RMA 1155 Multi-Curve: Same Protective Value – More Comfort

The 1155 Multi-Curve (MC) Ballistic Plate by RMA Armament is a more ergonomic version of its popular Level IV NIJ-certified, single-curve plate—the 1155. While this curved variant is made from the same core materials, RMA also formally tested the 1155 MC to ensure similar levels of ballistic protection.

Many of the same features in the NIJ-Certified 1155 single-curve plate are also present on the 1155 MC as well.

The 1155 MC comes in the industry standard dimension of a 10” (W) x 12” (H) x 1” (D) strikeface (although a larger 11” (W) x 14” (H) x 1” (D) version is also available), and comes with the associated SAPI/ESAPI (aka “Shooter’s Cut) style cut that allows for more opening in the shoulder pocket and range of motion at the arm. The MC plate has a single axis vertical curve and two horizontal that allots for tapered corners, and an overall curvature more ergonomically correct to the upper torso.

The MC plate is made from a standard monolithic aluminum oxide ceramic core, with a polyethylene backer, and a strike panel that enables the plate to sustain multiple hits edge-to-edge. Around the entire plate, RMA uses a 600D water-resistant nylon cover to help mitigate heat and moisture from the upper body.

In 2021, RMA used NIJ-approved Oregon Ballistic Laboratories to test the 1155 MC against the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) 0101.06 Standard for body armor, passing Level IV ballistic threats. Editor’s Note: Curved body armor writ large is not certified by the NIJ (citing challenges in consistently measuring the effects of ballistic impact along a curved surface), ergo all helmets and curved body armor are tested by third party laboratories against the same NIJ standards to identify performance data. Oregon Ballistic Laboratories is one of only a handful of testing centers approved by the NIJ for its ability to maintain testing standards and data measurement.

But can non-NIJ certified body armor be “multi-hit”?

Research was conducted by various independent reviewers in March, April, June and October of 2021 when the 1155 MC was first introduced. In these documented cases the 1155 MC plate demonstrated consistent results to defeat multi-hit projectiles (such as the common M80 Ball, M193, and M855) under 3,200 fps (the required velocity for NIJ Level IV rating) along the entirety of the plate’s surface area.

~Source: Buffman R.A.N.G.E

However, in the rare instance where all ceramic was completely compromised and absent (offering no ballistic mitigation) at a singular point hit by sequential shots, or the rounds were of a +P, Armor Piercing, or higher velocity caliber (such as M80A1 or M885A1 moving over 3,200 fps – above NIJ Level IV threat velocities), only then was a round able to penetrate the backer (which is consistent to other ceramic-based ballistic plates).

What about the urban legend of ceramic body armor being easily cracked when dropped or mishandled?

As with most urban legends; it is often based on some level of truth, and mostly perpetuated by rumor. In the early 80s and 90s when ceramic body armor was first introduced, manufacturing quality and consistency was largely hit or miss. By the time the first Gulf War rolled around in 1991, body armor was still dominantly Kevlar-based and the issue of ceramic cracking and breakage emerged with the first generation of SAPI ballistic plates.

It would take another decade of regulatory oversight by the NIJ (which, per the six-step NIJ Standard 0101.06 test now includes a drop test), advancements in technology and materials, and demands by the consumer to improve the durability of ceramic body armor. In September 2021 after the 1155 was introduced, the 1155 was dropped, thrown, and driven over—showing no ill effect—before being shot with 5.56 and .308 ammunition and defeating both round types. It is still discouraged to abuse ceramic body armor as all manufacturers differ in their manufacturing – but RMA ceramic plates are designed to last realistic abuse, and include internal edge padding along the plates for just such issues.

~Source: 704 Tactical

As with all of its products, the RMA 1155 MC is made entirely in the USA. The 1155 Multi-Curve plate itself is available in only in Black, and is available in a 10” x 12” (featured) size or an 11 x 14”.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostExcellent (5/5): The stated MSRP for the 1155 Multi-Curve (MC) plate is $169.99 (per) or $339 for a set, and the MC variant is one of several versions in RMA’s 1155 model. The 1155 MC are curved along a single (vertical) axis and at two points (top & bottom), and consisted of a ceramic core material commonly found in much of the industry. In contrast, market alternatives to the 1155 MCs include a set of the Level IV Hercules ($550) from Spartan Armor Systems, a set of Level IV 4400  Multi Curve ($512) from Hesco, or a set of Level IV Triple Curve (Model # 26605) ($539) from Hoplite Armor. All of which places the 1155s at an excellent price point for the consumer amid its competitors which all share a similar Level IV evaluated threat level using stated NIJ standards.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the 1155 MC was an improvement over the single curve 1155 in that the multi-curve angles more appropriately contoured to the upper torso, specifically the shoulders, with less pressure points experienced from the corners. Females could find this curvature more comfortable than a single curve, although it would be dependent on individual upper body types. As before, the largest factor in the comfort of the 1155 MC was the overall weight, as when worn for longer durations (1+ hours) fatigue became very apparent in the shoulders and lower lumbar region. This was the tradeoff for having an affordable plate (tested to meet the same protective ratings as more expensive brands) and using the more traditional ceramics vice newer composites. With its 1” thickness, the 1155 MCs had a good profile off the torso and (properly sized for the individual) the corners curved more appropriately. The inclusion of padding/buffer around the core ceramic material also added to the comfort, ensuring that no hard edges/angles were felt despite dynamic movements.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): The durability of ballistic plates often lays in its ability to defeat a threat level to a consistent standard. The 1155 MC’s were tested through Oregon Ballistic Laboratories (OBL) to meet NIJ Standard 0101.06 to stop projectiles under 3200fps (otherwise considered Level IV threats), or (as the NIJ also tests for) a single hit form a 30-06 AP round. Additional research also showed how the 1155 MC can handle accidental droppage and sudden impact, while still providing sufficient protection without evidence of cracking or structural failure. Assuming the end-user does nothing that would otherwise compromise the integrity of the plates, research has shown the 1155 MC’s should withstand the test of time. RMA does offer a 10 year manufacturer’s warranty with all its ballistic plates, so RMA does support its product and its performance for the appropriate (or average) timeframe as other manufacturers. As noted in part three of our editorial series on body armor, the warranty for ceramic body armor merely reflects the manufacturer’s interest to support the customer while still ensuring performance. Ceramic as a core material doesn’t “expire” in the sense of the ceramic material deteriorating over time, but 10 years is average for what manufacturers are willing to ensure the product for. Separately, adding to the durability of the 1155 MCs was a padded/buffer layer to the edges and front/back side of the plates. This aided in some level of drop protection (for the purposes of our review, a single drop using NIJ standards from a height of 4’ with a 10 pound dead load was used) with no notable effect. One issue noted from a durability aspect was the nylon cover for the plates had a somewhat nape texture along the outer edges (excluding the bottom) that, over time and repetitive contact to the hook-and-loop (male) panels inside the plate carrier bags, would catch and pull on that nape. It is most likely that this will become exacerbated over time to the point of fray—and a point of recommended adjustment to RMA in considering just the use of an all nylon cover to prevent premature wear on the fabric.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally, while the 1155 MC’s were not NIJ Certified, they have been tested by OBL (which is a NIJ-approved, independent testing laboratory in Salem, Oregon) and found the 1155 MCs met the same threat profile as NIJ Level IV body armor (to include three rounds impacting a single test plate). Furthermore, research showed that in 2021 a number of reviewers have tested the performance aspect of 1155 MCs in an informal setting and obtained similar results as noted in the OBL report. As such, given there has been no change to the 1155 MC’s design or materials since first introduced in 2021, there is little that could be done to the plates in terms of function evaluation (such as submersion/soak testing, drop-testing, and ballistic testing) that hasn’t already been performed and well documented. It is the position of High Ground Media that “backyard destructive testing” alone is neither a scientific nor credible means to evaluate body armor. While such informal “tests” can provide a glimpse into the performance of armor to a degree—it is not one that could be considered reliable due to lapses or omission in measurable data, variances in ammo velocities, projectile materials, barrel length, and even ambient air temperature. Ergo the importance of body armor having either an NIJ certification, or publicly accessible testing data from an NIJ-approved laboratory as the principle comparator for the consumer. In review, the data results from these tests show that the 1155 MC’s had similar protective performance as other ballistic plates on the current market tested to meet NIJ 0101.06 Standard. Ultimately, while the functional value of the 1155 MC was good in terms of its ergonomic design and protection – it is left to the consumer to determine how much weight the lack of a NIJ-certification plays in lieu of testing data from a reputable third-party laboratory.
  • Weight Fair (2/5): Weighing in at 8.2 pounds per 10×12 plate, the 1155 MCs were just as notably heavy as the 1155 single curve version. The ceramic and backer material that comprised the core of each plate represented a more traditional market approach to construction of ballistic plates—utilizing density to defeat an incoming projectile, and was directly related to its overall weight. In contrast, a Level IV Hercules (6.9 pounds) from Spartan Armor Systems, a Level IV 4601 (6.4 pounds) from Hesco, or a Level IV Triple Curve (Model # 26605) (6.5 pounds) from Hoplite Armor all illustrate differences in plate composite materials (including ceramic) and that while the 1155 MCs are the more inexpensive options, they are also one of the heavier and fair among the market of alternatives.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://rmadefense.com/store/body-armor/level-iv-body-armor/multicurve-plate-1155/

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

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