View Full Version : Stand alone level IV trauma plates--steel or Ceramic?

Chaplain Scott
02-14-2013, 23:52
So, I am in the local Reserve Police Academy (as a regular entry level Deputy). I have been talking to some of the full-time Deputies here in rural south-central Montana, and when we get called to Domestics, they often will put on a plate carrier (and grab the AR as well). There are two or three deputies for 1,800 sq miles and back-up can be a LONG time coming. So, I am looking at Level IV stand-alone, multi-hit trauma plates.

I have been trying to do my research. I have been offered a really good deal on a carrier by First Spear. Most of the time, the plate carrier will be thrown on over a level IIIA vest, so I am thinking that steel would be acceptable in this instance, as the IIIA vest underneath should stop spalling. (correct assumption??)

However, there does exist the remote possibility of getting involved in a situation where the Level IIIA vest is not on, but the plate carrier is worn by itself. My guess is that in a situation like that, then the ceramic would be the better choice.

Cost is a factor, as we have to purchase all our own gear (including duty weapon, AR and practice ammo) and while I am pursuing the issue of Federal/State grants, $$ is still an issue.

Having said all that, I really wanted to ask the guys on this forum who are the true experts.

Thanks for the help & opinions!!

DJ Urbanovsky
02-15-2013, 12:41
You don't want to just run bare steel plates in a carrier. They need to be coated with layers of Kevlar/resin (although some guys have been having theirs Rhino Lined). That's what is going to help prevent spall/fragmentation. If you're a DIY guy, you can go that route, but by the time you factor in cost, time, hassle (laying up Kevlar/resin is so much fun), and operator headspace and timing, you're better off just buying a set of commercial plates. While something is better than nothing, do you really want to cheap out on a piece of gear that you're going to bet your ass on?

They are also meant to be worn in conjunction with soft armor. Not as stand alone units.

This is what happens when rounds impact bare steel plates. Imagine what happens to your face, arms, and thighs you if you're wearing these:


Chaplain Scott
02-15-2013, 23:37
I watched that video--that would suck for sure. Does the same sort of effect occur with ceramic plates when hit??

02-16-2013, 01:29
I watched that video--that would suck for sure. Does the same sort of effect occur with ceramic plates when hit??



Modern ballistic ceramic plates normally have a ceramic core backed with aramid fiber and wrapped with an anti-spall cover...

Chaplain Scott
02-17-2013, 19:00
Thanks!! That video was very, very interesting.

I am assuming that not all ceramic plates are made equal. Are there makers to look for and makers to absolutely avoid??

02-18-2013, 07:31
Do you wear a low-pro level III vest while on duty? (I hope so) If so, I would recommend a good set of in-conjunction plates that increases your protection to level IV in a carrier that you can just throw over your vest and shirt when the situation warrants..

Chaplain Scott
02-18-2013, 11:27
I will be wearing a concealable IIIA vest underneath. Most of the Deputies ALSO, under certain circumstances, throw on a tactical plate carrier. Its that tactical plate that I am asking about in this thread.

I have a really decent offer from First Spear on one of their plate carriers.

It seems that Ceramic plates (level IV) are the smart way to go for plates. So my question now is in regards to the quality of various ceramic plates (front and back), and are there manufactures to look for and certain manufacuters to avoid?

Unless, in my lack of experience, I am missing something here?? I am WAY open to education here :D

02-18-2013, 11:53
You want a plate that meets or exceeds NIJ standards and is certified.

Other links:

Remember....You get what you pay for in plates/armor.

Some great carriers here.

Plates here:

Give the guys a call...They will be glad to help you out over the phone and answer all your questions. Ask or Eric, Josh or Matt. Tell em George referred you.

Chaplain Scott
02-18-2013, 15:46
Thank You!!!