Level IIA Body Armor Vs 5.56

Level IIA Body Armor Vs 5.56

When it comes to personal protection, choosing the right body armor is crucial. Two common options are Level 3a body armor and 5.56 armor plates. But what's the difference and which one is right for you? In this article, we'll dive deep into Level 3a body armor vs 5.56 to help you make an informed decision.

What is Level 3a Body Armor?

Level 3a body armor is a soft armor designed to protect against most handgun threats. It's made from multiple layers of tightly woven fibers that work together to catch and deform incoming bullets. Level 3a is the highest level of protection available in soft body armor.

At Pivotal Body Armor, we carry a wide selection of Level 3a body armor options from top brands like Spartan Armor Systems and Tactical Scorpion Gear. These vests provide reliable protection in a comfortable, concealable package.

Pros of Level 3a Body Armor

  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Can be worn concealed under clothing
  • Protects against most handgun rounds
  • More affordable than hard armor plates

Cons of Level 3a Body Armor

  • Does not protect against rifle threats
  • Multiple hits in the same area can compromise protection
  • Requires more coverage area for full protection

What is 5.56 Body Armor?

5.56 body armor refers to hard armor plates designed to stop 5.56x45mm NATO rounds fired from rifles like the AR-15/M16. These plates are made from rigid materials like ceramics, polyethylene, and steel. They offer a higher level of protection than soft armor, but are heavier and less flexible.

We stock a variety of 5.56 armor plates at Pivotal Body Armor, including lightweight and multi-hit rated options. Pair them with a quality plate carrier for a complete protection system.

Pros of 5.56 Body Armor

  • Protects against high-velocity rifle rounds
  • Covers vital organs with less total coverage area
  • Multi-hit rated plates can withstand multiple rounds
  • Can be used in conjunction with soft armor for added protection

Cons of 5.56 Body Armor

  • Heavier and more cumbersome than soft armor
  • Can be uncomfortable for extended wear
  • More expensive than soft armor
  • Requires a plate carrier

Level 3a Body Armor Vs 5.56: Threat Levels

One of the key differences between Level 3a body armor and 5.56 plates is the threats they're designed to protect against. Here's a quick breakdown:

Armor Type Threat Level Example Threats
Level 3a Body Armor IIIA .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, 9mm, .45 ACP
5.56 Plates III 7.62x51mm NATO (M80 Ball), 5.56x45mm NATO (M193, M855)

As you can see, 5.56 plates offer protection against significantly higher threat levels compared to Level 3a soft armor. However, that increased protection comes at the cost of added weight and reduced comfort.

Choosing Between Level 3a and 5.56 Body Armor

So which type of body armor is right for you? It ultimately depends on your specific needs and expected threat level. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Threat Level: What types of weapons are you likely to face? Soft armor is sufficient for most handgun threats, while rifles necessitate hard plates.

  • Concealability: Will you be wearing the armor covertly? Soft armor is easier to conceal under normal clothing.

  • Comfort: How long will you be wearing the armor? The lighter weight and flexibility of soft armor makes it more comfortable for extended wear.

  • Cost: What's your budget? Soft armor is generally more affordable than hard plates and carriers.

Real-World Applications

Both Level 3a and 5.56 armor are widely used by law enforcement, military personnel, and prepared citizens. Here are some common applications:

Law Enforcement

Many police officers wear Level 3a soft armor vests on a daily basis for protection against unexpected threats. For higher-risk situations like active shooter response, 5.56 plates can be quickly added for extra protection.


Soldiers typically wear 5.56 plates in combat zones to protect against enemy rifle fire. The plates are worn in conjunction with other gear like tactical plate carriers and helmets.

Prepared Citizens

Increasingly, private citizens are investing in body armor for personal protection. Level 3a soft armor is a popular choice for daily wear, while 5.56 plates may be kept on-hand for emergencies.

Build Your Armor System

At Pivotal Body Armor, we believe in giving you the components to build a complete armor system tailored to your needs. Here are some of our popular Level 3a and 5.56 options and accessories:

We also offer financing options through Shop Pay to make purchasing body armor more affordable. And all orders come with our porch piracy protection to ensure secure delivery.


When it comes to Level 3a body armor vs 5.56, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The right choice depends on your unique situation and needs. Evaluate the key factors, then build an armor system that balances protection, comfort, and affordability.

Remember, Pivotal Body Armor is here to help with all your armor needs. Contact our experts for personalized assistance in choosing the right gear to keep you safe. Because at the end of the day, that's what really matters.

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