Does Body Armor Expire?
If the milk in your fridge was 2 months overdue, would you still drink it? What if it was chunky too? Not only would it be gross, but it could also make you sick.
The same principle goes for body armor, except if you don't follow the expiration date, you won't just get a tummy ache. Your ballistic armor could be less effective or worse...much worse.
Expiration dates are a necessity for ballistic protection gear. They are necessary because the protection provided by the body armor plates will degrade over time. Without body armor expiration dates, the equipment would be ineffective.
Expiration dates are not just a concern for ballistic protection gear like body armor and bulletproof vests. There are tons of things that expire regarding safety equipment that we rely on like fire extinguishers, safety helmets, and safety goggles. Virtually every piece of tactical gear has a lifespan of some sort.
Note: different types of ballistic armor have different lengths before expiring.
Steel core armor plates usually have a shelf life of 20years, whereas ceramic armor usually has a shelf life of only 5 years. That is something to consider before your purchase.
What affects body armor expiration?
Elements such as extreme heat/cold, UV Light, humidity, drops, and even weight loss are all factors that play into the longevity of your bulletproof plates. Note that this applies primarily to ceramic and composite body armor, not steel core body armor.
Store your body armor plates away from the elements. Leaving your body armor in your car all year-round can eventually begin to degrade body armor plates that contain ceramic, polyethylene or aramid fibers. Naturally, this can be more dependent upon the weather in your geographic location.
For maximum longevity, store your body armor plates in a “cool and dry” place when possible. However, in some instances this might not be practical. If you specifically intend on keeping a body armor kit in your car, have a plan for replacement when the armor approaches the end of its lifespan.
Depending on the type of body armor plates you have, even dropping them can cause internal damage. Ceramic plates are strong when stopping ballistic rounds, but some plates have a weakness when dropped.
Where is the expiration date on body armor?
You can find the manufacturers listed expiration date along with other important details on the back of your body armor plate. On the back of a Spartan Armor Systems® armor plate, you can find the plate model, the protection level, expiration date and serial number.
Be sure to check this once you purchase your armor, so you know can set yourself a future reminder on a calendar or smartphone to remind you well before they expire.
Check your body armor regularly for damage and signs of wear
Continue to take the time to look thoroughly at your body armor plates, plate carrier, and any other gear on your kit. Look for signs of damage or any visual wear that could lead to damaged equipment. If you have any questions about your gear, please give our support line a call, they would love to help you make sure your gear is top of the line, just like when you purchased it.
Can you wear expired body armor?
Think back to the expired milk jug. Can you drink that chunky stuff? Yes, you can. Could it potentially lead to illness? Yes, it can.
The same again applies to your body armor. Can expired body armor plates lead to injury or even death? Yes, it can. Not that the day after it expires, it’s immediately ineffective, but again, you should know how effective your body armor plates are because you are checking them regularly and taking care of them by storing them where they should be.
If you choose to wear expired body armor, you are putting yourself at risk with potentially ineffective gear. When you go to replace that gear, don’t forget that Spartan Armor Systems® is here with the gear you need to keep you safe.