Which Lightweight Bulletproof Vest is Right for You?
Some bulletproof vests can be large, bulky, and weigh you down. There are models and kits though, that provides a lightweight bulletproof vest option for the wearer. Let's look at the different options for protecting yourself while also staying agile in any environment.
Table of Contents
- Why do you need a bulletproof vest anyway?
- Lightweight bulletproof vest options by rating
Why do you need a bulletproof vest anyway?
Bulletproof vests are key to protection in many different circumstances. Incidents with ballistic projectiles happen more often than you might think. According to the CDC, there were over 19,000 homicide deaths with a firearm, in 2020 alone.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to wear your tactical plate carrier with level IV plates to the grocery store. There are some different options that you might find helpful.
It’s also a good idea to have multiple sets for various situations. Your training set might be heavier than your SHTF/Emergency kit so that you build up endurance and have energy for longer periods of time when it counts.
Let’s see what Spartan Armor Systems® recommends for lightweight bulletproof vests.
Lightweight Bulletproof Vest Options by Rating
Level IIIA armor is rated to stop handgun rounds up to .44 MAG SJHP and Spartan Armor Systems®’ level IIIA bulletproof vests are even special threat rated to defeat .357 SIG FMJ.
When it comes to lightweight body armor, level IIIA bulletproof vests are hands down the best option. However, the trade-off is the limited protection. While quality IIIA body armor such as our Flex Fused Core™ soft armor and Armis hard armor will easily defeat handgun rounds, rifle rounds will cut through level IIIA armor like warm butter.
So what’s the point of IIIA armor?
It’s the easiest to conceal making it a practical solution to protection in urban environments. Level IIIA soft armor is also much more comfortable to wear for long periods of time compared to traditional hard armor plates.
Some questions to ask yourself is do you need to wear body armor for an extended period? Does it need to be underneath clothing? How lightweight are we talking about here?
Spartan Armor Systems® provides some of the most comfortable lightweight bulletproof vests on the market. With our DL Concealment Plate carrier, you can get a package with either our Flex Fused Core™ Soft Armor Panels or our Armis Level IIIA Hard Armor Plates. We recommend using either one when paired with the concealable DL plate carrier. Not only are they both comfortable, but they are super lightweight at just over 1lb per plate!
In addition, Spartan Armor Systems® also offers the Ghost Concealment shirt which provides four zones of IIIA protection.
At only 3.5 lbs. per plate, Spartan Armor Systems® Elaphros Level III Plates make for a great lightweight bulletproof vest insert and are NIJ Certified to stop M80 BALL rounds.
This multi-curve, composite plate is not only lightweight, but it is neutrally buoyant, and even floats in water. These plates are the perfect pair with our Hydra Lightweight Plate carrier so that you have a true, ultra-lightweight bulletproof vest. Another great option for a lightweight and minimalist pairing with the Elaphros is our Tactical Response Kit.
When choosing level III plates, most people go right to the AR500 Steel plates. Don’t get me wrong, those are great plates, but at over 7-8lbs per plate, they can get heavy, fast.
Even Steel Swimmers cut plates can be heavy over a long time, even though they are lighter than the traditional shooters cut.
NIJ Level III bulletproof vests are rated to stop basic rifle rounds.
Level III+ (Soon to be RF2 under new NIJ Standards)
Now we start getting into the bulkier, heavier plates in the industry. These plates tend to get heavier because they need to be able to defeat M855 or other rounds with enhanced/hardened tips (not armor piercing).
Spartan Armor Systems® is once again setting the industry standard and will soon come out with Composite/Ceramic level III+ lightweight body armor plates.
Our Kratos plates are coming soon, and they are no joke. Even though they are rated for Level III+, they only weigh around 4 lbs. per plate. Yes, you read that right, only 4 lbs.!
With normal ESAPI sizing, these plates are sure to fit nicely in most of our plate carriers.
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These plates are usually ceramic and tend to be lighter than steel plates but with a lower average shelf life (usually around 5 years). Our Hercules X and Hercules are what we recommend for a lightweight level IV bulletproof vest. They weigh less than most other ceramic plates, with the Hercules at 7 lbs. per plate and the Hercules X at 6 lbs. per plate.
For your Level IV lightweight bulletproof vest, we recommend either of these plates with our American-Made Leonidas Legend Plate Carrier.
*Note: want to run a lighter kit? Remove the cummerbund on the Leonidas Legends Plate Carrier.
Looking for a smaller price tag? Each of our level IV plates pair very well with the Achilles plate carrier too.
Both plate carriers are lighter than others because they are laser cut. There is no added material to create the PALS webbing for your attachments.
Level IV bulletproof vests are rated to stop armor-piercing rifle rounds up to .30-06 M2 AP and are multi-hit rated for 3-4 rounds of that!
As you can see, there are a plethora of options to choose from when deciding on a lightweight bulletproof vest. If you have any questions, please contact our customer support, who is always willing to help where they can!