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What is plate carrier?


Let’s begin with a little history. The trend of plate carriers was started by US Special Forces Operatives when their oppus operandi changed significantly. Operations behind enemy lines, which lasted several days, turned into fast and precise raids. Combat against the enemy moved mainly to urban areas and small arms fire became the main danger. Through this reshuffling and change in priorities, special forces soldiers needed lightweight ballistic protection mainly focused in bullet protection, with a cut that provided the greatest possible mobility, ergonomics and a low profile. Thus began the trend for low cut helmets and plate carriers. It might have seemed that modern armed conflicts, with similarly trained and equipped combatants from the regular armed forces on both sides, would make plate carriers a thing of the past. However, their simple design and modularity have made them experience a second youth.

PRIMAL GEAR Plate Carrier Trias Tactical Vest

How to set up a plate carrier?

Currently, it is hard to count the manufacturers of plate carrier vests on the market, the designs of vests themselves are even more numerous. However, all PC’s regardless of manufacturer or cut share basic elements:

  • Plate bagscovers for ballistic plates placed on the front and back of the vest. The most common cut of plate bags is in sizes corresponding to SAPI plates, but every country is customary. Depending on the country of origin of the vest and the ballistic plates used by a given armed or law enforcement force, plate bags are sewn under such plates. For example, vests from manufacturers in Belarus and the Russian Federation are designed Granit or Fort plates. There are also models that can be adapted under different sizes of plates.

PROTIP: The easiest way to recognize the size of a vest is by the number of PALS straps on the plate bag in the case of 6 cells (3 magazines) width we are dealing with M size vests, in the case of 8 cells (4 magazines) they are L size vests.

Plate bags are divided into front and rear. Most often they are covered with a molle interface that allows you to attach additional pouches, but there are also smooth ones in Slick vests. The front plate bag may have a flap under which the sides of the vest go in, but there are also models in which the flap is removed to attach a panel with pouches or a buckle up bandolier. Due to the type of fasteners of the sides (Fastex/ ROC), some models do not have a flap.

  • Cummer bunds - the sides of vests, here manufacturers most often let their imagination run wild. Cummer bunds, depending on the type of vest, can be made in the form of small plate bags that hold soft ballistic inserts or small plates, as well as straps or skeleton cummer bunds, which are used solely for attaching additional pouches. There are also many types of side fasteners, fastex buckles, zippers, ROC and their copies, or the simplest ones are a Velcro straps.
  • Shoulder straps - two straps that connect the front and back plate bags together on the wearer's shoulders, similar to cummer bunds, here every manufacturer is its own design. There are skeleton straps, low-profile straps made of textile webbing, with or without padding, with different release systems.

These are the standard elements of which every PC vest consists, but the latest fashion cry at the moment are vests with a built-in "corset". The corset consists of two rigid elements that wrap around the user's back and sides. Thus, facilitating breathing and better distributing the weight of ballistic elements and carried equipment. Corset vests include AVS, CPC by Crye Precision or A-20 Titan by Ars Arma.

Plate Carrier tactical waistcoat 8944-1 GFC Tactical

Additional modules

The modern battlefield (including the bb one), requires those taking part in it to adapt their equipment to its conditions and the functions performed in it. PC vests have proven to be very suitable for modifications, which is why they have gained so much popularity as a result of which they have pushed standard bulletproof vests out from the market. With a wide range of additional protective or cargomodules, PCs can be customized for any function or style of play/fighting.

Quick attach cargo modules  - there are often fastex buckles or places on the front plate bag.

PROTIP: If they are not provided by the manufacturer, they can be made from two pieces of 22mm webbing, two adjusters and a pair of fastex-type buckles.

Thus, a buckle up panel can be fastened to the vest. This is a very convenient and versatile solution for drivers, by unfastening a pair of buckles you can remove the extra holds resting on the steering wheel, and in the case of bailing out it is just as easy to put them back on. This is also very useful, for carbine users with different types of magazines. On a whim, one is a few moments away from converting from pouches for a DMR to an assault carbine, etc.

Not only do the additional cargo modules mount on the front plate bags, there are also many models of zip-on backpacks mounted on the rear plate bags.

Comfort and shock-absorbing pads - panels made of smooth, soft material attached inside plate bags. In the case of combat vests, they are used for steel ballistic plates. Their main task is to dissipate the energy of the bullet's impact and to offset as much as possible the indentation made in the plate to protect the internal organs and bones of the winner of the lead lottery. Their additional feature, as the name suggests, is also to facilitate the flow of air between the plates and the user's body, and protects the plate bags and the ballistic components inside them from sweating.

Additional ballistic modules - covers designed for soft ballistic protection elements, sometimes even ballistic plates to protect what the rest of the vest is not able to. You can increase the protective properties of a PC vest by attaching a collar, groin protection, shoulder pads and even internal inserts with soft ballistic protection elements. All of these are most often attached with Velcro, to standard parts of the vest, so their installation and removal is quick and child's play. Just as with the quick attach cargo modules, when the driver's main protection is the cabin, he can easily remove the additional modules, and in the event of a change of task, he can quickly readjust.

Tactical Vest Laser Plate Carrier Lemod

Plate carrier tactical vest – is it worth it?

Plate carriers are a very flexible and ergonomic platform that is a lot of fun, not only because of their convenience and ability to be almost perfectly customized for you, but also by their almost infinite possibilities for modification. They're like lego blocks for gear divas. As an fan of different styles of play and testing innovations from the world of military gear, I had a lot of fun with additional modules, changing configurations and testing different configurations. In a world of so many manufacturers, cuts and add-ons, you're sure to find something for you!

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