Nestled in among the rolling corn fields of Centerville, Iowa is a body armor manufacturer that has been gaining in popularity over the last year thanks to its quality ceramic body armor at an affordable price for civilians. RMA Armament counts among its products the 1155 Model Hard Body Armor, an NIJ Certified Level IV (NIJ 0101.06) ceramic plate that can withstand most of today’s common threats.
The 1155 is in the industry standard of a 10” (W) x 12” (H) x 1” (D) plate dimension, and comes with the associated SAPI/ESAPI style cut that allows for more opening in the shoulder pocket and range of motion. The plate has a single vertical curve to allot for standard male upper torso curvatures.
The plate itself is of a standard monolithic aluminum oxide ceramic core, with a polyethylene backer that enables the plate to sustain multiple hits. Around the plate, RMA uses a 600D water-resistant nylon cover to help mitigate heat and moisture from the upper body.
As with all of its products, the RMA 1155 is made entirely in the USA. The 1155 Hard Body Armor plate itself is available in only in Black, although RMA does offer the 1155 separately with a “Back the Blue” logo on it in lieu of the RMA logo.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Excellent (5/5): RMA offers ballistic protection at a variety of levels and cost ratios. The set of two, NIJ Certified, Level IV 1155s is currently listed on RMA’s website as $270 although it also does offer individual plates at $135 per plate. The 1155s are a single curve and made of the more readily used ceramic materials found in much of the industry. In contrast, market alternatives to the 1155s include anything from a set of the Level IV Hercules ($550) from Spartan Armor Systems, a set of Level IV 4601 ($467) from Hesco, or a set of Level IV Triple Curve (Model # 26605) ($539) from Hoplite Armor. All of which places the 1155s at an excellent price point amid its competitors which all share a similar NIJ certification level.
- Comfort – Average (3/5): Comfort wise, the 1155s had only a singular curve that accommodated the vertical curvature of the upper torso comfortable and appropriately for the male physique. Females may still find this curvature uncomfortable due to variances in upper body type. Perhaps the most notable effect to comfort on the 1155s was the weight (as noted below), as worn for longer durations (1hr. +) it became very apparent in the shoulders and lower lumbar region despite the use of a quality carrier for evaluations. This was the tradeoff for having an affordable plate with the same protective ratings as more expensive brands, using the more commonly available ceramics. With its 1” thickness, the 1155s also had an appropriate (or average) profile off the torso and (properly sized for the individual) the corners did not poke or gouge unnecessarily. The inclusion of padding/buffer around the core ceramic material also added to the comfort, ensuring that no hard edges/angles were felt despite dynamic movements.
- Durability – Average (3/5): Obviously the durability of ballistic plates lies in that they perform to a known (and consistent) standard (even as a minimum). The 1155’s are NIJ Level IV Certified to stop projectiles at under 3200fps, or as the NIJ tests for—a single hit form a 30-06 AP round. Assuming the end-user does nothing that would otherwise compromise the integrity of the plats, the 1155’s should withstand time. RMA does offer a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty with all its ballistic plates, so they do support their product and its performance for the appropriate (or average) timeframe as other manufacturers. As noted in our editorial series on body armor, the warranty merely reflects the manufacturer’s interest to support the customer while still ensuring performance. Ceramic doesn’t “expire” in the sense that it degrades just over time and usage, but 10 years is pretty average for what manufacturers are willing to ensure the product for. Added to the durability of the 1155s was a padded/buffer layer to the edges and front/back side of the plates. This was to aid in drop protection and avoid the ceramic from cracking (although most modern ceramics are very durable) if accidentally dropped. One issue noted from a durability aspect was the nylon cover around the plates had some cuts/holes in the material upon receipt. This was merely cosmetic, and did not fray further during evaluation while in the carrier, but something the consumer should be aware of due to the thin layer of material itself.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): As noted, the 1155’s are NIJ Certified and readily found in the CPL, which means the RMA plates themselves have already been submitted to the most stringent of scientific testing and evaluation, thus passed in good order. Therefore, the plates will functionally protect the end user up to a specific rated velocity (in the case of 1155’s Level IV), to include those readily found in some of the most common rifle and pistol calibers. As such, there is little that could be done to the plates for evaluation on function (such as submersion/soak testing, drop-testing, and ballistic testing) that hasn’t already been performed and well documented. It is the position of STL Shooting Enthusiasts that “backyard destructive testing” is neither a scientific nor credible means to evaluate body armor, specifically if the plates themselves are already NIJ Certified. Such means could provide a glimpse into the performance of the armor to a degree—but not one that could be considered reliable due to variances on ammo velocities, projectile materials, and even ambient air temperature.
- Weight – Fair (2/5): At 8.3 pounds per plate, the 1155s were notably heavier than other plates that utilize more advanced and lighter materials. The weight of each 1155 is directly attributed to the ceramic composite material, which have sufficient density to defeat projectiles for the NIJ rated velocities stated. In contrast, a Level IV Hercules (6.9 pounds) from Spartan Armor Systems, a Level IV 4601 (6.4 pounds) from Hesco, or a Level IV Triple Curve (Model # 26605) (6.5 pounds) from Hoplite Armor all show that while the 1155s are the more inexpensive options, they are also one of the heavier and fair among the market of alternatives.
Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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