Posts Tagged ‘ar680’

IMPORTANT EDIT 11-23-2015: It has come to my attention that these plates may not perform as certified regarding M193 high velocity rounds. Until such time as I have conducted a shoot test in direct comparison to the Maingun Patriot 2 plates, I cannot recommend these.

All those that have read The Good, The Bad and The Ugly series here at D-Rmor Gear know that steel rifle plates are an excellent choice. Thin, extremely durable, and inexpensive (compared to ceramic and UHMWPE), steel plates really only have two drawbacks: their weight (usually around 7.5 lbs. and up), and their susceptibility to high velocity M193 rounds.

This round, at or above 2950 fps, will reliably swiss-cheese garden variety AR500 steel (up until recently, the most common type of steel used in commercial rifle plates and target gongs). That means from any rifle with a barrel longer than 16″, M193 renders steel armor useless.

One of several companies that have stepped up to address this lack is Armour Wear. Their new AR680 level III+ (note the plus) steel plates will not only stop level III threats (M80 ball), but M855 Greentip below 3200 fps, and the notorious M193 below 3300fps. This is faster than M193 travels from the muzzle of a 20″ rifle.

Using an advanced type of steel, these plates are not only stronger, they are lighter and thinner. Upon unboxing the plate, the second thing I noticed (the first was how nicely it was packed) was the seeming thinness. While there is a Line-X coating to help mitigate front-face splash, it is not obnoxiously thick as I have encountered on some plates. Taking the measure with a digital caliper showed the thickness right at 10.17mm, or about twice the thickness of the steel. Not bad. Weight was right at 7 lbs. 2 oz., also not bad for a fully coated plate (considering that other steel plates previously available in III+ weighed in at over 8.5 lbs.)

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I was struck by the quality and attention to detail. The coating was even, with no runs or sloppiness. The reverse of the plate includes a certification sticker, which contains the lot number, inspection number, and other information. Very impressive.

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The curvature (extremely difficult to do with this type of steel!) was even, smooth and symmetrical.

Finally, I was pleased to see that the lower corners were clipped, as this has the double effect of reducing weight and wear on plate carriers.

Armour Wear currently makes the AR680 in three sizes: 10″ X 12″ (reviewed), 8″ X 10″ and 6″ X 8″ (flat). The 10X12 retail for $135, which although definitely more expensive than previous steel plates, is quite affordable when the extra capabilities are taken into consideration.

You can purchase these plates directly from Armour Wear here:

https://armour-wear.com/shop/all/ar680-steel-plate/

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Steel rifle plates are an affordable and effective option for those looking for rifle-round protection, as well as possessing the twin benefits of extreme durability and thin profile. As I have mentioned in previous iterations of TGTBTU, they represent a viable solution to everyone from LEOs to the prepared American.

Their one main drawback, aside from their weight (on average, higher than either ceramic or UHMWPE) was their susceptibility to the very common M193 threat. This round, in general, could be counted on to Swiss-cheese garden variety AR500 steel, if shot at or above 3000 fps (a disturbing fact that has been well-known since 2007).

It has been known to me for some time that there was a solution, but it warranted further investigation. That solution was/is Ultra Hard Steel. Most armor-rated steel possesses a Brinell hardness (BHN) of around 480-510 (the well known “AR500”). This standard steel, used for target gongs, and of late, rifle plates, is hard, but not hard/tough enough to stop M193 at high velocity. This round, due to its energy and small frontal profile, “punches” out cylinders of material, a mode known as “shear-plug failure.” UHS, by comparison, possesses extreme hardness, almost approaching that of ceramic (anywhere from 650-720 BHN).

This steel will easily stop M80 ball, M855, and M193 in 5mm thickness, meaning that rifle plates made with this material are truly triple-threat capable (these three rounds, along with 7.62X39 constituting the main threat spectrum most wearers need concern themselves with both in and OCONUS).

A new company called Armor Wear has become the first to bring an UHS plate to market, and my congratulations to them:

https://armour-wear.com/shop/all/ar680-steel-plate/

Calling their plates “AR680,” in reference to the BHN, these plates can be fully expected to stop M193 at a remarkable 3300 fps. The price point is $134 per plate, which although higher than regular AR500, is very reasonable given the exceptional capabilities. Weight for uncoated plates is 6.2 lb., which is the same or close to some ceramic plates on the market! With the build-up Line-X coating, the weight rises to 7.4 lb. per plate, but that is still a vast improvement over the older, less-effective AR500.

With this sea-change in the nature of steel rifle plates, I can now unhesitatingly recommend steel as every bit as good as ceramic and UHMWPE if weight is not a primary concern. From this point forward, UHS should be considered “best practices” if one is considering steel rifle plates.