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Know More About Level 3+ Armor Plates

Level III+ Special Threat Armor Guide

Body armor saves thousands of lives in dangerous situations every day, and over the last few decades, there have been a lot of innovations in the technology used to make body armor level 3. Body armor comes with different protection levels, and in the US, the NIJ (National Institute of Justice) is responsible for determining these threat protection levels.

So, the NIJ standardized body armor as level II, Level IIIA, level III, or level IV, all of which offer different levels of protection. Level II and IIIA are rated to stop pistol calibers, while Level III and level IV are designed to offer protection against rifle rounds as well. However, there is another popular threat level, that isn’t officially recognized by the NIJ standards, but is a common standard in the body armor market. This is Level III+.

Most people don’t know much about this threat protection level. Well, it offers more protection than Level III, but still less than level IV. so, in this post, we are going to tell you all you need to know about Level III+ body armor.

What does level 3 body armor stop?

Let’s start by talking about level III body armor first. Level III body armor plates are specifically designed to stop rifle calibers. They can stop most intermediate rifle calibers, and battle rifle calibers up to full metal jacket .308 Winchester or 7.62x51mm NATO rounds.


Here is a list of some common calibers that level III body armor plates can stop

  • All pistol calibers
  • 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 Remington (AR-15 rounds)
  • 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm (AK rounds)
  • 7.62x51mm NATO or .308 Winchester (AR-10, G3, FN-Fal, and common hunting caliber)


However, Level III body armor does not stop armor-piercing rifle rounds, which can defeat a level III armor system.

Can level 3+ armor stop armor-piercing rounds?

Yes, level 3+ can stop some armor-piercing rounds, but not all.

Most notably, Level 3+ armor is tested with green tip AR-15 rounds, which are also known as extreme penetrator rounds. These rounds have a heavier 62-grain projectile, and a partial steel core, which allows them to penetrate level three body armor. So, where a level 3 body armor plate stops rifle rounds, armor piercing green tip AR-15 rounds can defeat them. The US armed forces also used the M855 green tip 5.56 NATO rounds.


Moreover, Level 3+ does not only offer multi-hit capability against green tips, but can take .308 rounds as well, and in some cases, even FMJ 30-06 rounds.

What is the difference between Level III+ and Level IV armor plates?

Both level III+ and level IV body armor plates are designed to protect your vital organs from rifle rounds, however, there are some major differences in their capabilities, and design.


Level III+ body armor is an intermediate protection level between level III and level IV. It offers more protection than a level III plate, but less than a level IV plate. A level III+ plate can stop everything a level III armor plate can, but also offers protection against steel core penetrator intermediate rifle rounds, like the M855 green tip 5.56 NATO ammunition, however, it can not stop 30 caliber armor penetration or FMJ rounds like a level IV body armor plate.


Moreover, level III+ body armor plates are usually made in a single layer of either steel or ceramics, however, level IV body armor plates are usually made from two layers, which include a steel plate, with a ceramic strike face.


Level III+ body armor is also lighter than Level IV armor, and it is more affordable and comfortable as well. Level IV body armor is used by military personnel who are likely to face large caliber threats, like 30 caliber machine guns, and high caliber snipers. However, for a civilian, Level III body armor offers excellent protection against the most popular assault rifle calibers.

What is level 3+ body armor rated for?

Level III+ isn’t a protection level officially adopted by the NIJ, rather it is a designation adopted by the body armor industry that has protection capabilities greater than level III armor. Level III+ steel plates can withstand small arms fire with high-velocity rounds and additional armor penetrating threats like the M855 green tip 5.56 NATO rounds.


Level 3+ armor is independently tested by manufacturers with calibers like

  • 5.56x45mm rounds at upto 3,100 feet per second.
  • 5.56x45mm M855/green tip (Penetrator rounds) at 3,100 feet per second.
  • 7.62×51 M80 NATO Ball (non-Armor Piercing rounds) at 3,000 feet per second.


Level III+ body armor plates are designed to take upto 6 rounds of 7.62×51 M80 NATO Ball ammunition. Moreover, though it isn’t tested for it, level III+ ballistic plates can also stop 7.62x39mm Mild Steel Core ammunition.

What are level 3+ body armor plates made of?

These days, body armor can be made from multiple materials, however, when it comes to hard armor plates, the most common materials are steel, ceramics, and UHMWPE. Level III armor can be made from all three materials, however, level III+ most commonly comes in the form of a steel plate or ceramic plate.

Steel plates have an inherent problem of spalling, which is when the bullet or its pieces can ricochets off the plate and hit the person wearing body armor, or the people around them. To solve this problem, steel plates have a rubberized strike face, which can stop slapping for a couple of rounds, however, after a couple of hits, it can be removed. Moreover, level III+ body armor plates are designed to stop green tip rounds, which have a partial steel core. Steel core ammunition does not break like normal bullets on impact and can be much more dangerous if it is deflected off a steel plate.



However, level III+ body armor plates are also made from Ceramics, which are much safer, and can take multiple hits. However, once they have been shot, they need to be replaced.

Can you buy a plate carrier with level III+ armor plates?

Plate carriers are designed to fit a certain plate size, and they can fit a plate of any protection level as long as it fits that size. Therefore, any plate carrier can fit a level III+ armor plate.

Moreover, you can plates and plate carriers as a package at our website, in BUNDLES section.