BODY ARMOR PANEL STYLES
There are a variety of body armor shapes and styles available for purchase according to the carrier style you own, and according to mission need and amount of surface coverage protection. The following information should help you match the proper panel style to you vest.
Generally speaking, panels may be found in the following configurations:
- Concealable Panel Style
- BALCS/SPEAR Cut
- Tactical Panel Style
- Plate Backer Style
You may also find panels cut to fit specific style vests such as the HIGHCOM ARE or CHASE TACTICAL Series of TROOPER APC armor carriers. Individual armor manufactuers may also offer custom or proprietary cuts for their models, but many follow along the previously mentioned styles.
Additionally, the plate backers themselves are manufacturered in varios sizes and cuts such as a Full Cut, Shooter's Cut, Swimmer's Cut, SAPI cut, etc. exactly as their hard armor counterparts.
Concealable Armor Cut
Good for the vast majority of vests worn under the uniform
shirt or for slipping in and out of overt armor carriers. It may be purchased with or without extended side coverage.
SPEAR/BALCS Armor Cut
The SPEAR/BALCS is a military-inspired cut that allows for a balance between rapid mobility and protection.
Tactical Armor Cut
Provides additional protection on the upper back and lower edge of the neck Generally for standalone entry vests.
APC Armor Cut
The APC cut is designed to protect the anterior and posterior surface of the body, with very slight side protection. It is designed for mobility and speed, specially when handling patients.
Soft armor is also available for plate carriers in similar sizes and cuts as their hard armor counterparts. You may see these referred to as "Plate Backers":
A square or a rectangle – often used as a back plate, side protection, or inserted into a backpack or other case.
A more extreme clip/cut that extends further down the side of the plate rather than a 45* cut off the corner, which allows for most arm and shoulder movement. This is for highly active operators and disaster relief teams, this type of plate, however, may offer less coverage than the Shooter's Cut
SAPI cut plates basically have a 45* or close symmetrical clip and are radius rounded corners. SAPI is also a name used to describe a specific level of military ballistic protection, therefore terminology may vary depending on context (cut style vs. protection level)
The most common cut. It is rectangle with top corners cut/angled to allow better arm movement and weapon shouldering, typically worn in the front of carriers/vests.
Each cut style can also be found in a variety of sizes to meet user needs:
Here are some examples of manufacturer-specific panel shapes designed to fit proprietary models:
When purchasing a concealable vest product, the panels are essentially the product, what you are buying. The lightweight carrier is a mere accessory, so panel shape is not much of a concern outside of course of the coverage area considerations. When purchasing tactical outer carries and panels separately, you certainly have to make sure the carrier size and panel shape are compatible.
We sell armor panels to fit every tactical outer carrier we sell, and are only too happy to help you make the right decision.