The body armor industry has really exploded this year. In a short period of time, we’ve seen companies coming forward to meet the needs of civilians. Companies that realize this are producing armor that’s thinner, lighter, more capable and most importantly more affordable. I’ve started a project here at the Loadout Room to bring forward the best concealable armor solutions I can find.
The Project aims to match armor and carriers to produce low profile, concealable armor that doesn’t break the bank. There is a number of companies producing some really revolutionary armor at a great price. My aim is to show you where to find it, and how to use it. Some of the gear you’ve seen before and some is going to be new.
We are going to judge concealable armor by the following:
Civilian Concealable Armor under $200
Our first entry comes from two different companies. The first is Premier Body Armor. Premier makes some of the best steel armor on the market. We’ve tested it extensively and it got my thumbs up. They have also dived into the soft armor sector producing discrete and lightweight panels.
Their soft concealable armor comes in a wide variety of different sizes. Several are designed to function with 5.11 backpacks. I’m using a single 10×12 panel for this particular rig.
The 10×12 inch panel is less than a quarter of an inch thick and weighs only 1.1 pounds. It’s rated as a IIIA plate. What this means to you is that it’s designed to stop most pistol rounds. The National Justice Institute uses the 357 SIG and 44 Magnum fired from longer barrel handguns as the way to judge armor. This level represents the best you can get in a soft armor package.
In my opinion, the low weight and thin nature of the panel make it perfect for concealment. The price isn’t bad either, it’s only 124.99 direct from Premier Body Armor.
We ‘ve reviewed their gear in the past and were quite impressed.
Here’s a good video of Youtuber Big Daddy Hoffman 1911 attempting to destroy the panel.
The Carrier comes from Tru Spec. When I saw this piece of gear I knew right away I had to have it in the project. The Tru Spec 24-7 Concealed Armor T-shirt fits the bill perfectly. It’s made from a blend of polyester and spandex compression fabric so it sticks to the body. The shirt is quite tight, but this helps reduce visibility.
This is an undershirt, so keep that in mind. The Tru Spec 24-7 Concealed Armor shirt works with plates up to 10×12 and it’s tight enough that smaller plates would stay in place. It holds up to two panels, one in front and one in the rear. To maintain a lower profile I’ve chosen to go with a single panel.
Admittedly it’s not just wearing a shirt when it comes to comfort. The tight nature of the Tru Spec 24-7 Concealed armor shirt may also be a turn off for some. You can feel the plate throughout the day, but I was never annoyed and I never thought, “I can’t wait to take this off.” I wore it for 8-10 hours a day, with a day in between wearing it to wash it, for a week. 4 days total and I remained comfortable. I was chafe-free, and the only real downside is it gets hot around the panel. The increase in temperature means you sweat in a selected area which isn’t bad on the tail end of November. However, I can’t imagine its much fun at the beginning of August.
The tight nature of the shirt keeps the plate perfectly in place. The shirt is ridiculously well designed. Around the pocket that holds the armor is a 2mm thick pad of foam. This reinforces the plate and makes sure the extra weight doesn’t cause the shirt to droop or slack. This makes this combination of plate and shirt a safe form of concealable armor.
Concealability also earns high marks. The plate is relatively easy to hide with an untucked button-down shirt. The system tends to stick out a bit more under a t-shirt. If you need to wear just a t-shirt go with black as it will hide the lines better. You can see the top part of the plate under a shirt. With a tucked in shirt, it’s easier to see. The panel and shirt may also stick out more for smaller people. I suggest you look into shirts with patterns. They tend to better disguise bulges better.
Who is it For?
This particular set of armor isn’t for everyone. While it’s concealable armor, and even comfortable for daily wear most people won’t need this level of protection each and every second of the day. Certain civilians in certain professions can certainly benefit from it. As someone who tends to fall into more interesting lines of work one of many jobs was rent to own repo and payment collection. This was a job where I was likely picking up high-end electronics to return them or carrying cash, lots of cash. For folks in this job, this armor set would be perfect.
I can say the same for Taxi/Uber/Lyft drivers in sketchy neighborhoods, convenience store clerks, couriers, bouncers, and anyone who is likely to get robbed or harassed in the course of their workday. It allows you to wear armor at all times, and not just in response to a specific threat.
It’s also for the budget-strapped. The plate costs 125 and the shirt is 43 bucks and some change. So for a hair over 150 bucks, you can have capable, comfortable and concealable armor. Just to make it easy you can find the Plate here, and the Shirt here. Premier Body Armor also offers discounts for military, police, and first responders, so it could be cheaper.
NIJ Rating IIIA
IIIA is about as capable as you are going to get with lightweight and soft armor. This plate will not stop rifle rounds. It does stop most handgun rounds.
Armor Weight – 5 out of 5
1.1 pounds is nothing and it really feels like nothing. For scale that’s about the same weight as a loaded AR mag. The panel covers all your vitals well and at only a quarter inch thick it’s hard to beat.
Concealability – 4 out of 5
For armor designed to be worn every single day, it’s easily concealable. However, it’s not perfect and under a T-shirt you can see the outline of the top of the panel. For that, I take one point away.
Price – $168
Concealable armor under 200 dollars is hard to beat. It’s cheaper than most handguns, and heck cheaper than some winter jackets.