Review: Infidel Body Armor Level IV
Pat Cascio 03.01.16
I’ve been around various types of body armor since 1980, when I owned a gun shop and won a bid to supply a police department with soft body armor. Honestly, it was my first up-close exposure to body armor for the most part. Body armor has come a long, long way since 1980. Soft armor is lighter now and can stop more threats, and hard armor has also become lighter in weight and is available in several different types of threat levels.
Under review today is Infidel Body Armor Level IV hard body armor. This stuff is selling like crazy, with the threat of the FedGov wanting to ban all body armor for civilians. I had to wait several months to get a sample for this article. I’ve been dealing with the nice folks at IBA for several years now, even before they got into the body armor business. They are tops in customer service, too. I stayed in touch with IBA and followed the development of their Level IV body armor. Their product is not quite your run-of-the-mill hard armor. There is no Level IV+ hard body armor, but if there were, this new Level IV hard armor would probably be certified as such.
Why Body Armor?
Everyone doesn’t need hard body armor; many can get by just fine with different levels of soft body armor, depending on the level of threat they anticipate running into. Most police officers find that Threat Level IIA soft armor works fine for them for everyday wear, since it can stop a round from a common caliber handgun.
SWAT cops probably would look at some hard body armor, and there are several different types, including some AR500 steel plates that are offered from IBA, in addition to the Level IV ceramic/aluminum plates under review here. The AR500 steel plates are thinner and heavier than the Level IV plates, but the Level IV plates are able to stop more high-powered rifle rounds, including some armor piercing rounds. (See the IBA website for complete information on the various rounds that IV plates will stop.) The Level IV plates are slightly lighter in weight than the AR500 plates, but they are quite a bit thicker. I’ve tried both types of hard armor in a carrier, and once on and adjusted, I honestly couldn’t feel any difference in weight.
Many years ago, I became a dealer for a long forgotten soft body armor maker, and they are out of business for a good reason. Their Threat Level 1+ soft armor didn’t cut it, not even close. I was demonstrating this soft armor to a small town police department one day, hoping to make a sale. One of the rounds that this Threat Level 1+ claimed it would stop was a 9mm 115-gr Winchester Silver Tip JHP. When an officer took aim and fired, the round went completely through the soft armor, as well as the phone book behind it. Needless to say, I didn’t make a sale that day, and I stopped representing that company. Oh sure, they had all manner of excuses as to why that 9mm round completely penetrated the vest–none held water, though. Lesson learned. Buy from a reputable body armor maker, and make sure it is certified to stop what the company claims in will stop.
The Level IV plates I received were IBA’s 10″X12″ plates, but they also have slightly smaller plates. I also requested one of their Viper carriers. It’s their least expensive carrier and it gets the job done. It’s also comfortable, all things considered, and you can add Lever IV plates on the sides of the carrier if you so desire–again, depending on what threat you feel you might be going against. It didn’t take long to properly adjust the vest to my body, and I could get into the carrier in less than a minute.
It just kills me to intentionally destroy products sent to me for testing, but I wanted to give this Level IV armor a real work out. I believe that Level IV plates are certified to stop 6 or 7 rounds from the high-powered rifle rounds they are advertised to stop. Ceramic and Aluminum hard plates break-up the bullets when the plates are hit, so in short order after a few hits, the armor is no longer suitable or safe for wear. And, anytime you have any body armor–soft or hard–that is hit by gunfire, you should replace that armor.
I have precious little .308 Win armor piercing ammo, but I used several rounds of it on one of the plates, along with 10 more 147-grain FMJ “ball” ammo. The plate was taking a beating, and I figured that 12 rounds of ammo on this plate was a good test. The plate held up just as advertised, and if you are in a position where you are taking that many hits, it’s high time you moved to another position. I’m holding on to the second plate and will replace the plate I shot during the testing.
I don’t see myself wearing this hard body armor except in a war or a SHTF scenario, at which time I’d gladly put up with the added weight and bulk in order to save my bacon. However, it’s nice to have around, just in case.
Infidel Body Armor is selling two of these Level IV plates for slightly under $400.00, and you can decide on which plate carriers you want to wear. For my money, it’s hard to beat their Viper carrier. It does everything you expect of it, and it’s under a hundred bucks. Don’t wait until the FedGov actually gets around to banning body armor. If you do, you’ll be out of luck as it will sell out all over the country in a day or less.
Check out the website at IBA, and I’m willing to bet you’ll find some of their other products that will be of interest to you. As far as I know, IBA is the only hard body armor maker that actually produces hard armor plates and vests for children. It’s a sad state of affairs to even think that the time may come where you’ll have your children wearing hard body armor, but if you envision such a scenario, IBA is the place to go for your hard armor.