What is the best Plate Carrier?
As with many things (like beer, bourbon, booze, even boobs…) the answer to that question will be largely a matter for individual interpretation. Unlike those things, however, this choice has less to do with taste and preference than it does with mission and need (which necessarily incorporates threat level).
Though the plate carrier (PC) is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, its proliferation is at least in some measure based on a misunderstanding of its proper use and/or a desire to have the same Gucci it the kewl kids are using. This is certainly not to say a PC is a bad investment, it’s just not always the right one to make given the context of how it will be used.
What plate carrier do I need?
Here are some things to consider:
• You shouldn’t be wearing a PC by itself in lieu of soft (concealable) armor when the most likely threat you’ll face is a handgun round — Body Armor: you’re doing it wrong.
• If you’re using a plate carrier without armor, solely as a chest-rig type loadbearing device, you might look instead to a “battle belt”, chest rig, or even an old school LBV instead (remembering in the latter case it can sometimes be dual-purposed to carry smaller plates if need be); the same consideration could be applied to de facto chest rigs too.
This should go without saying, but so nothing gets dropped – while body armor has served to stop stabbing/slashing attacks before, it has offers very limited protection when compared to armor built intentionally to protect against edged/pointed weapons.
• If you need it, buy it. If you just want it, that’s okay too, as long as you’re not setting yourself up for failure. This goes back to your mission. Are you playing tactical dress up? Are you a metrotactical geardo? If it’s the latter, no worries — we’re not going to rag someone who wears Crye when they could get by with Condor, as long as they’re honest about it (and being realistic).
• If you’ve determined a PC is the most expedient and efficient way to throw on some protection (and perhaps gear) before you deal with an unwelcome noise at your door or the unexpected flashlight beam you see down at your barn, good to go.
• If you require some protection but don’t want to go lumbering across hell’s half-acre with your own body weight of armor weighing you down, a PC is a good option, but depending on policy & procedures (first responders) and command guidance (the military) that might not be an options.
Once you’ve decided a PC is the way to go, you’ll want to make sure your intended rig will accommodate the plates you own (or intend to buy). Grey Ghost Gear ballistic plates are stupid light and have an excellent reputation, but they trade increased thickness to maintain better-than-average protection, even with the advanced materials used. Other manufacturers plates may vary in height and width. Confirming your preference ahead of time will save you some asspain, and is a relative no-brainer. You’re not researching how to use Dalekanium in breaching charges here.
Below you’ll find some plate carrier suggestions based collectively on our experience. Others elsewhere may have had different experiences leading them to different conclusions, so it’s worth doing your research.
This will be a work in progress.
⚠️ Anything you’re going to bet your life on should be the focus of significant pre-purchase scrutiny!
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