The Best Lightweight Body Armor
Due to experience with older technology, many people believe lightweight body armor isn’t capable of providing a high level of protection. But thanks to modern technology, lightweight armor is becoming more and more popular by the day. That’s due to its multi-hit capability and ruggedness, but also because it allows for more agility in the field or in battle.
Polyethylene Body Armor
Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene body armor is the lightest form of rifle-rated body armor today. Because it lacks any ceramic components, UHMWPE armor typically falls into the Level 3 body armor category. UHMWPE body armor is made from non-toxic and non-corrosive fibers with a high tensile strength that are tightly woven together into sheets. As a result of its strong chemical bonds, we can use these to make body armor. From this sheet, RMA cuts and presses the polyethylene into the size and shape that you can wear as body armor. RMA manufactures three different NIJ Certified lightweight level III body armor models, ranging in weight from only 3 to 3.5 pounds because of this extremely strong, but lightweight miracle fabric.
How Strong is Polyethylene Body Armor?
In addition to weighing around the 3 pound mark, polyethylene body armor is extremely rugged and strong; capable of defeating at least six rounds of M80 NATO steel. As a result, it also defeats multiple shots from 7.62 x 39 mild steel core and high velocity rounds such as 5.56mm M193, among others.
|RMA Level III Body Armor Models||Weight||Curvature||Size||Ballistics|
|Level III Model 1088 – NIJ Certified||3.0 lbs.||Single||10 x 12||Multi-hit rated to defeat m80 NATO Steel, 7.62 x 39 msc, m193, 5.56 FMJ|
|Level III Model 1078 – NIJ Certified||3.3 lbs.||Single||10 x 12||Multi-hit rated to defeat m80 NATO Steel, 7.62 x 39 msc, m193, 5.56 FMJ|
|Level III model 1061 – NIJ Certified||3.07 lbs||Multi||8.75 x 11.75 (size small)||Multi-hit rated to defeat m80 NATO Steel, 7.62 x 39 msc, m193, 5.56 FMJ|
|Level III model 1062 – NIJ Certified||3.48 lbs||Multi||9.5 x 12.5 (size medium)||Multi-hit rated to defeat m80 NATO Steel, 7.62 x 39 msc, m193, 5.56 FMJ|
|Level III model 1063 – NIJ Certified||4.13 lbs||Multi||10.25 x 13.25 (size large)||Multi-hit rated to defeat m80 NATO Steel, 7.62 x 39 msc, m193, 5.56 FMJ|
|Level III model 1064 – NIJ Certified||4.90 lbs||Multi||11 x 14 (size XL)||Multi-hit rated to defeat m80 NATO Steel, 7.62 x 39 msc, m193, 5.56 FMJ|
Special Rifle Threat Body Armor
If Level III body armor isn’t light enough, RMA also builds a Special Rifle Threat body armor plate that is even lighter. Thanks to its UHMWPE build, our SRT plate isn’t just classified as ultra-lightweight body armor due to weighing only 2.5 lbs; it also boasts an ultra-thin profile with a thinness of only 0.8″. As a result, our SRT lightweight armor plate allows for even more versatility for the wearer. But not only can you utilize the armor in a traditional tactical plate carrier set up, you can also use it as concealed body armor in plain clothes because it is so thin. Moreover, RMA’s Contego Concealed Vest has 10 x 12 pockets built into the front and rear of the vest. Because of that, you can add rifle rated protection that the SRT plate provides beyond only pistol rounds.
How Strong is SRT Body Armor?
Our Special Rifle Threat body armor is also incredibly rugged. In addition to its ultra-lightweight and ultra-thin characteristics, it’s capable of defeating .308, 7.62 x 39, 5.56 FMJ and M193.
Lightweight Ceramic Body Armor
Lightweight ceramic armor is the top choice of warfighters because both mobility and tier one ballistics are essential to mission success for elite units. Weighing only 5.1 to 7 pounds (size dependent), RMA’s next generation Level III+ body armor is the perfect body armor combination of weight, ballistics, and affordability.
As a result of its ceramic construction, the strike face on ceramic body armor gives it the protective upper hand compared to steel or polyethylene body armor. Most importantly, ceramic is the essential component in defeating armor-piercing rifle rounds like the M855 or M855A1. As a rifle round strikes the armor, the ceramic strike face breaks apart the entire round. This allows the UHMWPE backer to stop the remaining slow-moving fragments. Because the strong ceramic strike face absorbed much of the kinetic impact energy, ultra-strong fibers are then capable of defeating what’s left over.
Is ceramic body armor fragile?
Some claim that ceramic body armor is fragile, but that simply isn’t true. Firstly, RMA manufactures body armor at or beyond NIJ standards which require drop testing. Secondly, Our next generation Level 3+ or RF2 body armor is required by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to defeat multiple M80 NATO, 7.62 x 39 MSC, M193 and M855 rounds. Thirdly, and most importantly, RMA takes it a step further; we built our Generation 2 1090 Series lightweight armor to defeat multiple M855A1 rounds as well.
These penetrator rounds are the new US military replacement for ‘green tip’ M855 cartridges with a larger steel tip followed by a copper slug. Therefore, these rounds continue to provide reliable penetration capabilities at longer ranges. As a result, most Level III+ and RF2 plates on the market aren’t capable of defeating this round. Because these rounds are commercially available for the most common rifle in America, it’s critical to protect yourself from this potential threat. For instance, M855A1 is widely available on GunBroker.
Lightweight Level IV Body Armor
RMA takes the lightweight armor mission even further with our 5.9 pound level 4 body armor plate, raising the bar on ballistics. As a result of level IV body armor standards, the model 1192 plate is a lightweight multi-curve body armor plate that can defeat all rounds up to the 7.62 x 63 black tip (M2AP 30-06).
In conclusion, no matter the mission, RMA has lightweight body armor to fit your needs.