Escape From Tarkov Armor Guide – How To Choose The Right Vest

 Escape From Tarkov (EFT) is one of our favorite games out there and we recommend most shooter fans to give this a try. But picking up this hardcore shooter is a daunting task for even the most dedicated gamers. But before we start, a small disclaimer: EFT is still in beta so even the most fundamental gameplay mechanics may be subject to change. In this guide series we will take you through your first hours in this game. In this armor guide, we go into how armor in Escape From Tarkov works and what the best strategy is when choosing it.

Also, if you’re in a hurry, scroll all the way down to “Armor level rundown” to get a TL;DR summary! 

Protect the thorax

Armor in Escape From Tarkov makes the difference between life and death, so in this guide, we’ll do our best to help you out on picking the right set. As we explain in our healing guide, two of the seven body parts should be prioritized: the thorax (chest) and the head. They are the only zones on your characters body that instantly kill you when ‘blacked’. Body armor protects one of those two areas.

But we can’t explain armor without also diving into ammo. In this article we explain how ammo works and how bullets interact with armor. To summarize, the penetration value and the armor level are taken into consideration when calculating if a bullet goes through your armor or not.

So as a preliminary tip, try to get into your enemies’ head when picking armor. If you expect players to not run premium ammo, for example early in a wipe cycle, it’s probably fine if you choose lower tier armor. The higher the armor rating (rated 1 through 6), the more high-end bullets it can stop.

Rigs and armor

Then there’s another consideration to make when choosing armor. In Escape From Tarkov, there are two types of body armor. Regular armored vests go into your body armor slot, while armored rigs go into your chest rig slot. Armored rigs cannot be layered over regular body armor.

Note that the armored rigs go into the Tactical Rig slot, while regular body armor goes into the Body Armor slot

This is where some vodka induced Tarkov psychology comes into play. By choosing an armored rig, you have a higher chance of getting it back when you die. Why? Well, because your killer has to drop both his rig ánd his armor to take your armored rig, provided he runs the traditional setup of seperate armor and vest.

Additionally, switching out regular body armor is a quick process. Switching out rigs means having to transfer one’s mags into the newly acquired vest, rearanging meds, and so on. In other words, it takes more time to loot an armored vest, which makes it more likely you get it back.

Clothes make the PMC

Now, let’s crank the detail in this Escape From Tarkov armor guide up little further. Armor has five main attributes to take into account (apart from the cost). Check out the cheat sheet below. You can check the statistics of an individual piece of armor in-game by double clicking (or right mouse button -> inspect).

  • Armor points: Durability of the body armor. The higher the points, the more hits it will be able to take. 0 durability means everything goes through unimpeded
  • Armor class: Classification of how resilient the armor is to bullets (rated from 2 to 6)
  • Modifiers: Percentages illustrating the (negative) impacting on your movement speed, turning speed, and ergonomics
  • Armor zones: The different areas the armor protects. All armor protects the thorax, though some also cover the stomach and/or arms.
  • Material: What material the armor is made out of


That last feature might sound a bit obvious, but it’s a really important factor that is often overlooked. For starters, certain materials tank more bullets than other materials, even if the armor is of the same level. Take ceramic for example. It shatters after just a few bullets, so it loses durability very quickly in a fight. Polymer on the other hand, is super durable and will therefor likely last you longer.

On the other hand, some materials repair better than others, which can save you a bunch of money. When you hire one of the traders to repair your armor, there’s a percentage of your armor’s maximum durability lost in the process. Prapor does the worst job at repairing armor, but he’s the cheapest. Mechanic costs the most, but your armor stays mostly intact. Skier is a balanced option, with a mediocre repair quality and price.

To give you a better idea of how armor shatters and repairs, Axxy made an awesome, readable chart below. It also features helmets, which we will briefly cover later in this article.

Escape From Tarkov 12.8 | Armor Repair Reference Sheet | Credit To EFT Gamepedia from EscapefromTarkov

Armor level rundown

To boil down this Escape From Tarkov armor guide, we’ll try to answer the question ‘what is the best type of armor’ as best we can. Below, you’ll find a rundown of all the armor levels, including some common options and with a description of it’s purpose.

  • Level 2 – PACA, 3M: Soft body armor, aimed to stop pistol caliber rounds and shotgun pellets. Great against Scavs and early game players, but not much else.
  • Level 3 – UNTAR, Kirasa, Zhuk-3 Press armor: Effective against low-end assault rifle ammo. Relatively cheap, low impact on mobility, but easily penetrated by decent ammo.
  • Level 4 – 6B13 assault, trooper: Can stop higher caliber rounds and low-end armor piercing ammo, but for an increased price and movement penalty. As close to the sweet spot as possible.
  • Level 5 – Gen4, Gzhel, 6B13 ‘Killa’: Starting at level 5, you’re able to survive a few shots of most ammo in the game. Highly effective in PvP, yet also very expensive to purchase and repair.
  • Level 6 – Slick, FORT: The tankiest of armors, this class can stop almost anything. It’s also insanely expensive, costs a fortune to repair, and impedes your movement significantly. But it’s unparalleled at protecting that precious thorax.

Defend the dome

As a little bonus round, we’ll quickly dive into head armor, or helmets, as they’re obviously more commonly called. Helmets use the same level system and movement penalties as body armor. Note that helmets are a lot more fragile than body armor of the same level though.

Additionally, they have a unique metric to take into account: ricochet chance. Ranked from ‘low’ to high’, the ricochet chance indicates how likely a bullet bounces off of your helmet.

Another thing to consider, is which parts of your head a specific helmet protects. The top of your dome is always covered by any helmet, though some also block the ears, nape, eyes and jaw. Certain helmets have a mount for NVG’s, leave room for tactical headsets, or come with a face shield to protect..  the face.

This BEAR didn’t know there are helmets with NVG mounts on them. He paid for that mistake

Helmet cheatsheet

Check out the bonus rundown of helmets below.

  • Level 1 – Soft tank crew helmet, Fast MT (non-ballistic replica): Literally useless helmets. You might as well wear a tin foil hat or one of those hats with a propellor on it.
  • Level 2 – Kolpak, SHPM Firefighter’s helmet: Might stop one or two shotgun pellets. But then again, maybe not. Muffles sound and offers barely any protection. Skip!
  • Level 3 – UNTAR, SSh-68 helmet, Kiver-M: Mobility is slightly penalized, but level 3 definitely stops pistol caliber ammo and shotgun shells. May even bounce off better ammo. Relatively expensive though.
  • Level 4 – Ops-Core Fast MT, ZSh-1-2M, Striker: Sturdy helmets that can withstand some decent ammo. But it will cost you.
  • Level 5 – Altyn: High-end helmet for a high-end price. Also compatible with the highest level face shield (level 5).
  • Level 6 – Vulkan: Absolute monster of a helmet that can stop nearly every round in the game. Though you guessed it, insanely expensive and with huge movement penalties.

With that, we hope you’ve learned everything you need to know about armor from this Escape From Tarkov guide. If not, feel free to ask in the comments below, or on our bustling Facebook page.

Image credit: Battlestate Games

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