Level IV Ceramic Body Armor Comparison: Ares vs Hercules Level IV Body Armor
In this article we'll be doing a close comparison of our Ares level IV and Hercules level IV ceramic body armor plates. On the surface, when you look at our Ares Level IV and the Hercules Level IV ceramic body armor plates, they don't appear to have many differences. They’ve both been thoroughly tested by an independent NIJ accredited laboratory, which means these plates stop .30-06 M2AP armor piercing rounds in accordance with NIJ 0101.06 specifications. They’re similar in many ways, both plates offer edge-to-edge protection and feature a multicurve for added comfort. However, when you dig a little deeper the differences between the Ares and Hercules become evident. Quite simply, the Ares is our top-of-the-line level IV body armor plate, but there are advantages to each plate. Let’s take a deep dive into the benefits of each of these high-quality ceramic body armor plates.
The Good Kind of “MIL-SPEC”
Why are Ares Level IV plates more expensive compared to the Hercules? Both are level IV, so why pay more for the Ares? The short answer is that the Ares is made of a much stronger type of ceramic. Ares Level IV ceramic body armor contains a military grade strike face made of boron carbide, which is one of the most impact resistant materials known to man. The terms “military grade” and “MIL-SPEC” get thrown around all the time. Now, for those of us who have served in the armed forces, our relationship with the term, “MIL-SPEC,” is quite different from how civilians think of the term MIL-SPEC. For veterans, the terms “military grade” and “MIL-SPEC” doesn’t fill us with an overabundance of confidence in that product. When we hear, “MIL-SPEC,” we’re immediately thinking, “Oh great, so it’s only going to work part of the time” or, “here’s something 100 soldiers used before me…and it shows.” That being said, there’s bad MIL-SPEC and there’s good MIL-SPEC. When we say that the Ares Level IV armor plates achieve military grade protection, we are referring to modern top-tier body armor used to protect our soldiers. There was a time not too long ago where our soldiers were not provided the level of ballistic protection they deserved. That is until hard ceramics such as aluminum oxide (good) and boron carbide (best) found their way into level IV body armor. The Ares is capable of withstanding a lot of ballistic punishment specifically due to the boron carbide strike face. The cost of boron carbide is higher than the standard aluminum oxide used in most level IV body armor plates. This is why the Ares has a higher price tag than the Hercules. However, since Spartan Armor Systems manufactures cermaic body armor in-house at our Tucson, AZ facility, we are able to sell a boron carbide body armor plate hundreds of dollars less than most other body armor companies.
More Benefits of the Ares Level IV Body Armor Plate
Despite its ability to withstand impacts from high velocity armor-piercing rounds, boron carbide is considerably light weight. The Ares weighs in at only 6.1 lbs per plate, whereas the Hercules weighs 6.9 lbs per plate. The Ares provides maximum protection for vital organs in a full 9.5" x 12.5" medium ESAPI multicurve shooters cut profile. The highly compatible ESAPI medium sizing gives the operator the freedom to choose from a wide range of plate carriers, including the U.S.A. made Leonidas Legend Plate Carrier. Both body armor models utilize a ceramic strike face to destroy and fragment the bullet. Once the bullet has been severely broken down, a UHMWPE (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) backer is used to capture the resulting fragments. In addition, both the Ares and the Hercules provide true edge-to-edge protection. However, since the boron carbide is such a hard material, it does a better job of breaking up the bullet so that the resulting fragments create less back face deformation. This can reduce the effects of blunt force trauma. Below is a video overview of the Ares Level IV ceramic body armor plate.
Not So Fast, Hercules Is No Slouch
Stopping an armor piercing .30-06 M2AP round is no small feat. The Hercules level IV ceramic body armor plate manages to do this while still providing a degree of comfort not found in most other body armor plates (Ares included). It’s also important to point out, not everyone is going to require the level of protection that the Ares provides, which is why our Hercules Level IV plates exist. They’re the middle ground of ensuring you’re protected from high caliber rounds, but without the larger price tag of a boron carbide plate. Although, it is important to point out that the Ares is still one of the lower priced boron carbide plates on the market. The Hercules features our Advanced Compound Curve, which conforms to the body in ways not seen in the majority of ceramic body armor plates on the market. Another important factor is the cut of the armor. The Hercules features a more aggressive taper in the shoulder areas making it a hybrid of the shooters and swimmers cut designs. This tapered design makes it significantly easier (for most people) to shoulder a rifle or draw a pistol, without having to adjust your natural shooting position to account for the shape of the body armor. Below is a video overview of our Hercules Level IV ceramic body armor plate.
The Ares and Hercules are both outstanding choices for level IV threat protection. When it comes time for you to buy level IV body armor, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each so that way you get the ceramic body armor that’s right for your situation. Below are videos highlighting each plate. You can view additional educational body armor videos by checking out our Body Armor 101 series. Additionally, please don’t hesitate to contact us any of your body armor questions. Stay prepared, stay protected.
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