How a Bulletproof Vest Works: Special Threat and Level III Plates

Moving up the ladder of armor protection recognized by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice), we arrive at level III armor. Certified Level III plates are designed to defeat ammunition up to 7.62×51 M80 (.308 Winchester) rounds. Recent technological advancements have ushered in a new era of armor manufacturing, marked by enhancements in strength, durability, and weight reduction compared to previous years. These technological breakthroughs have played a pivotal role in driving the popularity of rifle-rated plates and spurring the creation of special-threat armor plates.

Special Threat Plates VS. Level III Plates

It is worth noting that most “special threat” armor does not possess NIJ ratings or recognition, leading to the absence of standardized criteria for NIJ certification. Consequently, manufacturers take on the responsibility of thoroughly testing and evaluating their armor systems to ensure their efficacy for their end users. The landscape of special-threat ratings varies across manufacturers, underscoring the need to meticulously examine the specifications regarding what a particular company designates as “special-threat” rated armor.

Numerous armor manufacturers offer rigid hard armor plates engineered to halt Level III ballistic threats, including rounds like .308 Winchester. Most of these Level III plates get molded into a one-piece ceramic design. However, this one-piece construction method can render the armor plates vulnerable to stress fractures, compromising their integrity. These fractures can significantly impede the capacity of an armor plate to withstand multiple hits. While you may assume that level III armor offers protection against 5.56 ammunition, this is not always the case.

What do Special Threat Plates Protect Against?

When discussing armor systems for protection against .223Rem or 5.56 NATO, the concept of special-threat armor starts to take over the chat. Tailored to protect against specific threats, such as .223 Rem/5.56 rounds, special-threat rifle armor fills a crucial niche. Yet, it is critical to note that special-threat armor does not necessarily equate to level III protection. Specific armor solutions available on the market possess the capability to halt both .223/5.56 and .308 rounds, often labeled as level III+. The complexity of these distinctions underscores the importance of reviewing the manufacturers details.

The armor and protection industry offers a variety of options, from level III armor to special-threat solutions.Understanding the nuances between different ratings and capabilities is essential, understanding product specifications is necessary.

The Next Generation of Special Threat and Level III Armor

Numerous body armor manufacturers produce exceptional products, yet only a select few companies stay dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what was once deemed possible for such gear. Among these companies, Nick Groat, the CEO, and Owner of Safe Life Defense, stands out for his relentless pursuit of pushing the limitations of body armor. He continually drives innovation, evident in achievements like developing soft-level IIIA+ armor.

Our Level IIIA+ armor not only safeguards against standard IIIA threats, but the armor also effectively defends against stabs, slashes, and strikes of up to 36 Joules. Moreover, it protects against threats that traditionally overcome soft armor, such as Liberty Civil Defense 9MM+P and 5.7×28 rounds.

One of our standout creations is FRAS, a rifle-rated armor that seamlessly combines the flexibility and adaptability of soft armor, effectively contouring to various body shapes. Safe Life Defense unquestionably leads the body armor industry in crafting some of the most advanced armor solutions available in today’s market.

Safe Life Defense Flexible Rifle Armor

Our FRAS, flexible rifle armor, is our main Special-threat armor. Protecting against rounds like M855, M193, SS109, and standard 7.62×39. This level of protection does not meet any levels currently recognized by the NIJ, which is why it is considered a special-threat rating. We also manufacture STANDALONE FRAS plates. These Standalone FRAS Plates can stop 7.62×51, a.k.a .308 Winchester, PLUS they also stop 7.62x54R, giving the standalone FRAS a level III+ protection rating. You also achieve the same level of protection by using our standard FRAS rifle plates in conjunction with our IIIA+ or Hyperline Armor!

However, as we learned above, not all armor is created equal. Our proprietary mosaic-patterned tile construction (Pictured above) gives FRAS the unique capability to flex and conform to the wearer. This mosaic-styled pattern not only allows your armor to flex. The pattern also mitigates how far the ceramic/composite materials fracture, giving you fewer compromised areas and allowing for true multi-hit capabilities.

  • FRAS�
    FRAS Plate 10x12
    FRAS® Rifle Plates $449.00-$1,148.00$404.10-$1,033.20

    Born from our Flexible Rifle Armor System, this FLEXIBLE RIFLE PLATE is our FRAS® Vest in 10×12 plate form.

    It’s not a secret; our iconic Flexible Rifle Body Armor is one of the most innovative protective vests on the planet. That’s why we made these plates from the exact same material that’s in our FRAS® Vests! This 10×12 plate works seamlessly as a replacement for uncomfortable and impractical hard plates. In addition, this plate is truly “multi-functional” and can be used in conjunction with IIIA+ soft armor OR standalone in a plate carrier or in a backpack.

    • 10×12 Rifle Plates are for Safe Life Defense vest sizes XS and larger.
    • 8″X10″ Plates for Safe Life Defense vest sizes 2XS and smaller.
    • 11″x14″ Fits any plate carrier that accepts 11″x14″ plates
  • FRAS�
    Fras Blue
    FRAS® Panels $1,520.00-$2,020.00$1,368.00-$1,818.00

    For many years people have been told “no soft armor will defend against a rifle threat.”  That changes now…


    Safe Life Defense FRAS® is a Flexible Rifle Armor System that feels and conceals just like soft armor but is rated to defend against .223, 5.56 and 7.62×39! Flexible Rifle Armor panels provide full front, rear and side coverage while still being lighter than most traditional rifle plates.  Guaranteed to be the most comfortable rifle protection you have ever worn or your money back!

SHOT Show 2024: Recap
How a Bulletproof Vest Works: Level IV Armor

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