Best Level 4 Body Armor [Buying Guides + Reviews] Best Choice for Law Enforcement and Civilian Use

On the hunt for the Best Level 4 Body Armor?

Level IV Body Armor has been flying off the shelves EVERYWHERE for a good reason! It provides you with the highest level of protection against armor piercing threats.

Especially in this time of civil unrest, it has never been a better time to look at purchasing some level IV body armor. Whether in law enforcement, combat or for a hobby such as shooting on a range or just for your own personal protection, level IV body armor can be purchased by anyone and is not exclusive to certain groups!

Reviewing our Top Picks for the Best Level IV Body Armor

Our Top 3

Overall Rating: 5/5

Product Name

Overall Rating: 5/5

Best Level IV and Level III Rifle Rated Body Armor Plates

A Lot of buyers may already own various body armor gear and are looking to ramp up their protection. Here we have included some armor that can be used in conjunction with other plates to give you the full level IV protection rating.

If you already own a level IIIA plate, this works in conjunction with it to give you level IV protection. On its own, the Ballistic plate is level III protection, so ensure that if you are looking for level IV protection, you wear it with a IIIA plate.

Made from ceramic as well as alumina and polyethylene, the Bulletsafe Bulletproof Ballistic Plate is lightweight at only 5.65 lbs. It is much lighter than a steel plate, at a comparable price.

It measures at 10 inches x  11 ⅞ inches , so it is compatible with 10x12 inch plate carriers.

It has a curved shape which allows the plate to have a closer fit to your body. 

Priced at only $169, it is a really affordable ballistic plate and great for looking to ramp up their protection to give you more protection to your existing gear.

The Fortis 1.0 Level III Plate is a great choice for a rifle rated plate that won't break the bank. 

It has been tested with a whole range of calibers shot at a distance of 15m. The calibers include 6 rounds of: 5.56x45 at 3,000 dps, 7.62x51 M80 ball at 2,780 fps and 7.62x39. 


Best Level IV Active Shooter Kits

Active shooter kits are basically a single purchase kit that comes with everything you would need to give you ballistic protection in an active shooter situation. Here are our top recommendations for the best level IV active shooter kits. 

Shellback Patriot Tactical Active Shooter Kit

The Shellback Patriot Tactical Active Shooter Kit comes with:

  • 1x Shellback tactical plate carrier
  • 2x Level IV Shellback practical prevail hard armor plates

The features of the Shellback Patriot plate carrier:

It is made from top quality 500 denier nylon, that is sturdy and rigid. We found the carrier to be comfortable on the shoulders with the lightweight mesh shoulder padding. 

The plate carrier itself is lightweight weighing only a mere 1.5lbs.

What we really liked about the plate carrier is how low profile it looks and feels. Choosing a good plate carrier that has these properties is extremely important as a low profile look will enable you to blend in and a low profile fit will maximize your mobility.

It is a one-size-fits-most carrier and has both adjustable shoulder strapping and cumberbund to customize the sizing to any body shape.

The looping on front and back to add identification is another helpful feature.

Bear in mind that the plate carrier is also able to fit other 10x12 inch shooter cut plates as well, should you already own them.

Level IV Plate Features

The level IV body armor itself is NIJ certified to meet level IV standards.

The plate is made of monolithic ceramic and polyethylene materials and weighs 8.3 lbs , which is a little on the heavy site.

The plate is the SAPI cut.

Like all the body armor on our site, this plate is made in the USA, so you’ll have quality assurance.

A great bonus of this kit that many don’t have is that it comes with  a 10 year warranty!

What are you waiting for. Don’t purchase all your gear separately, and just get this tactical shooter kit for all your ballistic protection needs in one plate.

Shellback Tactical Defender Tactical Active Shooter Kit

Shellback Active Shooter Kit

This Shellback Tactical Active Shooter kit is similar to the one we review above in that it comes with the shellback defender plate carrier as well as 2 shellback armor plates, but this one comes with a shellback carrying bag, which can be very useful if you are on-the-go and need an equipment bag to store your kit in.

On the other hand, this plate carrier has more extensive tactical features so if that is what you are looking for, then we would definitely recommend this kit. 

Plate carrier Features:

  • Again this carrier is made from 500 denier nylon material.
  • It is One-size-fits- most which is made possible through the side straps and shoulder straps that are fully adjustable.
  • This carrier is also better for cooling as the mesh material allows ventilation to regulate your body temperature in hot environments.
  • The carrier also has loop panels on the front and back for patches, placards etc.

Extra tactical features include 2 kangaroo m4 magazine pouches, tourniquet pich market with tab for ID and a rear drag handle.

Our personal favorite tactical feature is the molle webbing which allows you to customize your carrier with additional pouches.

The carrier is complete with 2 plate pockets made for 10x12 inch front and rear plates.

Carrying bag features:

  • The carrying bag is big enough to fit your shellback plate carrier and plates
  • It is made of 500 denier nylon and has 2 straps for carrying.
  • It comes with loop panels for patches, and has a zipper closure.

Hard armor Level IV Plate features:

  • The plates are NIJ level IV certified
  • Size 10x12 inches
  • They Weighs 8.3 lbs each
  • Plates are single curved and are rated for multiple hits
  • SAPI/ESAPI cut
  • The plates are from a ceramic and polyethylene mix
  • Top quality, Made in the USA and come with a 10 year product warranty

Don’t miss out on getting this exceptional level IV active shooter kit today!

Best Level IV Plates

Level IV Shooters Cut Ceramic Body Armor

Spartan Armor Ceramic Shooters Cut Set of 2 Plates

Spartan Armor Systems is one of the most trusted suppliers of personal protective gear on the market, and their level IV body armor plates are no exception. 

This is a set of two shooter cut plates that are NIJ .06 certified plates that are multi-hit rated. The plates are size 10x12 inches and 1" thick. Each plate has a weight of 8.3lbs.

For a set of two these plates are great value and made to last. Spartan Armor plates are all wrapped for protection against wear and tear as well as being water resistant.

The plates come with a 10 year warranty and are made in the USA so you are guaranteed quality.

Point Blank Level IV Hard Armor Plate

Point Blank Level IV Hard Armor Plate

The Point Blank Level IV armor plate is a triple curve, shooters cut plate made from aramid.

It is a 10x12 inch plate, so can fit in any standard plate carrier.

The plate itself has a thickness of 1.00” and weighs 7.5 lbs which is on the heavy side for armor plates.

The plate is priced at $279.99, and is a great choice for a top quality hard armor plate. 

RMA Armament INC. Level IV Single Curve Amor Plate

RMA Plate

Protects the wearer from high velocity rounds such as .30-06 M2AP 

Has a unique design that protects wearer from 5-7 rounds of M2AP to give you ballistic protection that isn’t available anywhere else on the market

Construction to provide this level of protection if a polyethylene and ceramic hybrid mix 

Plate is 1 inch thick and weighs approximately 6.9 lbs 

Spider web cracking which is common on other plates (and makes the plates weaker which can hinder protection against further rounds) does not occur with the RMA 

Has a 600D nylon covering and is water resistant 

Plates are made in the USA and company is owned by former US marine and law enforcement officer who has a history of using body armor for over 20 years so you can be guaranteed you are getting the best quality armor on the market

Velocity Systems Level IV Stand Alone Armor Plate

Velocity Systems Level IV Stand Alone Armor Plate

Great choice for law enforcement officers or those in the line of fire as it provides great protection against projectiles

Owning a Velocity Systems plate guarantees to give you life saving protection in these dangerous situations.

However it also makes for a great choice for civilians looking for Level IV personal protection whether at a protest, down at the range, or just for everyday protection (assuming your state and local laws allow for private ownership of body armor gear)

Plate features: 

The Level IV Plate is constructed and designed by one of the most highly reputable producers around of personal protection equipment. 

Velocity Systems plates meets all the NIJ 0101.04 certification for level IV protection

Plate itself is made from ceramic materials

  • It has a shooter cut style shape and is only 0.75 inches thick.
  • The size of 10x12 inches means it will fit in a standard carrier
  • Weighs 6.8 lbs - which is a standard weight for level IV armor plates.
  • Plate is made in the USA 

Price is exceptional for a great, reliable USA made product (price is per singular plate)

Note: item can’t be shipped internationally as is only available in the USA

Armor Express Level IV Stand Alone Plate

Armor Express Level IV Plate

The Armor Express Level IV plate is made from a hybrid of ceramic and aramid.

  • It is a SAPI shooters cut
  • Protects against rifle rounds of a high velocity

Armor Express have made their Level IV plates available for purchase in 2 sizes

These sizes are: 8”x10” and 10”x12”

The weights of their plates are 4.4 lbs and 7.0 lbs respectively 

The downside of this is that their plates are a little more on the pricey side compared to others on this list.

Point Blank 6”X8” Plate

Point Blank Plate

Point Blank’s Level IV plate is a Full cut plate, yet is very lightweight, weighing only 3.2 lbs

It is made from aramid and has a triple curve design to maximise comfort and made for a better fit. The plate itself is pretty thin with a 1.00” thickness.

Best Affordable Level IV Hard Armor Plates

LA Police Gear 

LA Police Gear Level IV Plate

All LA Police Gear is NIJ certified and tested, and is a popular seller of personal protection gear used by both civilians and law enforcement.

Their level IV armor plate weighs 6.5 lbs and has a thickness of ⅞”. It is a single curve hard armor plate.

LA Police Gear plates like most, have a lifespan of 5 years and the waterproof covering around the plate made from nylon and polyester enhances useful life to ensure it lasts the full 5 years without undergoing wear and tear.

The size of the armor plate is exactly 9.85lbs x 11.8 inches to fit into a standard 10x12 inch plate carrier.

At only $120 , the LA Police Gear level IV armor plate is a high performance and comfortable plate at an exceptional price.


Best Level IV Body Armor Buying Guide


The purpose of this guide is to give you better clarity on level 4 body armor and answer all your questions on this particular level of body armor, and why it is potentially a good choice for you. 

We will also explain the different types of level 4 body armor available including different cuts and materials. Our buying guide is rounded out with us reviewing our favorite level 4 body armor gear, and giving our pros and cons to each of them. 

What is Level 4 Body Armor?

Level 4 Body Armor is the highest grade of body armor protection you can get on the market. 

The ceramic and aluminium (steel) armor protection is the highest standard around.

The Body Armor levels are set out by the NIJ, and the standards are recognized for being suitable for law enforcement wear and protection. All NIJ certified gear is tested in labs to ensure they comply with necessary levels of protection.

All notable sellers of level IV body armor will have their gear certified by these standards.

What does Level 4 Body Armor Protect Against?

Level IV Body Armor will protect its wearer against armor piercing and large caliber threats.It is certified to protect against a single shot “black tip” like a .30 0-6 M2AP at a velocity of 2880 feet per second.

Brands like Spartan Armor Systems are rated to protect against multi round .30-06 M2AP armor piercing rounds.

It is not an everyday occurrence when you’ll be exposed to sniper fire, but if you are it is best to be equipped with level 4 body armor to protect all your vital organs.

Just be aware that because it is the highest numerical grading, it is not the most ‘bullet-resistant’. Yes, it protects against the deadliest threats, but it is only NIJ certified to protect wearers against a single shot. Whereas with Level 3 body armor, it is certified to protect against 6 shots.

What are Level IV Body Armor Made From?

Level IV body armor is commonly hard body armor. Hard armor is solid, rigid and heavier than soft armor plates, but this is what gives it the added protection. The strong build makes it harder for bullets to penetrate through the plate. You can get Level IV Body Armor in steel, ceramic and UPWHE materials. 

Level IV body armor initially came in the form of steel plates (they are still available today but not as common.) Innovation of body armor has seen these phase out due to the heavy nature of the steel. Another downside to the steel armor is that an anti-spalling covering is needed to stop shrapnel hits. 

Steel body armor has largely been replaced by ceramic plates. The ceramic is lighter whilst still having sufficient protection. 

Level IV body armor is typically made of the following 3 main materials are aluminium oxide, boron carbide and silicon carbide. You won’t notice much of a significant difference when it comes down to the protection offered by these materials, however the different is cost and weight. 

For instance - the complexity of making it as well as the lighter weight makes the boron carbide and silicon carbide more expensive options. If lightweight body armor  is a non negotiable for you then getting one made from these materials is more ideal for you.

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preferences in which material you chose. 

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How is Level IV Body Armor Constructed?

Level IV Body Armor is given its impressive ballistic protection through its construction. It is through ballistic materials that are pressed together. What is impressive about this, is that it possesses both the strength and hardness but also has shock absorption properties. 

The ballistic materials pressed together have a hexagonal crystalline molecule web, which allows the impact of the bullet to be spread across the full body armor. The aluminium oxide also has a molecular web that works to redistribute the force of a hit, however the lack of crystalline nature means that whilst offering the same protection, it will be heavier and thicker. 

On the other hand it is a cheaper option to purchase, as the production costs are less so it is a good choice if you are looking for level 4 body armor on a budget. 

The body armor plates are covered with a layer

Who is Level 4 Body Armor Made for?

Level 4 body armor has been increasingly growing in popularity and along with level 3 body armor, make up the 2 most popular kinds of armor purchased.

Many people in need of body armor have acknowledged that lower levels will no longer be suitable, as pistol threats are becoming lesser and threats from more dangerous calibers are more common.

However the reality is that in America you are far more likely to be shot by a pistol than a rifle, so therefore levels of protection like III-A would be more appropriate - this is what law enforcement use on a day-to-day basis.

What Types of Level 4 Body Armor Can Be Purchased?

Front body armor plates can be purchased in different cuts (shapes) to suit many different people's preferences. 

These cuts are full/square, SAPI, shooter and swimmers cuts.

Full cut is a plate that is rectangle or square size. It is commonly used as a plate to protect your back or inserted into a backpack.

SAPI (small arms protective insert) have an approximate 45 degree cut on the top corners as well as rounded corners. 

Shooters cut plates are the most common cut purchased. The top corners are cut with the intention of maximizing arm movements and are ideally worn to protect your front. 

Shooters cuts have the ideal combination of high levels of protection whilst still allowing mobility. It is heavier than swimmers cuts.

Swimmers cuts have the most drastic cut of all the cuts, and their cut extends further than the corners and cuts the side of the plate too. This plate is commonly worn by anyone who is highly active and wants to maximize their mobility. However the downside is that it offers less protection than the other plates due to the sharper cut. 

Level 4 body armor plates can also be purchased as side plates as well as front plates. Side plates offer protection for under your arm and areas along your side that could be exposed to fire, when drawing your gun or doing other movements.

Body armor plates also can be purchased with single, numerous or without curves. The most popular preference is curved, as it contours to the wearers body for a more comfortable fit. 

Choosing the Right Fit and Size of Level IV Body Armor

Choosing the right fit and sizing of your body armor plates is a vital consideration given a wrong fitting plate could be the difference between being struck or not by a bullet. 

If you are new to purchasing body armor, we definitely recommend that you take the time to measure yourself. 

To measure yourself appropriately use a tape measure and measure both the length and width.

For length, start at the base of your throat, above your collarbone and measure vertically until you are about 2 inches above your belly button. 

For width, measure across your chest from one nipple to the other stopping before the tape wraps around your chest.

It is not uncommon that people will purchase a level 4 armor plate in a size up to offer more protection. Just exercise caution when doing this, as an oversized plate may cause issues such as impeding your throat when doing movements such as bending over.

Sizes of plates also vary. The standard size which can fit in most plate carriers are 10”x12” plates.

If you are trying your body armor plate before purchasing it is necessary to ask yourself a few questions, to ensure you are getting the most out of your purchase.

If you are planning on carrying a weapon, will you be able to draw it quickly without obstruction?

Are you able to perform all the same moves whilst wearing your plate? Try basic movements such as kneeling, bending over, sitting and squatting to make sure that you can do all these.

Overt and Covert Body Armor Plates

Body armor plates can either be overt or covert. An overt body armor plate is worn over your clothes and is most common for level 4 body armor, as it is thicker, heavier and isn’t concealable enough to go under your clothes. 

If you are looking for a covert plate, you are probably looking more towards level III-A body armor as these are thinner and more concealable as to be able to go underneath shirts for a subtle look.

Weight of Level 4 Body Armor Plates

Level 4 body armor are hard armor plates. Whilst the weight depends on the size of the plates, as a group they are quite heavy.

As a standard weight you could say that the average is around 8lbs. Check out our reviews below to see our favorite lightweight level IV body armor plates.

If you are after very lightweight plates, we would point you towards soft armor plates (level II to level IIIA) as the concealable nature naturally means they are lighter.

Do I Need Trauma Pads with my Body Armor?

If you aren’t fully aware of trauma pads they are padding that are both light and thin and are worn underneath your body armor. 

When wearing body armor it is the case that you will be protected from bullet penetration, but due to the sheer velocity you will likely still feel the impact. Trauma pads work to absorb the impact.

They do this by spreading the kinetic energy of the bullet across the pad, which dissipates energy away from the point of strike. 

In our opinion, it is a great idea to look into purchasing some to add to your body armor collection, as in the event that you do get shot at, the pads will minimize the pain so you can still keep moving. 

How Long Will my Level IV Body Armor Last? How Much Warranty Should I Look to Get for My Body Armor?

The NIJ has a rule of thumb which they apply to all their certified body armor. The certification is given for 5 years. It is known that the materials that make up body armor degrades and deteriorate so they are not as effective at protecting. 

Also constantly check for signs of wear and tear, as this is another factor that can hinder its protective abilities. 

Exposure to water, moisture, sunlight and heat can also accelerate the deterioration.


FAQ’s

1. Are there Any Legal Issues or Laws that I Should be Aware of Before Purchasing Level IV Body Armor?

Buying body armor is perfectly legal for all Americans with the exception of felons. It is unfortunately illegal in the state of Connecticut to make an online purchase of body armor, and this must be done in person.

2. Can I Travel with my Level IV Body Armor?

As of now, it is legal and passes TSA guidelines to travel with your body armor. However we would recommend ringing up and double checking. On the TSA website, they state that it can be taken in checked and carry on baggage but TSA can make the final call about whether you will be able to travel with it.

Conclusion

Level IV body armor is becoming more and more popular on the market, given the current global climate and the growing need for people to want to protect themselves and their family from threats.

Long gone are the days where only law enforcement or those in combat own body armor, and they are now becoming a mainstay in the market and have been flying off shelves.

As mentioned above, there are numerous factors to consider before purchasing. Factors such as size, weight and cut are all important considerations to weigh up as these are very much a personal preference and not a one-size-fits all situation.

Don’t rush when purchasing, as having an ill-fitting plate can easily be the difference between life or death (not to sound too morbid) in the event of being shot. 

Ensuring that your chosen body armor is made in the USA as well as having level IV NIJ certification is necessary, so you know you are purchasing top quality, reliable body armor. 

In terms of our favorite suppliers of Level IV body armor, we definitely think you can’t go wrong with purchasing from LA Police Gear, Shellback and X as they are all established brands that have asserted themselves as the main players in the body armor market.

We hope our guide has given you the clarity on this armor, and helps you make the decision for choosing your level IV body armor!