Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Body armor saves the lives of countless soldiers, police officers, first responders, and citizens every day. Though most police officers use simple bulletproof vests, the military, and some special operations units use tactical plate carriers instead.
Generally, people who are new to firearms and armor, ask a lot of questions about tactical plate carriers, therefore, in this post, we are going to try to answer all of your burning questions, and also tell you where you can buy the best armor plates and plate carriers.
So, read on to learn more.
Table of contents
What is a plate carrier?
Body armor comes in different shapes and sizes, with different levels of protection. Bulletproof vests are quite common all over the world, however, they have soft armor inserts in them, which are usually made of Kevlar or other Aramid fibers. These bulletproof vests are usually used by local law enforcement, and only offer protection against pistol rounds.
So, when it comes to protection against rifle calibers, the military, special law enforcement units, and civilians need to use hard armor plates, made from materials like steel, ceramics of polyethylene. These hard ballistic panels have to be carried in plate carriers, which can be worn on a person’s chest to protect their vital organs from large rifle calibers.
How to set up a plate carrier?
Tactical plate carriers can be set up in a variety of different ways depending on your mission requirement. There are loads of different tactical gear that you can mount on your plate carrier, however, that usually depends on preferences and requirements.
Therefore, let’s talk about the basic things you need to do to achieve a proper plate carrier setup.
How to set up a plate carrier?
- Get the right size
First and foremost, you need to make sure that you get the right size. Unlike bulletproof vests, which are sized according to the size of the person, plate carriers are sized according to the body armor plate that they can carry.
- Place the plate carrier the right way on your body
Secondly, you need to make sure that your plate carrier is worn the right way, so that it covers all of your vital organs, without hindering your movement or combat capabilities. You should be able to move freely, use your weapons, and access all of your tactical gear without any problems or discomfort from your plate carrier.
- Choose the right kind of plates
Armor plates offer different levels of protection. A level III plate will offer ballistic protection from rifle calibers up to a 308 Winchester, whereas a level 1v plate will stop up to an armor-piercing 30.06. Furthermore, the number of plates also matters, you can either add two plates to your plate carrier, one in the front and one in the back or, you can also double up in the plates, for extra protection, at the cost of more weight of course.
Some people also use larger plates for the back of the plate carrier for extra protection, moreover, it also compensates for the weight of the tactical gear mounted on the front of the plate carrier. One of the easiest ways to get the best set up for your plate carrier is to buy an armor plate and plate carrier combo, like the ones offered by Ace Link armor. Their high-quality armor plates and plate carriers are specifically designed to work with each other and give you one of the most reliable and easy plate carrier setups in the market.
How should a plate carrier vest fit?
As far as the fit of plate carrier vests is concerned, there is a simple rule. It should be snug, but not too tight. You need your plate carrier vest to be tight enough that the plates don’t shift from their plate when you move around, whereas, if it is too tight, it can restrict your movement.
Ideally, when you take a deep breath, your plate carrier should just start to feel tight.
Where should plate carrier vests sit?
If you want your body armor plates to protect all of your vitals, you need to make sure that your tactical plate carrier is sitting at the right position on your body.
Ideally, your tactical plate carrier should sit about an inch below your collarbone, and be a couple of inches above your belly button. In terms of width, you should be able to almost touch the tips of the body armor plate if you push your shoulders inward. This will make sure that the plate is covering all of your vitals without decreasing your maneuverability.
You should also make sure that the plate does not get in the way of your weapons. when you shoulder your rifle, its stock should not hit the plate. The stock should clear the plate without any hindrance so that you get into a combat-ready position instantly when you need to. For your handgun, make sure that you can hold an isosceles stance without the plates stabbing into your shoulders and armpits.
What size plate carrier do I need?
Hard body armor plates and plate carriers are available in a variety of sizes from extra small to extra large. Since most plate carriers are sized according to the ballistic plates they carry, to find out the perfect plate carrier size, you need to know what plate is ideal for you.
Generally, extra small and small plates are ideal for women and men with small frames. The most commonly used sizes are medium and large, which are 10×12 inches and 11×14 inches in size respectively.
if you are looking for high quality plate carriers, Ace link armor offers the Quad Release Ultra tactical plate carrier, which is made from super durable 500D Nylon fabric and can be adjusted for chest sizes of 47 to 52 inches.
The carrier has front and back plate slots that can accept both soft body armor and hard body armor panels, whereas the side panels can accept soft armor plates of 10×6” in size. It features adjustable shoulder straps and a quick-release tab as well.
As far as the load-bearing system is concerned, the Quadrelease Ultra comes with MOLLE webbing on the front back and side, however, you can also get a Laser Cut version, which would allow you to mout all sorts of equipment like extra magazines, an admin pouch, med kits, communications equipment and many other similar items. It also has Velcro patches in the front and back for patches and all sorts of gear mounts.
The Quadrelease Ultra, along with all Ace Link armor tactical plate carriers is very comfortable to wear, it features mesh panels on the inside to dissipate perspiration and channel airflow as well, allowing you to wear your military plate carrier vests for extended periods of time, without getting tired. It also features padded shoulder straps, that help dissipate the weight of the plates without being uncomfortable.
All and all, the Quadrelease ultra is easily one of the best plate carriers in the market.
Can you wear tactical plate carriers in public?
The simple answer is yes, you can wear all kinds of body armor publicly in all states of the US, including plate carriers. However, the problem is that if you are wearing a plate carrier in public, you are probably going to get some unwanted attention.
To avoid this, you could opt for a minimalist plate carrier. These plate carriers have a low profile and are much easier to conceal under a jacket. Concealable plate carriers are also available in the market that can be legally worn under your shirt. However, it’s better to wear the plate carrier under a jacket for better concealment.