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How to Measure for Armor Sizing

How to Measure for Armor Sizing

Proper tape-measuring for body armor is vital. Yes, literally vital, because wrong armor size means poor protection of vital body parts. You shouldn’t pick too small or too big sizes, because either is dangerous in terms of reliable protection.

In this guide we explain how to measure yourself for armor sizing.

What are armor sizes?

There are three standard body armor sizes:

  • 8 x 10 in
  • 10 x 12 in
  • 11 x 14 in

The dimensions here correspond to the shooter cut armor sizes. There also can be other sizes beyond the standard, such as 9 x 9 inches.

SAPI cut sizes range from XS to XL, five in total.

Here is еру table with the most common sizes of armor:


Chest Width
Shooter Cut SizeSAPI Cut Size
32-35 in.S (8 x 10 in.)XS
36-39 in.S (8 x 10 in.)S
40-43 in.L (10 x 12 in.)M
44-47 in.L (10 x 12 in.)L
48+ in.XL (11 x 14 in.)XL

What size of armor plates do I need?

It is tempting to obtain as much cover as possible, but while technically larger armor does provide more protection, such approach is wrong for two reasons:

  1. Too large armor is much heavier than its smaller counterpart. This additional weight hinders your mobility and makes it harder to properly wear the armor.
  2. Wrong sized armor will not cover your body as it should for maximum protection.

So, it is crucial to find the right size of the armor. How to do this?

First, you should take two measures. One is the width of your chest. Measure your chest from nipple to nipple and write down the number. Then, measure the height of your chest starting from 3 inches above the belly button to the suprasternal notch. Write down that too.

Now, you have two reference numbers. Select the body armor size that is closest to them.

Note that female wearers should also measure bust point to bust point, bust point to side seam and under bust girth level. However, this mostly has effect on the carrier size, not the size of the armor plate.

How to make sure the armor size is correct?

The tape-measurement procedure we discussed above is only an approximation. It gives you a reference point, not the actual size of the armor that will fit your body well. In order to make sure the armor size is correct you can use the following checklist:

  1. There is a one-finger gap between the neckline of the vest and the suprasternal notch. The upper side of the armor must not bump into your throat when you sit down or crouch.
  2. There is a two-finger gap between thebottom line of the armor and the duty belt. The bottom side of the armor panel should not bump into your hips or otherwise feel uncomfortable.
  3. If your height is below 5’2”, choose 8 x 10 in armor panels.
  4. If your height is between 5’2” and 6’3”, choose 10 x 12 in. armor panels.
  5. If your height is above 6’3”, choose 11 x 14 in. armor panels.
  6. Take into account the weight of the panel. Sometimes, lighter is better. This depends on your constitution.

Importantly, when it comes to bullet-resistant armor, your typical clothes sizing chart does not work. In fact, there is a strict standard on what should be measured exactly, and how. This standard is called E3003 “Standard Practice for Measurement of Body Armor Wearers”, and we strongly recommend take a look at it to learn, how to make sure the armor size is selected correctly.

Briefly, you must tape-measure yourself while wearing a simple t-shirt (and bra for female users). You should take the following measures:

  • Chest/Bust girth level
  • Torso girth level
  • Chest width
  • Back width
  • Bust point to Bust point (female only)
  • Bust point to side seam (female only)
  • Under bust girth level (female only)
  • Front and back center lengths
  • Front lateral length

Do not hold your breath while measuring, and make sure you feel comfortable and relaxed during the procedure.

Of course, if you buy armor panels online you probably cannot fit the armor before purchase. However, the above instructions will help you determine your size properly and hence provide as much information as possible to the armor shop’s consultant. That being said, BattleSteel.com’s consultants have vast experience in helping our clients to select the best fitting size of the armor carrier as well as the size of armor panels too.

This article is the author's opinion and does not represent the official position of BattleSteel

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