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Level 4 body Armor: Maximum Protection Against Most Devastating Threats

The highest protection, the most advanced rounds including military threats   today is a Level 4 body armor as classified by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice). This level of protection can defend against armor-piercing shots fired by sniper rifles. Of course, being shot by a sniper is a rare occurrence, but there’s milder armor piercing threats such as 7.62×39 and M855A1 with threats just as dangerous.

What is an NIJ Level 4 Body Armor?

The fourth level of ballistic protection is the highest in the NIJ classification. This kind of body armor is made up of a combination of rigid ceramic and composite  plates that are placed and fastened in specific holders. The vest itself is firmly fixed to the body. Level 4 armor plates have a similar principle to Level 3 plates, in which layers of ballistic material (UHMWPE) are pressed together to form a solid block.

The kinetic energy of a flying bullet is mostly dampened in contact with the surface of the armor. The impact’s force is felt across the complete body armor system. Part of the energy goes to the body of the fighter in it. Even if the bullet does not pierce the plates, the force of the impact is such that it leaves bruises on the body, and even breaks the ribs. But at least the man stays alive.

What is a Level 4 Plate Made Of?

Level 4 ceramic plates are made up of hexagonal ceramics with long molecular filaments. In this case, one such thread stretches the entire length of the plate. Any point hit on the surface is extended throughout the whole armor plate as a result of this property, rapidly extinguishing the kinetic energy of the impact.  Aluminum oxide, on one hand, does not have a hexagonal ceramic structure. The molecules are structured in a cross pattern, which also helps distribute the external tension evenly over the surface.

Aluminum plates, on the other hand, have a lower tensile strength. To give a comparable amount of protection, they are thicker and heavier. Aluminum oxide is substantially cheaper to make, body armor more accessible to the general public, but there is a downside for it is extra weight cooperating to the other ceramic materials.

Level 4 armor plates are composed of advanced ceramics that can stop a 7.62 mm rifle bullet without causing major injury to a person wearing the body armor.  Plates are formed of three substances in industrial production:

  • Aluminum oxide – Al2O3
  • Boron carbide – B4C
  • Silicon carbide – SiC

These three materials are characterized by approximately the same impact resistance, but differ greatly in weight, complexity of manufacture, and cost.  Armor plates made of boron and silicon carbides are technologically more difficult to produce than aluminum oxide. Hence the higher price of ceramic body armor. However, they are around 20% lighter and considerably more comfortable to wear.

 All three types of level 4 armor are available for civilians nowadays.

The customer must select between two options: a cheaper but heavy option or a lighter but significantly more costly one. In the armed forces around the world, such plates are used in body armor to equip infantry units, which during combat operations are more at risk of being hit by sniper fire than others.

What Can Stop a Level 4 Body Armor?

The NIJ Level 4 category includes combat armor capable of withstanding at least one hit from a 7.62 armor-piercing bullet from a Springfield rifle. It will readily deflect conventional ammunition’s impact. The kinetic energy of each shot striking the plate, on the other hand, steadily degrades it. Several consecutive hits from a rifle can be fatal.

Level 4 body armor can withstand the following types of ammunition:

  1. The 7.62 × 63 AP mm (.30-06 Springfield) cartridge was frequently employed by American forces throughout World Wars I and II, as well as the Korean War. It is no longer mass-produced and is solely used for hunting and sport shooting.
  2. 7.62 × 54 AP mm is still in use by the Russian military in the Dragunov, SV-98 and other sniper rifles.
  3. A standard rifle and sub-machine gun cartridge of the NATO block countries is 7.62 × 51  AP mm NATO.
  4. The .338 Lapua Magnum is an unique 8.670mm sniper cartridge designed for long range shooting.
  5. M855A1 current US military issued round.

Other smaller calibers and lower velocity ammunition also cannot penetrate level 4 ballistic plates. Pistol shots go completely unnoticed by the person wearing body armor. However, at Level 4, the speed of the bullet is more deadly than its size. The 7.62mm Springfield rifle bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2850 ft/s or 877 meters per second. Without even bending the core, the bullet pierces a 2.5cm thick sheet of steel.

What is the Difference Between Level 3 and Level 4 Armor?

NIJ Level 3 Body Armor Level 4 NIJ Body Armor
The first level, capable of protecting against rifle shots. The armor usually consists of hard, thick plates. 

Level 3 can resist six rounds of NATO 7.62×51 FMJ ammunition at speeds of up to 2850 ft/s or 847.3 m/s.

It’s lightweight and most of the time if it is constructed out of UHMWPE material it will float which can be a great con in some situations. 

Level 3 was never designed to stop armor-piercing threats. 

Top class protection. Level 4 bullet-resistant plates are tougher. 

They are designed to stop at least one shot of 7.62×63 AP round traveling at 2850 ft/s or 877.8 m/s, and lesser threats. 

Level 4, on the other hand, can withstand a 7.62mm armor-piercing rifle bullet (APR) traveling at 877.8 m/s, but the lower-level 3 body armor cannot.


 Why Choose a Level 4 Body Armor

Level 4 lightweight plates are made of ceramic alloys and are much lighter than metal plates. This advantage will be appreciated by a fighter who has to be in body armor all day long. Especially when you need to overcome long distances on rough terrain in hot weather.  This level of ballistic protection is necessary in combat conditions. Law enforcement officers serving in peacetime do not need such armor.

Neither criminals nor law-abiding citizens have ammunition capable of piercing them, nor do they possess the necessary weaponry. Another consideration is if you work as a bodyguard or protect strategically vital objects that might be targeted by powerful sniper guns. For everyday use, such protection is not necessary.

What is currently the best level 4 armor?

According to the test results, this would be the Prime Armor IV model 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick.  The plates are made of high-strength ceramics with a different ceramic materials  and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) base, which prevents the armor from cracking heavily after being hit by large-caliber rounds. Ceramic covers 95-97 % of the surface of the plates depending on the model. After being hit by a 12.7mm M2AP machine gun bullet, the surface cracks only within a 1.5” radius, This design is extremely strong, will withstand multiple hits, and is still very lightweight.

Due to the construction of the Prime Armor’s plate the ceramic cracks only in a 1-1.5 inch radius after a ballistic impact. This is why our plate is multi-hit capable and a much safer option than other companies.  That’s why Prime Armor This is the safest option for any combatant.

In other body armor, the M2AP bullet creates a fine network of cracks across the entire surface of the armor. The integrity of the armor is shattered, it may very well not withstand a second hit.

Today, Prime Armor IV is made of the strongest and lightest level 4 plates, without exaggeration, the most reliable armor out there.

The ability to withstand multiple hits along with durability and light weight makes our Tier IV body armor the best choice for those looking for the highest quality protection at a reasonable price. In addition, we provide a 10-year warranty on ballistic components.


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