Premier Body Armor Durus Armor Plates: Light, Thin, Steel

Premier Body Armor is not your average body armor company. Their revolutionary patented manufacturing process allows them to form “the hardest steel on the planet,”  SSAB’s ARMOX Advance into the world renowned ESAPI shape; a first in steel body armor.  The end product provides multi-hit protection in a lightweight and comfortable package.  How light? An 8”x10” shooter’s cut plate only weighs 4.01 pounds, for comparison, a loaded 30 round magazine is 1.5 pounds. This NIJ Certified Level III armor is light enough to wear all day, but strong enough to stop multiple hits of 7.62 x 51 NATO.

While rifles are not the most common threat facing law enforcement, they are the most dangerous. During the past 30 years, ballistic body armor has saved the lives of more than 3,000 police officers. Since its introduction, body armor has gone from optional, to critical safety equipment.

If you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, you have worn the Interceptor Body Armor Outer Tactical Vest (OTV) carrying Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) plates or their big brother, the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert (ESAPI).

Photo courtesy of globalsecurity.org

Originally the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) System weighed 16.4 pounds (7.4 kg), with the vest weighing 8.4 pounds (3.8 kg), and two plate inserts weighing four pounds (1.8 kg) each. This is lighter than the previous Ranger Body Armor fielded in Somalia which weighed 25.1 pounds (11.4 kg). New versions of the IBA have increased coverage with increased bulk and weight.

The IBA was a game changer. When the Interceptor body armor came out. SAPI plates are not given an NIJ rating, military testing requires the plate to stop three hits from the round marked on the plate. The Interceptor vest with a standard SAPI will protect against 7.62×51mm NATO M80 ball and of a muzzle velocity up to 2,750 ft/s (840 m/s).

With an ESAPI, the Interceptor can handle a .30cal, M2 armor-piercing cartridge. To achieve this performance requires the plate to be backed by the soft armor. In the Interceptor, the ceramic plate is backed with armor made of Spectra to stop spalling of the plate or projectile fragments from injuring the wearer.

The good news is that IBA stops many dangerous things. The bad news is that the heavy and bulky IBA makes soldiers slow and clumsy, struggling to find a way to aim their weapons. By design, Level III ceramic plates are thick and can be difficult to move around in. They also tend to expensive (One ESAPI plate costs on average just north of $600). Stand alone steel body armor provide Level III rifle level protection at a fraction of the cost.

Ceramic plates can fracture if the are dropped. The Army X-rays plates to determine if they have been damaged. Even a minor fracture can seriously degrade protection. The only way to detect this is to X-ray the plates after EACH use. Steel plates are not impacted by drops and retain their armor characteristics indefinitely.

Plate Carriers

What is Level III armor? It is armor which has been tested to the National Institute of Justice Standards (police body armor performance standard) for ballistic resistance. Type III hard armor will stop 7.62x51mm FMJ, steel jacketed bullets (U.S. Military designation M80) with a specified mass of 9.6 g (147gr) and a velocity of 847 m/s ±9.1 m/s (2780 ft/s ± 30 ft/s).

Premier Body Armor plates are made from ARMOX Advance armored steel. Literally, the hardest armored steel on the market. It is much harder than the target grade steel used by other manufacturers. Because it is so strong, it can also be thinner. Their ballistic steel core is only 5mm (0.196″) thick, the lightest in the industry. SSAB uses the Rockwell Hardness scale.  Converted to Brinell (made popular by AR500) it is essentially equivalent to 650 Brinell.

Premier Armor subjects plates from each heat treatment lot to vigorous testing to ensure that their customers have the absolute best protection in today’s unpredictable environment. Beyond the NIJ certification, Premier has had their flagship plate, the Durus 8000 Special Threat Tested against the following calibers at a distance of 50 feet:

5.56×45/.223 – up to 3100 ft/s

7.62×39 123gr PS Ball (MSC)

7.62×51 147gr FMJ (M80) – up to 2850 ft/s

What is a Shooter’s Cut?

Premier utilizes a Shooter’s cut (also known as Swimmer’s cut) in their plate designs to maximize  mobility. The footprint allows the user to shoulder a rifle without losing vital area coverage. The SAPI/ESAPI curves contour to the body providing a comfortable fit while keeping the center of gravity close to the body. For comparison on a 8″x10″ plate, the area of the Shooter’s cut is about 2.22″ x 4.45″ and the area of the SAPI/ESAPI cut is 1.81″ x 2.61.” The coverage is optimized to protect vital organs while allowing the user to move to cover and return fire effectively.

What makes Premier different? The company started life as as Ultra Machining and Fabrication. They produced armored vehicles for the U.S. Department of Defense for twenty years. They specialized in making the MRAP and MATV, producing thousands over the years.  Requests from Special Forces customers eventually led to the research of bulletproof vests and plate carriers.

The design challenges were daunting. It is easy to make things out of flat steel plates and if you make them thick enough, they will stop anything. Other body armor companies had bent steel, calling it “multi-curve”, but no one had ever made a SAPI curved plate from a high performance lightweight steel.

Over a period of six months, spending over $500,000, the Premier team developed a patented process to form SSAB’s ARMOX armor steel into the SAPI curvature standards set forth by the US Department of Defense for the production of their ceramic plates. This optimum curvature was unavailable in steel body armor at the time, and was absolutely unimaginable with this type of steel.

Premier builds their plates like they built those armored vehicles. The process utilizes state of the art laser cutters with multiple 6000 watt cutting heads and a one of a kind 16 axis 40,000 pound Press Break made for Premier in Belgium. Originally designed to bend anti-mine vehicle hulls into a V-shape, this press is one of a kind. The process patent is public, but no other company has the ability to make plates like this.

You can get your very own Premier Armor HERE

About Premier Body Armor in their own words:

Premier Body Armor provides the complete body armor system to defend against enemy threats including handguns, shot guns, and high-powered rifles. All of our bulletproof vests, plate carriers and other products are designed and manufactured in the U.S.A. at our headquarters in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Premier Body Armor was founded in October 2013. Although the company is new, We have spent the past 20 years engineering and manufacturing bulletproof armor for tactical vehicles and have become a leader in innovation for this industry. Our customers have included the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the United States Marine Corps (USMC), North American and International OEM’s, private security industry, government agencies, as well as the Department of Defense.

Using our armor fabrication and design expertise, we have created the Premier Durus 8000 NIJ Certified complete body armor system. This revolutionary bulletproof body armor system includes the only steel plate in the world with a true multi-curve design. The unique curvature provides the ultimate comfort along with the superior multi-hit, Level III plus protection. It is also extremely thin and lightweight. The Premier Durus 8000 is the best bullet resistant armor system in its class.

In an ever-growing violent and threatening environment, we at Premier Body Armor, truly believe that our law enforcement officers deserve the very best in personal protection. Premier Body Armor systems are affordable and reliable. We believe that our customers should never compromise and have the protection they deserve.

Premier Body Armor also offers Wilder Tactical MOLLE Accessories in an effort to help you develop and adapt your tactical kit or duty uniform to the ever changing hazards and environments. Wilder Tactical accessories give you the ability to change your loadout on the fly. From rifle and handgun magazine pouches to the universal tourniquet holder, they were  all designed with the operator in mind. Exacting craftsmanship, precision engineering, and our trademark attention to detail ensure superior utility and lasting durability on all our accessories and attachments.

About Premier Body Armor in their own words:

Premier Body Armor provides the complete body armor system to defend against enemy threats including handguns, shot guns, and high-powered rifles. All of our bulletproof vests, plate carriers and other products are designed and manufactured in the U.S.A. at our headquarters in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.Premier Body Armor was founded in October 2013. Although the company is new, We have spent the past 20 years engineering and manufacturing bulletproof armor for tactical vehicles and have become a leader in innovation for this industry. Our customers have included the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the United States Marine Corps (USMC), North American and International OEM’s, private security industry, government agencies, as well as the Department of Defense.

Using our armor fabrication and design expertise, we have created the Premier Durus 8000 NIJ Certified Complete body armor system. This revolutionary bulletproof body armor system includes the only steel plate in the world with a multi-curve design. The unique curvature provides the ultimate comfort along with the superior multi-hit, Level III plus protection. It is also extremely thin, at only 5mm and lightweight. An 8”x10” shooter’s cut plate weighs only 4.01 pounds. The Premier Durus 8000 is the best bullet resistant armor system in its class.

In an ever-growing violent and threatening environment, we at Premier Body Armor, truly believe that our law enforcement officers deserve the very best in personal protection. Premier Body Armor systems including vests & plate carriers are affordable and reliable. We believe that our customers should #nevercompromise and have the protection they deserve.

Premier Body Armor also offers Wilder Tactical MOLLE Accessories in an effort to help you develop and adapt your tactical kit or duty uniform to changing hazards and environments. Wilder Tactical Accessories give you the ability to change your loadout on the fly. From rifle and handgun magazine pouches to the universal tourniquet tactical accessories that are all designed with the operator in mind. Exacting craftsmanship, precision engineering, and our trademark attention to detail ensure superior utility and lasting durability on all our accessories and attachments. These accessories will allow you to optimize and personalize all your Premier Body Armor systems.

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