Body armor and Plate Carriers
Hello again, John V. here from Sparks Firearms with the much anticipated (maybe…) part 2 of Tactical VS Tacticool! Alright, this time we are going to cover plate carriers, body armor types, and the gear that people want to put on their kits. So one of the benefits of the FPS (First Person Shooter) game genre, not that there are many other than stress relief, is that you normally don’t have to deal with how to set up your gear. Well, in a real-world self-defense/combat scenario, you do in fact need to think about how you are going to set up your kit (gear).
For starters, we will cover different types of magazine pouches. There isn’t too large a selection as far as design goes, thankfully, but there are tons of manufacturers that make them. The type of pouches that I prefer are the ones that carry either one or two magazines. The type that carry two mags are stacked front to back, not side to side. I don’t particularly like the pouches that have three magazine pouches sewn together, simply because I like to set up mine in a way that makes more sense while I am actually using them. I have three different pouches set up, each holding up to two magazines, across the lower left side of my kit. Now, I chose this location because when reloading with my off hand (making sure to keep my firing hand on the weapon and maintaining positive control of the weapon) they are easily accessed. I tend to leave a space between each pouch to allow for a small amount of flexibility of the actual material. I found that if you put them too close together, sometimes it can be difficult to draw and retain the magazines, which can lead to some issues if you are trying to speed reload or conduct a ‘combat reload’. I do not carry any pistol magazine pouches on my body armor kit, just two my belt. I do this to help eliminate any excessive gear that takes up real estate on my vest and could possibly hinder economy of movement.
One of the more highly debated pouch types is the ones built for accessories. One of the only pouches that I may carry that doesn’t hold my magazines, is called a dump pouch. The dump pouch is essentially just a bag, made of the same material as the kit and the magazine pouches, that was designed to drop empty magazines into in order to retain the magazine during a firefight. When it’s not being used, it rolls up on itself and secures closed with some Velcro. I like having it, but again it’s not necessary. Aside from that, I carry a knife sheath that attaches to the MOLLE system (not sure if you want to count that as a pouch or not) in the upper left side, right around the shoulder strap, with the blade side pointing up. This makes it easy to draw the knife with either hand if and when you need it.
Finally we come to the types of carriers and armor that are available. The multitude of different plate carriers that are on the market can be a little daunting if you don’t know what you are looking for. There are kits out there that provide phenomenal amounts of protection and can carry up to four armor plates. The drawback to these types is that they severely limit movement of your arms at the shoulder. Another type is the simple and straight forward plate carrier. This is just what it sounds like; a vest that does nothing other than retain the armor while you wear it. These are great if you are kitting up as a reaction to an act of violence. If you are planning on going out and there is the possibility of getting shot at, I wouldn’t suggest this type of carrier either.
The type that I use is sort of a hybrid between the above two carriers. Specifically I use the Condor MOPC: Modular Operator Plate Carrier. When I wear this particular carrier, I only put two armor plates in, one in the front and one in the back. It’s still light weight enough to be as comfortable as you can get, but not to the point of sacrificing too much protection.
As for the armor that I use, I prefer to stick with the steel Level III plates. They are durable and can withstand several shots from your standard rifle calibers and a few more from pistol calibers. I am not fond of, or suggest, the Level IIIA soft armor inserts. A lot of people will get these so they don’t have to carry around the heavier steel plates. Even though they are made with a Kevlar weave, I am not overly fond of putting my life on the line with something that flexes like these soft armor inserts do. Yes, yes, I know; the armor has been tested and proven to be effective. I just prefer to have that nice plate of steel in between me and the bullet. Yes, the steel is a little more expensive as well, but ask yourself this: What is your life worth? Is it worth saving a few bucks?
Just like part one of the Tactical VS Tacticool post, you do what you think is best for you. That’s great! Be a free thinking American patriot and wear what it is you think will suite you and your family; because in the end, it’s all about your survival and the survival of those around you. Remember, train how you fight and you’ll fight how you train.
Prepare for the worst… and hope for the best,