Iron Helmet with Protection I
The Protection enchantment is an enchantment in Minecraft exclusive to all armor pieces. As the name suggests, the enchantment increases the damage mitigated by your armor, protecting you from most sources of damage. You can reach up to Protection IV, with each level mitigating 4% damage, that can stack across all armor pieces up to a maximum of 64% (four levels on four armor pieces). However, Protection IV in Bedrock Edition mitigates more damage than in Java Edition.
The Protection Enchantment
As mentioned, the Protection enchantment is an enchantment that protects you from more damage aside from the damage mitigated by your armor. As one of the four protection enchantments in the game, the Protection enchantment is the protection from most sources of damage, in exchange for offering less protection than the others.
Damage from hunger is not mitigated by the Protection enchantment.
The only damage that this does not reduce are damage from the void and hunger, as well as status effects like poison and wither in the Bedrock Edition. Everything else, even including fall damage from using ender pearls and other sources of damage that might not be even reduced by armor, is mitigated by the Protection enchantment, making it arguably the best enchantment among the protection enchantments.
Iron Chestplate with Protection IV
The Protection enchantment can go up four levels, each level reducing 4% damage, to a maximum of 16% damage mitigation on Protection IV. Since the Protection enchantment can stack across all four armor pieces, having all of them with Protection IV reduces 64% damage post-armor mitigation. However, in Bedrock Edition, Protection IV instead reduces 5% damage (jumping from 3% in Protection III), raising the maximum damage reduction to 80%.
Unfortunately, the Protection enchantment is incompatible with the other protection enchantments, so you cannot stack them on the same armor piece. However, if you use commands, they can stack and their effects also stack.
The Math Behind Damage Mitigation
In Minecraft, damage is calculated by raw damage mitigated by armor, then the result again mitigated by the protection enchantments. The damage mitigation that all protection enchantments offer from any source of damage are also capped up to a maximum of 80%.
Since the Protection enchantment stacks with other protection enchantments on other armor pieces, you can reach maximum damage reduction from specific types of damage efficiently by mix-and-matching the Protection enchantment and other protection enchantments on other armor pieces.
Mix and matching protection enchantments can grant you efficient damage reduction.
For example, having Fire Protection IV on one armor piece and Protection IV on another grants you 48% damage reduction from fire damage (32% from Fire Protection IV and 16% from Protection IV). Having Fire Protection IV on another piece grants you the maximum 80% damage reduction against fire. With this set-up, you only have 16% damage reduction from all other damage sources.
Of course, having only Protection IV can also be great, giving you 64% damage reduction from most damage sources. In Bedrock Edition, you can even reach the maximum damage reduction of 80% with it.
Netherite armor provides the maximum damage reduction from armor.
To know your total damage mitigation, you will also have to consider armor. The theoretical maximum damage reduction that netherite armor, currently the armor set with the highest defense, provides is 80%, at 20 armor points. Although diamond armor also gives you 20 armor points, another attribute, called toughness, is included in the damage calculations for Java Edition. Only netherite armor provides the maximum damage reduction from armor for both editions.
Since damage reduction stacks multiplicatively, and not additively, you can’t reach 100% damage mitigation in the game. Assuming you have a full netherite armor, equating to 20 armor points, your armor pieces reduce 80% of the incoming damage. With Protection IV on all pieces, the remaining 20% is further reduced by 64%/80% (Java Edition/Bedrock Edition). Hence, the theoretical maximum damage reduction that you can gain from armor pieces is 92.8%/96% (Java Edition/Bedrock Edition). Here’s the quick math for the Java Edition:
Damage reduction from armor = 80%
Damage reduction from enchantments = (100% – 80%) * 64% = 12.8%
Total damage reduction = 80% + 12.8% = 92.8%
Comparing the Protection Enchantment from other Enchantments
The Protection enchantment is one of five enchantments that you can put on your armor and reduce the damage dealt to you. Four of these enchantments (except for Feather Falling) do not stack in a single armor piece (unless placed using commands), but their effects across armor pieces stack together.
A general difference of the Protection enchantment from the other protection enchantment is that it offers less mitigation in exchange for mitigating more types of damage. Except for Feather Falling which reduces 12% fall damage per level, all other protection enchantments provide 8% damage mitigation against specific types of damage. However, the other protections also mitigate specific aspects of the damage source, while the Protection enchantment only mitigates the actual instance of damage.
Most of these other protection enchantments are also named according to the damage they mitigate.
- Fire Protection mitigates damage from fire (normally not reduced by armor) and also reduces burn time in the Java Edition.
- Blast Protection specifically reduces damage from explosions, as well as reduces knockback distance caused by the explosions (although this is currently bugged as of 1.17).
- Projectile Protection only reduces direct impact damage from projectiles, except for some specific projectiles. These are damage from splash potions of harming, since it deals damage through status effects; dragon fireballs, as these do not deal direct impact damage, and; firework rockets, as these are reduced by Blast Protection.
- Feather Falling is exclusive only to the boots. It reduces fall damage, including those caused by ender pearl teleportations. Despite providing a similar effect as the previous protection enchantments, this enchantment is not considered similar to them, hence it can exist in the same armor piece as them. The protection that it provides stacks and has the same upper limit as the other enchantments.