Having to buy your own plates and being required to wear plates can be a pain in the ass plain and simple, but when you buy/wear your plates you do it for a reason – to save your life or another’s life. My job requires me to be as fast as I can be and although GI Issue SAPI and ESAPI plates are good and all, let’s get down to the point – they’re just too heavy. At 13 lbs it’s just too much. With all the new lightweight plates coming out these days, it’s a matter of what company you put your trust into (or your life). ShotStop was introduced to me a few months back to test and review their product. The ballistic tests had been done by numerous parties and have definitely exceeded expectations but what about a wear test? Actually getting in the water with them? That’s the aspect that I thought I could bring to Shotstop in real-world maritime environments. How will it hold in 4 weeks straight of salt water? How comfortable is it? These are all factors that I look for in plates and these are all factors that I will answer based on my own experiences.
Weighing 2.9 lbs a plate I only wear front and back plates, no side plates (please don’t tell my mom). With both plates, it equals out to a little less than 6 lbs of ballistic armor. They are multi-curved swimmer cut plates made of Duritium III PA. PA is the lightest option that ShotStop offers and it is made of 100% poly. The thickness (or should I say lack of) was what really impressed me after seeing the plates in person. They’re as sleek as can be. I like all my gear to be as slim as possible and compared to SAPI Swimmer Cut plates, the ShotStop plates bring me down about a quarter of an inch.
Now for the wear test, wearing these plates for 4 weeks straight, I hardly even noticed them. They provided me with the comfort and weightlessness that I need to be as fast as ever. Another thing that I wasn’t sure of was having 2 curved plates. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it as I have only worn front curved plates, with a flat back plate. In all honesty, I don’t think I will ever go back to wearing a back flat plate, so I guess I owe the boys over at ShotStop a beer next time I meet them in person. I was only able to run and gun on land one time with the swimmer cut plates, but I felt less restricted and immediately felt the difference when rounding corners or cutting pies. Hitting the deck and shooting prone had its advantages as well. I felt so much more comfort in being lower to the ground while looking down various optics.
Pictured above is the First Spear AAC Frog along with a Swimmer Cut Level III Shotstop Plate
Last but not least, my final test was in the water. How easy would it be to swim with these plates? Do I sink or do I float? Well, that’s where things get kind of tricky. Since I am running the First Spear AAC Frog, it has buoyancy compensators (10lbs of flotation in the front and the back for a total of 20lbs of flotation) so I swam with my compensators fully inflated and not inflated at all. The plates give you enough flotation alone for you to have an easier time staying above water, but they also aren’t a personal flotation device so it won’t keep you from slipping under. During diving operations, these would be perfect with “The frog” because I am able to adjust my compensators accordingly. Surface swim? Fully inflated. Going to the land down under while playing “Africa” by Toto? Not inflated. The flotation ability of the ShotStop plates essentially just evens out your gear weight so it’s equivalent to diving without any gear on with The Frog compensators not inflated.
All in all are they worth the retail price ShotStop has put on them? Damn right they are! With ShotStop’s ultralight Duritium® level III plates priced surprisingly low for such an ultra-premium plate. These plates exceed ballistic protection, survive salt water, they’re as light as can be, as comfortable as can be and they are a screaming deal as far as prices go. I also included a video below of a float test from the ShotStop website.
“You guys make hands down the best swimmer plates in the market” – AJ Peterson (DoD Contractor/Navy)