Side Armor Considerations


Did some searching, but I couldn't really find a whole lot about side plate philosophy in general. Maybe it's fairly straightforward, but since side plates are "optional equipment" for most intents and purposes, I'm curious to hear what some of the deciding factors are around:

1. When would you elect to run side plates vs. not? What would the mission or use parameters be?
2. What level of protection would you choose (IIIa, III+, etc.)? Why?
3. Is that level of protection different than that offered by the main plates? Why or why not?
4. What size would you choose? 6x6, 7x8, etc.
4. Aside from weight and mobility, are there other factors to consider around choosing side plates?

From what I can tell the camps are pretty well split between "side plates aren't worth it" and "they offer additional protection and generally a low weight penalty". I remember finding a statistic from an older (2006) article that read, "A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body would have survived if they had had extra body armor."
I believe in wearing side plates. Others have told me their reasoning is "you should be facing your enemy when engaging". Which is fine, that doesn't mean you are going to be engaged just from the front or back.

1. Yes, if I feel the need to wear a plate carrier, I will be having side armor.
2. III, with special tested against M855 (typically III+ or III++ pending on the manufacturer, since M855 isn't a NIJ standard yet).
3.No, If I felt the need to have high protection for my main plates, I would have that for the side. I don't see IV as necessary for any of my scenarios. Especially since I am no longer active in the Marines.
4. 6x6 just standard size.
5. Quality and weight are my criteria. I went with DFNDR armor III++ set, main plates and sides. Total weight for everything is 10.6lbs. Side plates add 2.4lbs for the set.

The that study is a good piece of information. Understand, that is typically from patrolling. If you look at SF guys, there are times they choose not to wear armor at all (Marcus Luttrell books lays that out). So think hard on what you want, and train with it.


Metro LE. full time team. Issued velocity 6x6 BZ-API. They're mandatory at all times. We toyed around with the idea of dumping them for the occasional woodland job, but then it was decided we aren't moving far enough, long enough for cutting those ~3 lbs to matter.