Two of the companies produce and sell AR500 Armor plates. This was one type of plate that I was very interested in testing since there had been quite a few suggestions for them on the page when I started this project.
The first company that I heard back from was Infidel Body Armor, they were gracious enough to send out 3 plates all of which were covered with antispalling material and rated at Level III. A set of 2 plates runs $295 on their website and each plate weighs in around 9 pounds. The plates are 1/4" thick AR500 steel and the polymer coating (antispalling) is another 1/4" thick making the plate 1/2" overall.
They state on their website that their plates "just won't quit" and they have hit them with "semi armor piercing" rounds, which are XM855.
I would like to point out that XM855 is not armor piercing or semi armor piercing.
However the plate did stop the XM855 rounds that we threw at it. The problem was when the plate went up against XM193, the round cut through the plate like butter. XM193 as most of you know is a very fast moving 5.56 round, and one thing I have learned in testing is "speed not mass defeats steel".
We were also able to defeat the plate using .270 130gr SP, 7.62x54R mild steel round, and 7.62x51 146gr M80 surplus. All which have a muzzle velocity greater than 2780FPS.
The plate above shows which rounds penetrated where. If you go to the YouTube channel (http://youtu.be/frZEFtaYJXs) you can watch the video of this plate being shot and the results of the penetration in the clay block we set behind it.
Originally we thought the round that had pierced the plate was the XM855 but after watching the video a few times I had my doubts so we ran a second plate out to the range and did a single shot of XM855 and XM193 to see which one actually went through. The picture above shows the results. We also had our hands on a .308 bolt action rifle and decided to see how the plate would handle that round, the results again were very disappointing.
I began doing a lot of research on AR500 steel to see if I could find an answer as to why these plates failed so easily, and after talking on the phone with a few sources and emails back and forth I learned that there are different levels of the AR500 steel and the hardening process is different for each. Which is why I titled this Not All AR500 Armor Is Created Equal.
While I am not one to ever bad mouth a company I do feel that Infidel Body Armor does need to make a statement as to why their AR500 plates are subpar and do not stop the rounds that they say they do on the website. I cannot in good conscience recommend these plates. When you but body armor you are buying it to possibly save your life if that need were to ever arise, and while these plates would stop handgun rounds and XM855 rounds you would not be safe from higher velocity rifle rounds.
Watch for part 2 of this series to drop tomorrow, and I will also be working on a video with both companies plates which I hope to further ellaborate our findings.