Next Level Body Armor


A new lightweight rifle plate and carrier combo by DKX Armor and CSE Gear.

Call me paranoid but I refuse to attend classes or training and not wear my plates, especially after attending three separate classes in one year where fellow shooters had negligent discharges. Out of those three ND’s, two were the shooters directly to my right. Needless to say after the third ND I went home and immediately started looking into body armor for future firearms training and now it is as an essential part of my class attire as a rifle.

If you have ever worn body armor, either professionally or for an extended period such as an 8 hour firearms class, then you are well aware how heavy and uncomfortable a plate carrier and plates can be. The average large rifle plate weighs right around 7 pounds and you wear two of them. Then you throw on top of that the weight of a carrier, magazines and whatever else your setup includes and it is not unusual to have over 20 pounds of weight sitting firmly on your shoulders. After standing, shooting and running drills for that amount of time and with that much extra weight in the Kansas mid-summer heat with that much weight on I started to look into other options.

After a little bit of research I stumbled upon DKX Armor and found the Max III plate. The Max III plates are built from a material called Dyneema instead of ceramic like the majority of rifle plates out there. The use of this material makes them weigh in at under half the weight of a ceramic plate at 2 pounds and 13.6 ounces, incredibly light for a large 10×12 rifle plate. They have a NIJ 0101.06 level III rating. This means they are stand alone and will stop and contain multiple rounds from 5.56, and 6 rounds from .308. The containment part is also a very important aspect as they will not allow the bullet to break apart and splatter, meaning unlike steel plates there is zero spalling. On top of being lightweight they are completely buoyant. Yes, you read that right, they actually float. If level III rifle caliber plates are higher than your needs require the also offer a level IIIA plate for handgun calibers that weighs in at only 1 pound 1.9 ounces.

I pair mine with a CSE Gear plate carrier which is made specifically for the DKX plates and offers a good, snug fit to hold them in place over the vitals and not allow sliding or wiggling. The front accommodates a “shooter’s cut” plate and the back works with shooter’s cut, or square cornered plates. The CSE plate carrier also offers 12 rows of Molle webbing both front and back with the top four being hook and loop so you can attach identification if you are law enforcement or military or just rep your favorite patches if you are anything like me. On the back there is a very durable drag loop that also has Velcro so that you can attach it to the rear Molle row so it isn’t tapping you on the back of the head as you work.

My personal set up shown is ATACS but other color options are available. I chose to get a carrier with the cummerbund for a little more retention and am also using their triple mag pouch setup. It comes with a nice set of shoulder pads in addition to being light weight for a bit of added comfort and the insides are made of a moisture wicking mesh to help cool the body on those long hot days.

To me having quality body armor is just as important as having a good rifle, especially if you shoot around others a lot or do a lot of training. A hard truth is that the more you expose yourself to certain levels of training the more at risk you can be for an incident, be it a negligent discharge or back splash from shooting steel targets. In every situation I was in that had a ND it was seasoned shooters that shot well but were pushing the level of their speed and intensity, not new shooters. The DKX plates certainly ease those worries while keeping fatigue down, allowing me to focus on shooting well and running drills correctly, not sore shoulders and an aching back.

For more info on DKX Armor and CSE Gear please visit and


  1. This is actually very old technology. The “Next Level” stuff is way beyond this, such as the Midwest Venture FM3 and FM4 series. Their FM4 stand-alone weighs just a tiny bit more than this DKX LEVEL III plate and is only 1/2″ thick.

  2. What Dan said. DKX is old technology. The Midwest FM3 is a 2.2 pound stand-alone level III plate that is not only much lighter, it’s also thinner than what DKX offers. There’s no comparison.

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