Are Side Armor Plate Necessary?

Are Side Armor Plate Necessary?



When it comes to tactical gear and body armor, the focus is often on protecting the front and back. But what about the sides? Many plate carriers come with the option to add side armor plates. This raises the question: are side armor plates really necessary?


At PivotalBodyArmor, we understand the importance of comprehensive protection. That's why we offer a range of soft body armor and plate carrier options that allow for side armor plates. Let's explore the benefits and considerations of using side armor.

The case for side armor plates

The primary argument for using side armor plates is expanded protection. While front and back plates shield the vital organs, side plates protect the torso from lateral threats. This is especially relevant in combat situations or high-risk environments where threats can come from any angle.

Consider these scenarios where side armor could be crucial:

  • Urban combat with threats in close proximity
  • Tactical operations in confined spaces
  • Situations with multiple assailants

Increased coverage, increased safety

The torso houses vital organs and major blood vessels. A penetrating injury to the sides could be just as fatal as one to the front or back. Side armor plates provide an extra layer of protection, reducing the risk of serious injury or death.

Spartan Armor Systems, one of the brands we carry at PivotalBodyArmor, offers side armor plates designed for seamless integration with their plate carriers. By adding side plates, you significantly increase your body's protected area.

Mobility considerations

One of the main concerns with side armor plates is mobility. The added weight and bulk can potentially restrict movement, which is a key factor in tactical situations. However, advancements in armor technology have led to lighter, thinner side plates that minimize impact on agility.

When selecting side armor plates, consider:

  • Weight and thickness of the plates
  • Plate material (steel, ceramic, polyethylene)
  • Carrier design and side plate pockets
  • Your specific mission requirements
Brand Material Weight*
Spartan Armor Ceramic 1.5 lbs
Shellback Tactical Polyethylene 1.2 lbs
AR500 Armor Steel 2 lbs

*Weights are approximate and may vary based on size and specific model.

Level of protection

When choosing side armor plates, consider the level of protection needed based on the potential threats. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sets standards for body armor protection levels. Look for side plates that are NIJ-certified to ensure they meet rigorous testing standards.

Common protection levels for side armor plates:

  • Level IIIA: Protects against most handgun threats
  • Level III: Protects against rifle threats
  • Level IV: Protects against armor-piercing rifle threats

PivotalBodyArmor offers side plates across various protection levels from trusted brands like Shellback Tactical and Tactical Scorpion Gear. Our experts can help you select the right level of protection for your needs.

Fitting side armor plates

Proper fit is crucial for side armor plates to function effectively. Plates should fit snugly against the body without gaps that could allow projectiles to slip through. Look for a carrier with adjustable side plate pockets to ensure a secure fit.

Tips for fitting side armor plates:

  1. Measure your torso width to select the correct plate size
  2. Adjust the carrier's side plate pockets for a snug fit
  3. Ensure plates do not restrict breathing or movement
  4. Test fit with other gear you typically wear

Integration with other gear

Consider how side armor plates will integrate with your other tactical gear. Will they interfere with holsters, magazine pouches, or communication equipment? Look for low-profile side plate designs that minimize bulk and interference.

Some plate carriers, like the Caliber Armor models we carry, feature side plate pockets that can be removed when not in use. This modularity allows you to adapt your setup based on mission requirements.

Training with side armor plates

If you decide to use side armor plates, it's essential to train with them. Incorporate side plates into your training routines to get accustomed to their added weight and bulk. Practice movements, drills, and scenarios while wearing your full kit to identify any limitations or necessary adjustments.

Regular training with side plates will help you:

  • Adapt to the added weight and bulk
  • Identify any mobility restrictions
  • Modify tactics and techniques as needed
  • Build endurance and strength

Maintenance and replacement

Like any piece of tactical gear, side armor plates require proper maintenance and replacement. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning and storing your plates. Inspect them regularly for signs of damage or wear.

Most side armor plates have a 5-year warranty, but their actual service life may vary. Replace side plates if they sustain impact or show significant signs of wear. Don't let compromised plates put your safety at risk.

Choosing the right side armor plates

At PivotalBodyArmor, we offer a wide selection of side armor plates from leading brands. Our experts can help you choose the right plates based on your specific needs and mission requirements.

Key factors to consider:

  • Protection level (NIJ rating)
  • Material (steel, ceramic, polyethylene)
  • Weight and thickness
  • Plate size and fit
  • Compatibility with your carrier and gear

Whether you're in law enforcement, military, or private security, our team is here to help you find the best side armor plates for your situation. We understand the importance of comprehensive protection and strive to provide top-quality gear from trusted manufacturers.

Are side armor plates necessary?

The decision to use side armor plates ultimately depends on your specific needs and risk assessment. For those in high-threat environments or combat situations, side plates can provide crucial additional protection. However, the added weight and bulk may not be necessary for everyone.

Consider your role, potential threats, and mission requirements when deciding whether side armor plates are necessary for you. Consult with your agency or organization's policies and guidelines regarding body armor.

At PivotalBodyArmor, we believe in empowering our customers to make informed decisions about their protective gear. We offer a range of plate carriers with side plate options, allowing you to customize your setup based on your needs.


Side armor plates can provide an extra layer of protection in high-risk situations. They expand coverage to the torso's lateral areas, shielding vital organs and major blood vessels. However, the decision to use side plates should be based on a careful assessment of your specific needs and mission requirements.

When selecting side armor plates, consider factors like protection level, material, weight, and compatibility with your carrier and gear. Proper fit and training with side plates are crucial for optimal performance and safety.

At PivotalBodyArmor, we're committed to providing top-quality protective gear from trusted brands like Spartan Armor Systems, Shellback Tactical, and AR500 Armor. Our experts are here to help you navigate the options and find the best side armor plates for your needs.

Remember, your safety is our top priority. Whether you choose to use side armor plates or not, always wear your body armor as directed and maintain it properly. Stay safe out there!

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