Level III vs Level IV Body Armor

Level III Body Armor

The Level III conditioned armor was tested against a 7.62mm (M80 military) FMJ weighing 147 grains and having a muzzle velocity of 2,780 feet/s. A 7.62mm FMJ can normally be fired from either an AK-47 or sniper rifle.

While Level III will stop most 5.56mm and 7.62mm bullets but not military-grade armor piercing ammunition, it will not stop any of the 5.56mm or 7.62mm bullets. A NATO M855 5.56x45mm bullet with a core of 62-grain steel will defeat a Level III armor system. However, it will defeat a 5.56x45mm bullet of 55 grain.

Level III will defeat a 7.62 x 51mm 147 gr (M80), FMJ fired from an AK47-style rifle. It will not be able to defeat the M2 AP 7.62mmx63mm or 7.62x54R API (BXN), fired from a Dragunov Sniper Rifle.

Level IV Body Armor

After being conditioned according to the NIJ regulations, Level IV hard armor and plate inserts were tested ICW Level IV flexible armor.

Level IV body armor was specifically designed to combat armor-piercing shots in a military combat environment.

The NIJ rates Level IV armor as being effective against.30 caliber armor-piercing bullets (AP), which weigh 166 grains and have a muzzle velocity of 2,880 ft/s. Combat operations are conducted by our soldiers wearing Level IV armor.

What is the Difference between Level III and IV Body Armor?

Police officers, corrections officers, and Federal agents with the FBI or Border Patrol can wear Level III armor. Handguns will be defeated by Level III, as well as most sporting rifles (Hunting rifles and AR-15s).

According to the FBI, handguns account for most gun violence against law enforcement. There are hundreds of thousands of AR-15 rifles manufactured each year, so there is a need for greater protection. Level III armor is lighter and easier to conceal, but it is also more affordable than Level IV.

NATO military forces all over the globe wear level IV armor in the most extreme environments. Level IV can defeat AP bullets from military-grade weaponry or technology.

It will be heavier and more expensive than Level III. It will provide the best protection against all ballistic threats technologically.

What are the Three Body Armor Models

According to the NIJ, there are three types of body armor models. Both the male and female models of body armor are identical in appearance and feel. Soft armor, which can be flexible or pliable, is the only difference between the male and female body armor models.

By creating a curve in the armor’s ballistic panels, armor can conform to a woman’s bust. For women with larger busts, it is a good idea to consult the manufacturer for the curve ballistics. They will have a much lower level of security with male or gender-neutral armor.

This is because larger busts can push the armor panels forward and cause an underarm gap between the front and rear panels.


First, consider what type of threat you are expecting to face during your workday. Corrections officers, for example, don’t have to be afraid of being shot because they are not allowed to carry guns in prison. They are still at risk of being stabbed at an even higher rate than other LEOs. Instead of wearing ballistic armor, corrections officers should wear stab-resistant armor.

Another thing to consider when choosing the right armor is whether it offers both ballistic protection and wearability. Your comfort level (Level II Soft Armor) will affect how much protection you receive. If you want lightweight, flexible ballistic protection, you will be sacrificing protection. A Level IV system will provide the best ballistic protection but it will be less comfortable and easier to maneuver.


NIJ-Listed Level 3 body armor plates protect against rifle caliber bullets from AR-15 style rifles and all handgun calibers.

Level IV body armor plates were worn by soldiers, SWAT Team members, and Federal officers in action. The NIJ will register the highest level of protection as Level IV armor.

When choosing the right armor, it is important to consider the tradeoff between wearability and protection.

Level IV armor will be heavier and less mobile, while Level III armor will provide protection against most rifles or pistols and better mobility.

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