The Armored Republic is one of the best ballistic protection companies for civilians in the country. This buyer’s guide is designed to give you a complete understanding of AR500 armor. We’ll be discussing everything they sell, certifications in the NIJ, what AR500 steel is, and why you should buy a set of armor from the Armored Republic. As you’ll see in this blog, there are very few companies that can match the price point and outfit your family with the proper plates, plate carriers, and associated gear. We hope you enjoy this guide and continue to do your own research before you go out and buy an armor set.
What is AR500 Steel?
When I first heard of AR500 Armor, I didn’t know that it is an abrasion-resistant grade of steel that is incredibly strong. Some of the main characteristics of this steel are the strength and durability, even under extreme pressure. For an idea of how strong this steel is, it’s the same grade of steel that’s used in mining equipment and concrete handling. AR500 steel is able to handle high-velocity impacts at extremely low or high temperatures. The surface hardness of AR500 steel can range between 470-540 (BHN) Brinell Hardness Number, based on which manufacturer is processing the steel. I think it’s important to understand what kind of material that you’re trusting your life with. Whether it’s body armor, steel support beams in a mountain tunnel, or the support for a concrete pouring operation, AR500 armor is up to the task.
Who is the NIJ?
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the federal organization that determines the validity of ballistic protection and stab protection in body armor. The NIJ is important because if a company claims to be able to stop penetration of a rifle-caliber bullet, they need to be able to back it up with proof. I write a lot about body armor and have read every NIJ document published (02/18/2021) about ballistic and stab-proof protection. I believe that AR500 armor stacks up really well with the competition with 26 products listed under the NIJ Compliant Product List (CPL).
For the purpose of maintaining integrity in my writing, I’ll only discuss products that are certified by the NIJ. I don’t ever want to tell someone to buy an armor plate and have that armor plate get shredded like Colby jack cheese on a burger. The armor plates that I recommend from AR500 are all certified and do exactly what they say they will do in regards to performance. With that being said, I always recommend checking the CPL because sometimes armor can be de-certified if there is a flaw in mass production. The most common reason for falling out of compliance is paying for all the tests that are required to get certified, which can range well into the thousands.
If you’re interested in learning more about the NIJ, you should read, “ShotStop | Buyer’s Guide to Ballistic Armor”.
What Does AR500 Armor Sell?
Obviously, AR500 sells ballistic plates for personal armor protection, but what else do they sell? The good news is they sell a lot, so we don’t have enough time to go through their entire product line. However, they sell everything from armored backpacks and plate carriers, to shooting targets, eye protection, and accessory pouches. They sell patches for your vest, t-shirts, and even IFAK kits. My favorite feature of AR500 Armor is the price point for their products. If you’re new to ballistic armor and want to try out a plate set, you can get a full front and back plate set for less than $200.00 at the Armored Republic.
Level/Type 3 Body Armor
Level III ballistic protection under the NIJ is meant to signify that the armor is capable of preventing penetration from a 7.62mm FMJ bullet no larger than 147 grains. This means that if the NIJ has the armor listed under Level III protection it will stop all known handgun calibers from a 9mm to a .357 Magnum. A good way to remember the capabilities of Level III is to think of the world-infamous AK-47. An NIJ-Listed Level III plate will stop a 7.62x51mm bullet fired from an AK-47 with ease, but won’t stand up against 7.62×63 Armor-Piercing (AP) bullet fired from a rifle.
Lightweight Level III Armor
It can be very confusing to find out which armor is certified with the NIJ and which armor is not. I hate to be that guy, but AR500 Armor has a lot of armor that can be considered misleading with the status of their NIJ certification. However, they do have some great Level III plates that I was able to confirm are listed under the NIJ. The one that I would buy if I were in the market is the Level III Lightweight Body Armor.
One thing to consider is this armor plate is not made of steel; it’s made of polyethylene. Most advanced armor companies are using polyethylene to cut down on the weight of plates and the overall performance of the high-density plastic. For example, this plate is only 2.7 lbs., whereas, the steel core plates are anywhere from 8.1 to over 10 lbs. This plate is also $200 more expensive than the steel core armor plates.