Best Tactical Vest and Plate Carrier

Are you searching for the best tactical vest and plate carrier?

In this article I’ve reviewed the most popular models available and after reading this article you will know my recommendations. 

Check out the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices for the best tactical vest and plate carrier picks, or read on for the full review:

  1.  Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set Multicam CS
  2.  Rothco Molle Modular Tactical Vest
  3.  Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set
  4.  Gloryfire Tactical Vest, Modular Assault Vest
  5.  ArcEnCiel Tactical Molle Vest

Plate carrier 

Plate carriers are a soft body armor that has compartments for adding protective plates for stopping ammunition impact.

With the addition of the metal plate inserts your plate carrier can stop ballistic shots from high caliber rounds. Most Plate carriers are equipped with a MOLLE system which will allow you to laches more equipment.

A plate carrier provides exceptional protection and gear carrying potential. The main downfall to going with a plate carrier is the significant weight. Between the plates and added gear, plate carriers are hefty.

Plate carriers are not best suited for scenarios where you must move in silence and tight spaces. They are best suited for open areas and when protection is your number one priority.

Tactical Vest 

Tactical vests are equipped with a MOLLE system for attaching all your gear. They are light weight and comfortable when compared to a fully loaded plate carrier.

Tactical vests will not provide any ballistic protection. These are perfect for the range, hunting, or sport shooting. With the MOLLE system you can attach extra ammo, pouches, and provisions.

Body Armor Ratings

The NIJ, National Institute of Justice, has laid out a standardized rating system for body armor. These ratings spell out what caliber shot a particular piece of body armor can effectively stop. Use this guide when evaluating your specific protection level needs.

Handgun Protection Ratings

          Level IIA: Effective against 9mm to .40 ammunition fired from a short barrel handgun. Not effective against rifles

     Level II: Effective against 9mm and .357 magnum ammunition from short barrel handguns. Not effective against rifles

     Level IIIA: Effective against .357 and .44 magnum ammunition from long barrel handguns. Not effective against rifles

Rifle Protection Ratings

     Level III: Effective against 7.62 FMJ core ammunition

     Level IV: Effective against .30 caliber steel for armor piercing rounds

Types of Plate Carrier Plates

Small Armor Protective Plates

Also called SAPI Plates, these are used in all military branches for stopping high caliber ammunition rounds. These plates are generally composed of boron carbide or silicon carbide ceramic. The design allows fragments to be stopped and trapped preventing penetration.

While these plates can be added to all positions on your plate carrier, they are designed to only withstand one shot. If hit, a plate must be replaced as they shatter when absorbing a hit.

SAPI plates come in four different sizes. These plates weigh between 2.8 and 5.3 pounds.

Ceramic Plates

While lighter than SAPI plates, ceramic plates are still relatively heavy when added to your plate carrier. They boast exceptional protection power but much like SAPI plates, they are designed to shatter upon impact.

Due to this you must replace them and be careful not to drop them as they will shatter on impact.

Steel Plates

These old school plates are exceptionally heavy. They provide excellent stopping power and can withstand more than one shot. Overall, due to the weight factor, these plates are seldom used or recommended.

Polyethylene Plates

These plates are much lighter than even ceramic plates, making them an exceptional option for those looking to reduce weight. These plates have an ingenious design that accepts the ammunition rounds spin to aid in absorbing the impact. The friction from the spin on impact, melts the plate polyethylene and stops the roud.

Considerations

When choosing a plate carrier or tactical vest you must ensure selection of a model constructed of quality durable material. If opting for a plate carrier, consideration must be given to the type of plate you intend to use as this is the deciding factor on total carried weight.

If you plan to wear your carrier for extended use, a lighter plate is a must.

Whether you choose a plate carrier or a tactical vest, a model equipped with MOLLE system is recommended. This allows you to keep all necessary gear and equipment right where you need it. You will have the option of attaching pouches, ammunition, water, and holsters to your vest.

5 Best Tactical Vests and Plate Carriers

Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set Multicam CS

This tactical vest has ample slots and compartments for gear and equipment storage. With built in magazine pouches you won’t have to add extra ammo pouches which frees up space for other gear or just keep the total weight down. One of the best features on this model is the hydration bladder sleeve on the back of the vest. It’s a simple design that adds little weight.

Pros

       Modular Chest Set

       Padded Shoulder Straps

       MOLLE System

       Adjustable waste strap

       Durable construction

Cons

       Does not come in smallest sizes

       No rear protective plate slots

Rothco Molle Modular Tactical Vest

MOLLE system equipped tactical vest in a light weight package. The MOLLE webbing covers most of this vest allowing you to add all essential gear. Designed with two quick release buckles which can come in incredible handy. I like the recoil pad on the shoulder for when shooting as it makes a great stable grip for the butt of your gun.

Pros

       Durable and light polyester construction

       Comfortable while not sacrificing functionality

       MOLLE system webbing

Cons

       No plate slots

Condor Outdoor Modular Chest Set

This is a tactical vest and does not have plate slots. This vest is equipped with magazine pouches and is fully adjustable. With MOLLE webbing you can lash all your most important gear. I like the addition of the two internal mesh pockets. For the money this is an excellent tactical vest.

Pros

       Six magazine pouches

       Two internal mesh pockets

       Chest plate is adjustable and removeable

       Durable construction

Cons

       No plate slots

Gloryfire Tactical Modular Assault Vest

This is an excellent tactical vest that comes with fully adjustable shoulder straps and hook and loop webbing. Perfect for attaching needed equipment while maintaining a low overall weight load. The interior lining is padded adding to the comfort when fully loaded. This vest does not have body armor features and is best suited for shooting, military training, hunting, and even paintball.

Pros

       Lightweight

       Durable construction

       Hook and loop webbing system

       Comfortable

Cons

       No plate slots

       Not as many items can be attached as other models on the list

ArcEnCiel Tactical Molle Vest

This model has three magazine pouches, a radio pouch, map slot, a flashlight slot, and medic andd communication pouches. The MOLLE webbing allows for additional items to be attached outside of the pouches. This is an excellent tactical vest for those looking to carry a lot of gear with them.

Pros

       Military grade nylon construction

       MOLLE system

       Many gear pouches

       Excellent suspension belt

Cons

       Not suitable for people over 250 lbs

       Mag pouches too small for M4 magazines

Most people will be happy with any of the tactical vests on this list. When in the field you need a durable vest that can handle all your gear without unnecessary weight that will slow you down.

 

My overall favorite is  the Condor Modular Chest Set. Due to it’s high quality construction and MOLLE system, this tactical vest is suitable for most situations. It will stand up to use and it isn’t too heavy to wear me out when I’m using it for extended hours.

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