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Multicam Plate Carrier holding Body Armor Plates.

Body Armor
Plate Carriers

Concealable Plate Carrier

Minuteman Plate Carrier

Predator Armor Plate Carriers

Why Plate Carriers are essential to your Body Armor System

Plate Carriers are often overlooked by many that are new to the world of body armor and tactical preparation. A quality plate carrier is quite literally the glue that holds the rest of your armor system together; if it fails, everything else fails too. 

The main function of a Plate Carrier is to carry your armor plates, keep them secured to your body, and always in place to protect your vitals. While there is a huge market of plate carriers to choose from, it’s important to vet out the good from the bad and choose a carrier that will hold up to rigorous use in training, and more importantly, when your life may depend on it.

Plate Carriers will also be instrumental in carrying ancillary gear & accessories in a manner that they are securely stowed and easily accessible, while maintaining a high level of mobility. 

Plate Carriers vs Bulletproof Vests

People will often use the term “bulletproof vest” interchangeably with Plate Carrier; although, there are notable differences in functionality & purpose between the two.


A Bulletproof Vest is usually an armor system in and of itself, and is made of kevlar or similar soft armor material. However, bulletproof vests are only “bulletproof” to a certain threat level; most vests are typically rated to Level IIIA stopping capabilities & will stop most common handgun calibers. One of the main features of this type of body armor is that it can be concealed (AKA: Slick Carriers). 




Tactical Plate Carriers, on the other hand, require hard armor inserts and will hold ceramic plates, composite (UHMWPE) plates, and steel body armor. The level of protection depends on the armor plate being inserted in the plate carrier, but most common ratings consist of Level III, Level III+, and Level IV plates (See Body Armor Ratings).

Plate Carrier Types​

There are four categories of plate carrier styles, and which one you choose should depend on your circumstances, planning, and your most probable threat types. The four categories are: 


Heavy Armor Plate Carriers

This type of plate carrier is most common for military style applications that will require 30-40+ lbs of gear and equipment in addition to the carrier. The straps, cumberbund, and configuration are designed with long, multi-day use in mind. The attachment & modularity of Heavy Armor Systems are typically pretty high as intended use will require adequate supply of magazines, radio comms, IFAK medical, lights, hydration, etc. 


Moderate Armor Plate Carriers

This type of plate carrier is a lot more popular for law enforcement & the prepared civilian market as it is configured for rugged use while keeping a little smaller profile than the Heavy Armor System would offer. Moderate Armor Systems will still be able to attach & stow additional gear attachments in the 20-30 lbs range. 


Minimalist Plate Carriers 

This type of plate carrier is for stowing the bare minimum of gear attachments (magazines, IFAK medical, & light accessory loadouts) to be ready at a moment's notice. Ideal for civilians looking to have an armor system on the go in their car or truck, for home defense, or something that is rapidly accessible for civil unrest scenarios. 

Often times minimalist plate carriers will be run "slick". When you have a slick plate carrier this means that you are not carrying attachments on the carrier. This allows the plate carrier to have a much slimmer profile and be much more concealable when needed. A slick plate carrier also allows you to have less weight and increase mobility and comfort.


Concealable Plate Carriers

Commonly referred to as Bulletproof Vests, this type of armor system is for concealability, maneuverability, and protection from smaller caliber weapons, such as most handgun calibers. Concealable Carriers will deploy soft armor plates that help add to the mobility and comfort while wearing. The trade-off is the Concealable Plate Carrier doesn’t carry any gear or attachments (or does os minimally) and will fall short on stopping capability for higher caliber weapons. 


Chest Rig (Not an Armor System)

Chest Rigs are another piece of equipment that can get confused with Plate Carriers. A chest rig allows the operator to carry gear and accessories in its pouches. The chest rig usually has a placard or preset pouches, or some are modular and allow the user to piece together their kit. In short, chest rigs provide the external pouches and items that a plate carrier allows without carrying body armor. This makes a chest rig much smaller and lighter than a plate carrier system.