By Carlos Huerta

Picking out the right body armor can be tricky or flat out frustrating. Some steel plates usually stop one type of common round while others won’t. Some plates are made from ceramic, steel, or plastic materials. Or plates are thin, thick, light, heavyweight and so on. Finding body armor for the right price and picking out the right brand can be even more frustrating than it needs to be. Worse yet, often those searching for answers receive the wrong advice.

AR500 Armor

AR500 makes choosing and purchasing body armor a breeze. Even if it sits on your shelf for 10 years until you need it, the expense is worth it. If you are a prepper or beginning preparedness, you need to consider adding body armor to your supply. If things were to suddenly get really bad, like an epidemic outbreak, active shooter, or home invasion, this body armor is a core heavy duty component of protecting yourself. Simply put, it helps to keep you fighting.

Full body armor is too much weight and takes away swift movement, whereas the AR500 armor plate covers the upper vital organs. AR500 is one of the most popular armor plate manufacturers on the market today. For a couple weeks, I’ve been trying out the AR500 XL Basic Plate Carrier. This is a heavy duty AR500 steel designed to protect major organs. The AR500 XL Plate Carrier is the largest plate carrier they offer, and it designed for operators who are searching for an extra-large complete body armor solution. With the front and rear plates, the vest is roughly 12 to 14 lbs.

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I’m going to be honest and say it does have some weight to it, but it’s not too much to where it couldn’t be handled. It is effective and light enough to be worn for hours. It’s comfortable for the most part and breathable. The XL armor vest is easy to put on and take off with the pull tabs. It can take multiple hits from multiple calibers. The XL armor plate can stop a shotgun slug or a .308 armor piercing round. The XL carrier comes with a flat plate, and if you want a curved plate, it retails for a little more. Your chest is not flat like the plate, and spending a little extra for the curved plate will be worth it for the added comfort.

The AR00 XL Plate Carrier Specs

  • 2 AR500 Armor steel body armor (11”x14”)
  • 2 Trauma Pads, 11”x14”, (Optional)
  • Double Pistol Magazine pouch (Optional)
  • Double AR15/M4 Magazine pouch (Optional)
  • Right handed chest mounted pistol holster (Optional)
  • XL plate carrier is 3 lbs. unloaded
  • Size is fully adjustable with the shoulder straps and girth – roughly Large to XXLarge

Extra Features

The chest mounted holster is a universal pistol holster. This is a good option to carry your firearm since carrying a side holster is near impossible with the vest in the way. Personally I wear a drop leg holster with the plate carrier vest, which is very comfortable and convenient. The XL plate carrier vest also has the option to add side protection plates (accommodates 6”x6” and 6”x8”) and a secondary sleeve to add soft plates. The plate pocket is built in, internally, which includes adjustable retention straps allowing the operator to position the plates within the pocket.

There are a good amount of features that come with the vest. All straps are fully adjustable with quick release shoulder buckles. The emergency drag handle is not only convenient but useful in intense situations. The vest also has front and rear Velcro panels for ID’s and patches with MOLLE based pouches with easy removable access. With these Velcro panels, you can attach additional pouches to hold more gear or magazines.

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Base Coat Vs. Built-Up Coat

All AR500 armor has a base coat and the option to have a built-up coat. The base coat is a protective coating designed to both protect the armor from the elements and you from spall or fragmentation. Spall is the metal splatters when a bullet hits steel. The built-up coat is an extra thick layer of protection option. It adds a greater protection from spall and discharge compared to the base coat. However, it does add a small extra amount of weight and size as well. The built-up coat will increase the thickness of your plate by approximately 0.5” and roughly add a pound to the weight.

Trauma Pads

The Trauma Pads look and feel like thin, soft armor. However, this is not ballistic protection. The Trauma Pads go behind the armor plates to spread out the force of impact if you were to take a blow. That way you don’t end up with bruises or broken bones. It does not help stop a bullet, but it does make a difference in whether you break a rib or not.

Shooter’s Cut

AR500 Armor does offer a Shooter’s Cut, which means the armor plate is cut a little differently depending on whether you are left or right handed. The Shooter’s Cut allows a little more movement to the designated strong hand. This is ideal if you are handling a firearm, as it allows that extra movement that can make all the difference. 

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Why Should You Buy Body Armor?

  1. Here are some reasons why civilians buy body armor:
  2. Safety during shooting practice or outdoor shooting drills.
  3. Wearing body armor can protect yourself from accidental discharge.
  4. Having body armor on standby in case of a home invasion.
  5. For preppers who plan on “bugging in” or sheltering in a place during a crisis.
  6. Every day carry or preparation for an active shooter.

AR500 Background

The AR500 Company is American made and fairly new. They launched their first line of ballistic body armor in 2012. They strive for reliable products and top quality. AR500 is eager to answer any questions you have and they offer numerous videos explaining different types of body armor. They even have videos showing how much their armor can take. It says a lot when a company tests their own products, especially body armor. Some companies won’t test products publicly because they know their product will not pass the test.  All of their products are intended for law-abiding American citizens, law enforcement, security personnel, and military personnel. They take the safety of their customers seriously. AR500 will only sell to you if you live in the United States and must be a legal resident. No government background check or I.D record needed when purchasing body armor.

Final Thoughts

Overall, bullet proof doesn’t always mean “bullet proof.” Every piece of armor can be defeated, be it by penetration or repeated shots. However, you shouldn’t have to choose between protection, mobility, weight and even price. AR500 has one of the lowest cost for body armor. All of AR500 steel plates will stay durable with a 20 year shelf life. In the end, it’s worth it. Your body armor is meant to protect the most important parts of your anatomy without choosing between cost and protection. The AR500 XL carrier vest is a great addition to my gear collection. It’s reliable and something I can put my trust in.