Skip to content
Understanding the Different Body Armor Plate Cuts

Understanding the Different Body Armor Plate Cuts

Are you in the market for body armor, but confused when coming across terms like "SAPI" or "Shooters Cut"? Protective body armor plates come in all different shapes and sizes and it's crucial to reflect on the tasks you'll perform and the mobility you need while wearing it. Whether you'll be actively shooting, transitioning weapons, shooting from a prone position, prioritizing cover over agility are some of the few things to consider.

Hard armor plates come in a variety of cuts:

  1. Full Cut
  2. Shooters Cut
  3. Swimmers Cut
  4. SAPI Cut (Small Arms Protective Insert)
The chosen cut has a direct impact on your shoulder movement and mobility, especially when shooting.


Here's a breakdown:

  • Full Cut: Essentially a square or rectangle shape, it's typically used for back protection, on the side, or within backpacks and cases. Full Cut plates designed for torso protection generally do not fit in plate carriers unless the carrier has been specifically designed it for them.

  • Shooters Cut: A popular choice, this cut has angled top corners to facilitate better arm motion and easy weapon shouldering. It's usually placed in the front of vests or carriers. Shooters Cut plates also often have tapered bottom corners for extra weight savings and mobility. Shooters Cut plates most commonly are made in 8"x10" and 10"x12" dimensions.

  • Swimmers Cut: This cut has a more pronounced angle down the side rather than just the corner, promoting maximum shoulder and arm mobility. It's ideal for highly active individuals and rescue teams but might have slightly less coverage compared to the Shooters Cut. Swimmers Cut plates most commonly are made in 8"x10" and 10"x12" dimensions.

  • SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert): These plates have a roughly 45° symmetrical clip and rounded corners. HighCom's SAPI plates adhere to mil-spec protection standards, however some sizes may slightly differ from traditional SAPI sizes. Traditional SAPI sizes XS up to XL provide a more tailored fit for the end user. However, some manufacturers, like LTC, also make SAPI cut plates in traditional 10"x12" dimensions. Different from Shooters Cut, SAPI plates have full 90° bottom corners for complete protection.

HighCom and LTC produce a comprehensive range of military and law enforcement-grade rifle plates, from NIJ Level III to Level IV, plus ICW and Special Threat plates. Explore an extensive variety of sizes and cuts of rifle plates here.

Previous article A Guide to ACH Helmet Padding
Next article Does Ceramic Armor Expire? A Look at How Long Body Armor Lasts

Compare products

{"one"=>"Select 2 or 3 items to compare", "other"=>"{{ count }} of 3 items selected"}

Select first item to compare

Select second item to compare

Select third item to compare