We keep this section up to date with recent scams or poor business practices that we find. We encourage you to periodically check back to ensure you're not being taken advantage of:

IN-HOUSE HARDENING SCAM - Using in-house hardening instead of actual AR-500 Steel 

The hardening process that mills use to achieve an AR-500 rating, called Austenitizing, is very specific and is NOT the same as "case hardening" or "through hardening".  Some armor companies will perform "case hardening" of mild steel. This basically just hardens the outside of the steel and is NOT the same as AR-500 in terms of strength. AR-500 Steel also has a different molecular composition than mild steel or AR-400. The mixture that is used to make AR-500 steel gives it the strength that you need for armor. You need to ask the armor company flat out: "Is your steel AR-500". If the answer is ANYTHING other than "Yes", then do not use them. Always ask for a copy of a Mill Test Report dated within the last six months to verify that the steel is AR-500. This is information that they should be happy to provide. The actual Brinell Hardness will be listed on the MTR, and if not then they haven't verified the hardness.  You can also ask for an ISO Certified Lab Test Report which should really only be used in addition to an MTR, not in place of one. If you EVER have questions in regards to the legitimacy of a company's steel quality feel free to contact us. We will research it and verify it free of charge. 

COATING SCAMS - Selling non-coated or base-coated armor plates  


​This one really makes us sick. This is people's lives we're talking about here. Any company who is selling steel plates without at least 3/16" of ballistic anti-fragmentation coating should be shut down immediately. A "base coat" or an "elastomer coating" is basically just a thin, cheap, and ineffective finish that will NOT stop shrapnel any better than spray paint. Any steel armor plate should be coated on all sides, and the strike face should have a FULL 3/16" thick ballistic coating. If you own a plate that uses a 1/4" steel core it should measure at least 7/16" thick. If your steel armor only measures 1/4"-3/8" thick then you should plan on taking shrapnel to the chin and arms.  The amount of debris and shrapnel that comes off of a steel plate without a minimum of 3/16" of coating is literally enough to kill you instantly. How any company can consciously sell armor plates without some degree of fragmentation protection is beyond us. A plate carrier WILL NEVER be enough to stop all bullet fragments, and even pads and "socks" do not perform well with high speed rifle rounds.  A good coating that is applied right will, even if only for a few rounds. We've tested these raw or "base coated" armor plates and the debris was enough to literally cut the entire plate carrier in half within 2 shots. Think of your face and arms when that happens. Selling these types of plates is a dangerous business practice. Avoid any company that's willing to bet your life on their laziness.  

IN-HOUSE HARDENING SCAM - Using in-house hardening instead of actual AR-500 Steel 

PLATE SIZING vs PROTECTION AREA SCAM - Labeling a plate as 10x12 with only 8x10 of actual protection  
Several companies have been caught doing this shady little trick.  Be very careful when selecting armor, particularly ceramic or composite plates and read the fine print. Several companies have been caught listing the plate as a 10x12 but then in the fine print it states that the actual ceramic coverage area is only 8x10.  Super shady.  They do this to reduce the weight of the plate so you think you're getting a light weight 10x12 when is actuality you're getting an 8x10 with 1" of rigid foam or UHMWPE around the edge that does not meet the rating of the main plate. Listing it as a 10x12 without very very clearly stating the actual protection area is very unethical.   

1/2" or 3/4" THICK PLATE SCAM - Selling 1/2" or 3/4" plate at a lower grade to justify higher calibers

We've found companies selling 1/2" AR-400 or even 1/2" Grade 50 (which are both much softer than AR-500) and listing it as AR-500 Steel. Be very cautious when buying anything over 3/8". Although we acknowledge that 1/2" AR-500 is a great target steel, and we do use it in some custom armor projects, we have not found any reasonable purpose for selling it to your average shooter.  There's just no need. Our 3/8" AR-550 is able to stop a 50 BMG at 97 yards (See video HERE). So at the normal training distance of 400-500 yards why would you need to sell 1/2"? Well if you're not really using AR-500 then you would need to use something thicker. So basically instead of selling you 3/8" AR-500 they choose to sell you 1/2" AR-400 so that the bullet wont go through, and hope that you don't notice the heavy pitting. So how can you tell if you've been scammed? Well you could bring it to us and pay us $40 and we'll happily test it through our ISO Certified Lab. However the easiest way that we've found is to shoot the plate at 100 yards with 62 grain steel core 5.56 out of a 16"-18" barrel. Just a few shots. If the pits that the rounds leave are more than about 1/64" of an inch deep, then you've been sold something softer than AR-500. 

Scam Alerts!!!

Steel Armor & Target Systems