People working in security and law enforcement agencies are more likely to be attacked using pistols, knives and other arms while doing their duties. Hence to prevent being attacked, it is necessary to protect the body. While helmets are available to protect the head, body armor with ballistic plates is used to protect the torso especially the heart, lungs, kidney, liver and digestive system. There are a large variety of ballistic plates available and some of the main factors to be considered while choosing a suitable ballistic plate for protection are discussed.
The firearms shoot the bullets at a high speed, and due to the high amount of energy of the bullet, it can penetrate most materials including the human body and cause damage. Hence to protect against these bullets, ballistic plates which are made from steel and other materials are used. These materials are very hard, so though the bullet has a lot of force, it does not penetrate the plate, and the body of the person wearing the plate will remain protected. There are a number of plates which are available to protect the body against different kinds of bullets and other weapons.
Since the ballistic plates which some are made of boron carbide are a critical part of the safety equipment and can save lives, to ensure quality, these plates are certified by the National Institute of Justice under its standard NIJ 101.06. There are a total of five levels for body armor, Level II, Level IIA, Level III, Level IIIA, Level IV with Level II corresponding to soft body armor, while ballistic plates correspond to Level III and above. The ballistic plates are also called rifle plates or armor plates. Most of the ballistic plates sold are rated at Level IIIA, designed to withstand six rounds of M80 ball bullets at a speed of 2780 feet per second or equivalent.
The ballistic plates are usually offered in the Enhanced Small Arms Protection Insert (ESAPI) cut to protect the important. The plates are available in different sizes like small, medium, large and extra large to fit the person wearing them properly. Typically the ultra hard ballistic steel which is used to make the plates is 5 mm thick and has a spall coating on it for additional protection. In some cases the polyethylene or ceramic may be used, and these plates are more expensive. The plate is curved for proper fitting. The plate is very rugged and will not fracture when subjected to stress.
Most of the companies are offering a warranty of at least ten years on their ballistic plates, though in some cases, they may be offering a warranty of twenty years or more. These plates can be used repeatedly for shielding against bullets and other weapons, without affecting their performance. The coating ensures that the plates are abrasion resistant and not affected by chemicals. Though these plates can stop the bullet, the bullet will still have a lot of kinetic energy which may be transferred to the body of the wearer causing injury. Hence the plates should be used with a trauma plate, to absorb and help mitigate the bullet energy.