rating. When I look at all the load outs it seems folks simply run the hard plates in smaller carriers. Is there a reason to ditch the soft armor? I have an Eagle carrier which holds both hard and soft armor, and a smaller chest rig which is just a hard plate carrier. Obviously the latter is lighter and more maneuverable. I am looking to outfit my rig more fully and wanted to know the current logic on most set ups because it will determine which version I build off of. My main goal will be to build a rig for SHTF and carbine course use.

Thanks in advance.
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Dawg180  [Team Member]
2/15/2012 10:02:26 PM
If you search I started a thread on this very topic maybe 2 months ago "armor vs. mobility" was the title IIRC. Ultimately the best advice in that thread was "Asses your threat and wear armor accordingly"

If you look at it, level III soft armor gives you shrapnel and pistol protection for your torso for about 5-6 lbs of weight. Rifle plates give you rifle level protection for only the front and back of your vital torso area for about 12-14 lbs.

You can be an armored turtle in full IBA with front, rear, and side plates for about 25 lbs, but that weight and the enveloping of your torso will reduce your mobility and increase your exertion a great deal. On top of that, your limbs and groin are still vulnerable

jbourne66  [Member]
2/15/2012 10:17:56 PM
Great answer... I think... ... honestly I understand what you are saying and appreciate your reply. (I do not have the search function but am glad to hear I'm not the only one wondering this.) I have read that the IIIA pistol stuff will give general shrapnel protection as well but it will all depend on what I will be doing while wearing it. I would surmise then by the laws of averages based on the reported load outs and images of setups that people are choosing mobility over additional protection beyond hard plates. After running a few miles in both setups and rolling around to test mobility i am inclined to run the lighter hard plate set up only as well. Would still love to here others chime in...
Capt-Planet  [Team Member]
2/15/2012 10:27:30 PM
I agree with the above.

I look at the purpose of armor as keeping you alive, not keeping you from getting hurt. A plate carrier covers the vitals that will get you dead-right-there most often (heart, great vessels, spine, most of the lungs, liver), within limits. Obviously you're not protected everywhere, but in a decent amount of the unprotected areas you can take an injury and keep fighting, and hopefully live long enough to get medical help. This is the case in the face of the majority of potential threats, to include pistols, shotguns, and rifles.

With soft armor you usually have more coverage, and it's usually lighter weight as well. The downside is that it only protects against limited threats. The good news is that those threats (pistols and shotguns) are the most likely ones as well, in the US.

If you're unlikely to see a rifle threat, go with the soft armor. If you might see a rifle threat, go with the PC. It's up to your situation.
Layer60  [Member]
2/16/2012 11:57:33 AM
Originally Posted By Dawg180:
If you search I started a thread on this very topic maybe 2 months ago "armor vs. mobility" was the title IIRC. Ultimately the best advice in that thread was "Asses your threat and wear armor accordingly"

If you look at it, level III soft armor gives you shrapnel and pistol protection for your torso for about 5-6 lbs of weight. Rifle plates give you rifle level protection for only the front and back of your vital torso area for about 12-14 lbs.

You can be an armored turtle in full IBA with front, rear, and side plates for about 25 lbs, but that weight and the enveloping of your torso will reduce your mobility and increase your exertion a great deal. On top of that, your limbs and groin are still vulnerable



You can get WAY under those weights for either pistol or rifle armor loadouts.
jbourne66  [Member]
2/16/2012 12:19:45 PM
How do you propose to get under that weight taking into account the weights of LEVEL IIIA soft armor and Level IV hard plates? When I put them in my Eagle Low-Vis carrier the thing is bulky and heavy. I then need to add a carrier, been using an Eagle H harness with panels with 3 M4 single shingles, and two pistol pouches as well as a utility pouch. That stuff all adds some weight!

I am leaning towards using my Blackwater I-O plate carrier, (which I need to get some should pads for) with my Level IV plates and an eagle triple M4 shingle across the front. I do have the side pieces to add to it if I want but will need to get some smaller side SAPI plates. I really like the maneuverability with this set up as I run a war belt with old school Y suspenders underneath it which I have a Safariland SLS mid height rig with a pistol mag pouch on as well as a mid height platform which has 4xM4 pouches and two pistol mags, and my IFAK (on the belt).

I guess contemplating the threat assessment needs of a SHTF in the NE and bugging out or fighting on the run one needs to figure out what you may need to stop, ie: rifle or pistol only. Might run into some fudds with a .270 and need the plates. While most city threats will be .40 glocks etc... I would think the plates would still be fine, however not provide the increased area of protection of soft armor alone. If mobility and speed are increased by running plates alone then maybe that balances out the smaller area of protection?

Thoughts?
Dawg180  [Team Member]
2/16/2012 12:37:54 PM
Originally Posted By Layer60:
Originally Posted By Dawg180:
If you search I started a thread on this very topic maybe 2 months ago "armor vs. mobility" was the title IIRC. Ultimately the best advice in that thread was "Asses your threat and wear armor accordingly"

If you look at it, level III soft armor gives you shrapnel and pistol protection for your torso for about 5-6 lbs of weight. Rifle plates give you rifle level protection for only the front and back of your vital torso area for about 12-14 lbs.

You can be an armored turtle in full IBA with front, rear, and side plates for about 25 lbs, but that weight and the enveloping of your torso will reduce your mobility and increase your exertion a great deal. On top of that, your limbs and groin are still vulnerable



You can get WAY under those weights for either pistol or rifle armor loadouts.


Please share, becuase here is my math based on "medium" sizing:

TAP Gamma + standalone medium rifle plates 5.4 lbs each + 1 lb for nylon plate carrier (i.e. DBT FAPC, blackhawk low vis) = 11.8 lbs, which is the lightest setup I can find.

BALCS medium IIIA soft inserts @ 5 lbs + 1 lb for nylon carrier (Eagle LVAC, DBT Victory) = 6 lbs.

An NIJ level II vest with simple nylon carrier would be about 4-4.5lbs, but you sacrifice some protection against pistol rounds and blunt trauma.

Interceptor with groin, collar, neck, DAPS = 8 lbs IIRC, ESAPI meidum front and rear = 6lbs ea, ESAPI side plates = 1.75 lbs each, total weight 24 lbs give or take.
Layer60  [Member]
2/16/2012 2:34:08 PM
First, to clarify, I was speaking only of armor panel weights, and was not including a carrier.

For III-A stuff, you could run two EXO's and a simple "throw and go" carrier. Total weight for two panels + carrier: approx. 2.5 pounds, for a rig that will repeatedly stop virtually all common pistol rounds. Of course, this is with 10"x12" inserts, rather than wrap-around armor, but they double as trauma pads. The Speed Plate is another option for this but I prefer the EXO.

For stopping three-to-four .308 rounds (but excluding M855 Green Tips), you could get the MASS III. Weighing mine, they showed 3.19 pounds each, so again - going with a lightweight carrier - you're in for about 7.5 pounds. Since the EXOs actually weigh in at about 8 ounces, that's 8.5 pounds total with both III-A and III standalone panels.

If it's important to stop M855, you will have to use something like the TAP Gamma or the MASS III-Plus, which are 5.5 pounds apiece. With almost all armor in the field these days, it all comes down to whether you're worried about M855. With virtually any brand or configuration, there's a 4-5 pound tradeoff between stopping them and not stopping them.

Edited to add: I did not see any specific reference to level IV when I posted about weight. If it was mentioned, I missed it. Apologies.
Dawg180  [Team Member]
2/16/2012 3:10:53 PM
Originally Posted By Layer60:
First, to clarify, I was speaking only of armor panel weights, and was not including a carrier.

For III-A stuff, you could run two EXO's and a simple "throw and go" carrier. Total weight for two panels + carrier: approx. 2.5 pounds, for a rig that will repeatedly stop virtually all common pistol rounds. Of course, this is with 10"x12" inserts, rather than wrap-around armor, but they double as trauma pads. The Speed Plate is another option for this but I prefer the EXO.

For stopping three-to-four .308 rounds (but excluding M855 Green Tips), you could get the MASS III. Weighing mine, they showed 3.19 pounds each, so again - going with a lightweight carrier - you're in for about 7.5 pounds. Since the EXOs actually weigh in at about 8 ounces, that's 8.5 pounds total with both III-A and III standalone panels.

If it's important to stop M855, you will have to use something like the TAP Gamma or the MASS III-Plus, which are 5.5 pounds apiece. With almost all armor in the field these days, it all comes down to whether you're worried about M855. With virtually any brand or configuration, there's a 4-5 pound tradeoff between stopping them and not stopping them.

Edited to add: I did not see any specific reference to level IV when I posted about weight. If it was mentioned, I missed it. Apologies.


Ahh, completely forgot about HDPE plates, with M855 being the most common service rifle round in the U.S. I personally do not conside a plate that won't stop it a worthwhile plate, but I certainly won't fault anyone who wnat to make the weight vs. protection tradeoff.

Being that this is a dicsussion of tradeoffs, you make a very valid point.

Layer60  [Member]
2/16/2012 4:39:40 PM
Originally Posted By Dawg180:
Originally Posted By Layer60:
First, to clarify, I was speaking only of armor panel weights, and was not including a carrier.

For III-A stuff, you could run two EXO's and a simple "throw and go" carrier. Total weight for two panels + carrier: approx. 2.5 pounds, for a rig that will repeatedly stop virtually all common pistol rounds. Of course, this is with 10"x12" inserts, rather than wrap-around armor, but they double as trauma pads. The Speed Plate is another option for this but I prefer the EXO.

For stopping three-to-four .308 rounds (but excluding M855 Green Tips), you could get the MASS III. Weighing mine, they showed 3.19 pounds each, so again - going with a lightweight carrier - you're in for about 7.5 pounds. Since the EXOs actually weigh in at about 8 ounces, that's 8.5 pounds total with both III-A and III standalone panels.

If it's important to stop M855, you will have to use something like the TAP Gamma or the MASS III-Plus, which are 5.5 pounds apiece. With almost all armor in the field these days, it all comes down to whether you're worried about M855. With virtually any brand or configuration, there's a 4-5 pound tradeoff between stopping them and not stopping them.

Edited to add: I did not see any specific reference to level IV when I posted about weight. If it was mentioned, I missed it. Apologies.


Ahh, completely forgot about HDPE plates, with M855 being the most common service rifle round in the U.S. I personally do not conside a plate that won't stop it a worthwhile plate, but I certainly won't fault anyone who wnat to make the weight vs. protection tradeoff.

Being that this is a dicsussion of tradeoffs, you make a very valid point.



Yes, it's a huge increase in weight (relatively speaking) to stop the M855. From 6.5 pounds for .308 (7.62x51) rounds to 11 pounds for adding M855, you essentially double the weight just to stop that round. The loss of mobility is not worth it to me but I can understand why others would think it is. It all depends on your AO and whether M855 is a threat. For me, 7.62x39MM mild-steel core or 7.62x54R (Dragunov) is the real threat, which the HDPE plates cover while remaining super-light.
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