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If you’ve been looking into body armor options for your next tactical vest, you may have come across boron plate armor. While there are several types of ceramic body armor, boron carbide is one of the strongest and lightest options out there.
When bullets hit a ceramic material like boron carbide, it literally shatters the projectile into tiny fragments, reducing the overall velocity of the round and potentially stopping the projectile in midair. This makes it an ideal choice for military-grade ballistic protection, including body armor plates and other armour materials.
The ceramic plate that a soldier wears will have a side labeled “front” and a side labeled “back.” When the front of the ceramic plate faces the threat, the back of the plate — usually a high-molecular-weight polyethylene (HMWPE) – acts as a protective catcher’s mitt for any shattered bullet fragments. The combination of HMWPE and boron carbide, or B4C, is what you’ll typically find in modern armor.
Boron carbide is the second hardest material known to man after diamond, but it’s also very lightweight compared to other strong ceramics such as aluminum oxide or silicon carbide. Adding HMWPE to the boron carbide gives it an extra layer of durability and enables the creation of plates that can stop virtually all rifle rounds while being incredibly light and comfortable to wear.
As you can see in the images above, an advanced B4C/HMWPE ceramic composite with a boron carbide core can stop rifles up to the upcoming NIJ RF3 certification standards — that includes the 30-06 M2AP and M855A1. This specialized armor is so tough it can take multiple shots without failing, while remaining remarkably light and comfortable.