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Hard Armor Plates: Complete Buyers Guide

Hard Armor Plates: Complete Buyers Guide

Hard armor plates are valuable, especially when there are life-threatening events happening all around us. They provide a higher rating than bullet-resistant vests and other protective gear. Next Day Armor offers Level IV NIJ-certified body armor plates to ensure the highest level of protection. 

This article acts as a complete buyer’s guide and will break down hard armor plates, so you can make the best decision for your needs.

What are Hard Armor Plates?

Manufacturers construct hard armor plates from ceramic, steel, and polyethylene. The two main types of plates are front plates and side plates. Front plates protect the chest and back of the individual wearing them, while side plates protect the sides of individuals.

Many people choose to use hard armor plates in conjunction with other protective equipment such as bullet-resistant vests. You can also wear hard armor plates using a plate carrier. These plates provide a higher level of protection than most common options, such as bullet-resistant vests or soft armor plates.

Manufacturers design hard armor plates to do one of two things. The first is to deform the bullet or even capture it. The second is to break the bullet up upon the impact.

Hard armor plates have several advantages, including being worn externally and their high level of protection, even in heavy combat. On the other hand, hard plates typically have a shorter lifespan and are challenging to conceal. In addition, they tend to be bulky and heavy, which can make movement more challenging.

What is an NIJ Rating?

NIJ stands for National Institute of Justice. Their standard is the only widely recognized requirement for body armor and other lifesaving equipment. The NIJ standard provides ratings that dictate the level of protection a given piece of equipment has.

Law enforcement, corrections facilities, and the military use the NIJ rating when purchasing their life-saving equipment. The NIJ has standardized this industry since 1972, with the most updated publication happening in 2008 (NIJ 0101.04).

All Next Day Armor hard body plates have an NIJ rating of either Level III or Level IV. A Level III hard body armor can protect against rifle rounds, including an AK 47. On the other hand, the Level IV body armor plate rating is the highest body armor rating possible. It can protect against nearly all rifles, handguns, and shotguns.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing Hard Armor Plates

Hard armor plates have several characteristics that could impact your decision over which plate to purchase. Therefore, when researching different hard armor plates, it is essential to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of the characteristics.

The key characteristics to consider are weight, size, and quality.


One of the biggest challenges of hard armor plates is their weight and bulkiness. This can cause mobility issues or even unintended injuries if the individual wearing it falls. However, the benefit of the protection these plates provide far surpasses other types of protective gear.

Hard armor plates typically weigh between five and eleven pounds, depending on the size you need. The material and cut of the armor can also impact the weight. Our hard armor plates are some of the lightest on the market and are designed for comfortable, everyday wear. 


Hard body armor plates come in various sizes. The size refers to the physical area the plates cover when being worn. Manufacturers should list the length, width, and thickness of the plates. If your armor is the incorrect size, it could be painful and cause decreased mobility. In addition, the sizing for body armor plates does not correlate to other sizing standards, such as clothing.

For more information on sizing for hard armor plates and how to size yourself, check out our article here.


The best body armor plates are made from the highest quality materials. Next Day Armor uses ceramic/aramid and ceramic/composite materials for all hard body armor plates. All materials used are among the highest quality on the market. Lives are saved by ensuring high-quality products with the highest NIJ ratings.


Body armor can be a lifesaving piece of equipment. It is essential to do research and ensure the body armor you purchase fits not only your size but also your needs. Consider any anticipated threats before making a purchasing decision to feel confident with the hard body armor you choose.


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