Midwest Armor Venture FM4 Level IV *UPDATE THE SECOND*

Posted: May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is the first of a series of posts that will focus on specific armor from specific manufacturers. You asked (and asked quite frequently) for a resource that would help end users locate best-in-class or best value-for-cost armors.

In the first post, I will be looking at the newest offering from those good folks at Midwest Armor. MA has gained a devoted following by making no-nonsense, high grade armor spanning the entire price range. Not content to rest on their laurels, their most recent innovation is the Venture series, comprising the FM3 and FM4. The FM3 is a level III plate, while the FM4 is rated for AP Black Tip (IV). While the FM3 is impressive in its own right, and will be examined at a later date, we are going to look at the FM4.

Disclosure: I have not received any remuneration from MA or Appalachian Training for this post, and will be purchasing my plate at full price. This post is based on the publicized statistics from MA.

The Venture FM4 is the first of a new generation of plates to achieve areal densities far below what was previously thought possible. Combining a thin strike face of ultrahard ceramic and a backing of Dyneema SB50 (the most advanced rigid UHMWPE currently available), the FM4 is the current best-in class for weight and thickness in level IV plates.

UHMWPE-focused rifle plates have never been known for their thin profile, but the FM4 comes in at a little over three quarters of an inch (.90″) thick. Weight for the medium plate size is right at 5.5 lb (which is a mere 1 lb. over the gold standard/tried and true TAP GAMMA+ which are level III).

As mentioned before, the known issue with UHMWPE is heat exposure. Rigid UHMWPE appears to be somewhat more tolerant of elevated temperatures (which I speculate is due to the thicker section), but it is still critical to keep the plates below 190 Farenheit (the transition temperature for rigid UHMWPE). If this precaution is taken, these plates are nothing short of incredible.

*UPDATED* The most incredible part about these plates is that they *are*, in fact, multi-hit. The specification for level IV is for stopping a single round of M2 AP. The designers at MA built the plates in such that plate integrity is not compromised with successive hits, meaning these plates should soak up several AP rounds that would have turned previous ceramic-focused IV plates to rubble.

These characteristics do not come cheaply. MA offers very affordable level IV multi-curve plates at the low-end of the price range, while the FM4 is their high-end offering. With an MSRP of about $940 a plate, start saving your pennies now.

Midwest continues to push the limits of the possible, and it is exciting to think about what they will come up with next!

If you are looking for the best place to purchase, look no further than Appalachian Training:

http://store.appalachiantraining.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=FM4-LG

Ask for Mike, he is a great guy to deal with, and will make sure you get the armor you need.

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