AR500 steel is not a brand name or a specific product but a broad term for a type of through hardened and wear resistant steel. AR is short for Abrasion Resistant and 500 refers to the Brinell hardness of the steel. 500 is a common hardness category but abrasion resistant steels are available in several different hardness categories. A higher Brinell Hardness Number means a harder steel. AR500 is harder than AR400 and so on.
Abrasion resistant steels can withstand mechanical wear much better than conventional high-strengh steel. The most common use for AR500 steels is heavy duty equipment that is subjected to a high degree of mechanical wear like excavators and attachments, dumpers, truck bodies, in mining etc.
A common misconception is that regular AR500 wear plate steel and ballistic protection steel/armor steel is exactly the same thing. They do have similarities in properties and hardness levels, but they are made for vastly different applications and differ in performance, tolerances and quality control.
Different manufacturers use different recipes for their steel, and also different methods for quenching and tempering. Because of this the characteristics and performance of AR steel from different manufacturers can vary widely even if the brinell hardness is identical. Depending on the application this difference in performance will be more or less noticable and significant. When it comes to ballistic protection applications even very small differences or variations in characteristics and performance can be a matter of life and death. The main takaway is to remember that "AR500" is a very non-specific description.
Any steel manufacturer can make hard steel. The difficulty is making hard steel that is also flexible. High quality protection steel needs to combine a very high hardness with toughness to give it bending properties and make it withstand the force from projectiles without cracking. A high toughness relative to the hardness is the only way to safely lower the weight in armor applications. And this is an art that only a small number of manufacturers in the world master fully. So the most noticable difference between decent armor steel and top of the line armor steel is the weight at a specific protection level.
So a top of the line protection steel need to have unique properties of extreme hardness AND being flexible at the same time. But this is not enough. Protection steel must also have an extremely consistant quality, minimal size and hardness tolerances and rigid quality control (which might include ballistic testing of every single production batch) to avoid the risk of significant differences in performance from batch to batch. Unlike many other applications where one would just add some extra thickness as a safety margin, that is not an option in armor applications due to the added weight.
Real ballistic protection steel from the best manufacturers in the world is very expensive. Much more expensive than some random AR500 steel. For this reason it is not uncommon that civilian body armor is made of cheap wear plate type AR steel instead of certified high end military grade protection steel.
TYR Protection only use certified ballistic protection steel. And not any kind of ballistic steel but the best ballistic steel in the world. This is why many of our products are lighter compared to our competitors. And when buying ballistic protection products from us you can rest assure that every single batch of steel has gone through rigorous quality controls to ensure the performance. For many centuries Sweden has been known for making world class steel, and we are proud to be part of that tradition! TYR Protection – For your safety