How a Bulletproof Vest Works: Level IV Armor

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the regulatory body that establishes the highest standard for armor ratings in the body armor industry. Level IV Armor is the highest level of defense that the NIJ recognizes for body armor. Level IV Plates protect against armor-piercing projectiles, including .30-06 M2 AP (“black tip”). The M2 AP round these plates protect against has been used heavily from World War II through the war in Afghanistan. However, these rounds are becoming harder to find, and because of their rarity, they are becoming more expensive. It is critical to consider the threats you are most likely to encounter. But please do not ignore the importance of body armor when trying to preserve human life.

Level IV Plates: Compositions

Level IV Plates are typically composed of ceramics and composites. However, not all Level IV Plates are created equal. Some companies offer standalone Level IV plates or Level IV ICW (in conjunction with) plates with Level IIIA backers. The materials and manufacturing processes used for these plates will determine their weight and protection capabilities. Generally speaking, Level IV Plates use one of these three ceramics: Alumina Oxide, Silicon Carbide, or Boron Carbide.

Typically, manufacturers will use a solid one-piece ceramic plate that is adhered to UHMWPE or Aramid Fibers. One-piece ceramic plates are prone to stress fractures, whether you drop them or they get struck by a bullet. These stress fractures can compromise the armor and can ultimately make your armor fail. Our Level IV ICW Rifle Plates are one of the top choices for Level IV protection currently on the market. Our Level IV ICW plates stand out with our proprietary mosaic-style pattern, minimizing the brittleness associated with one-piece ceramic armor and enhancing overall reliability and multi-hit capabilities.

How are Level IV Plates Tested?

The NIJ Standard-0101.06 sets strict testing standards for body armor, especially Level IV Plates. Including; specific testing ammunitions, velocity specifications, exposure to varying environmental conditions, and measurements of back face deformation (BFD). Strict NIJ limits on back-face deformation help prevent excessive trauma caused by the indentation resulting from projectile impacts. The measurement of back face deformation(BFD) is the factor that will determine the amount of trauma induced on the wearer.

For Level IV Plates, the chosen projectiles are armor-piercing .30 caliber M2 AP rounds, notorious for their ability to penetrate armor. The testing entails firing these projectiles at a higher velocity than those used for lower-level plates, ensuring Level IV Plates can withstand the impact of high-velocity armor-piercing rifle rounds. NIJ testing further subjects these plates to harsh environmental conditions, replicating real-world challenges such as temperature and humidity variations. Our Level IV ICW Rifle Plates undergo these rigorous tests, ensuring they are a reliable piece of protection.

What Level of Protection is Right for You?

Level IV Plates provides unparalleled protection against high-powered rifle threats compared to lower-level armor alternatives. it is an excellent choice for military and law enforcement personnel, as well as individuals in need of advanced ballistic protection.

While Level IV Armor excels in defeating armor-piercing rifle projectiles, it is worth noting that it is heavier and less flexible than its lower-level counterparts. The added weight, attributed to the incorporation of ceramic and composite materials, could impact mobility and comfort. Level IV body armor is best suited for high-risk environments where encounters with high-powered rifles are prevalent, but careful consideration of operational needs and mobility requirements is crucial.

Our Complete Body Armor bundle offers Level IV protection at an affordable price. Not only do you receive Level IV protection over your vital organs, but you also receive Level IIIA+ wrap-around protection. This bundle will protect you from AP rounds, shrapnel, stabs, strikes, slashes, and small arms fire all within one vest. Our Level IV plates offer an extra layer of protection, empowering individuals and organizations to face formidable threats head-on, fortified by the highest level of ballistic resistance available.

  • Hard Rifle Plate Level IV ICW $169.00-$338.00

    Upgrade your Level IIIA or IIIA+ vest with our ICW (in conjunction with) Rifle Plates. Slide them into the outer pockets on any of our Tactical, First Response, or Concealed carriers for quick rifle protection. Capable of taking multiple hits, these mosaic tile, 5.8lbs hard armor plates stop up to 30-06 steel-core armor-piercing rounds when used with IIIA or IIIA+ soft armor!

      We offer two different types of plate sizes:

    • 10″×12″ Rifle Plates are for Safe Life Defense vest sizes XS and larger.
    • 8″X10″ Rifle Plates are for Safe Life Defense vest sizes 2XS and smaller.

    Order a 2 Pack of two rifle plates if you want front and back protection.

  • NIJ Certified
    The Complete Body Armor Bundle $999.00

    Adapt to any environment with The Complete Body Armor Bundle. This modular armor bundle allows you to create 3 different vest setups: concealed, tactical, and rifle rated so you can always match your mission.


    – ONE Tactical Carrier (Overt Protection)
    – Front and Back Level IIIA+ Soft Armor
    – ONE Concealed Carrier (Covert Protection)
    – TWO Level IV ICW Rifle Plates

    Choose Your Carrier/Vest Size:
How a Bulletproof Vest Works: Special Threat and Level III Plates
Everyday Carry (EDC): Body Armor Considerations

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