In situations where you’re facing life or death, sometimes there’s more to the question than simply what gun you’re carrying. When faced with an attacker with a .308 rifle, you may find yourself outclassed. But what if you have a Level IV plate on? What would happen if you took one shot? How about several?
That’s what we’re here to find out today. We have a level IV ceramic armor plate here and a standard M1A rifle chambered in .308, so let’s see if we can find out.
The First Round
As a quick aside, these tests and reviews are my favorites to film and write about. It’s fun to test gear to its breaking point, to see what it is truly capable of. I’m also curious if manufacturers over-engineer their products possibly to the point that they are capable of more than their official rating.
A Level IV plate (the highest level rated under the National Institute of Justice) is designed to take an armor-piercing round from a .30-06 M2AP with a mass of 166 grains and velocity of 2,880 ft/sec. This plate is rated at that level.
For the test, we have our plate set inside a generic plate carrier and put it on a rubber dummy for a realistically sized target. Our dummy was placed 50 yards from Grant, firing the M1A rifle. We were using Wolf steel case 145-gr. FMJ ammo.
After firing the first round, we found a large impact area in the front of the plate. The back of the plate had a mean dent as well (it’d hurt to get hit with this while wearing the plate), but you’d still be kicking. We noticed a good amount of crumbling in the ceramic as well. It left us excited to see what comes in later rounds of damage. Surely it couldn’t last much longer?
Shots Two Through Eight
It’s important to mention that we fired into the plate relatively randomly; we didn’t aim for empty spots and we also didn’t aim for spots that had already been hit. This would hopefully give an accurate idea if someone were to actually hit you multiple times while wearing this.
Despite our efforts, our second shot pretty much landed the same spot that our first round hit. We saw similar results to our first shot, just amplified. The entry hole was wider, and the back dent was deeper. Impressively, there was a decent amount of armor left in the impact area. This was shocking for us because we initially thought that if we hit the same area twice it’d be “game over”. However, I can now say that I suspect the wearer of this armor would still be able to escape the gunfire after being hit twice like this — albeit pretty banged up.
The third shot was right on the edge of our plate and was by far the biggest dent we had gotten at that point. There was no penetration in the back, and a decent amount of fiber was left in the remaining area.
On our fourth shot, we still saw no penetration in the plate — but talk about one heck of a bruise.
The fifth shot was a tough one. We managed to hit our first impact again, which was a pretty intense test for our plate. Yet even after three shots in a close area, we still had no penetration. Our expectations were far surpassed by this point. We were unable to believe this little plate could take this beating.
Shots six through eight were more of the same. With the same impact types on different areas of the ballistic plate, we were ready for the armor to give at any point; but it kept lasting, right until the ninth shot.
The Final Shot
If there was one way to describe the last shot, it was definitely destructive. Everything in the plate collapsed in on itself; it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The vest and plate both went right into the dummy’s chest and out the other side.
Frankly, the performance we saw that day from this plate was incredibly impressive — especially for a plate that only costs $119. No doubt you could feel much safer with this in your kit when it comes to situations where roaming the streets could be considered dangerous.
This test should further open the eyes of many to the benefits of armor like this. I think you and your family could be safer with access to it. Considering this plate is only $119, it would be relatively easy to outfit the entire family.
Is it essential to the point you need it no matter what? Maybe not. There are other more immediate self-defense kit needs. However, if it comes down to the question of whether you should pick up some plate armor, I think the answer is “yes”. Even if it requires you to save and budget for it, I think it’s a great piece of gear to add to your self-defense system.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!