Ceramic Armour Plates Don’t Expire

Ceramic plates don’t expire. That’s just outdated misinformation that’s further perpetrated by people with no understanding of the technical aspect on how plates work.

The expiration date on armor is the expiration of the warranty, a way to limit their own liability and to often get you as the consumer or end user to keep buying more. This concept is known as “planned obsolescence”. So any manufacturer who writes that their armor has a shelf life simply wants you to buy it again after a few years. Otherwise, how do you keep making money off of a product that should last decades? Ceramic plates don’t have a shelf life, or a lifespan in which it expires.

The ceramic itself does not degrade. The PE/ Aramid/ Fiberglass backing material does not ever degrade to an amount significant enough to cause penetrations. Adhesives in modern ceramics are like a heat and moisture resistant epoxy, it takes a lot more than you’d think to cause that to separate.

You can very simply verify serviceability at home by doing the tap and torque test. If it passes both, its good to go. If it passes only the torque test, its still good to go. If it fails both or fails the tap test, I would replace it, but these are generally incredibly worn or heavily used.

Tap and Torque test: (You can use a metal knife as the tap tool) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31dO_Xyj5ik

There’s actually been studies done on the effectiveness of old damaged plates. One of which is named “The effect of cracks on the ballistic performance of contoured protective body armour plates”. By Celia Watson et. al. for the 23rd International Symposium on Ballistics, April 2007.

In this test they studied the effects of age and or cracks on the performance of old British CBA plates (our equivalent of roughly a Level 3/ Level 3 ICW plate). They tested plates across 12 years of production, so since this was performed back in 2007, the oldest plate tested would have been made in 1995.

The portion we will be focusing on is the oldest batch, those we’re “damaged reject plates”, so those were 12 years old, with visible external damage, and xrayed to confirm internal micro fractures. They found that the plate still performed 12% above contract/ design specifications, even after being damaged and being 12 years old.

Next piece, since people are obsessed with videos is a video of a Vietnam era Ground Troops Variable Body Armor vest being shot. This is the earliest example of an issued ceramic armor plate, so there are no examples of ceramic armor being issued at any sort of scale before this. These plates were made in 1969, so at the time of the videos filming (2021), those plates are 52 years old.

These plates are rated for .30 cal ball, which is .30-06 M2 FMJ ball. These plates stopped all the threats it was rated for and it was only penetrated by a 7.62x54R Steel core round which it was not designed to stop.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z7NJBqPVBM

Stop getting your information off of Youtubers and other Instagram clout lords who don’t know what they’re talking about. Most people don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to armor and are simply regurgitating things they don’t understand, most of the time misinformation. If you want to learn more about armor, our armor 101 article is a really great place to start. It covers all of the basic information one should know, as well as misconceptions, material differences and NIJ ratings.

Armor 101 Article: https://www.apexarmorsolutions.com/post/hard-armor-101-general-information-material-differences-and-common-misconceptions

We also have more information on our website in the “Educational Articles” section, as well as our “FAQ” (Frequently asked questions): https://www.apexarmorsolutions.com

I’m still working on a standalone article to cover this topic more in depth for my website, its just a matter of finding time. But this covers most of the basics of it.