The difference between a vest and a plate carrier is the plates. A vest doesn’t have the same level of ballistic protection which is what I was looking for in this particular application. Other than that, it’s all pretty much the same features as far as MOLLE attachment points for pouches/pockets and other accessories.
I’m going, to be honest though; There are more pros than cons with both vest types. I’ve worn my share of both products through many deployments, SWAT callouts, and range training days. It really just depends on what you’re using your equipment for and how long you plan on keeping it around. Let me explain…
View Related Post: Chest rigs vs Plate Carreirs
So let’s say you picked up one of these bad boys brand new from a store off the shelf. You put it on, grabbed your favorite rifle or pistol, and headed out to the range for some practice. It feels great! Pouches are real easy to get too and with the MOLLE webbing, you can strap pretty much anything onto it that you need ( Flashlight, medical kit, etc) and very quickly!
The only thing is… If something happens where you have to deploy that gear in a life or death situation – do you think all those MOLLE loops will still be attached if you had to grab your battle belt? Probably not. Plates will help minimize this problem but plates aren’t bulletproof either so they can still fail to expose vital organs and more internal damage than necessary. Although I’m not trying to discourage anyone from wearing a plate carrier. Sometimes, it’s the best option out there considering you can achieve a high level of protection while having all the features that come with both vests and plates separately. I’m just saying consider your situation before you make such an investment so if that means renting one at your local gun range or off someone on craigslist — do it!
Do you generally hit the range more often than agencies are required to for qualifications? Do you conceal carry most days? If either of these questions apply to you then I wouldn’t suggest dropping $300+ dollars on a plate carrier when there are less expensive options available that provide more than adequate protection but still have plenty of MOLLE real estate to mount the accessories you need.
From my experience, the most important things to consider when evaluating a plate carrier is the weight and how much room you have to move around while wearing it. Since I’m shooting for maximum mobility all I can say about weight vs protection is that there’s going to come to a point where it’s not worth sacrificing your comfort just so you can save some $$$ – no matter what shape/size you are ( We all know someone who fits into this category ).
If I had more time I’d love to talk about how different body types affect survivability rates in combat but unfortunately; This post is already getting long-winded… Maybe next time J There are other features though such as zippers and materials used that many people look over but in the end, are really just preference. Yes, No, and Maybe…
View Related Post: Bulletproof vests vs Plate carriers
To better explain my point about price vs protection/mobility: One of the best things I’ve seen come out of this industry is companies cutting out excess material to help keep costs down ( example: plate carriers ). Now with that being said, if you’re going to spend $100+ dollars on a vest then you’d want the highest level of protection possible for your dollar. You certainly get what you pay for right? Not necessarily …
At one point or another while doing research to find the right products for our gear room I had read about how “Bulletproof” vests are not actually bulletproof and it’s good to understand how they work to get the most out of them. If you’re carrying around a level IV vest in your trunk on the way to bingo and then forget to put it on before an active shooter walks into the room.
Robert M. Bennett is an author and military enthusiast with a passion for tactical gear and equipment. He has extensive experience in the field of military and law enforcement and has worked closely with soldiers and law enforcement officers to design and develop equipment that meets their specific needs.
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