In both Iraq and Afghanistan I dealt with the standard issue ceramic E-SAPI plates. One of the largest cons to this type of armor, outside of cost, is that the plates are actually very weak. Strong in the sense that they can stop a round, but weak in the sense that the plates break very easily. Any impact whatsoever could cause your ceramics to shatter. Enter ShotStop and their Duritium armor plates.
When I first heard about this new company, and their brand new innovation, I was skeptical. That’s why I picked up a set of their plates and decided to see for myself if the hype was real. Honestly, I think they really may have found the solution to the problems we ran into with our ceramic plates in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here’s my full review, that Student of the Gun was kind enough to publish for me.
Understanding Duritium and ShotStop.
First and foremost, I’d like to state that there is nothing wrong with either steel or ceramic body armor solutions. Companies like Hesco and AR500 definitely have their place well rooted in the industry. While AR500 makes a slightly heavier plate with a lower price barrier for entry, and companies like Hesco provide a great ceramic/composite solution, you may find yourself wanting more. I know for certain that I have been searching for a better solution for ages.
Also, for full disclosure, I did not receive any monetary compensation from ShotStop for this review, I did however receive the plates in order to test them as an independent reviewer. All of that out of the way, I want to help you, the reader, have a better understanding of who ShotStop is. You also need to know what Duritium is to fully appreciate this review. Let’s dig into that real quick.
Who is ShotStop?
ShotStop is a company that has technically been innovating for 30+ years. Vall Iliev, PhD, PE started work in 1979 under a company called Ferriot. Over the years, his innovations and technological advances set him up to work at companies like Rubbermaid, 3M, and even the FBI. During that time, he developed a bullet-resistant, foldable shield for the Federal Bureau of Investigations as well as a new ballistic compound used in safe rooms by the Wynn Resorts’ compounds.
In 2015, the first patent for Duritium was issued, and ShotStop was born as a new company. If we flash-forward to 2017, we find that ShotStop has been continuously innovating their product designs out of their main offices in Ohio.
What is Duritium?
That’s all well and good right? Here’s the real question. What the heck is Duritium, and why should I trust my life to it? Fair enough question to ask.
Duritium is a proprietary technology owned by ShotStop. Essentially, it is a next generation polyethylene compound with an extremely high tensile strength. This tensile strength is extremely good at kinetic energy disbursement. As a result, it’s also very good at stopping rounds.
Why is it better than ceramic compounds that currently exist, you ask? Also a fair question.
The major flaw with ceramic compounds, and ceramic sapi plates is that they are notoriously brittle. This brittleness can cause the plates to crack or break from a variety of different impacts. For example, in Iraq I had my plate carrier sitting next to me on the roof of an MRAP while I prepped an M2 for patrol. One of my Marines jumped up to help me get the barrel off, and in the process knocked my plate carrier off of the roof of the MRAP. In the subsequent fall, the back plate cracked on some rocks in our staging area, and I needed to replace it.
This is not an issue that duritium plates suffer from.
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Everything about ShotStop Plates.
ShotStop offers a variety of different plate ratings, in a variety of different sizes and cuts. As a result, you’ll be hard pressed to not find what you’re in need of in their store. They have plates ranging from level III protection (that float) up to level IV plates rated to stop higher caliber rifle rounds.
Each plate also comes in a variety of prices depending on the size and ballistic rating. This is for obvious reasons. If you need smaller side SAPI plates, they’re going to cost you less than an 11×14 front/rear plate. It’s also worth noting that the plates are competitively priced. Across the industry, I’d put them in the mid-range price category. They’re more expensive than something you would find on AR500, but less expensive than some of the big name ceramic brands who have .mil contracts.
Specifications and Ballistic Data.
The following graph comes to us courtesy of ShotStop. It showcases the features and ballistics testing data of their plates at each level.
My Experience with ShotStop Plates.
I received one shooter cut, and one sapi cut plate direct from ShotStop. In the civilian and patriot fire-team world, I like to keep my kit light. Now that I have two plates, I may upgrade to a Crye JPC 2.0, but for the purpose of this review I used the shooter cut plate with an Eagle Industries Rhodesian Recon Vest. The rear plate was then slid into the back panel of the pack I plan to wear in a bug-out situation. If I upgrade to the Crye JPC, I may update this review if the Prof. allows it.
The Rhodesian has been my go-to vest for training for a hot minute now. The addition of a singular 5.1 pound shooter cut SAPI plate was actually an upgrade from not using a plate at all. That said, the weight difference was barely noticeable after the first few hours of adjusting. It also provided some much needed rigidity to the rig, which actually helped with shooting stability and firearm manipulation on the range.
When it comes to the plates individually, there are two things I think stood out the most. I put those down below.
Durability and Weight.
Honestly, the first thing I noticed about these duritium plates when pulling them out of the bubble-wrap was the weight. Actually, I was shocked about the absence of weight. My brain saw the ceramic-like look of the plates, and instantly expected an 11-13 pound plate. Instead, I picked up an extraordinarily light 5.1 pound plate.
This weight difference also translated well to my rig. If you’ve ever spent several days crammed into almost 30 pounds of ceramic, then you get it. Ammunition, first-aid supplies, and other mission essential kit really start to add up when you’re starting weight is already high. Remove some of that starting weight however, and you really open up your mobility as a shooter.
The next thing that’s worth talking about here is the durability of these plates. With ceramic plates, the one thing you know without a shadow of a doubt is that they need extra TLC. If you go around tossing your ceramic plates around inside of the carrier, you wont be the owner of ceramic plates for very long. They’ll crack, and the next thing you know, your plate carrier will sound like a bowling ball rolling through a china shop.
With the duritium plates, I feel like that wont be an issue. It’s hard to explain through pictures, but the plates just don’t have that same brittle feel to them. I’ve also gone out of my way to try and rough the Rhodesian up a little bit out on the range with the plate inserted. So far, no joy in making this thing crack.
Here’s a pretty funny video of the ShotStop team attacking their plates with a Tomahawk. So far this has been a mirror to my own experience as well.
Final Rounds on Target with ShotStop Body Armor Solutions.
In all honesty, I’m going to have to give these plates a 10 out of 10 so far. Normally I wouldn’t be able to do so, but here’s the thing. ShotStop offers a fifteen-year warranty on these plates. That means, ShotStop is guaranteeing the life of their product, 10 years longer than the average shelf-life of a well maintained set of ceramic plates. No company in their right mind would make this kind of warranty unless they were truly ready to stand behind their product. That stance gives me the confidence to give these plates such a high grade.
Also, combine that with the mid-range price points, the dramatic weight difference, ballistics testing data, and the fact that these things seem indestructible? You’ve got me sold on this product 10 out of 10 times. I look forward to seeing ShotStop move forward as a body armor solution. I think given some time, we may see these guys start to truly dominate the industry as a solution.
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