Armor Inserts: How to Choose the Perfect Armor Inserts for your Plate Carriers.

Armor Inserts: How to Choose the Perfect Armor Inserts for your Plate Carriers.

Armor Inserts: How to Choose the Perfect Armor Inserts for Your Plate Carriers

Are you looking to enhance the protection offered by your plate carrier? Armor inserts are the key to maximizing your safety and ensuring you have the right level of ballistic protection for your needs. At PivotalBodyArmor, we offer a wide range of high-quality armor inserts designed to fit seamlessly into your plate carrier. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential factors to consider when choosing the perfect armor inserts.

Understanding Ballistic Protection Levels

Ballistic protection levels are standardized ratings that indicate the level of protection an armor insert provides against specific threats. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has established a rating system for body armor, ranging from Level IIA to Level IV.

Level IIA

Level IIA armor inserts are designed to protect against 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. These inserts are lightweight and suitable for everyday wear.

Level II

Level II armor inserts offer protection against 9mm and .357 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. They provide a balance between protection and mobility.

Level IIIA

Level IIIA armor inserts are rated to stop .44 Magnum and 9mm submachine gun rounds. They offer enhanced protection while remaining relatively lightweight.

Level III

Level III armor inserts are designed to withstand rifle rounds like 7.62x51mm NATO and .308 Winchester. These inserts are thicker and heavier but provide superior protection against high-velocity threats.

Level IV

Level IV armor inserts offer the highest level of protection, capable of stopping armor-piercing rifle rounds like .30-06 AP. They are the thickest and heaviest inserts but provide unmatched protection in high-risk situations.

Material Options for Armor Inserts

Armor inserts are available in various materials, each with its own advantages and characteristics. The most common materials used in armor inserts are:


Steel armor inserts are known for their durability and affordability. They offer reliable protection against a wide range of threats but are heavier compared to other materials.


Ceramic armor inserts are lightweight and provide excellent multi-hit capabilities. They are effective against high-velocity rounds but can be more expensive than steel inserts.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene armor inserts are lightweight and highly resistant to moisture and chemicals. They offer a good balance between protection and comfort but may be thicker than other materials.

Material Pros Cons
Steel Durable, affordable, multi-threat protection Heavy, potential for spalling
Ceramic Lightweight, multi-hit capability Expensive, can crack under repeated impacts
Polyethylene Lightweight, moisture and chemical resistant Thicker than other materials

Choosing the Right Size and Cut

When selecting armor inserts for your plate carrier, it's crucial to choose the correct size and cut to ensure proper coverage and fit. Armor inserts are available in various sizes, typically measured in inches. Common sizes include:

  • 8x10 inches (Small)
  • 10x12 inches (Medium)
  • 11x14 inches (Large)

Measure your plate carrier's insert pockets to determine the appropriate size for your armor inserts. It's important to select inserts that fit snugly without leaving gaps or excess space.

Armor inserts also come in different cuts, such as:

  • Shooters Cut: Angled corners for improved mobility and weapon shoulder
  • SAPI Cut: Rounded corners for enhanced coverage and comfort
  • Multi-Curve: Contoured design for a closer fit to the body

Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing the cut of your armor inserts.

Here are some featured products from PivotalBodyArmor:

Multi-Hit Capability and Durability

When investing in armor inserts, it's important to consider their multi-hit capability and durability. Multi-hit capability refers to an insert's ability to withstand multiple rounds without compromising its protective properties.

Look for armor inserts that have been rigorously tested and rated for multi-hit performance. Steel and ceramic inserts generally offer excellent multi-hit capabilities, while polyethylene inserts may have a lower multi-hit rating but provide other advantages like lightweight construction.

Durability is another key factor to consider. Armor inserts should be able to withstand the rigors of regular use and storage without cracking, delaminating, or losing their protective properties over time. High-quality armor inserts from reputable manufacturers undergo extensive testing to ensure long-lasting durability.

Weight and Comfort Considerations

The weight and comfort of your armor inserts are important factors to consider, especially if you plan on wearing your plate carrier for extended periods. Heavier inserts can cause fatigue and discomfort, while lighter inserts offer improved mobility and comfort.

Consider your operational needs and the level of protection required when balancing weight and comfort. If you prioritize lightweight construction, ceramic or polyethylene inserts may be the best choice. However, if maximum protection is your top priority and weight is less of a concern, steel inserts can provide reliable protection.

Comfort also depends on factors like the cut and contour of the inserts, as well as the padding and ventilation of your plate carrier. Look for inserts with a ergonomic design and consider adding padding or ventilation features to your plate carrier for enhanced comfort.

Featured lightweight armor inserts:

Maintaining and Caring for Your Armor Inserts

To ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your armor inserts, proper maintenance and care are essential. Follow these tips to keep your inserts in top condition:

  1. Store your armor inserts in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
  2. Avoid exposing your inserts to chemicals, oils, or solvents that can degrade their protective properties.
  3. Regularly inspect your inserts for any signs of damage, such as cracks, dents, or delamination.
  4. Clean your inserts with a mild soap and water solution, and allow them to air dry completely before storing or using them.
  5. Replace your armor inserts as recommended by the manufacturer, typically every 5-7 years, depending on usage and storage conditions.

By properly maintaining and caring for your armor inserts, you can ensure they remain effective and reliable when you need them most.


Choosing the perfect armor inserts for your plate carrier is a critical decision that requires careful consideration of factors like ballistic protection level, material, size, cut, multi-hit capability, durability, weight, and comfort. By understanding your specific needs and evaluating the available options, you can select armor inserts that provide the optimal balance of protection, mobility, and comfort.

At PivotalBodyArmor, we offer a wide selection of high-quality armor inserts from trusted brands like AR500 Armor and Spartan Armor Systems. Our knowledgeable team is here to help you find the perfect armor inserts for your plate carrier.

Remember, investing in reliable armor inserts is an investment in your safety and peace of mind. Trust PivotalBodyArmor for all your body armor needs and stay protected in any situation.

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