Review: the Mayflower Low-Pro Assault Armor Carrier

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Mayflower Research And Consulting Low Profile Armor Carrier

By Jeff Takeda

I clearly remember the day I was issued SWAT gear after being selected for the team. Entry rifle, handgun, brand new uniforms, boots, even gloves! Then they handed me an entry vest. Our team was in the process of transitioning to a new version. As new ones were coming in from the manufacturer, the senior members of the team received them. That left the older vests to us new guys. The old vests were worn, heavy, and not comfortable. You couldn’t adjust the length of the torso at all and the Velcro barely stayed closed. The poor design of the closure system caused the front of the vest to detach from the weight of the gear-laden pouches attached to the front. It was a “modular system” meaning it had PALS webbing on the front, but that was it as far as modularity. The cut of the vest was typical of LE/ SWAT entry vests at the time, giving you a lot of coverage, but sacrificing some mobility.

Being a self-admitted gear snob and knowing there were much better options out there, I requested permission to buy my own and use it while I waited for a new one. I received the okay and happily went shopping. In order to help justify the purchase, I rationalized that I needed a vest that would fit multiple roles. SWAT is not my main assignment, it’s an ancillary duty at my agency. My primary assignment is plainclothes detective, occasionally requiring me to don body armor and a tactical vest quickly. Further, the vest needed to be something I can drive in, and/or wear under a cover shirt or jacket. I needed a system that could fill SWAT cop and a detective roles, and switch between those roles quickly.

Enter Mayflower Research and Consulting’s Low Profile Assault Armor Carrier (LPAAC) package with level IIIA soft armor. The LPAAC consists of a level IIIA concealable vest inside a 500 denier carrier which can also hold rifle plates. The LPAAC has PALs webbing front and back, and is a modular system which allows for addition of a ballistic groin protector as well.

I’ve used this rig for the past year. It has filled my two law enforcement roles and has other benefits. I’ve used the vest for training operations, on call outs and warrant services, as worn it at the Best Of The West SWAT competition.

Specifications/Description:

The Low Profile Assault Armor Carrier I purchased consisted of the carrier with soft armor panels, the Mayflower Gen IV Chest rig, and the ballistic groin protector. The carrier holds level IIIA soft armor panels made by Velocity Systems LLC. These panels are NIJ certified and in compliance with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard-0101.04. They also meet or exceed the USASOC Fragmentation requirements and meet or exceed the DEA test protocol. The panels provide upper torso protection including side protection, much like a standard concealable vest.

Used by itself, you could actually wear it like a standard concealable vest under a uniform shirt, although I didn’t do this for an extended amount of time. Hard armor plates are held in pockets attached to the outside of the soft armor carrier. This allows the soft armor to act as not only a plate-backer, but helps the vest mold to the shape of the wearer’s body and adds to overall comfort.

The vest utilizes an adjustable cummerbund system, which assists with distributing the overall weight of the vest so it does not rest completely on the shoulders. The adjustability is also helpful with weather changes and girth changes arising from the sudden stomach expansion caused by a food blister. Mayflower says the adjustability is helpful when adding 6” x 6” hard armor side plates, for which there are integral pockets in the cummerbund. Either way, the addition of extra hard armor or lard is made easier by the adjustability of the cummerbund system.

The Low-Profile Assault Armor Carrier also features webbing for use with removable ITW-Nexus SwiftClip Buckles on the front of the vest. This allows the user to quickly attach or detach various chest rigs to or from the carrier. For my vest I used Mayflower’s excellent Generation IV chest rig. Another example of a compatible chest rig is the Haley Strategic Partner’s D3R chest rig.

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According to Mayflower, this type of configuration “Allows the individual to use the same loadout with or without armor or have multiple chest rigs configured for different mission requirements.” During my testing of this kit, I found this feature to be extremely useful, more on this in a few.

The attachment of a chest rig is accomplished by clipping the top of a compatible chest rig to the vertical female ITW-Nexus buckles on the front of the rig. This allows the chest rig to literally hang to the front of the vest. The chest rig is kept in place and snug to the vest by the Swift Clip buckle system that attaches horizontally to the sides of the vest. This buckle and strap system pulls the chest rig tight so it doesn’t move at all and doesn’t need to be “MOLLE’d” in. The benefit here is the quick attaching and detaching of the system.

It should be noted that Mayflower also offers a slick version of this rig. It’s the same setup but without the extra MOLLE, and still allows the attachment of a compatible chest rig. The slick version has the ITW-Nexus buckles on the front to allow the attachment of chest rigs. The ITW buckles can also be removed, if you want to use the system like a regular concealable vest.

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Donning and Doffing the LPAAC

When donning the LPAAC, I put the carrier on first without the chest rig attached. After securing the cummerbund, I clip the Mayflower Gen IV chest rig on, tighten the side straps and am ready to go. Although this process involves an extra step, it actually makes donning the vest easier since I’m not trying to deal with all the weight of the vest at one time. I also didn’t feel like it took me any longer to don the vest.

It’s also nice to be able to quickly ditch some of the weight off your vest during down times in training, without having to completely take your vest off. And again, the ability to remove a good portion of the weight from the vest, via the chest rig, makes doffing the LPAAC nice and easy.

Armor Coverage and Protection

When loaded with soft armor and front and back rifle plates, the LPAAC offers you the same coverage as a concealable vest coverage plus plate coverage. This is more protection than just a standard plate carrier, but less than traditional SWAT entry vests with throat and arm protection. Mayflower does offer an optional ballistic groin protector which attaches by use of ITW-Nexus buckles at the bottom of the carrier.

Mobility and Comfort

The reduced coverage of the LPAAC gives the system a high degree of mobility and makes it a more comfortable vest. The cummerbund does an excellent job of taking weight off of the shoulders. In addition, Mayflower also offers padded shoulder pieces for the shoulder straps on the LPAAC.

I’ve worn the full LPAAC set up (armor, ammo, TASER, radio, water, miscellaneous personal gear) at SWAT training for over a year. I have also worn the LPAAC for several hours on call-outs. I found the vest to be the most comfortable armor system I have ever used. I never feel like my movement is restricted and I’m able to get into shooting positions easily and naturally.

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Modularity

I have been able to use the vest in other roles, outside SWAT, due to the LPAAC’s low profile and modularity. On a surveillance detail, I was able to wear the stripped down carrier without chest rig underneath a cover shirt. When it was time to conduct an entry, I was easily able to clip on a D3R chest rig outfitted with ammo for my carbine, pistol, a radio, cuffs, TQ, trauma kit, digital camera, voice recorder, and lucky pen in less than a minute. Mayflower’s claims about the versatility of this vest are very true. I have my “SWAT Load Out” configured in my Mayflower Gen IV chest rig and my “Detective Entry Load Out” in the smaller D3R rig.

But the ability to quickly switch between load outs is not the only benefit to this system. During a high risk SWAT search warrant, I needed to get up a ladder to clear an attic crawl space. I was able to quickly “slim down” my profile by detaching my chest rig and going slick to get into the smaller space.

In 2014 my team participated in the Best In The West annual SWAT Competition in Santa Clara, California. The LPAAC’s slim, modular design came in really handy. Some stages allowed competitors to wear just body armor without the extra kit. It was nice to be able to just remove my chest rig, instead of having to bring an extra slick vest, remove individual items from the vest, or have the extra bulk of empty pouches on the front of the vest.

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During training with a large Sheriff’s Department SWAT team, I observed that team members were issued a slick plate carrier in addition to their regular entry vest. The plate carrier was to be used during bus and airplane assaults, where they needed a smaller profile. Here is another instance where the LPAAC’s modular design would be very effective by eliminating the need to purchase, store, and maintain another piece of kit.

In conclusion, I’ve found the Mayflower Low Profile Assault Armor Carrier to be an outstanding piece of kit. The LPAAC gives the increased mobility of a plate carrier but with the added protection of a level IIIA concealable vest. The modular, low profile design of this system allows the LPAAC to fill multiple roles from simple concealable body armor up to a full entry vest, with front, back, side plates and groin protection. The LPAAC is especially well suited for military or law enforcement units where you need to keep a low profile, but at the same time have the protection and kit readily available for more overt, high risk tasks such as an entry or vehicle take down. Mayflower did a great a job with this kit and I can’t recommend it enough.

-JT


 

You can visit Mayflower online here, or give them a follow on Facebook.

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About the author: Jeff Takeda is a former U.S. Marine and is currently employed as a police officer in Southern California.  He has a varied background in both security and law enforcement operations.  As a Marine, Jeff served as an infantry squad leader and as a Marine Corps Security Forces member.  In addition, he served in the U.S. Army National Guard as a military policeman in the state of California.  In the private sector, Jeff was part of an overseas security team, operating in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan.  Jeff has been a sworn police officer for over 12 years and has served as a detective, field-training officer, and firearms instructor.  He currently works uniformed patrol and is a member of his department’s SWAT team.   Jeff is also a military / law enforcement training consultant for Professional Training And Simulation (PTS), a company that produces high quality Airsoft guns and accessories for training purposes.

2 thoughts on “Review: the Mayflower Low-Pro Assault Armor Carrier

  • October 2, 2015 at 11:08 am
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    I am a plainclothes detective as well and get a ton of use out of my Mayflower APC. Mayflower R&D makes a great product and I will probably be trying out the LPAAC as well

    Reply
  • September 29, 2015 at 11:02 pm
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    Good review. The LPAAC is a solid piece of kit. I’ve been wearing one at work for about four months now (no plates, just soft armor from Velocity Systems), and I’m quite happy with the amount of coverage it provides without sacrificing much mobility. My only critique is that the built in admin pocket on the upper chest is on the shallow side. I wish it was deeper like the pocket on Mayflower’s Assault Plate Carrier.

    Reply

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