AR500: A3 - Alloy Composite Body Armor

AR500: A3 - Alloy Composite Body Armor

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Obliterates 5.56 and M80 Ball. Razor thin. Unbelievably light. The A3 is a winner-take-all plate.

PE makes it light. Steel makes it strong. It absorbs fragmentation while stopping mild steel core rounds such as 5.56x45MM, M193 Ball, and M855, as well as 7.62x51MM NATO Ball. It's only 4.6 lbs and 0.7” thick, and has passed numerous third-party tests.

One plate: more advantages than ever before.


The A3 minimizes the compromises one must make when choosing armor by emphasizing the strengths of two different armor types: Polyethylene and steel. Historically, these two materials have been separated and contrasted with an either-or mentality. The A3 removes that completely by using each in one plate.

Polyethylene is a high-tech innovation popular for being lightweight and multi-hit capable. However, traditional polyethylene plates generally also come with high prices and a much higher thickness to be able to withstand rifle rounds. Also, while being more multi-hit capable than ceramic armor, polyethylene has a tendency to suffer much backface deformation when hit many times.

The A3 takes those weaknesses -the high price of the material, the bulky form, and the backface deformation vulnerability- and uses steel’s strengths to solve them. While polyethylene is about an inch thick (making it difficult to lie flat on the ground in a prone shooting position), the A3 plate is a maximum of .7”--30% thinner. The backface deformation is also combated by the steel face, meaning it will stay in its original shape even after high-pressure combat.

Likewise, while steel is well-known for its strengths in high multi-hit capability, resistance to backface deformation, and its stopping power (this plate is rated to stop M855 green tip “penetrators” and higher velocity rounds like the M193), it also has a higher weight than polyethylene and deflects more fragmentation out instead of absorbing the hit within itself. Using steel as only a strike face solves these problems: The A3 is our lightest Alloy plate at well under 5 pounds and defeats rounds by letting them pass into the polyethylene backer to be absorbed after the steel mitigates the impact.

Knowledge Base Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What will level 3 body armor stop? The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) rates level 3 body armor protection at 6x shots of 7.62x51mm @ 2,780 FPS from 51' away. Our AR500 Armor® Heritage plate and our UHMWPE (Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene) P2 plate are both rated to stop this threat.
  • What is a level 3+ plate and what is it rated? Level 3+ indicates a protection rating that meets and exceeds the NIJ level III rating. Unfortunately, since level III+ is not a regulated threat level, this only means the plate can hold up to level III AND specific additional threats specified by the manufacturer NOT covered under the NIJ 0101.06 listing. Level 3 plus performance is going to vary from model and manufacturer. Most manufacturers use 3+ to denote the coverage of all 5.56 threats. For example, our A1, A2, and A3 plates are all III+ but have slightly different velocities at which they can handle 7.62x39, 5.56x45, and 7.62x51. The variable factors at which a III+ plate can perform are usually going to be defined by the materials used and the plate weight.
  • Why is polyethylene (PE) used in body armor? Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene or UHMWPE or PE for short is a lightweight super strong polymer that began its journey in life as lightweight sails for yachting competitions. The material (at the time referred to as Dyneema) was used because of how lightweight and rip-resistant it was. When UHMWPE is cut and pressed into varying thicknesses, it is capable of deforming and encapsulating ballistic projectiles. The pro of this armor is it is the lightest-weight rifle-rated protection on the market at only 3.3 lbs. The cons of this armor, if polyethylene is the only material used, are due to the unique nature of this armor's stopping capabilities, steel core ammunition such as the 5.56 M855 “Green tip” can potentially punch through, along with its steeper cost to manufacture.


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