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wquon

Where to begin with plates?

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Whenever one start looking at gear one MUST have a plan/mission/use for the items.

Today I'll be talking about stand alone hard plates Level 3+. Why? because I want them to stop 5.56 green tip (steel core) which is the most common round in our military.

 

I made a little chart below that you can get the jist at a glance.

CERAMIC - old news, update, fragments "spals" more than steel, rated for 3 hits max, will need replaced afet 1 hit.

STEEL - best value, stores the longest, can take the most abuse, thinnest = mobility, heavy, can spal w/o coating.

POLY - lightest, thinner than ceramic, takes multiple hit but deforms, I an also unsure of how sweat and heat effect it, storage life is short (but theyre getting better), expensive.

 

If your going to wear it for any length of time get multi-curve. I would also suggest proper trauma pads made from non-newtonian materials, not the foam ripoff.

 

Here's a playlist that goes over plate choice, fitting, & more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC6RspjZYD4&list=PL0Yf0LZtUFnSv9HO9U5hZRXvn5yIE2SlU&index=1

 

As part of the planning I would recommend making a lit that includes your pistol, rifle, plate carrier, & belt that you want/have with all the bells & whistles on them to see how much they weigh, you may be surprised how quickly weight adds up.

When getting plate carriers wear them around the house, do some chores, exercise a bit in them. this will help you find if something is not balanced, rubbing wrong, or too loose/tight.

 

Cheers folks, let me know if this was helpful.

plates.png

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On Poly plates they are usually shipped with a 1000d cordura cover. One thing you can do for a poly to protect it is to vac seal it - that helps with abrasion and sweat. Not too long ago we took some of the newer low cost Chinese III+ and IV hybrid plates out and shot the snot out of them - they did hold up to the manufacturers claims and lab test results. The problem with  them is they do not ship with enough padding on the face to protect the plate from drop damage, so adding a 1/4" of neoprene to the face when you seal it up helps bring it closer to .07 drop specifications.

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On 1/26/2020 at 2:21 AM, Patriot1069 said:

So if I’m understanding this correctly a tactical unit is not what is suggested?

 

I dont understand the question. what are you referring to as a tactical unit?

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When you say a stand alone system can I use a tactical vest with the mag holders or simply the vest without mag holders? The thing I’m looking at is will the tactical get in the way of the straps on a 3 day pack?

Edited by Patriot1069

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@ Patriot1069 trying to figure out what you mean;

 

"When you say a stand alone system" - I mean the plates can stop all listed threats (for that level) without extra layers or Things. there are some threat level systems out there that require an extra layer (like a kevlar 'pad') to work.

 

"can I use a tactical vest with the mag holders or simply the vest without mag holders?" I dont understand the context of this sentence because of the use of 'tactical' in this sentence "will the tactical get in the way" - are you referring to a plate carrier or a LBV. if an LBV is it customizable ir does it have everything sewn on?

 

regardless, it depends on the setup & the bag. it can get tricky.

 

what is the purpose to your setup? what kind of modularity are you looking for?

 

 

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I’m sorry, I do mean the carrier.  I’m looking at a tactical carrier with lll+ steel plates.  I saw the test plate that was hit with 7.62, .338, and .308.  The damage was very minimal in all three rounds.  I like the fact they have a slight curve for deflection.  I realize I still need a trauma pad or two.  I guess my question is more of if the tactical carrier will interfere with the 3 day pac? The carrier has everything sewn on.  I’m primarily looking for capacity in case a scurmish turns into more.

Edited by Patriot1069

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21 hours ago, Patriot1069 said:

I’m sorry, I do mean the carrier.  I’m looking at a tactical carrier with lll+ steel plates.  I saw the test plate that was hit with 7.62, .338, and .308.  The damage was very minimal in all three rounds.  I like the fact they have a slight curve for deflection.  I realize I still need a trauma pad or two.  I guess my question is more of if the tactical carrier will interfere with the 3 day pac? The carrier has everything sewn on.  I’m primarily looking for capacity in case a scurmish turns into more.

Stand alone means without any additional soft armor, i.e. kevlar inserts (like a level IIIA vest with a plate pocket).  I'd caution you against buying steel. If you plan to land nav using a compass, well, it's a steel plate. Plus it's heavier than you want to hump. There are some good deals on both US and foreign made and certified laboratory (not youtube bubba on some back pasture range) tested silicon, boron, or even alumina tile array multi-hit rated III+ and IV stand alone plates out there, you just have to shop around and do your research. If you plan on humping these things on foot just remember: a loaded AR mag weighs a pound. A full 2 liter camelback weighs about 2 1/2 - 3 pounds. The old saying is true: ounces are pounds and pounds are pain. The other old saying when it comes to the wallet is true as well: buy once, cry once. Having watched guys that were in decent shape beat themselves to the puking point holding a forced march pace of 4 m.p.h. wearing cheap and heavy gear will make you a fan of saving weight wherever possible.  A good solid goal is to be able to move two miles in less than 30 minutes fully loaded and be able to drop load and run a complex rifle or team drill to completion. If you're gassed from being overloaded when you make contact you're already at a disadvantage.

 

Take a look at RMA Armor, TSG, and Miltec as well.  We've shot the snot out of Miltec III+ and IV plates as well as an RMA III+ and they all performed as the lab tests show, which for the price was quite impressive. The only thing the miltec really lack is the strikeface padding needs to be a bit thicker so it will meet the .07 drop requirement (fixed with a neoprene sheet cut and sealed on it's strikeface). RMA plates have a good amount of drop protection, and the TSG stuff is similar.  All are available in single and multi-curve and both SAPI and Non-SAPI sizes.

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@ Patriot1069

I have seen plenty of people but bags over their carriers. it gets a little different when shouldering a rifle, but its very doable. all the carriers I know of dont have permanent stitched pouches on them (most chest rigs & LBVs do)

 

personally I'm a fan of modularity & mobility. a veritas carrier with a m4 sprirtus micro chest rig, & a halley strategic flatpack (or similar concept) will allow you to do many things.

 

id also suggest looking at the chart in this forum to get ideas of weight

 

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wquon, correct me if I'm wrong, but the AR500 plates you reference in the spreadsheet are the ones they are selling now for $129, right? Those things are 10 pounds a pop. That's 20 pounds in plates alone. The RMA III+ tiled plate weighs about 4.5 pounds a pop, and a Beez carrier with plates weighs in right around 10 pounds.  Granted it's not low budget, but I look at that especially when it comes to mobility and that's ten more mags or a gallon of water.  Dropping your load by ten pounds is a significant factor when it comes to mobility. Granted you spend about twice as much on plates, but I'd consider that a good investment.

 

 

 

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I went with steel 3+ curved front/back and sides, AR500. Here's to hoping I can avoid a lot of running with it...

Only problem is its about 8 weeks out (prolly got 4 of that left to go)

Still waiting for their new 'Militia' steel helmet with rails and NV mount to come available

Edited by modernpaladin

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After following all your advise to do my research, I think I’m going with the Veritas carrier with SRT armor (#1003).  The suggestion from Skillet to go light weight for mobility changed my priorities slightly.  I looked at the various plates from the companies suggested and looked at the balllistic testing for each plate they offer.  I also checked out the weight to capability ratio. I also figured cost in to fit my budget. I thought I’d go with the SRT armor since it covers steel core rounds and is only 2.5 lb/plate.  The Veritas Lite rig is 1.6 lb and very modular.  The prices weren’t to bad either considering.  The rig is 59.00 and the plates are $275.00 each.  They are both SAPI so should be compatible.  If I’m wrong on anything please let me know.  I welcome as much feedback as I can get.  I want to get it right since my life depends on me getting it right.  Thank you all for the help.

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31 minutes ago, Patriot1069 said:

After following all your advise to do my research, I think I’m going with the Veritas carrier with SRT armor (#1003).  The suggestion from Skillet to go light weight for mobility changed my priorities slightly.  I looked at the various plates from the companies suggested and looked at the balllistic testing for each plate they offer.  I also checked out the weight to capability ratio. I also figured cost in to fit my budget. I thought I’d go with the SRT armor since it covers steel core rounds and is only 2.5 lb/plate.  The Veritas Lite rig is 1.6 lb and very modular.  The prices weren’t to bad either considering.  The rig is 59.00 and the plates are $275.00 each.  They are both SAPI so should be compatible.  If I’m wrong on anything please let me know.  I welcome as much feedback as I can get.  I want to get it right since my life depends on me getting it right.  Thank you all for the help.

I'm tied up at the moment but if you'll wait I'll research your choices this evening and give you some critique.

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7 hours ago, Patriot1069 said:

After following all your advise to do my research, I think I’m going with the Veritas carrier with SRT armor (#1003).  The suggestion from Skillet to go light weight for mobility changed my priorities slightly.  I looked at the various plates from the companies suggested and looked at the balllistic testing for each plate they offer.  I also checked out the weight to capability ratio. I also figured cost in to fit my budget. I thought I’d go with the SRT armor since it covers steel core rounds and is only 2.5 lb/plate.  The Veritas Lite rig is 1.6 lb and very modular.  The prices weren’t to bad either considering.  The rig is 59.00 and the plates are $275.00 each.  They are both SAPI so should be compatible.  If I’m wrong on anything please let me know.  I welcome as much feedback as I can get.  I want to get it right since my life depends on me getting it right.  Thank you all for the help.

OK, first thing to take into account is your requirement which is determining what the threat is along with your protective requirements, including mounted and dismounted mobility, etc.  What is your operational environment like? What ranges are you likely be be shot at from? And what are the most popular calibers in your A/O?  Given the price and weight difference bumping up to III+ might be a good decision, you'll get more protection against very common rounds. by bumping up to III+, which is soon to be RF2 rating under the NIJ .07 rating revision. 

 

On the carrier you need to check if the plate + a ballistic backer(what we call a "crash pad") will fit in the pockets - I'd call AR500 and ask what the pocket depth is because a lot of the carriers designed for steel plates will not fit a PE plate with crash pad. Also, at that price point I'm betting it's made in china (MiC). MiC is ok for some things, but I highly recommend against buying MiC plate carriers.  Even some of the "NOTA endorsed" ones simply will not be durable enough to hold up to consistent training. I've seen a guy get a broken foot from an AR500 plate falling out of his MiC plate carrier when the stitching on the velcro failed. Not pretty, total mobility kill. blown seams, torn PALS, etc. You can probably get away with cheap pouches but I'd spend good money on a carrier.  Here is an alternative, not the cheapest by any means but US made, pretty darn tough, and the plates top load to boot:  https://www.beezcombatsystems.com/BCS-Plate-Carrier-Cumber-BCS-PC-C-500-SSP.htm  I run a Beez carrier and I can't say enough good things about it.  They even have a cheaper model of that one that doesn't have the cumber which starts at $89.  I've worn the USGI OTV and IOTV, Crye, and Eagle. The Beez stuff is very comparable without the crazy price tags. Plus they will customize it (he sells a skeletal cumber kit with ROCS if ya want it) and the lead time is usually reasonable.

 

There are other very reasonably priced US made small companies that have very reasonably priced and well constructed carriers. It's a big cottage industry.

 

 

 

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Hey Skillet, I figured in threat levels, Operational environment, protective requirements, etc.  I am taking your advise to upgrade to the level lll+ which is cheaper than the lllA+ and has more threat protection.  I also checked the specs on the rig and they have a separate crash pad pocket insert for front and back.  The stitching looks good but since I do leather work in my spare time I have really strong thread that I can hand stitch trouble areas to add extra security.  The upgraded plates will come in about 4.9 lb each plus the two pads.  A bit heavier but worth the added protection. The company that makes the rig is in Phoenix, AZ and is made there on site.  Thanks for the advise.

Edited by Patriot1069

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@patriot1069 looks to be a decent setup. if memory serves, I think AR500 says the veritas can fit sappi plates in their video.

 

even though youre going with poly plates due to weight (understandable) you may want to get steel plates later on for backup. poly deforms when hit & is only good for ~5 years. steel plates are rated for 25 years, but thats for the antispal coating (not the plated themselves.

 

doesnt look like the plates you chose have a shooters cut & theyre pretty thick, shouldering the rifle may prove a bit difficult. If you have a friend that could let you try on their gear so you could see how bulky plates are in general, that may help.

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9 hours ago, wquon said:

@patriot1069 looks to be a decent setup. if memory serves, I think AR500 says the veritas can fit sappi plates in their video.

 

even though youre going with poly plates due to weight (understandable) you may want to get steel plates later on for backup. poly deforms when hit & is only good for ~5 years. steel plates are rated for 25 years, but thats for the antispal coating (not the plated themselves.

 

doesnt look like the plates you chose have a shooters cut & theyre pretty thick, shouldering the rifle may prove a bit difficult. If you have a friend that could let you try on their gear so you could see how bulky plates are in general, that may help.

Where did you hear that from? HDPE takes around 100 years or so to degrade depending on the thickness (thicker takes longer) and the tiles in the array which are usually either either an alumina or silicon carbide compound will last longer than any of us, with the upside that they do not get brittle in sub freezing temps.  These types of plates have come a long way in the last couple of years. Vac seal it with a heavy mil bag to serve as an additional skin against abrasion and you'll have a plate that  will last until it either gets hit or you die.

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51 minutes ago, Skillet said:

Where did you hear that from? HDPE takes around 100 years or so to degrade depending on the thickness (thicker takes longer) and the tiles in the array which are usually either either an alumina or silicon carbide compound will last longer than any of us, with the upside that they do not get brittle in sub freezing temps.  These types of plates have come a long way in the last couple of years. Vac seal it with a heavy mil bag to serve as an additional skin against abrasion and you'll have a plate that  will last until it either gets hit or you die.

on the manufacturers website

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13 minutes ago, Skillet said:

Ok, I found it. I'd be willing to bet it's a liability issue more than anything.

similar to many other things. sweat, sunlight, moisture, friction, changes in temp, extreme temp, adhesive breakdown. these may play a roll in the longevity as well.

honestly I dont know how poly plates are made, but looking at how they deform, they look to be layered. which has its own issues.

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1 hour ago, wquon said:

similar to many other things. sweat, sunlight, moisture, friction, changes in temp, extreme temp, adhesive breakdown. these may play a roll in the longevity as well.

honestly I dont know how poly plates are made, but looking at how they deform, they look to be layered. which has its own issues.

The newer Poly plates are nothing like the old ones, and they aren't like the monolithic ceramic/kevlar plates that were one hit wonders . They are actually a matrix of layers of kevlar sheets, octagonal tiles made of an aluminum or silicon carbine powder and ballistic ceramic mixed together and kiln baked under pressure, and backed by a thick High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE) sheet. The kevlar sheet and tiles are designed to break up and decelerate the round and the HDPE sheet is designed to trap it.  These layers are usually encapsulated in one of the many types of thermo stable epoxy. The upside is you can take multiple hits close together before the plate fails.  That deformation is actually a positive as it serves to reduce the kinetic energy transfer of the round impact to the wearer. When these types of plates were in R&D the phrase 'soft trapping" was used to describe them. In conjunction with a crash pad it's a lot less kinetic force transferred to the wearer and in the odd chance a second hit is near the first the HDPE sheet will still function up until full penetration, even after deformation.  But like any plate regardless of what it's made of should be replaced after taking a hit.

 

One thing about backface deformation:  That deformation is the result of newton forces during the impact. The less the plate absorbs the more transfer to the wearer occurs. i.e. A point hit on a steel plate that only deforms the backside say 5mm immediately at the point of impact  is going to transfer significant kinetic energy in that one small location. The hybrid plates tend to spread it out a bit more.  I've heard the difference being described as the difference between getting hit with a ball peen hammer and a mallet, and that's with a crash pad.   

 

Longevity wise I don't think the 5 years has anything to really do with usability, more likely with manufacturers wanting to avoid liability from normal wear and tear, because they will abrade, get thrown in a trunk, etc. The ballistic tiles themselves are pretty darn durable, and the biggest threat to the HDPE is ultraviolet light, which because the HDPE plate is covered and inside a carrier isn't really an issue. The biggest issue is abrasion of the exterior which will cause the edges to fray and that is when delamination starts to occur. The cheap and easy fix for that is to vacuum seal the plates in heavy mil bags as sort of a "sacrificial skin", replacing it as necessary.   

 

Heat and cold cycling really isn't an issue anymore either as long as the plates are certified to at least NIJ .06 as it contains a requirement during preconditioning of hard armor to heat it to 149 degrees for 10 days and then do a thermal cycle test that lasts one day (I've attached a pic from the testing protocol standard showing the temp/cycling requirements) prior to live fire testing.

 

NIJ .07 will be out hopefully before too much longer, and it will do away with the number/letter rating and go to an RF (Rifle Fire) rating. The equivalency is roughly Level III will equal RF1, III+ = RF2, and IV = RF3. Structurally the only real significant difference is the face drop testing requirement for hard armor plates has increased quite a bit.  The change is intended to incorporate the actual M855 round which is currently called a "special threat". When I state actual M855 I mean the ones with actual hardened steel perpetrators (LC, PMC X-Tac, some Federal and Olin/Win,, etc.) and not the civilian tool steel core 62g that is frequently passed off as M855.  III+ will stop M855A1, but M80A1 zips through it like butter. For that you'll need RF3.

 

I think in 5 to 10 years we're going to see some gee whiz stuff, like flexible soft armor that hardens on impact, super-ultra lightweight stuff, etc. In the last decade body armor tech has come a long way and I don't think R&D into newer stuff is going to slow down anytime soon.

nij06temptest.png

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17 hours ago, wquon said:

@patriot1069 looks to be a decent setup. if memory serves, I think AR500 says the veritas can fit sappi plates in their video.

 

even though youre going with poly plates due to weight (understandable) you may want to get steel plates later on for backup. poly deforms when hit & is only good for ~5 years. steel plates are rated for 25 years, but thats for the antispal coating (not the plated themselves.

 

doesnt look like the plates you chose have a shooters cut & theyre pretty thick, shouldering the rifle may prove a bit difficult. If you have a friend that could let you try on their gear so you could see how bulky plates are in general, that may help.

Thanks, I did a bunch of research into getting the set up right.  The rig and the plates are sappi.  The #1099 is a shooters cut and I can get a square back plate but will just get two shooters cuts for both.  I do have a friend I will ask to try his out.

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2 hours ago, Skillet said:

The newer Poly plates are nothing like the old ones, and they aren't like the monolithic ceramic/kevlar plates that were one hit wonders . They are actually a matrix of layers of kevlar sheets, octagonal tiles made of an aluminum or silicon carbine powder and ballistic ceramic mixed together and kiln baked under pressure, and backed by a thick High Density Poly-Ethylene (HDPE) sheet. The kevlar sheet and tiles are designed to break up and decelerate the round and the HDPE sheet is designed to trap it.  These layers are usually encapsulated in one of the many types of thermo stable epoxy. The upside is you can take multiple hits close together before the plate fails.  That deformation is actually a positive as it serves to reduce the kinetic energy transfer of the round impact to the wearer. When these types of plates were in R&D the phrase 'soft trapping" was used to describe them. In conjunction with a crash pad it's a lot less kinetic force transferred to the wearer and in the odd chance a second hit is near the first the HDPE sheet will still function up until full penetration, even after deformation.  But like any plate regardless of what it's made of should be replaced after taking a hit.

 

One thing about backface deformation:  That deformation is the result of newton forces during the impact. The less the plate absorbs the more transfer to the wearer occurs. i.e. A point hit on a steel plate that only deforms the backside say 5mm immediately at the point of impact  is going to transfer significant kinetic energy in that one small location. The hybrid plates tend to spread it out a bit more.  I've heard the difference being described as the difference between getting hit with a ball peen hammer and a mallet, and that's with a crash pad.   

 

Longevity wise I don't think the 5 years has anything to really do with usability, more likely with manufacturers wanting to avoid liability from normal wear and tear, because they will abrade, get thrown in a trunk, etc. The ballistic tiles themselves are pretty darn durable, and the biggest threat to the HDPE is ultraviolet light, which because the HDPE plate is covered and inside a carrier isn't really an issue. The biggest issue is abrasion of the exterior which will cause the edges to fray and that is when delamination starts to occur. The cheap and easy fix for that is to vacuum seal the plates in heavy mil bags as sort of a "sacrificial skin", replacing it as necessary.   

 

Heat and cold cycling really isn't an issue anymore either as long as the plates are certified to at least NIJ .06 as it contains a requirement during preconditioning of hard armor to heat it to 149 degrees for 10 days and then do a thermal cycle test that lasts one day (I've attached a pic from the testing protocol standard showing the temp/cycling requirements) prior to live fire testing.

 

NIJ .07 will be out hopefully before too much longer, and it will do away with the number/letter rating and go to an RF (Rifle Fire) rating. The equivalency is roughly Level III will equal RF1, III+ = RF2, and IV = RF3. Structurally the only real significant difference is the face drop testing requirement for hard armor plates has increased quite a bit.  The change is intended to incorporate the actual M855 round which is currently called a "special threat". When I state actual M855 I mean the ones with actual hardened steel perpetrators (LC, PMC X-Tac, some Federal and Olin/Win,, etc.) and not the civilian tool steel core 62g that is frequently passed off as M855.  III+ will stop M855A1, but M80A1 zips through it like butter. For that you'll need RF3.

 

I think in 5 to 10 years we're going to see some gee whiz stuff, like flexible soft armor that hardens on impact, super-ultra lightweight stuff, etc. In the last decade body armor tech has come a long way and I don't think R&D into newer stuff is going to slow down anytime soon.

nij06temptest.png

While doing my research into the ballistic testing, I found they used 6 shots and it held up.  The #1099 I think covers the M855A1.  I know it covers the M855 civilian round. The big selling point was the disbursed kinetic energy.  I don’t want to get knocked down with a single round and try to scramble to get back into shooting stance. I’ll do the vac bag with a piece of gorilla tape around the edge for added skin thickness at the fray points. The #1099 has an NIJ rating of .07 so it is right where you said I should get.  Thanks for the advise now I know more about the different kinds of plates and the advantages.

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