Hard Armor Insert

Hard Armor Insert

This is a discussion on Hard Armor Insert within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm a cop and I currently wear a PACA IIIA vest but I've been looking into getting a good hard armor insert to put in ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array BigD7's Avatar
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    Hard Armor Insert

    I'm a cop and I currently wear a PACA IIIA vest but I've been looking into getting a good hard armor insert to put in the front of my vest. My questions are: What brands are good? What material is best considering weight vs protection? Is there anything else I need to know or consider? Thank you for your time.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Crescentstar's Avatar
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    I used to wear a Kevlar covered steel insert, but stopped due to extra weight and stiffness. One opinion is that a hard insert will cause a bullet to deflect up into your head or down into your body, which is another reason I switched to a soft insert. I don't have any data to support either opinion, but the soft insert was definitely more comfortable.

    If you are currently wearing a 3A you are already pretty well protected considering a level 2 is fairly standard. Just curious, why so much coverage? If you are in that much danger, you probably need hard tactical armor, not a concealed vest. I personally wouldn't wear a 3A.
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    Are you talking about rifle plates to take it up to level 4?

    There are several brands on the market the lighter weight ceramics are of course more expensive. The issue you will find is that the wearing of the plates will make your concealable vest now non concealable and the sheer weight of the plates will wear you down.


    I would look at GT Distributors or Botach Tactical to get an idea of what you want.
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    Ceramic plates are heavy, you are going to add significantly to your daily gear weight. I seem to recall them being somewhere in the 8-12 pound range per plate. One of the good things about ceramic plates is their ability to stop multiple hits.

    However, just adding one to the front is going to severely unbalance your vest, and make it very uncomfortable to wear IMHO.
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  5. #5
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    Do you just want to add additional blunt force trauma protection? If that is the case then go with a Titanium plate.

    I have a Threat Level IIIA with a "Point Blank" Titanium Plate in front of an additional Soft Trauma insert.
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    Member Array John123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckeye .45 View Post
    Ceramic plates are heavy, you are going to add significantly to your daily gear weight. I seem to recall them being somewhere in the 8-12 pound range per plate. One of the good things about ceramic plates is their ability to stop multiple hits.

    However, just adding one to the front is going to severely unbalance your vest, and make it very uncomfortable to wear IMHO.
    Ceramics are heavy, but are actually half the weight of the equivalent plate if made of steel. The weight of ceramic plates is so significant in the LE world because they are being compared to trauma plates (little hard inserts to protect the heart from "trauma" such as getting hit with a 44 mag in the center mass with body armor. Even if the round doesn't penetrate the trauma of getting hit that hard in such a centralized spot can put you into shock. A trauma plate allows that impact to be spread evenly over a larger surface area, thus lessening the blow.)

    A full on ceramic level 4 plate made for rifle impacts is easily 4 times the weight of a small trauma plate, as well as 4 times as thick, but so are steel level 4 plates.

    I think the OP should be looking for Trauma plates, vice full on Rifle plates designed for a full on extended gunfight. You may be able to find a super stealthy rifle plate carrier and plates to wear in an everyday environment, but be prepared to shell out some serious cash!

  7. #7
    Member Array BigD7's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for the input, I really appreciate it. To answer some questions, I have also heard about bullets defelcting upward into the skull but have not heard any real world evidence to support that. I don't live in such a hostile enviornment to need it, but I figured if I could get something that weighs light enough and fits comfortably it shouldn't hurt to add to my armor.
    I don't think I will be in an extended gunfight, but if I could find something comfortable and would protect me from common rifle rounds I would rather have it and not need it. Plus my girlfriend wants to get me something for our anniversary and I figured some extra armor protection would put some of her worries at ease.

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    Whew... I was holding my breath reading this thread, hoping Gecko 45 hadn't re-surfaced. This thread went 7 posts without mention of duct tape, so I think the coast is clear.

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  9. #9
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    There are a variety of plates available. Galls has steel, ceramic, ceramic/polymer blend available in assorted sizes. Weight of course is directly linked to price. Some of the hard plates are rubber coated which is supposed to reduce the splatter of bullet fragments.
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    I usually wonder if I'd want more surface area covered, rather than have extra protection in the areas already covered. It seems like it should be pretty simple to put on something over the shoulders/upperarms that would be ~ II protection. I think that the odds of getting shot in the arm with a 9mm is much higher than getting shot in the chest with a .308
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    VIP Member Array Smitty901's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckeye .45 View Post
    Ceramic plates are heavy, you are going to add significantly to your daily gear weight. I seem to recall them being somewhere in the 8-12 pound range per plate. One of the good things about ceramic plates is their ability to stop multiple hits.

    However, just adding one to the front is going to severely unbalance your vest, and make it very uncomfortable to wear IMHO.
    Current Ceramic plates are not as heavy but the bulk is a problem.
    A PACA IIIA is going to do just fine for LEO High powered rifle are not a big issue for LEO. If it is even a remote chnace you need it a hand gun is what will be used
    Wearing a vest with Ceramic plates or the old steel plates everyday all day sucks.

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanuckQue View Post
    I usually wonder if I'd want more surface area covered, rather than have extra protection in the areas already covered. It seems like it should be pretty simple to put on something over the shoulders/upperarms that would be ~ II protection. I think that the odds of getting shot in the arm with a 9mm is much higher than getting shot in the chest with a .308
    Galls does carry add on sleeves. Having never seen them in person though I don't know how concealable they are. But if you are not concerned with being discrete they have a bunch of add ons available.
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  13. #13
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    It's not just you Daddy's Kevlar anymore.

    There is Teijin & varients of high performance polyethylene like Spectra and Dyneema & the latest insert panels are made of HD~PE which is High Density Polyethylene and then there are some exotic composites.

    Some of the latest stuff is incredibly expensive though.

    It's tough to keep up. I am only aware of some of it because a couple of the newer materials were scaled up for production at the chemical company that Mrs QK works for.

  14. #14
    Distinguished Member Array Rexster's Avatar
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    I have visited this issue from time to time in 28 years of wearing a badge. Each time, I have backed away from actually buying anything, from a combination of cost-effectiveness concerns and the weight of the plates. More recently, I wonder if my bad right knee, which is barely hanging in there, would tolerate the weight of front-and-back plates for very long.
    Regarding cost-effectiveness, I am not shy about spending money for a real need, but the likelihood of encountering a rogue rifleman is small, and if it happened, would he be nice enough to carefully shoot a plate, rather than some other part of my anatomy?

    Moreover, I work night shift, during which I can use darkness, light, and shadow to my advantage. I have bought some very expensive lighting over the years; much more cost-effective than armor, IMHO. A patrol officer working in daylight is more likely to encounter such threats as teams of bank robbers, and he will have fewer opportunities to use darkness as his friend.

    I did buy a ballistic helmet, level IIIA, if I recall correctly. I carry a shotgun and a pry bar, so being up-front is a definite possibility in some situations. Several hundred $$$ for something to protect my shiny head seemed cost-effective. I have more recently considered ballistic protection for the arm-shoulder area, as also being more practical and cost-effective than plates for the chest and back. To be clear, I am not SWAT or any kind of tactical guy; my only designated specialized tasks are photography and fingerprints, though I am still a first responder, not a CSU/CSI type.

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