Best Level 3 Body Armor Vest

I have written more about body armor in the last year than I ever thought I’d write in a lifetime. The good news for our readers is that I know the certification process of armor better than some people selling the body armor. This isn’t a boast or anything like that; it’s more of a fact that I have read every NIJ document pertaining to body armor ever published by the federal government.

Today, I wanted to discuss the importance of choosing the right plate carrier for Level 3 body armor under the National Institute of Justice. My hope is that you select the plate carrier that is going to keep the safest, most comfortable, and offer the best functionality for your mission requirements. Good luck and stay safe!

For an exhaustive look into level 3 armor carriers available to citizens, the ones that the military uses, and how to set one up, hop on over to our definitive guide to all things plate carriers.

Best Level 3 Body Armor Vest

What Do I Look For in a Body Armor Vest?

Many people look to the Special Operations community to find what they believe to be the best plate carriers and I don’t blame them. However, one thing to consider is those men are highly trained in wearing armor and how to get the most out of their protection. You’ll often see Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and other Special Operations units wearing plate carriers that are incredibly minimalistic to provide them with the most mobility possible. This works for anyone else as well, but I recommend you think long and hard about your mission requirements or purpose for wearing body armor in the first place. 

I look for a plate carrier that can carry Level 3 or Level 4 plates and keep that plate tightly in place as you move to provide better mobility. I always look for a plate carrier that is lightweight and durable enough to prevent picking of the fabric and handle the wear and tear of rough environments. Always try to find a plate carrier that has compatible slots for your gear, such as PALS webbing for MOLLE pouches and accessories. This will ensure you can attach your ammo pouches, radios, and other gear onto your plate carrier without any additional equipment.

I always try to find a body armor vest that has a lower profile to allow for prone shooting and better noise discipline. 

What is Level 3 Body Armor?

The first level of protection against rifle rounds is Level 3 body armor. To be classified as NIJ Level 3 body armor, the plates must be able to defeat six hits from a 7.62×51 NATO round traveling at 2780 ft/s.. This test ensures that level 3 hard plates will stop the 5.56 NATO round fired from the AR-15 rifle. Level 3 plates can also defeat the 7.62×39 AK-47 round.

1. West Coast Armor LVPC Body Armor Vest

The Low Vis Plate Carrier (LVPC) is a plate carrier setup designed for low vis with reduced print and signature for law enforcement, special details, PSD, and EP. The absolute minimalist design makes strategic use of materials for a formfitting, plate-profile-reducing, and comfortable system.

The LVAK can be worn in conjunction with any of the West Coast Armor plate or armor systems, but it excels when paired with the Level 3 body armor hard plate.

This Low Viz body armor vest comes equipped with one of two cummerbund options. The first option is an elastic cummerbund with storage sections for magazines, communications gear, or accessories. The second option is a slick elastic cummerbund for the operator or agent who will need no access to additional equipment supported by the armor system, thereby allowing the user to maintain the lowest profile.

LVPC (Low Vis Plate Carrier)

at West Coast Armor
Prices accurate at time of writing

2. National Body Armor Active Shooter Defense Kit

The hard armor sold with the Active Shooter Defense Plate Carrier was Made in USA and is Certified by the National Institute of Justice. This organization is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. Our compliance with this program ensures you receive a product you can rely on to perform in a time of need.

This Active Shooter Defense Kit includes the body armor vest in black, (2) 10" x 12" NIJ certified Level 3 body armor plates, and a carry bag for easy travel and storage. 

Active Shooter Defense Kit

at National Body Armor
Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Premier Body Armor Falcon Carrier

Premier Body Armor is a solid company with a track record of providing NIJ-Listed ballistic protection to law enforcement and civilians. Premier Falcon is the most durable plate carrier on this list with an outstanding 1000D Cordura Nylon fabric.  Most plate carriers are around 500D Cordura, which is very rigid and provides excellent durability but doesn’t come close to 1000D Nylon. The shoulder straps provide added comfort and versatility by allowing you to adjust the length and release the plate carrier from your body with the push of a quick-release buckle. Another great attribute is Premier Armor is made in the United States and provides dozes of jobs for Americans. This vest is durable, comfortable, and fits almost any size with adjustable straps. 

Falcon Plate Carrier

at Premier Body Armor
Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Premier Body Armor Hawk Plate Carrier for 10"x12" Plate

The Premier Hawk Plate Carrier is perfectly designed to accommodate Level III plates at the standard size of 10"x12" for front and backplates. It comes with side pockets to fit side plates, but I know most people prefer not to wear side plates. The shoulder straps are fully adjustable and offer comfort over long hours with the padded shoulder straps and overall lightweight platform. It comes with MOLLE webbing to accommodate essentially any pouch you would want to put on your vest, including, radio, ammo, utility, and admin pouches. It’s incredibly durable with 1000D Cordura nylon and comes with a nearly unbreakable drag handle for fallen soldiers to be carried off the battlefield. This plate carrier works best with the ESAPI cut and will accommodate up to Level 4 body armor plates. The Hawk is incredibly comfortable and offers perfect balance on your shoulders and back to prevent unnecessary suffering. Overall, this is a great plate carrier that you’ll love for many years if you take care of it. 

Hawk Plate Carrier

at Premier Body Armor
Prices accurate at time of writing

Body Armor Vest Q&A

Can a Bulletproof Vest Stop an AK 47?

The body armor vest used in conjunction with level 3 body armor will stop most 5.56 and 7.62 rounds, but will not stop military-grade armor piercing ammunition. Several years ago a police officer was shot with an AK47 and was saved by the bulletproof vest he was wearing. 

Can I Take a Bulletproof Vest on a Plane?

The short and safest answer is no. You CANNOT wear a body armor vest into an airport or on a commercial airline unless you want to set off some serious red flags. However, the TSA does state that body armor is allowed in your personal carry-on and checked bags, implying that you can have it with you packed away; it just can’t be worn until you get to your destination.

Can a Kevlar vest stop a bullet?

Kevlar vests are made from many layers of Kevlar webs to form an extremely dense, yet lightweight vest. The kevlar vest is capable of stopping bullets from handguns, but not rifles. Back in the 90s, the US Military issued Flak jackets which were kevlar vests designed to defeat flak or fragmentation from explosions. Kevlar vests are not NIJ certified either. 

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Table of Contents

  • What Do I Look For in a Body Armor Vest?
  • What is Level 3 Body Armor?
  • 1. West Coast Armor LVPC Body Armor Vest
  • 2. National Body Armor Active Shooter Defense Kit
  • 3. Premier Body Armor Falcon Carrier
  • 4. Premier Body Armor Hawk Plate Carrier for 10″x12″ Plate
  • Body Armor Vest Q&A
  • Can a Bulletproof Vest Stop an AK 47?
  • Can I Take a Bulletproof Vest on a Plane?
  • Can a Kevlar vest stop a bullet?

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