So, you’ve managed to get your hands on somebody’s armor—you’re fortunate. Now it’s time to load your armor into a plate carrier that fits your particular needs or isn’t going to do a bit of good. Before you unload your hard-earned money on the first plate carrier you encounter, think of the situations you will face and the aspirations you have of your equipment.
What works during the deployment could only slow you down in a home defense situation, and reporters and private security teams know that there are times when it’s better to fly under the radar. We’ve gathered several plate carriers that can offer life-saving security so that you can make an informed decision without wasting time on the internet.
Key features of Plate Carriers
Plate carriers are designed to stand between the body and face severe threats, including gunfire and shrapnel. Besides making room for hard armor, plate carriers also have protection against slicing and stab wounds and can provide padding to minimize the blunt force damage when a hard armor blocks a projectile. Often ensure if the plate carrier is consistent with the scale and shape of the armor you want to use.
Some of the plate carriers come in a single size with an adjustable waist. Even some of them are heavier than many others, and you’re going to want to find a decent fit for your body shape. Much like you, hard armor will also differ in scale, and you need to make sure that any plate carrier you buy is built to match the size and form of the plates you choose. Think of items like total dimensions and angled cuts when you’re shopping.
Not all of the plate carriers are equipped for operational use. There are low-cost choices for airsoft and paintball that look fantastic, but they certainly won’t hang on to the weight of actual body armor and loaded magazines. A product made of thick nylon, heavy stitching, and well-designed ergonomic features is worth the extra expense.
If you’re going to wear your plate carrier outside your clothes, look for alternatives with plenty of mounting points for the rest of your gear. Standard MOLLE panels are ideal for fixing items like magazine pouches, map pouches, first aid kits, and hydration systems. Test various setups and practice using the gear to establish familiarity. To ensure consistency with your favorite pack, we recommend leaving the back slick.
Types of Plate Carriers
For a time, the U.S. Army has subscribed to the more-is-more-philosophy of body armor. If protection is acceptable, a lot of security needs to be better, right? The modular military vest is a perfect example of this. You get compartments for SAPI plates, MOLLE all over the place, and detachable padding for your groin, neck, and shoulder. This vest type provides the most protection, but it can make you feel like a turtle with very restricted mobility.
Many plate carriers provide a balance between protection and mobility. After wearing an MTV, modern plate carriers feel like a combat sports bra. They’re only big enough to hold the body armor, with thin straps, slight padding, and enough MOLLE to match the basics. Side armor pouches may or may not be used.
Just because you want to cover yourself doesn’t actually mean that you want to cosplay your favorite operator. Reporters, security personnel, high-profile people, and even police officers require body armor that fits under their street clothes. Minimalist plate carriers are designed to minimize their profile to help you be discreet about what you’re wearing.
Here is our list of the best plate carrier that you must try.
OneTigris Doom Plate Carrier
Wrap-around MOLLE and optimized magazine storage make this OneTigiris plate carrier one of the most usable choices out there. Store three regular 30-round magazines in the vest and, if necessary, attach more to the MOLLE panels. Bungee retention means that these pouches are stable and well suited for pace reloads. The Cummerbund is built to match your waist’s sizes from 36 to 46 inches – note this is weighted high, not around your hips (plate carriers should always be worn high and tight; hair should be worn low and moto). Choose from black, brown coyote, and Multicam. This plate carrier style provides lots of versatility and customization opportunities without weighing down or restricting your range of motion. That makes this one the winner of our book.
Gloryfire Tactical Plate Carrier
This Gloryfire Plate Carrier adds a little more coverage than you can get from a minimalist option, and we dig some old-school olive drab in what feels like a sea of smooth, dark earth and digital camouflage. This cheap alternative also offers all of the features you would expect from higher-end plate carriers. Take advantage of flexible shoulder pads, ventilated mesh lining, and MOLLE all over the place. There’s even a drag handle on the back collar, which you sometimes have to compromise to get to this price point. This vest is compatible with body armor up to 12 inches tall and 11 inches wide in the front and back, and six inches square on each side. The waist can be stretched to 54 centimeters. If you’re having trouble getting into other plate carriers, this could be the one for you.
ATG Tactical Plate Carrier
If you’re on a budget and care about flexibility, this ATG plate carrier deserves a serious look. It’s a little bulkier than some plate carriers, but we’re not going to complain too much at this price. The mixture of MOLLE, where you can normally attach magazines, IFAK, drop pouches, and velcro, where you wear all those patches, is a good touch. The tan edition would probably fit all the pouches of your coyote brown magazine. You’ll love the padded shoulder straps and ventilated padding if you’ve had to wear this plate carrier for a very long period. Adjust the waist to 51 inches for optimum fit. This plate carrier is not exactly what we would call heavy-duty relative to top-tier alternatives. Still, it is definitely worthy of being your homebody armor in the event of an emergency.
ArcEnCiel Tactical Plate Carrier
For those of you who want a one-stop solution to your plate carrier needs, we suggest trying out this ArcEnCiel tactical vest. Not only is this one of the cheapest choices on our list, but it also comes with three double magazine pouches, two zipper pouches, a compact open-top radio pouch, and a flexible velcro panel with elastic loops for small objects such as glow sticks or shotgun shells. Both attachments may be removed and replaced by standard MOLLE accessories. The broad shoulder strap design is identical to that of the conventional vest, so you might find it more convenient than most of the plate carriers. Some typical plates fit tightly into this carrier, and some shapes don’t fit at all. If you’ve got soft armor or smaller plates, it can be quite a bargain.
War Tech Gears Protective Vest
Often being tactical means you don’t look tactical, and those circumstances call for something like this War Tech Gears vest. This plate carrier has large front and rear velcro panels for patches that mark you as press or defense, but it still works well under street clothes for protection that doesn’t attract unnecessary attention. Smooth lines and elastic velcro midsection encourage you to get a snug, body-hugging fit. Adjustable shoulder straps are also appropriate for various body styles. This plate carrier does not provide any MOLLE or velcro mounting points for adding extra gear, so it has a different purpose than the conventional alternatives we have found.
Leatherback Gear Tactical One backpack
Leatherback Gear proves that plate carriers don’t have to be wrapped with pouches and tools – they don’t even have to be a vest. This understated backpack will accommodate 42 liters of day-to-day belongings along with a pair of life-saving rigid plates. Thick padding and mesh ventilation panels make it cozy. If you are in threat, this bag can be zipped in half and worn to protect the front and back with inside body armor plates up to 14 inches tall and 11 inches wide. Outside, the MOLLE mounting points allow you to install equipment to make a survival or emergency kit. It’s a wild world out there, and an armored backpack may be what you need to feel more secure in it.
Entry-level plate carriers are available for less than $100. In addition to body armor compartments, these may have simple features and a few pouches. Higher-end plate carriers costing more than $100 appear to deliver improved usability and reliability. Look for well-built, advanced goods designed to excel in many circumstances.