Armor is extremely valuable in Escape From Tarkov, even low tier armor can save you from an unfortunate demise and with the new Flea Market system getting out alive is more valuable than ever, regardless of the size of your secure container.
Best armor in Tarkov
Right out the gate, having armor is better than not. It may seem expensive, but so are your losses when you catch a stray shotgun pellet at the end of a raid.
Your options are pretty limited in the early game, but it’s best to know what those options are. There are obviously many other armors available, but the ones I’m listing below are available for purchase from traders immediately, and honestly some of the best options you have in general.
PACA Soft Armor is light, but not the lightest, and is only rated as level 2 armor, but it’s an early game staple.
⦁ Tier 2 armor, reliably stops most pistol rounds, low-tier 5.45×39, and nearly all shotgun ammo
⦁ Weighs only 7kg and has minimal effects on mobility
⦁ Covers both your Stomach and Thorax
⦁ Very high effective durability, will degrade very slowly unless it catches something much heavier than it should.
⦁ Available at Ragman level 1 for 28,000 Roubles (or traded for 3 common scav masks)
Cheap, easily available, and effective, the SSh-68 is an icon of budget builds even beyond the early game.
⦁ Level 3 armor means it can even stop some low tier assault rifle ammo
⦁ High ricochet chance means that if you do get hit by something heavier, there’s still a good chance of the round bouncing off your head. This won’t completely negate damage, but it’ll very easily save your life in a pinch.
⦁ Covers both the top of your head and the nape of your neck, making it very difficult to get shot from behind.
⦁ Doesn’t affect hearing, and can fit headphones under
⦁ Available at Ragman level 1 for 21,000 Roubles but there is a global buy limit that refreshes with Ragman’s stock. Although this buy limit is fairly high.
Alternatively you have the Kolpak-1 S riot helmet.
⦁ Level 2 armor, same as PACA.
⦁ Only covers the top of the head, not the neck.
⦁ Low ricochet chance.
⦁ Muffles audio slightly and doesn’t allow for headphones.
⦁ Can fit a level 2 face shield that also helps with stopping stray shotgun pellets, useful for dealing with scavs
⦁ Available at Ragman Level 1 for less than 8,000 Roubles
⦁ Visor available as a barter option at Ragman level 1 for one Chainlet
The “mid-game” is a very undefined period in Tarkov, you can get tier 4 armor as soon as Ragman level 2, and helmets gain little advantage over the SSh-68. But there are still some notable options.
The 6B3TM-01M armored rig is a level 4 armored chest rig available as early as Ragman level 2. Something that only requires you hitting level 15, and having spent some money with him.
⦁ Level 4, this will reliably stop a few rounds of 7.62×39 PS, 5.45×39 BP, and 5.56×45 M855.
⦁ Covers both chest and stomach, but not arms.
⦁ Takes up both your armor slot and chest rig slot, providing 4 1×2 slots and 4 1×1 slots.
⦁ Moderate effective durability, titanium fairs better than steel or ceramic but not by much. It’ll still happily eat a few shots before becoming useless.
⦁ Available at Ragman level 2 for under 48k Roubles.
6B13 assault armor takes a while longer, but it’s a tier 4 armor that only takes up your armor slot.
⦁ Tier 4 armor
⦁ Only takes an armor slot, meaning you can also wear large unarmored chest rigs.
⦁ Covers stomach and chest
⦁ Ceramic armor, meaning it has low effective durability and repairs poorly.
⦁ Is available at ragman level 3 for around 64K Roubles.
For helmets there’s a variety of options but the two big ones come at Ragman level 3.
The Highcom Striker ACHHC is your first real upgrade from the SSh.
⦁ Level 4 armor, making it a helmet that will actually stop low tier rifle rounds.
⦁ Covers the top of your head and the nape of your neck, even if it seems too high, the entire nape hitbox is considered armored.
⦁ Fairly low effective durability, even if it catches a low tier rifle bullet it’s not likely to stop a second.
⦁ No sound reduction, and allows for headphones
⦁ Available from Ragman level 3 for 55k Roubles.
The ZSh-1-2M helmet offers a cheaper, but arguably worse alternative to the Highcom.
⦁ Level 4, with similar durability to the Highcom.
⦁ Muffles sound greatly, and does not allow for a headset.
⦁ Allows for the use of the ZSh-1-2M face shield, a level 3 shield that covers down to the jaw.
⦁ The green variant is available at Ragman level 3 for 60K Roubles.
⦁ After completing Chemical – Part 4, the black variant is available at Ragman level 3 for under 40K Roubles.
Late Game Armor
Late game armor is a lot trickier, once you understand the game a lot more, acquiring level 6 armor from raiders and other PMCs is your best bet. But for buying high tier armor, you have essentially two options.
FORT Redut-M body armor
⦁ Tier 5, will reliably stop all types of 7.62×39, but may not reliably stop multiple impacts from BP. Will also stop anything short of 5.45×39 BS.
⦁ Heavy, weighing in at 13.5 kg
⦁ Covers both chest and stomach
⦁ Moderate durability, will reliably stop a number of body shots.
⦁ 13% movement speed reduction, before weight factors in.
⦁ Available from Ragman level 3 for 226K Roubles.
BNTI Gzhel-K armor
⦁ Tier 5 armor
⦁ Weighs 8.9 kg
⦁ Covers stomach and chest
⦁ Ceramic armor, very low overall durability, will likely stop only a few shots.
⦁ 10% speed reduction before weight is applied.
⦁ Available after completing the Supervisor task at Ragman level 3 for 119K Roubles.
Currently, no level 6 armor is available from traders for cash. All offers are limited to barter items, and it’s really hard to make an individual recommendation since it really depends on what maps you run. But really, if you want tier 6, run Labs or Reserve and hunt Raiders.
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