There is much debate around the form of hard body armour plates, also known as SAPI plates. There is no “one size fits all” and this guide aims to help customers decide what is best for them. Note, we are not talking about the materials used, just the shape.
Flat vs Curved Plates
Flat plates are cheaper, it’s as simple as that. The cheapest setup would be a flat plate for the front and back of your body.
Curved plates adapt the shape of the human chest so the most popular option is a curved plate across the front and a flat plate for the back. A single curved plate is still flat on the front where as a multi-curved plate is shaped on both sides.
There is a common misconception that curved plates are better than flat. This is not entirely true.
Curved plates may be more comfortable to wear but, dependent on the armour makeup and testing, a flat plate may be more effective in stopping a bullet as opposed to deflective it.
Rectangle, Shooter or Swimmers Cut
Flat rectangle plates are the cheapest, and are often chosen to protect the back area.
For the front, a Shooters cut is the most popular. The top left and right edges are cut to allow the stock of a rifle to be held against the shoulder easily.
A Swimmers Cut has a larger cut in the shoulder to increase mobility and range of motion while decreasing the total weight.
The upside of cut panels are less weight and greater comfort. The downside is a smaller area of protection.