Everybody must protect one’s life especially if the job is associated with danger and different threats. As a rule, people use body armor, hard or soft. Sometimes it is more suitable to wear a plate carrier. Let us see the difference between these types of vests, protection level, plate sizes and materials, functions, and other distinguishing features.
What is a Plate Carrier?
Plate carriers have much common with body armor vests, as the main purpose of both is to protect a person from bullets, shrapnel, and bladed weapons. At the same time, plate carriers are more about the military than the civilian. As a rule, they are more cumbersome and not suitable to wear underneath.
A plate carrier consists of three main parts: front and back panels, shoulder straps, and the cummerbund. Except for protection, they are designed for carrying magazines of rounds, GPS/radio system, medical kit, and all a person needs to be alive in the field.
The main part of a vest is the armor plate (panel) that it carries. The ballistic panels used in plate carriers can be made of:
- Metal alloys;
- Hybrid material.
Steel is the heaviest material used in armor production. Being the cheapest steel plates are available at most stores and many people buy them. They continue to remain the strongest panels that give a high level of protection.
Modern ceramic plates give the same protection level as the steel ones (up to level IV) being lightweight at the same time (up to 8 lbs per plate). On the other hand, they require gentle use and care and do not like rough handling, e.g. being dropped on the floor or another hard surface, being hit the corner, etc. The cost of ceramic plates has decreased which makes them be an excellent choice.
Polyethylene panels even lighter the ceramic ones but they do not give the same level of protection (just level III). Additional materials like laminate combination and resin reinforce hybrid models making them a good choice to consider.
The standard plate size is 10″ by 12″. We can call them «medium» as they are appropriate for most males. Females usually choose plates sized 8″ by 10″. Here is a full list of all available panel sizes:
- 8″ by 10″
- 8.75″ by 11.75″
- 10″ by 12″
- 9.5″ by 12.5″
- 10.25″ by 13.25″
- 11″ by 14″
Here are some tips to make the measurement correct:
- Width – nipple to nipple.
- Length – sitting down relaxed, top of the belly button to top of the breastbone.
It is very important to buy the plate of the appropriate size. It seems that the bigger is the best but it is not the right point of view. The plate that does not fit well will hit the belt and get pushed up into the throat when you sit down. It can interfere with holding a gun and restrict movements.
The back plate can be one size bigger for more coverage and to counterbalance all the gear weighing down the front of the tactical vest carrier.
The level of protection depends on the plate material. You should assess the threats you perceive in the future. All materials including soft ones guarantee level III protection (from handgun rounds). For stopping rifle rounds, it is necessary to find plates and its carrier marked as level IV in NIJ classification for sale.
Form and function
Military plate carriers as well as civilian ones are available in different forms and colors. View the catalog to choose what you want.
Speaking about vest’s functions it is necessary to pay attention to such features as its weight and comfort for the user. Clear that heavy army plate carrier especially overloaded with magazines and other supplies make the user moving slowly. However, all activities where it is necessary to wear a vest require quickness as speed is vital.
Besides heavy equipment demands the user’s good form. Be ready to run overloaded or choose a lightweight ballistic carrier. The last one does not restrict movements and does not make the user slowing down – clear advantages in different situations.
All vests known as plate carries consist of synthetic fiber and are not good in heat dissipation, especially when it is sunny. Pay attention to whether the vest has the a ventilation system.
For many people, the invisibility of body armor worn underneath is important. Having noticed the vest attacker can shoot in areas where a person is not protected, e.g. legs. Get the plate carrier that you can wear unnoticed if it is needed.
Today you can find plate carries of different types and forms. Choosing the vest pay attention to the material it is manufactured from. Do not forget that plate carrier should fit you well – no larger nor smaller. Choose protective panels according to your needs and style of work and life. Do not try to save money. Buy the best. It concerns your security and life.