Gear Review: AR500 Armor Urban Go Plate Carrier & Plates

AR500 Armor Urban Go Plate Carrier, c Nick Leghorn

A good offense is often the best defense, but when the bullets start flying it might not be such a bad idea to have that whole defense thing covered too. That’s where items like bullet proof vests and plate carriers come into play, offering some solid protection against flying lead for your vital squishy bits. A relatively new player to this game is AR500 Armor, and they’ve sent us one of their Urban Go Plate Carrier kits to test out. And I must say that I’m pretty impressed.

To be fair, the only thing that AR500 Armor actually manufactures is the Level III steel plates that go inside the plate carrier, the rest is made by Condor and sold in the kit. But if Bushmaster can get away with using other people’s parts and re-branding them as their own then I’m going to let these guys slide as well.

The kit comes with two NIJ certified Level III steel plates, rated to stop everything up to and including multiple hits from 7.62 NATO rifle rounds. The plates are coated in AR500 Armor’s special coating, which is designed to minimize the splatter from bullet impacts. Bullets have a tendency to create small particles of lead and copper when striking a solid surface like a steel plate, and while any old plate will stop the round the special coating is designed to keep those nasty fragments from flying up and slicing into your neck and jaw. And from what I can see, they work pretty damn well.

This video shows the steel plate being run over, dropped, and shot with multiple caliber including “armor piercing” 5.56 rounds, but the only result is that there are some slight deformations and the coating is a little worse for wear. I admit that we didn’t test the plates that we were sent as they’ve been earmarked for some fun experiments we have coming down the line, but much like the soft IIIA plates I reviewed a week or so ago the guys at AR500 Armor did a damn fine job of stress testing the plates and putting the whole thing on video. And after talking with their guys, I trust their results.

AR500 Armor Urban Go Plate Carrier, c Nick Leghorn

The plates ship with a plate carrier manufactured by Condor Tactical, as well as two pistol magazine pouches, two AR-15 magazine pouches, and a cross chest draw MOLLE handgun holster. The handgun holster works okay, but personally I didn’t see a real big need to include it when I kitted out the vest. And the reason is based on how the vest is intended to be used.

The guys at AR500 Armor explained that their concept behind the Urban Go Plate Carrier kit is to provide something that can be quickly thrown on during a home invasion scenario, so it makes sense that you’d want a handgun to be part of the kit. I’m guessing that for these guys, the rifle is the go-to gun for home defense and that’s their preference. But for me a handgun is my choice for home defense, and my handgun has a silencer. So even if I took the extra few seconds to put the plate carrier on before jumping all John Woo style into the living room, I’d still have to take more time to get the handgun out of the holster before I use it. I guess the usability of that particular piece of kit really depends on what gun you’re using as your primary HD gun.

For those looking for a SHTF vest, this would suit your needs pretty well also. It’s a minimalist setup with no extra material or straps, just the minimum required to do the job. And the coating on the plates would keep them in good working order for years to come.

AR500 Armor Urban Go Plate Carrier, c Nick Leghorn

The thing weighs about 20 pounds fully loaded, and as my ex-military friends remarked it reminded them of one of the perks of being discharged: you get to stop wearing body armor. It’s not something I would voluntarily take on a hike or wear around town, but it’s not ridiculously heavy either. The only issue I had with it was when I went to shoulder my rifle, the plates interfered a bit with my ability to get a solid grip on the gun. Then again, that’s a training and tactics issue and that problem is common to almost every plate carrier system.

As for the protection it offers, the plates do a good job of covering the vital bits on your body. The thoracic cavity is almost completely covered even on a large guy like me, with the exception being that I think the apexes of my lungs might still be poking out. Oh, and my head, but then again as Sterling Archer puts it it is just a vest after all. There are also no side plates to the vest, meaning that shots from the side wouldn’t be protected by the plates.

In terms of price, the kit is just about on the money when it comes to the competition. But the real winner with this is that you don’t need to go to three different websites to piece the thing together yourself, it comes as a complete kit with one purchase. I tried to price out a comparable plate carrier kit and the cheapest I could make it was about $250, but that was for flat plates (not curved, like these) with no coating on the plates and ordering from three different websites.

Some people don’t feel the need for a Level III chest rig. But for those who do, AR500 Armor’s Urban Go Plate Carrier & Plates kit is a good solution at the right price.

Specifications: AR500 Armor Urban Go Plate Carrier & Plates
Weight: 15 lbs in plates, 1.5 lbs in vest, plus mags and ammo makes it about 20 pounds
Price: $300 as pictured (curved plates and heavy coating extra), $210 base
Website: AR500Armor.com

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ease of Use * * * * *
It comes in a single box, and everything is pretty well laid out in terms of using it.

Utility * * * *
Assuming you need a bullet proof vest with level III protection, it’s pretty damn useful. Extra points for the protective coating, but minus a couple for the lack of side plates.

Overall * * * *
This really is the best value I’ve seen for a level III plate carrier. I’d like to see some side plates on it, though.

comments

  1. avatar Michael B. says:

    That thing looks a little small on you. I think.

    Are your guts supposed to be exposed?

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      It is, after all, just a vest. A shot in the intestines will suck, but isn’t immediately fatal. The plate covers pretty much everything in the chest where a bullet would cause quick and painful death.

    2. avatar great unknown says:

      The bad guys will be shooting COM, so the guts are safe.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        No, the good guys are shooting COM. The bad guys are shooting sideways gangsta style, so who knows if/where they’ll hit. Probability says you’ll be wounded or gut shot wearing that.

        1. avatar Austin says:

          And this is why the vest I wear for work adds side plates along with lower back and groin protectors. Big difference between a setup worn for home defense, that you have to don quickly, and a vest worn for work purposes, which you can take a couple minutes to snug down and get comfy.

        2. We do offer carriers that include side plates. This specific model is designed for Home Defense and to be quickly donned and doffed. Side plates usually require a cummerbund, which will increase time and effort to equip the carrier. Each has their purpose; we chose to opt out on side plates for this HD rig. We have quite a few carrier packages each designed around specific uses – all include our Level III Body Armor.

        3. avatar MH says:

          So I guess you shouldn’t wear a vest at all eh? It doesn’t cover you guts… just take it off, it’s useless. Sounds kinda dumb to be honest.

    3. avatar FFL Dealer says:

      Halter vest.

      1. avatar Anon in CT says:

        Crop Top Carrier.

        Miley would be impressed.

        1. avatar O-Hebi says:

          I am thinking tactical bra…

    4. avatar Taylor Tx says:

      most PCs actual armor coverage stops a little below your rib cage depending on the vertical size of the plates, and then you have the cummerbund for side coverage. This is kind of a no frills bare bones version (not in a bad way).

    5. avatar Hannibal says:

      The lower a vest goes, the more difficult it is to crouch and sit with it. Try sitting with a vest that goes past your belly-button, especially with gear on your belt, yer gonna have a bad time.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        And your belt pushing the vest up into your throat. Ugh.

  2. avatar Johnny says:

    Well plate armor like this is only suppose to cover the vitals in the chest.

    1. avatar PhoenixNFA says:

      Exactly. And the energy transfer will surely knock you down and maybe break a rib or something. These are designed to stop puncture wounds, not keep you upright and in the fight, especially against rifle rounds.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Common rifle rounds should not knock you down … the laws of Physics still apply even if you are wearing a ballistic vest. The law that applies in this case, conservation of momentum, says that a bullet striking a ballistic vest can impart no more force than the recoil of the rifle imparted to the shooter’s shoulder.

        So, a bullet striking an armor plate should cause the same “recoil” that the shooter experienced from the rifle. Anything beyond that is “artistic license” (e.g. fiction) on television and movies.

        1. avatar Anon in CT says:

          But you don’t have a buffer spring on your chest to dampen it.

        2. avatar LT says:

          And also the energy is being pushed through a much more focussed point than through a rifle stock.

        3. avatar Hinshelworld says:

          However the impact is spread across the area of the plate…

        4. avatar a.a. says:

          I agree with not knocking you down, but it definitely doesn’t feel like the recoil of a rifle, I can say that from first hand experience. You realize that the rifle and the bullet are massively different in size. Going off the top of my head, I remember from one of the schools I attended that a 25% increase in weight gives a roughly 25% reduction in recoil, why our 50cals can’t get to below a certain weight. Just look up the energy that is carried by a bullet and compare it to the energy of the recoil. Larger area for the stock, the weight of the weapon it self, all contribute.

      2. avatar a.a. says:

        They are designed to keep you in the fight. They are plates not soft armor. They stop the round, not catch them like soft armor. And the energy isn’t going to knock you down. Its not going to feel good. But you can definitely stay in the fight. Even against rifle rounds at less than 10ft.

  3. avatar Gecko45 says:

    Thank you, this is exactly what I need for my job securing America’s malls!

    1. avatar BillC says:

      Gecko45 is so 2012.

      1. avatar TheP8riot says:

        More like 2005. Yes, it’s really been that long ago.

        Back on topic, these things are cheap enough that you could fill a wheelbarrow with them.

  4. avatar Adam says:

    A silencer for home defense? I mean, I’d love to drop some cash and own a silencer, but I wouldn’t use it for home defense. The possible scenarios that this ends up bad for you seem to increase (at least in my mind) when doing this.

    1. avatar PhoenixNFA says:

      Why? Care to explain?

    2. avatar Taylor Tx says:

      I can understand how the appearance of a suppressor might make it seem scarier (to a panel of your “peers”), but at the same time you could be using sub sonic ammo for less over penetration for safeties sake of those around you. Plus the need to not blow out the eardrums of your wife and chilluns (not yet for me).

      Although I have a pair of ear pro sitting on top of my 870, just incase 🙂

    3. avatar 505markf says:

      Hell, I’d love a suppressor for HD. My hearing is already showing the results of stupid shit I did with guns when I was younger and I don’t want to loose any more of it. Not having one wouldn’t keep me from firing, but I’d sure feel it afterward.

  5. avatar Taylor Tx says:

    Been debating on buying a set of these plates since theyre very cost effective and require no fancy storage care (hanging, no pressure, sitting up etc). I almost want to just go ahead and spend the extra few hundred bucks and get a set of lvl IV plates and call it a day.

    1. avatar Chad says:

      Spend the extra money. I have the level 4 plates and side plates in my carrier plus by the look of the pic above mine comes down lower. When the poo’s flying what a few hundred bucks extra.

  6. avatar Gunr, from Oregon says:

    If I wear this thing over my face when I go to bed, will it protect me from my wife’s broccoli and pizza farts in the middle of the night?

  7. avatar defensor fortisimo says:

    Eh… you lost me at condor. I’ve actually been looking for a set of decent plates that won’t break bank, to use with a pc from tactical tailor I purchased recently for work that I intend to use on the outside. That being said, I would be careful trusting my life with a company synonymous with quality control problems.

    1. avatar CA.Ben says:

      You can buy the plates separate from the carrier.

  8. avatar Clayton says:

    That thing is way to small, as far as gut shots not being immediately lethal; perforated bowel you have some time to deal with it, but liver, spleen, pancreas, abdominal aorta, renal arteries, vena cava those guys will kill you pretty quickly. Also the tops sides and lower portions of you lungs are exposed. It need to be bigger.

    1. avatar Hinshelworld says:

      Those are standard size plates…

      1. avatar Clayton says:

        Then I guess the ones I got issued where too big.

  9. avatar Hinshelworld says:

    That condor carrier sucks, although some of the new condor stuff isnt terrible.

    You would be better off just buying the plates and carrier separately.

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      You can, if you want. Still the cheapest plates anywhere I can find from these guys.

      1. avatar Hinshelworld says:

        Yeah, steel is fine if you don’t mind the bit of extra weight and take steps to control frag.

        1. avatar Taylor Tx says:

          Yea apparently that coating is almost entirely designed to minimize the spall from hits.

  10. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    The zone in which this is used . . . will it be one of danger?

    1. avatar klamer says:

      LANA!

  11. avatar g says:

    Good review. AR500 plates (steel or soft) are offered at pretty hard to beat price. I have a couple of the curved L3 plates in a different plate carrier for unwelcomed social visits / SHTF.

  12. avatar H.C. says:

    All the comments about the plates being too small… Have any of you all worn hard plate armor? Proper wear is from the top notch of your sternum to about an inch or tow above your belly button. It protects your vitals (heart and lungs and most of your liver) and that’s what it’s suppose to do. If it’s any lower, and you try sitting down, it’s difficult and the plates will choke you out. Yes, gut shots can be lethal and extremely excruciating, so try and not get shot I guess, but heart and lung shots will kill you dead faster. It’s all a compromise, but armor won’t keep you from shitting in a bag or going through years of multiple surgeries after you soak one up through the stomach…

    Also, even extra large plates don’t cover most athletically challenged guys, it’s mostly all fat you see exposed, as long as it covers your ribs, everything inside should be fine.

    Rant complete, oh, and steel is heavy and it sucks, but isn’t a bad purchase if you don’t want to worry about shelf life or dropping them and fracturing the plate.

    1. avatar MothaLova says:

      Compelling rebuttal. Thanks.

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      Bingo. You can get body armor that covers more… hell, you can get a bomb suit… but all the armor in the world might not help you if it prevents you from moving or getting behind cover. Or if you can’t wear it and sit, say, in a car.

  13. avatar DJ says:

    From what I’ve heard, that “rhino liner” type splash guard will spall off in chunks under multiple impacts.

    I have a set of flash bainite AR 500 plates and they have a polymer and steel slash guard that is supposed to keep that from happening.

    I’m disappointed there was no destructive testing. I don’t see how you can recommend body armor you haven’t fired at to verify function.

    1. avatar DJ says:

      Point of clarification: I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’d never watch a manufacturer’s YouTube video of a firearm and then write your own review based upon that video without firing it yourself.

      And if a manufacturer sent you a firearm to evaluate with instructions not to fire it, you’d send it back.

    2. avatar AR500 Armor says:

      We to have heard this about Rhino Liner this is why we chose to use Paxcon which is made by Line-X. The Paxcon coating is specially designed for fragmentation mitigation and expands around the bullet fragmentation. You can get more information about Paxcon http://www.linex.com/pages/2010/military/ or feel free to checkout our fragmentation test video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxkJM1elAyc

  14. avatar Natty Light says:

    How “far away” is Level III AR500 from being level 4? It seems more capable than level 3 softies, ceramic, and poly plus muti hit all day.

    1. avatar TommyinKY says:

      level 3 armor is rated to 30 cal (7.62×51 168 grain) fmj rifle rounds. level 4 is rated to 30 cal armor piercing rifle rounds.

  15. avatar Robert Seddon says:

    The chest plate should end 1 inch above the navel standing, so on this guy it is a bit like a postage stamp bikini .. the top should be one inch below the upper sternal apex, so he has that one covered, but I can not see how severe the angles are for his arms to work .. with both arms straight out to the front the shoulder joints should almost be able to hold the plate up but still be able to aim right or left with a shouldered rifle. Can not see the clearance there. Other than it being too short for his anatomy, it looks like a good rig ( if it really can hold up as a class three ..) DITTO on the lack of 6 x 6 side plates in a cummerbund .. if it had that, it would be a great rig.
    Robert Seddon

  16. avatar Robert Seddon says:

    P S .. try infidel body armor .. has side plates available, is full class 3 with frag coating, and comes all from one place..
    Robert Seddon

  17. avatar WiscoDave says:

    Try these plates out. Mil-46100 vs AR500. Armor plate vs abrasion resistant steel.
    Worth looking at. They are called Patriot Plate.
    http://www.maingun.biz/.

  18. avatar B.R. says:

    I have a set of the Patriot Plates. I’ll stand behind them 100%. Great price

    1. avatar JeffCville says:

      B.R.,
      Good idea. They don’t seem to work as well if you stand in front of them.

      1. avatar DJ says:

        Jeff wins.

      2. avatar B.R. says:

        Funny guy,,,They work just as well when you stand in front of them…Back plate??

        DJ..Jeff don’t win nothin’

  19. avatar Joe says:

    Well I don’t care how it looks. It seems to do the job. If it fits and wears well, then its a thumbs up. Doesn’t appear to be overkill. Better than lugging an IBA around from my point of view and experience.

  20. avatar Adam says:

    Side plates are over rated for dismount work.

  21. avatar GrissleFist says:

    I work for a company that applies line x coatings and this stuff really works to stop shrapnel from shattered rounds. Applied thic enough, it takes multiple direct hits in the same spot from my 308 to even chip it off the steel. (That being said, if there is no steel plate behind it, the bullet will pass right through)

  22. avatar earn the burn says:

    For those saying getting tagged by a rifle with armor will not knock you on your tookas ….. you are crazy , and obviously never been shot with a vest on I have .

  23. avatar Airborne says:

    ar500 takes for ever to ship! been hit wearing soft armor it sucks. i was not knocked down; but it did push, and the pain resulting was enough for me to fall back. work in the ghetto in Sacramento, CA.

    P.S Gangsters have full auto, why cant we? jk

  24. avatar jason says:

    So you wrote a review of a product you didn’t test and went off what the manufacturer told you their test results were? If you’re reviewing the carrier or mag pouches only thats one thing, but to claim you tested body armor when you clearly didn’t isn’t a review at all.

  25. avatar BRIAN says:

    Tried to exchange my new AR500 Armor plates for a simple issue immediately after purchase. I was advised that due to “nature” of item there is no exchange or any customer support offered whatsoever. I suspect this is a one or two man operation that has no physical inventory on hand and doesn’t want to risk getting stuck with their own product collecting dust on a shelf (or maybe they’re tetoring on the brink of insolvency?). Either way; I’d avoid buyinging AR500 Armor products. You’d get better customer service from a gypsy home improvement contractor.

  26. avatar Dustin Jones says:

    From what you said in some of the first lines “The best offense is a good defense” may be clique and silly but oh man is it true hahaha. I was looking at a bunch of different body armor from different websites, and this article is giving a few different websites but there is another called http://www.thebestbodyarmor.com/ and it’s pretty cool. It gives some info on the different NIJ levels they have and it kind of rolled along with what this article was saying. It’s nice to know that some of the research I have been doing on body armor is all supporting each other hahaha.

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