BLUF: The Minimalist Plate Carrier (MPC) is a great rig that lives up to the name. Some plate carriers (PCs) identify as “minimal”, but the moniker is a reflection more of a lack of materials than a design intention. That is not the case with the Grey Ghost Gear Minimalist Plate Carrier.
Edit: This article originally ran several years ago. SInce then the Grey Ghost Minimalist Plate Carrier has been added to the MadDuoCo line of products. You know, if you want one.
If you’re anything like me (and for the sake of friends, family, co-workers, and local strippers, let’s hope you aren’t) you can get pretty particular about gear. After using a shit-ton of stuff in different conditions you begin to have particular preferences – a ‘flavor’ if you will. I’ll say outright that when I first looked at GGG’s MPC (say that three times fast) it appeared to check a lot of my boxes.
• Low profile design? Check.
• Adjustable? Check.
• No cummerbund? Check.
• No integrated magazine pouches? Check.
This article originally ran in August of 2014; if you’re reading this, it’s cuz our opinion hasn’t changed.
Is it the best plate carrier out there? Or even up at the top of the list?
There were still questions about the rig to answer before making that determination.
Weight and durability? Ability to take different size plates? Ease/speed of donning? Comfort?
Upon its arrival, one of the first things I noticed was the weight. Actually, the lack of weight. It’s very light.
This is important since (assuming you using your plate carrier as load-bearing equipment) it’s going to be loaded down with plates and mags. No Cordura specification was listed on the webpage so I gave them a call. Some will be disappointed to hear that it’s 500D and not 1000D Cordura but 500D, while half the weight, is usually sufficiently abrasion-resistant. The other part of the lightweight mystery lies in a material called LiteLok. LiteLok weighs 30% less than 500D Cordura, is water-resistant, and is apparently just as abrasion-resistant.
How that black magic happens is in the realm of a chemist or a mad scientist and definitely outside of my purview; that’s okay, my concern is with weight and durability.
The GGG MPC originally came in coyote, black, Multicam, and a couple of Kryptek patterns. Kryptek options are no longer available, but MultiCam Tropic and MultiCam Black now are.
Note for purists: the coyote example that I have is indiscernible in hue from that of many other quality manufacturers.
The design is fairly straightforward: the front and back sides of the carrier are (basically) mirror images of each other with some minor variance. Plates load in from the bottom and secured via a Velcro flap. There’s enough Velcro that a slightly taller or shorter plate than usual can be accommodated. Inside the carrier is a soft mesh that will help keep you cool and thick webbing that attaches and adjusts via Velcro rides over the shoulders.
There are the typical webbing and Fastex buckles on the sides for fit and a generous amount of elastic that allows for dynamic movement while keeping everything secure. Stitching is doubled up on the corners and other high-stress parts of the carrier to increase longevity.
How many times have you donned a carrier only to ask your buddy to cinch it properly for you? Or taken it on and off a dozen times until it’s, ‘just right’ because you were by yourself?
No need for that here. After ride height is adjusted so that the plates cover the vitals side adjustment is a snap. GGG’s plate carrier has pull-forward-to-tighten adjustment so it’s very easy to cinch it up while wearing it.
I cannot stress enough how badass that detail is.
One problem I’ve had with plate carriers in the past is fit. I like to wear a large plate in the back for greater coverage and protection and a medium in the front for shooting, flexibility, and ease of movement. This apparently is a weird combination because it seems that many off-the-shelf carriers come in sizes S/M or L/XL.
What I’ve done before is purchased size large carriers and invariably run out of side adjustment before it fits properly and/or the front plate sits too low in the carrier. Many have far too much lateral movement and slippage.
Yes, the obvious solution is having four beers and a few double cheeseburgers for every meal but I was looking for something that didn’t involve heart disease and going to meetings.
So, while many carriers are limited regarding the cut of the plate used, this isn’t the case with the GGG MPC. The GGG Minimalist has some open slots on the plate pocket itself. These not only cut down on the weight but also allow for a wide variety of plates to be used. SAPI, swimmer, and rectangular cut plates can be inserted.
This allows a rectangular plate to be used in the back, providing more coverage, and a plate more suited towards shooting (almost any other cut) in the front. This aspect of PC design, particularly with regard to minimalist plate carrier setup, is often neglected.
This is a double-edged sword though, mostly because the edges of your plates can ‘peek’ out at you. Now, while plate covers are sold and can be purchased, I never turn down any opportunity to steal a sewing machine and attempt to break it.
After a trip to the fabric store (pro-tip for single guys: lots of ladies in the fabric store) and much cursing at needles becoming unthreaded, I managed to put together some plate covers that vaguely resemble dirty pillowcases in a SAPI shape.
Alternatively, you can rattle can them, or, just suck it up and quit worrying about the contrast.
Not only does the carrier allow for different cuts but also some different sizes and thicknesses while still holding them securely. While technically the carrier I have is a size large, it was no problem to put a medium in the front and a large in the back.
I also was able to fit soft armor plate backers behind the plates without even the need for foul language.
Plates of different materials could easily be used in this carrier.
The GGG MPC features six columns and six rows of MOLLE on either side of the carrier (the top row is truncated to four columns). Above the MOLLE, also on both sides, is a panel of matching Velcro so you can attach the usual stuff. This could include name tapes, rank insignia, unit/department identifiers, ID panels, IR reflectors, or whatever moto Velcro-backed morale patches are in vogue at the moment.
On the top front of the carrier, there’s also a stash pocket that can hold small flat items like a map or a notebook. Unlike with giant armor carriers and rigs, you aren’t going to fit a dozen mags, seven grenades, a toy train set, and a typewriter in there.
Though the real estate is limited, one can still fit the fighting essentials directly on the plate. Of course, the MPC can also be run slick if just the added plate protection is desired.
To expand capacity one can use a quick-attach plate load or put web gear over the top (necessitating another step in the donning process). I opted to put gear directly on the carrier for use in conjunction with a belt rig. Three HSGI Taco pouches fit perfectly across the front.
Yes, my pouches aren’t all the same color or pattern but to quote Chesty Puller when he was fighting the Huns in Vietnam during the American Revolution, “Matchy-matchy gear is for the Air Force and airsofters”.
Yes GGG makes mag pouches but I didn’t have them handy. Take your color-gear-match OCD and get thee hence.
If you haven’t used a small footprint plate carrier before, bear in mind that your mags may ride higher than with a normal chest rig. Sometimes people change how they index for reloads in this arrangement or even primary reload locations and others don’t. There are advantages and disadvantages to both high and low mags in different situations but that’s a whole other discussion itself.
Getting the carrier on and off is easily done, especially if running the load directly on the plate—no monkeying with extraneous straps or a cummerbund here. I recommend leaving one Fastex buckle snapped and another open so you can slip it over your head and support arm first.
Since I’m right-handed I leave the right side Fastex unbuckled during the donning process. Taking it off is just one click and pulling your head out. This is really a grab-and-go rapid deployment setup.
Though the carrier is lightweight and very comfortable around the torso I think many who use plate carriers may know my next complaint: shoulders. For short periods of time the plain thick webbing over the shoulders is fine. However, when worn for multiple hours they really start to get irritating and uncomfortable.
The solution to this for me was pretty easy: HSGI Was/Wee shoulder pads. Though they are made for HSGI carriers they worked equally as well with the GGG MPC. They distribute the load better, don’t move around because the bottoms are covered with the same SureGrip material as their battle belts — and they don’t break the bank.
These are definitely a worthwhile upgrade if you’re going to wear your fig for hours and hours. Of course, you won’t necessarily need it if this is something you’re throwing in the back seat of a patrol car or in a bailout bag.
For that, it’s perfect as is.
A minor complaint with an easy fix was the lack of elastic keepers. The only place you need these are on the side straps and one could always tape them but putting them on was quick. I fabbed some myself in about two minutes with some tan elastic but it would have been nice if some were included.
Another spec not listed on the webpage was weight. Using a commercial scale, I found the GGG MPC itself weighed in at just a couple of stitches below twenty ounces. If the coyote was even slightly darker it might have weighed more. For a carrier of this size that’s pretty damn good, especially since it’s not made of paper and can carry a heavy load without the material sagging under the weight.
Fully loaded up with my plates, soft armor backers, shoulder pads, and full mags my rig topped out at less than 18 pounds. It probably would have been much lighter if I’d had Grey Ghost Gear lightweight plates in it, but I don’t have any of those.
The Grey Ghost Gear Minimalist Plate Carrier definitely lives up to its name. Not a whole circus of bells and whistles but definitely a lot of thought put into the system and very well made. The low profile combined with the speed at which the GGG MPC can be donned and adjusted makes it a perfect companion for any patrol carbine or any situation where rapid armor deployment is deemed necessary.
The Minimalist Plate Carrier is an excellent product from Grey Ghost Gear. I was actually surprised by the price. I can’t help but wonder if someone would see the MSRP (it’s very low) and immediately dismiss it as being analogous to one of those cheap imports or a knock-off of some kind.
Grunts: analogous (not anal-oh-gus)
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