top of page

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Why Doesn't Apex Armor Solutions Carry Hesco Armor?
    Surprisingly this is a question we get asked on a weekly basis and customers search for Hesco products on our website on a daily basis. However, upholding our high standards is more important than profit. Body armor must first and foremost be reliable, it must stop its rated rounds every single time without question. This is a baseline requirement for us when evaluating which products we choose to carry. Hesco unfortunately does not meet this requirement and has been documented by the NIJ failing 6 ballistics compliance audits (FIT) and undergoing 2 massive recalls encompassing 26,000 plates and two full product lines, all within 7 years of the formation of their business. This means in 6 separate tests Hesco plates were found to not pass minimum NIJ standards. In two of these instances this resulted in a complete product line recall (3610 and 4600) where every single one of the manufactured plates were recalled. While Hesco is an incredibly popular major brand, these failures are incredibly unacceptable and shows a pattern of reliability issues. As an ISO company, Hesco is only subjected to ballistics tests once every 2 years for each product model. You could make 10 plates or 100,000 plates and the amount of plates tested would be the same. 2-4 plates once every 2 years. Each plate must have been made within the last 48 hours, so generally speaking these 2-4 plates are from a single batch. Failing these tests are fairly uncommon as most manufacturers perform batch testing. Which means at least one plate from every manufacturing batch is put through an internal shoot test. If this is done, it reduces the likelyhood of failing an NIJ FIT audit by a substantial amount. Such frequent failures are incredibly abnormal and are not in line with what other US companies are experiencing. In fact none of the other major US manufacturers even have a single recall. Hesco is likely failing these compliance audits and performing recalls due to their design philosophy. Armor technology has hit a plateau and we haven't seen many advances within the last 20 years and we haven't had any major leaps in technology since the invention of Polyethylene. This means all manufacturers generally have the same materials to work with any nobody is coming up with a significantly cutting edge technology that reduces weight by substantial margins or increases performance by substantial margins. However with the market demanding increasingly lighter and thinner plates, there's only so far you can push current technology before you start playing with fire and sacrificing reliability. If a plate is significantly thinner or lighter, generally speaking the company is using non ballistic foam borders to save weight, or simply using less physical material to reduce weight and thickness. Hesco generally does the latter. Their plates are underbuilt and dance right on the edge of reliability and just barely pass minimum standards. With current manufacturing technology an unavoidable phenomenon we experience is something called manufacturing variation. This is when the thickness of materials varies slightly from batch to batch, this is not a quality control issue and cannot be avoided. Therefore it has always been an industry standard to use a little more material than you need, therefore if the materials come in slightly under, you will not dip below the threshold of reliability. However, if you choose to do away with the manufacturing safety margin, yes you may save weight and thickness, however if the thickness of the materials comes in slightly under, you will dip below the threshold of reliability and experience failure of the armor. Some of our core goals as a company are to educate Americans about the topic of armor and provide them with quality products their lives can depend on. For the same reason we don't carry steel plates or imported Chinese plates, we cannot ignore when a company shows an established pattern of reliability faults and safety recalls. The ability for a plate to meet minimum standards and stop ballistic threats every. single. time. is a top priority for us. Much like how a parachute must deploy 100% of the time, or the airbags in your car must deploy 100% of the time. Nothing is more important than reliability. We are not biased and we are not trying to attack a "competitor". We're a vendor which means we can choose to sell whichever companies products we wish. However we choose to carry the most reliable products, even if it means sacrificing some profit to not carry an incredibly popular and widely recognized brand. We apologize if this is an inconvenience and we would be happy to help if you would like to look at alternatives.
  • Are Ceramic Plates Fragile?
    No. Ceramic plates are not fragile. Ceramic plates are not like glass or porcelain like many claim it to be. As per the NIJ 0101.06 standards, all certified plates must undergo a harsh drop test. In this drop test, plates are dropped onto the strike face from a height of Four feet, with 10lbs strapped to the rear, Two (2) times onto Hard Concrete. Even cracked/ damaged Ceramic plates are still effective at stopping ballistic threats. According to a study done in the early 2000s by the 23rd International Symposium on Ballistics, cracked ceramic plates stopped the ballistic threats they were rated for 100% of the time. Even when severely cracked, and with the shot placed on the fracture fault these plates performed 10-20% above specifications.
  • Do Ceramic Plates Expire?
    No. Ceramic plates do not expire. Ceramic plates will not deteriorate by simply sitting around. The “Expiration date” you sometimes see on plates is when the warranty/ liability period ends. This is when the warranty expires, NOT when the plates become unserviceable. Plates that are only used occasionally, that are not abused can still stop ballistic threats for 40+ years or more. There are instances of Ground Troops Variable Armor panels (which are among the first examples of Military Ceramic plates from the 1970s/ Vietnam war) stopping high power rifle threats. Those panels are 50 years old. Ceramic plates become unserviceable through harsh use. You can do the “Tap test” to test for delamination. You can do the “Torque test” to test for cracks within the plate. Delaminated plates still work, just at reduced effectiveness, cracks have a marginal effect on performance. It is recommended to replace plates when they cannot pass both these tests, or only the tap test. however it is likley unneccessary to replace your plates if they only do not pass the torque test. You can see how to do the tap and torque test here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31dO_Xyj5ik
  • Are Your Ceramic Plates Multi-Hit?
    Yes. However, this depends on the plate and the threat. All of our Ceramic plates are capable of withstanding multiple ballistic threats, it just depends on which specific ballistic threats. NIJ .06 Level 4 plates are officially rated for one (1) shot of .30-06 M2-AP black tip armor piercing. NIJ .06 Level 3 plates are officially rated for six (6) shots of 7.62x51mm M80 FMJ Ball ammunition. Not *all* level 4 plates can withstand more than one shot of .30-06 M2-AP, however all level 4 plates can be reasonably expected to stop at a minimum 6 smaller intermediate caliber rifle projectiles (Such as .308, 7.62x39, 5.56x45, etc). There are many instances of Level 4 plates stopping 10-15 shots. The claim that ceramic plates are useless after one or two shots of common small caliber rifle projectiles is false. Attached here is a Highcom 4SAS7 Level 4 plate that was shot with the following rounds: (3x) 5.56 M193, (5x) 7.62x39 MSC, (5x) .40 S&W. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CYsV1Xer9Y&ab_channel=TheWoundChannel
  • Do Ceramic Plates "Spall"?"
    No. Ceramic plates do not “Spall” like steel plates do. When a projectile hits the face of a steel plate, the steel itself does not break or deform, therefore the softer projectile squashes against the strike face, mushrooms and breaks into dozens of fragments. The best analogy for what happens with steel plates, is if you hurled a tomato against a concrete wall. The tomato will splatter against the wall, with pieces of tomato shooting in all directions. Only in the case with steel plates, its hot metal fragments. Ceramic plates work differently, projectiles do not break apart on the strike face. When the projectile hits the strike face, the ceramic acts as a sacrificial strike face, where the projectile deteriorates the ceramic, while the ceramic deteriorates the projectile. The ceramic is meant to fragment and weaken the projectile as it enters the plate for it to be caught by the ballistic backer. Any fragmentation that exists the plates are just small shards of pulverized ceramic. Enough to pop some balloons, but not enough to slice veins like the fragmentation from steel plates. You can read more in depth about this subject in our blog where we have a full article on this subject.
  • How Do I Size Myself For Plates?
    Plate sizing is different from your clothing size, so please do not purchase a Medium plate because you wear a medium shirt. Additionally, plate carrier sizing is based off plate size. So size yourself for plates, then purchase the appropriate sized plate carrier. (Medium plates, Medium carrier) For plate sizes, we have the generic 10x12 size (that is a one size fits *most*), and the traditional military Small, Medium, Large, XL sized plates. For proper plate fitment, the top of the plate should begin about 2 finger widths (~1.5”) below where the soft part of your sternum begins, where your neck makes a V. The sides of the plate should line up with your nipples or cover them slightly. The bottom of the plate should end about 1-3 inches above your belly button when you are sitting down and relaxed. PLATES ARE MEANT TO COVER YOUR VITALS, NOT YOUR ENTIRE TORSO. A simple trick I have found that generally works is your plate size is one size down from your T-shirt size. So a Large T-shirt = Medium plate. 10x12 plates can fit those who will need a Medium or Large plate in this case. Note for those who are overweight: Your vitals/ ribcage does not expand as your body builds fat. Your vitals remain in the same spot. Therefore if you are on a low budget, 10x12 plates WILL cover your vitals. The larger more expensive plates will simply give (optional) additional coverage area. If you have ANY doubts on sizing, please feel free to email us at Sales@ApexArmorSolutions.com. When emailing for sizing help, please provide your Sex, Height, Weight, T-shirt size and chest size.
  • I'm On a Low Budget, What Are My Options?
    If you are on a lower budget, we recommend on of our Shellback Tactical Level 4 Body Armor Bundles, these are the most affordable options with a robust carrier that fits most individuals and NIJ certified 10x12 Level 4 plates. A step up would be our Basics Armor Bundle, or Defender Armor Bundle with Highcom 4S17M Multi Curve 10x12 Level 4 plates. Armor Bundles: https://www.apexarmorsolutions.com/armor-bundles For plates alone, we recommend our Highcom 4S17M or 4SAS7 Multi Curve 10x12 Level 4 Shooters Cut Plates. These are 7.2lbs per plate and our most popular best selling plates. They offer the best protection, at the lightest and most balanced weight. 4S17M (10x12): https://www.apexarmorsolutions.com/product-page/two-highcom-guardian-4s17m-multi-curve-level-4-shooters-cut-plates 4SAS7 (10x12): https://www.apexarmorsolutions.com/product-page/two-highcom-guardian-4sas7-single-curve-level-4-shooters-cut-plates
  • Is it Legal for Civilians to Own Body Armor?
    Generally, Yes! Most Law Abiding Citizens can own body armor. However, if you have a felony conviction, it is illegal for you to purchase and possess body armor in the United States. The only two states that have restrictions are Connecticut and New York, which prohibits the online sale of body armor to civilians. This does not however mean that body armor is illegal to possess, it simply means that the exchange must happen in person. Body armor would need to be shipped out of state and picked up in person.
  • Do You Ship Outside The US?
    We cannot export Level 4 plates outside of the US due to ITAR regulations. There are limited export exemptions for a small amount of Level 3 or below plates to approved countries. If you reside outside of the US, please contact us.
  • Why Do Some of Your Plates Cost so Much?
    We are often asked why the majority of our plates are ~$400-700, however we have a few plate models that range from $1000+ (Highcom 3S9M) to $2000+ (Hoplite/ LTC 26300). Hoplite 26300s for example are lightweight level 4 plates are made of a different material than most other civilian plates. These plates are made of the hardest ballistic Ceramic Solution, Boron Carbide. Boron Carbide is the third hardest material on earth, 3rd only to Cubic Boron Carbide and Diamond. Boron Carbide is an incredibly hard material that is not only expensive to make, but also expensive and difficult to form into plates. The 26300 is also made with the highest end Polyethylene material (Dyneema HB212), which has the highest tensile strength and backface deformation of any polyethylene material. Military plates are generally made of Boron Carbide. So with that price, you will often save on average 2 pounds PER PLATE and have a plate made of a material of superior hardness. Plates such as our Highcom 3S9Ms (Level 3++), Highcom 3S15Ms (Level 3+) or Highcom 3S14Ms (Level 3+) are high end lightweight level 3 plates where the priority is weight savings. The 3S15Ms utilize the highest end lightweight polyethylene, giving a 1.79lb (10x12) level 3+ plate that stops .308 M80 ball, 7.62x39 MSC and M193. These are the lightest weight pure polyethylene plates on the market. The 3S9Ms utilize ceramic and lightweight polyethylene, giving a 5.2lb (10x12) level 3++ plate that stops 7.62x54R B32 API, 7.62x51mm M61 AP and M855A1. Effectively granting it level 4 performance. The 3S14Ms utilize ceramic and lightweight polyethylene, giving a 3.6lb (10x12) level 3+ plate that stops 7.62x54R LPS, .30-06 FMJ, .308 M80 ball, M193 and M855. These are the lightest steel core rated 3+ plates on the market with edge to edge ceramic coverage. Saving weight while maintaining high performance is something that can only be achieved through high end materials. Some companies try to cut corners by reducing the amount of material they use in the plate (which makes it thinner/ lighter) or using foam borders/ edges in their plates. Both of which reduce protection and reliability, giving a false sense of weight reduction. For most people, you may not go for these, which is fine! Plates such as our Highcom 4S17Ms and 4SAS7s are still incredibly high performing and popular plates.
  • Do I Need Plate Backers/ Trauma Pads?
    Most of our plates are standalone which means its not *required* to use soft armor backers or trauma pads. Our ICW (In Conjunction With) plates however do require IIIA soft armor backers to reach their full rating. While trauma pads/ plate backers are optional for our standalone plates, it can increase comfort and reduce blunt force trauma/ backface deformation.
  • What Does Your 5 Year Incident Replacement Guarentee Cover?
    For our Incident replacement guarantee, if you are ever shot in the plates, we will replace the affected plate(s) free of charge, anytime within 5 years from the date of purchase. This includes plate carriers, pouches and clothing as well. This can be a defensive incident, or if you are in the line of duty. A police report, or internal report will be required for proof. Proof of purchase required.
  • Why do some of your 3+ plates cost more than some Level 4s?
    Most people are likely making the comparison between the Highcom 4S17M/ 4SAS7s ($474.99) and plates such as our Highcom 3S9Ms ($1,079.99) or Highcom 3S15Ms ($1,599.99). Simply put, making lightweight plates is expensive. In the case of our 3+ plates, they use a majority Polyethylene construction. Branded Polyethylene, like the type used in all of our PE plates are an incredibly expensive material. They come in long rolls of material that are paper thin. They are cut to shape, then dozens of layers are stacked on top of each other and heat pressed together. This more labor intensive process involving more expensive materials is what drives the cost of 3/3+ PE plates up. Lower cost level 4s are robust, reliable and offer incredibly comprehensive protection, however they are often a bit heavier due to more ceramic being used in the construction (to stop AP rounds) and less polyethylene material. A great balance would be our mid end Level 4s such as Highcom 4S16s or Hoplite 26605s.
bottom of page