What Do You Need To Know About SAPI And ESAPI Armor ?

While searching for body armor and bulletproof vests, we came across a variety of terms like ballistic plate, ballistic panel, or trauma plate. Let us clear up your confusion about these terms. All these refer to SAPI and ESAPI, and it is a must for you to know about them in a much better way. Here, we will dig deep into this topic to get you acquainted with SAPI and ESAPI in detail.

What is SAPI Armor Plate?

Abbreviated for Small Arms Protective Inserts, SAPI is one of the two types of ballistic plates. It is made of ceramic that has an external durable composite coating. SAPI is the official body armor of the US military and is available in different sizes. The biggest vest weighs around five and a half pounds whereas the smallest weighs around three pounds. The most commonly used size of SAPI plates measures 10” x 12” (Medium). They can be tailored based on the wearer’s size but producing so them in so many sizes is commercially very challenging.

SAPI is certified by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified laboratory and it can provide protection against 7.62×51 mm (M80 BALL) rounds. Based on the NIJ threat protection level, SAPI is placed under level III.


What is ESAPI Armor Plate ?

ESAPI means Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts that are made of composite ceramic materials namely boron carbide. The high-quality boron carbide is also used for making armored vehicles including tanks. ESAPI is known to be around 27% heavier than SAPI whereas, their size is similar. As they are a bit heavy, they provide a higher level of protection than SAPI plates and hence, are considered more efficient. ESAPI plates are commercially available in small (8”x10”), medium (10”x12”), and large (11”x14”) sizes.

The newer generations of ESAPI are made to conform to NIJ level IV specifications and this provides them with the ability to stop .30-06 Springfield M2 armor-piercing rounds with steel. The US Armed Forces started replacing SAPI with ESAPI in May 2005.



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