Steel Body Armor Plates:
Cheap: Steel plates are the cheapest rifle plates available.
Durability: Steel plates are extremely robust and less prone to cracking or fracturing compared to ceramic plates.
Multi-Hit Capability: Steel plates have better multi-hit capability, meaning they can withstand multiple impacts easier without sacrificing performance.
Weight: Steel plates are heavier than ceramic plates of the same protection level, which can affect mobility and comfort.
Spalling: Upon impact, steel plates generate spall (fragments) that may cause injury or even death to the wearer or those nearby. Spall mitigation measures do exist but do not fully prevent this.
Old Technology: Metal armor is nothing new or innovative. It is extremely old technology that offers little benefit over more modern materials.
Ceramic Body Armor Plates:
Lightweight: Ceramic plates are much lighter than steel plates of comparable protection levels, allowing for better mobility and reduced fatigue during extended wear.
Better Ballistic Performance: Ceramic materials are much more effective at dissipating and spreading the energy of an impact, making them more efficient at stopping bullets.
New technology: Ceramic body armor uses the latest and most advanced materials and processes available.
Durability: Ceramics can be more brittle than steel, and they can crack or fracture under extreme conditions, especially if subjected to impacts or stresses.
Multi-Hit Capability: Ceramic plates might experience reduced effectiveness after multiple shots due to a compromise in the ceramic strike face. However, modern ceramic plates are multi-hit rated and are tested up to six rounds.
Ultimately, the choice between steel and ceramic body armor plates is clear. Steel plates can offer protection at a lower cost, but they are heavy and can generate spall. Ceramic plates are lighter, offer better ballistic performance, and are less likely to generate spall, but they can be more fragile. Consider spall, durability, your budget, and your tolerance for weight when making your decision.