The 5.11 Tactical Tac Tec Plate Carrier has been available for a few years now. If you’ve ever played Ghost Recon Wildlands, you’ll notice that it’s the PC the game characters are wearing. So I thought I’d take one for a spin and give you my thoughts on it.
This article originally ran in early 2017: updated June 2019.
👉 5.11 Tactec Plate Carrier (add’l info online)
I have had a lot of experience with plate carriers over the years, both for my personal and professional use in law enforcement. 5.11 did a great job with their introduction into the LE Plate Carrier market with the TacTec.
The Tac Tec came in Sandstone with several 5.11/VTAC mag pouches and a UCR IFAK pouch. I already had a shotgun pouch, which I added to it.
With a closer look at the Tac Tec, you can see that there was a lot of thought placed into the design.
Some unique design features include:
• Laser Cut Molle/Velcro panel. This takes up the upper half of both sides of the Plate Carrier. They offer a lot of space for adding ID panels or morale patches, and optional MOLLE real estate if you need it. The material is soft, felt-like, light and strong.
• Padded Shoulder Straps. These resemble the yoke-style straps on 5.11 backpacks, which are very comfortable with a lot of padding.
• Airflow Channels. There are airflow channels that run through a quadrant of raised padding to allow for added cooling that adds to comfort.
• Skeletonized Cummerbunds. This design saves weight and adds flexibility with bungee material that can be an attachment point for side plate pouches, or whatever you want to add.
• Grab/Drag Handle. This is one of the best features, that was the first of its kind when it was introduced. When it’s deployed, the handle releases an extended strap, allowing for the person pulling/dragging the downed or injured person to stand upright. This gives them a more natural range of motion and situational awareness. Just how strong is this strap? After watching some insane torture test YouTube videos, I’m confident it’ll hold up for what it was designed for.
• Emergency Release Handle. The handle is located at the top center of the front plate, making it easy to find. Pulling it removes the cable wires integrated throughout the Tac Tec and releases the shoulder straps and cummerbunds. It’s meant only for emergencies (and I don’t feel like putting all the pieces back together). It’s one of those quick releases that you’d throat punch your buddy who pulls it for shits and giggles.
• Internal Plate Straps. These were a pain to deal with but they work very well at securing your armor plate inside the carrier. The Tac Tec comes in two sizes: Regular, which holds plates from Small to Large, and XL, which holds…XL plates. There are four velcro straps for the horizontal sides and two at the bottom. Once you have it tightened, those plates aren’t going anywhere.
• Built-in Admin Pouch. There’s no need to add an admin pouch since there’s a rather large one behind the front laser cut panel. It’s hidden and makes good use of otherwise empty space. You could store quite a few documents, maps or whatever in it.
I set up the TacTec as a Critical Incident Plate Carrier for work. If I had to respond to an active shooter event, I would throw it over my uniform quickly and respond. I mounted the pistol and rifle pouches up front and the UCR IFAK and shotgun shell pouches on the support side cummerbund. No, I’m not competing in a three-gun match; my main issued long gun at work is an upgraded 870, so having extra shotgun shells would come in handy. I carry rifle mags for my partners who run patrol rifles just in case they run low.
I received two double mag pistol pouches and I threw them both on. I have the first set with spare mags and the second empty so that I could move the extended mags on my belt into them (if time permits), so the front plate won’t bump into them.
Having the TacTec Plate Carrier on standby is always a good option for me (plus it lets me look a little like a superhero). I know it takes some time to put on along with my ballistic helmet, and in most incidents, I may not have the time to get it all (or any of it) on. But if I have the time, you bet I’ll get it on as the rifle threat protection it provides will give me a better chance of survival. I’ll also have a lot more ammo and medical supplies on board. It’s all situation dependent, but better to have and not need than not have and need.
Wearing the Tac Tec Plate Carrier is where it shines. It is easily one of the most comfortable Plate Carriers I’ve worn. The padding in the shoulder straps distributes the weight well. The airflow channels help you cool down by creating extra space between the PC and your torso. It works well when worn over a shirt, but not so much over a uniform with soft vest underneath where nothing breathes. Discomfort is just the cost of having more armor protection.
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The plate carrier is shaped for SAPI/Swimmer cut plates, allows for better arm movement, and doesn’t get in the way of shouldering a long gun. The cummerbunds keep the TacTec close to your body and are stretchy so they move without being too constricting.
The Tac Tec Plate Carrier is a well-made system that’s comfortable to wear, durable and strong enough to endure hard use. It does so without affecting the user’s mobility, a quality many plate carriers lack.
It’s comfortable to have on, but how does it perform in real-life scenarios?
I took the TacTec to the range and wore it over my uniform and soft vest. The extra weight of the vest and plates could be felt but was well distributed, so it wasn’t too noticeable. I shot pistol drills and target practice, and it never got in my way of weapon manipulations. I remember other plate carriers limiting my range of arm motion. That effects shooting, as would anything that gets in the way of moving naturally.
The angled cut on the TacTec has a lot to do with its range-of-motion capabilities. It was easy to train with and held up at the range with no issues.
The Tac Tec is a quality piece of kit that’s as great in reality as it is in Ghost Recon Wildlands. If you’re in the market for a well-designed plate carrier, the Tac Tec is definitely one to check out! (Plus, it’ll look good with your Apex Pants.)
👉 This has been a review of the Tactec Plate Carrier from 5.11 Tactical.
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