Winners at a Glance
We think the AR500 Testudo Gen 2 Plate Carrier is the best you can buy right now, but there are different strokes for different folks.
AR500 Testudo Gen 2 Plate Carrier
Spartan Armory Systems Sentinel
AR500 Concealment Plate Carrier
Spartan Level IIIA Wraparound
Ar Freeman Single Plate Carrier
Where to Buy Body Armor
They say the best defense is a good offense. There’s a lot of truth in that, especially when it comes to firearms, but there’s nothing wrong with having a great defense too. Of all the things in your gun safe, the body armor could be the real lifesaver
Remember, without body armor, then a bulletproof suit (yeah, we’ll get to those), even John Wick would be dead.
It’s not actually that easy to find good body armor and you’re quite often reduced to ugly plate holder systems that work fine on the outside of combat fatigues and yet really aren’t that well suited to the real world.
We have highlighted our favorites down below, but we have two suppliers who will fix you right up with fitted body armor that you can wear under your clothes, or over.
- AR500 Armor – Get protection for you and your family.
- Ace Link Armor – Ballistic body Armor, Plate Carriers and more.
Don’t buy cheap stuff, really don’t. Get the very best you can afford, buy once and keep it until you get shot repeatedly and need to dust yourself off and order a few more.
This is the best body armor we have seen on the web, we trust them and we think you will too. There’s a helpful introduction to the various levels of body armor, too, and just what they will protect you from.
Is Body Arm
Is Body Armor Legal?
There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the web and one of the big ones is if a bulletproof vest is illegal.
Basically there’s Federal law in place saying felons cannot buy or own body armor, but if you’re in the clear to buy firearms then you should have no legal issues with body armor laws.
It can be an aggravating factor if you wear the bulletproof vest when you commit a crime in some States. North Carolina in particular is keen to point out they will double screw you if you put on body armor and then rob a bank.
So yeah, be aware of that we guess…
Also, we have to cover our own ass and tell you that you can’t rely on us or hold us responsible. This is not legal advice. We could never be lawyers. We don’t have those skills.
So don’t hold this up as gospel truth and make sure you check your local state laws on body armor if you’re in any doubt.
How Much Does Body Armor Cost?
You can have body armor for just $100.
That’s a package of the plate carrier set-up and a proper hard plate that could make the difference between life and death…
You can spend much more, of course, if you want a full Desert Storm-style tactical set of pouches and storage units on the outside.
But if you want a traditional bulletproof vest that can slip under your clothes, then as little as $100 could be all it takes to give you the Man of Steel bulletproof effect.
We have come up with a few options for you, but you can check for yourself with our partners and see if there’s something that works better for you. The Body Armor on Sale pops up first, too, so you might be able to save a few bucks.
Best Body Armor for Sale in 2023
1. AR500 Testudo Gen 2 Plate Carrier
- Price: $428.00
- Armor: Level iiiA soft armor through to Type IV
- Plate Size: 2x10x12″
This is the bulletproof vest that goes over everything, or under bulky outer clothes, and should basically fit any adult in some form or another.
This AR500 Testudo Gen 2 is a much refined version of the standard issue military plate carriers. You can order one in Coyote Tan, Drab Olive Green, Black and a more expensive Multicam version.
Features include a fully adjustable cummerband, padding in critical places and a network of PALS webbing for mags, a trauma kit or just about any other kind of thing you need to carry. Pouches, holsters, additional kits will all hook right on and stay there.
The AR500 comes with Level iiia Plus A1 alloy ballistic plates. We deal direct with the manufacturer, though, and you can upgrade to composite alloy and polyethylene plates that offer lightweight protection and great mobility.
Now that makes this a $1,000 vest with the space age ballistic plates. But if it’s a one-off investment, is that a terrible thing?
You can add a Protector ballistic helmet to the package while you’re there. And, I mean, maybe right?
Spend what you can afford on your armor/vest, and the peace of mind will pay you back many times over. Unless you just want to look like an Operator. Then buy an Amazon special and have at it.
2. Ace Link Patrol
- Price: $667.00
- Armor: Level IIIA
- Plate Size: 2x10x12″
If you want a fitted plate carrier then this Law Enforcement Officer uniform fit type vest might be the one for you.
This load bearing vest is covered in MOLLE webbing and so you can tailor your bulletproof vests and have everything from a trauma kit to mags and a micro compact 9mm pistol on there.
You get two standard size plates offering NIJ.06 Level IIIA Plus protection and the specific promise that this IIIA level armor can take a direct hit from a 44 Magnum round. It is an Aramid construction, which is much lighter and means you can move easier, and lots of Law Enforcement officers prefer a lighter tactical vest.
That’s a big deal in the real world. As is the mesh ventilation middle layer that stops the heat getting too much with this body armor. You get a world of attachment points, too, and you can easily upgrade the Level IIIA armor plates as they’re a standard fit with zip pocket entry.
Durable nylon should hold its shape for a long time and if you don’t get shot too often, or change shape dramatically, this should be a vest for life. You get an eight year armor warranty and two year carrier warranty to get you started anyway.
You can opt for more flexible body armor bundles, or more durable stab proof vest material and hard armor. The standard Patrol tactical vest is the sensible middle ground, though, in our opinion.
3. Spartan Armor Systems Sentinel + AR500 Armor
- Price: 249.99
Spartan Armor Systems make a solid selection of armor plates for more or less any carrier. This is the complete package and clearly favors complete coverage, with side protection and proper armor included.
The carrier weighs just 2.9lb unladen and is a designed for swimmers cut plates for increased mobility.
This is Level III protection with a steel core and Spartan Armor Systems specialises in replacement plates. So you can order Level III, Level III+ and Level IV protection for your plate carrier. You can also find some stellar IIIA level soft armor and other levels of body armor.
4. AR500 Concealment Plate Carrier
- Price: $109
- Armor: Level iiiA soft armor through to Type IV
- Plate Size: 10×12″/ 11×14″
The best-selling AR500 Concealment Plate Carrier body armor is specifically designed to avoid printing, which can be handy if you don’t want other people to know you’re wearing concealable body armor. I can see that being a tactical advantage to be fair…
It’s designed to work specifically with the AR500 Level III Armor Curved Advanced Shooters Body Armor plates. This concealable vest really is designed for soft armor, but you can upgrade to the S2 that should stop multiple hits from anything that shoots less than 1,440 fps. Fast shooting ammo can penetrate this IIIA Level protection, though.
Side plate protection is an optional extra and this bulletproof vest really does give you a lot of coverage under your clothes. It doesn’t just come with the side plates. It has a cummerbund that helps keep your plate carrier firmly in place and comfortable.
Aramid Layers Slowly Catch the Bullet
Moisture wicking material comes with a level of stretch and the soft layered Aramid ballistic panels are designed to mold to you. The ballistic protection level is limited to standard pistol rounds, but that’s still pretty good for a concealable tactical vest.
Soft armor plates are getting better all the time in terms of ballistic protection level and trauma pads even help stop severe bruising these days. Law enforcement normally uses something more overt, but in coivert ops this is exactly the kind of gear Law Enforcement Officers don under their clothes.
Getting shot multiple times in the chest will always be harrowing, but with today’s ballistic protection level and concealable vest options, it doesn’t have to leave any lasting damage.
5. Spartan Armor Systems IIIA Level Wraparound
- Price: $577.99
The National Institute of Justice tests body armor thoroughly and doesn’t give its endorsement lightly. So rest assured this wraparound vest from Spartan Armor Systems should keep your major organs intact in a gunfight.
This is soft protection, but it does go round the sides and look after some pretty important body parts. A gut shot is a bad way to go, according to basically everyone.
This Spartan Armor Systems vest will limit your movement, or the fugitive you’re transporting maybe? But that’s the price you pay for ease of use and accessibility. This is one of those protective tactical vests you don’t have to think about or load up in advance.
As an active shooter response vest, there’s a lot to like here.
6. AR Freeman Plate Carrier
- Price: $175.99
- Armor: Type III Multi-Coated NIJ 0101.06 standard
- Size of plate: 9×9 inch front and rear
- Weight: 12lb Fully Loaded
This looks to be the perfect compromise of light weight and slim form, without sacrificing protection.
Now the best-selling Freeman carrier doesn’t give complete protection, unless you cover your sides with optional extra pads, but then it does cover everything important. The octagonal plates are designed to cover your major organs and you can add a plate to the rear, too.
That’s a neat touch, because sometimes people get shot in the back.
Multi-coated plates should stand the test of time, as well as bullets. You can upgrade for a different level of protection from your ballistic plates too.
It was designed from the outset to be light weight and a simpler alternative for round the house wear for those that wear heavier body armor to the office and need round the clock protection.
Who are those people? I don’t ask too many questions, it’s better that way…
Vital Organ Cover and Not Much More
The octagonal plates protect your vital organs without restricting movement. It’s not total protection, but it’s a lot of protection, up to rifle plates, and complete freedom of movement. That can be useful too.
There’s a MOLLE compatible system that means you can attach three magazine pouches, you get adjustable side buckles that are impact resistant and stretching Hypalon shoulders. The plate carrier is laser-cut Cordura Nylon.
It’s a great little system that has found favor with competitive shooters who have to wear ballistic armor due to the regulations, as well as private security teams.
If you want tactical body armor that leaves you free to move and yet can accommodate serious ballistic plates that are rifle rated one day and soft armor for close protection work the next, this is the one. If you want total protection and stab proof vest material, this isn’t the one.
This way, your great defense won’t get in the way of your awesome offense. But there are inherent compromises.
7. Velocity Systems Scarab Light
- Price: $309.99
- Armor: Level IIIA
This Velocity SYstems vest gets a lot of love online in the user reviews. You can order a medium or large in Coyote Brown or black and it’s a very simple system that is intuitive for newcomers.
It’s combined body armor/tactical gear and it comes with a kangaroo pouch as standard. You can use the MOLLE webbing as you see fit, though, and create your own survival system with the Scarab Light.
Use Level III, Level III+ or lightweight ballistic protection that isn’t so heavy. You can have several plate options, depending on the situation, because you don’t want to run all day with rifle plates.
8. BulletSafe Tactical Plate Carrier
- Price: $71.99
- Maximum Plate Size: 11×14″ front and back.
This is a simple system, but it actually really works.. It’s snug fitting, so although the material isn’t quite as advanced as some of the leading lights here, your own body provides a good deal of the structure. Well that and the hard armor that give you complete coverage, including side panels.
That means the material is seriously lightweight and without the plates you won’t even notice it. When they’re in, you really will feel the difference.
You could invest in advanced level IV plates that are completely bulletproof, even against larger caliber rifles. Rifle rated hard armor is pretty sweet in a gunfight. Not so much the rest of the time and level III or Level III+ seems the right way to go most the time.
Goes Under or Over Your Outfit, Depending on the Weather
You could wear a baggy shirt over this and just about get away with it, or strap it over a T-shirt and take advantage of the MOLLE and PALS attachment systems for mags and whatever else you want to hang off it.
Law Enforcement use these type of tactical vests all the time and they’re a great compromise between flexibility and protection. You can slip the side and rear plate out in seconds to suit your threat level and it’s lightweight, so apart from the actual armor plating then you can wear this all day without really noticing it.
It isn’t that much cheaper than the best body armor for sale in 2023 in the online armor shop, though, when you buy plates on top, and that’s something you really should think about.
9. Ace Link Armor T Shirt
- Price: $278.32
- Plate Size: 8×12″ front and back.
The Ace Link Armor T Shirt isn’t quite the John Wick suit, but it’s kind of close.
You get an Aramid panel front and back sewn in that should stop most handgun rounds while concealing easily under a shirt or jacket.
This isn’t complete protection, but it is covert protection and armor concealable like no other. Sometimes that is more important and this is the most covert of our concealable vests.
It’s a specific kind of threat level that makes you invest in these T-shirts and Aramid ballistic plates. But if you’re likely to run into a gunfight then it’s a subtle and very effective ballistic armor system that can work in tandem with a big carrier and ballistic helmet if you need something more.
It’s your life man. And this is an almighty base layer or arrmor vest, that might just save you from an active shooter.
10. Grey Ghost Gear Minimalist
- Price: $116.99
- Plate size: 10×12 front and back.
This is a slick system that is designed to be light and unobtrusive as possible. Lined plate pockets prevent chafing and a mesh inner layer helps with padding and space to breathe.
You can hit the armor shop and drop rifle rated panels in there if you want. Most people are happy with Level III, Level III+ maybe. But you do you when it comes to ballistic armor bundles and bullet proof vest, including rifle plates.
The best bulletproof vests are the ones you don’t take off at every opportunity, though, and that is something that you should think about as much as the armor level of protection.
Backpack Armor or a Full on Armored Backpack?
School backpack armor was a pretty wild concept not so long ago. But now you can buy an Ace Link Rapid Deployment School backpack, or backpack armor to convert any backpack into an armor shield.
Backpack armor comes in a variety of different protection levels and sizes. You can also get stab protection that you see in the best tactical vest construction.
Check out the best backpack armor here.