Ballistic Shield & Plate Armor Levels

Ballistic Shield & Plate Armor Levels

In your line of work, you need maximum protection, but not all body armor is built the same. Ballistic shields & plates come in different designs featuring viewports or ambidextrous handles, however the most important factor is its performance level. Whether you’re in need of a riot shield, or looking for soft armor options, you want a quality product that meets NIJ standards.

Ballistic Performance Levels

All of the hard armor protection at TYR Tactical is designed to protect against threats with firearms. Hard armor plates & ballistic shields are bulletproof, however the type of bullets they deflect depends on their level. Each piece of ballistic body armor is tested and rated by the National Institute of Justice and is categorized in 5 different types.

The National Institute of Justice

The National Institute of Justice is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is responsible for researching, developing, and evaluating crime and justice throughout the nation. One of their responsibilities includes evaluating ballistic body armor from facilities like TYR Tactical.

The 5 NIJ levels of ballistic protection:

  • level IIA
  • level II
  • level IIIA
  • level III
  • level IV

Levels of Ballistic Shield & Plate Protection

Depending on your specific role you may find that you need more than a tactical vest. A ballistic shield, commonly known as a tactical shield, offers protection from firearms by deflecting various types of bullets and projectiles.

Though the institute of justice, NIJ, uses five levels to categorize ballistic body armor, hard armor shields and plates typically fall into 3 of those categories. The hard armor protective shields & plates at TYR Tactical typically fall into the following body armor protection levels.

Level 3A Armor

This level generally deflects bullets from handguns, protecting officers from anything equal to and below a 44 magnum round. This test ensures level 3a body armor can stop magnum rounds at 1430 ft per second. Check out this example of a great level 3A ballistic shield from TYR Tactical.

Level 3 Armor

Level 3 ballistic shield & plates are rifle rated by the NIJ to ensure that it can withstand standard rifle rounds. Level III body armor stops 7.62 mm full metal jacketed rounds at 2780 ft per second.

Within this type there’s also an unofficial subgroup known as the level 3+ that is built to protect against rifles with rounds up to .30-06 JSP. TYR Tactical offers a Level 3+ HA3/STC ballistic plate with a carbon fiber cover that weighs between 1.62 – 2.97 lbs.

Level 4 Armor

Type IV body armor is tested and built to deflect armor piercing bullets at 2880 ft per second. Level 4 body armor stops steel core and tactical rounds from threats like active shooters. A level 4 ballistic shield, while offering more protection, is often heavier than your typical type 3/3a ballistic shield.

This TYR Tactical CQB Non-Viewport Level 4 Rapid Ballistic Shield is about 34.8lbs and is made with hybrid ceramics.

Other Factors to Consider

After deciding which level best suits the conflict you might encounter throughout the workday, there’s a few other things to consider. One of the common questions surrounding hard armor shields and plates is weight. How much a ballistic shield weighs depends on the type, design, and features.

Ballistic shields are made of various materials such as ceramic and “ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene” (UHMWP). The type of material used to create the shield or plate can also contribute to the item’s weight.

Other common inquiries surround the legality of body armor for civilians. Due to its protective nature, ballistic shields are legal across the United States, however some states may have restrictions. Stop by the TYR Tactical FAQ’s for more answers to common questions about hard armor products and other tactical gear.

TYR Tactical proudly provides quality hard armor & shield products for law enforcement personnel. Contact us today to order your department the equipment they need to protect themselves against the different threats they may encounter.