Plate carrier vs Interceptor Body Armor – This topic has been discussed to death, so I am going to try this a different way. I’ll just leave this in 1st person, a “conversation” between me and you.
Plate carrier and IBA
Part 1 – The Basics
The primary difference between a plate carrier and an Interceptor (tactical vest) is the way they distribute the load. With body armor, most of the weight is on the shoulders. This is because the plates are resting on your chest; it would be difficult to rest them any lower without being very uncomfortable or physically impossible (depending on how big you are). With a plate carrier, your body also has to support the weight of the plates, but in addition, you have to distribute the weight between your shoulders and upper back. This is why even lightweight plate carriers are so heavy (because they redistribute load from just your front shoulders to all over). What this means for you
The primary benefit of a plate carrier is that it distributes load evenly over the entire upper torso. This aids comfort for extended carry and reduces fatigue. The Interceptor does this less effective than most plate carriers; when worn without plates, it basically feels like wearing any other heavy vest. As far as load distribution goes, there’s really no contest; a good PC will always win against an Interceptor or other soft armor.
If you are just looking for a vest to wear in the range, or even if you want something light that you can throw on over your t-shirt when heading out of town or walking around in the city when traveling, an Interceptor may be exactly what you’re looking for. Keep in mind though that they aren’t really designed to carry weight (like so many people do with plate carriers), and because of that their durability is subpar.
Plate carrier vs. soft armor – This one’s easy; go with a plate carrier every time (if it’s not too heavy). Soft armor has next to no protection from sharp objects compared to steel plates. It also doesn’t protect against fragments as well as real kevlar armor. It may be fine for some, but you shouldn’t depend on it without a backup plate carrier (and good medical insurance).
Part 2 – Cost and Accessories
From what I’ve seen, there’s no contest in terms of cost; just buy a PC if you’re looking to save money. The Interceptor will run you $150-160 all day long, whereas even the most expensive PCs are under $200. That being said, equipment is only part of the equation; as we all know from experience (even with cheap gear), quality matters. You could get a cheaper PC that holds up well or you can pay more so that your gear will last longer and work better. Same with soft armor vests; there’s some good stuff out there that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Just look around before you buy, so you get the most bang for your buck.
Part 3 – Protection
Are soft armor vests useful in a fight? Some people say yes, others prefer to carry more protection (because they only need their armor once when it fails). The deciding factor should be how far you’re willing to go for comfort; if wearing heavyweight on your front shoulders is something you can deal with, then soft armor may work just fine. If not though (and I don’t blame anyone who is used to PCs), hard plates will always be the most protective option on the market.
As far as combat goes, we can look at the facts and see that real plates are superior in every way. I’d like to address something though; what about those tests you see of people stabbing through soft armor? The problem with these tests is obvious if you think about it – what body armor manufacturers (mainly soft) will do is sell their product based on how well it does against sharp-edged weapons. Why? Because we’re not talking about knives anymore, we’re talking about having a vest stop a blade. They know that no one’s going to carry around a knife for self-defense or combat purposes, but everyone needs protection from puncture wounds. If their vest can protect against stabs better than anyone else’s then they win big time! As far as I’m concerned though, I would rather be stabbed than shot (unless you’re talking about a rifle or shotgun), but for the sake of this article, I will focus on rifle rounds since that’s what most people are interested in.