Body armor side plates…to buy or not to buy? This is one of the most common questions we receive, and in this blog, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of side plates and why they might be worth the investment for you.
Common Uses for Side Plates
Side plates are most commonly worn by individuals working in industries that are high risk or high danger. These include…
- Reconnaissance or active military
- Patrol or security
- Law enforcement and police
Due to the high-risk nature of these professions, people are actively looking for extra protection, which leads them to side plates. Side plates primarily protect the wearer’s thorax and abdomen from high-velocity threats when in non-squared-off shooting positions.
Side plates are generally compatible with most standard plate carriers that include mounted side pouches and have a curved profile that helps deflect fragmentation away from the wearer. Because they can add in unnecessary weight and mobility issues, they are not necessarily essential if you are not facing active danger when wearing your hard armor plates.
Pros of Side Plates
The biggest benefit of side plates is the extra protection individuals have when wearing them. Simply put, bullet trajectory is unpredictable and having side plates puts your risk for fatality and injury much lower than if you weren’t wearing them. For those in combat or active duty professions, the added protection also provides peace of mind in potentially dangerous situations.
Cons of Side Plates
The tradeoff for more protection is, of course, mobility. This is an issue that body armor wearers have faced for nearly 4,000 years. Back then, the Greek infantry used to wear heavy bronze greaves and breastplates for protection. As time went on, leaders were realizing that more people were falling out due to exhaustion from the weight, stamina, and restriction of their armor than spear wounds, leading to the transition of lighter armor.
Next Day Armor side plates range anywhere from 2.6 pounds to just over 3.5 pounds, which is significantly less than a standard side plate you’d find on the market today. Even so, limited agility and range of motion could be a factor in your ultimate decision to pass on side plates.
Are Side Plates Right for Me?
In the end, you’ll need to consider which of these factors is of the highest priority for you: protection or mobility and added comfort. If you are faced with dangerous situations or active threats on a regular basis, side plates are a no-brainer addition to your body armor collection. However, if you are purchasing body armor for civilian use and standard protection, side plates might be an unnecessary purchase.