If you’re not familiar with plate carriers and tactical vests, then it’s easy to get them confused. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but that’s not correct. They’re very similar, but there are some small differences.
Tactical vests are not just for the SWAT team anymore. The military has used tactical vests for a while now. Law enforcement agencies sometimes use tactical vests for special duty. The military uses them more on scouting missions where they need to be light and fast. The tactical vest zips down the front, so it’s easy to take on and off. But it doesn’t protect as well as other vest solutions.
These vests usually have pouches or MOLLE all over to carry most of the tools and weapons that officers or soldiers need. Some of those items include tasers, knives, first aid pouches, flashlights, survival supplies, rifle magazines, and more.
Flexible tactical vests come in different materials and configurations, and some are just for paintball players. Some people wear a front pouch that allows them to cross draw out of their holster. All the pouches and compartments tie onto the vest tightly, so there’s no need to worry about them falling off. So, your equipment is secure even in fast or dangerous situations. Some people argue that there are no vests as safe as a plate carrier.
TACTICAL PLATE CARRIER
Tactical plate carriers include ballistic panels, and you can even switch some out with ceramic plates for active shooter situations. They can be quite heavy even before you add all your equipment to them. What’s nice about these plate carriers is they take some of the load off your gun belt, distributing the weight across your body more.
Military service members wear these carriers in combat, and many law enforcement agencies issue them to every police officer on the street. They’re often issued with traditional bulletproof vest carriers so you can switch your ballistic panels out depending on the uniform you’re wearing or the duties you’re performing. Some agencies issue separate plate carriers for active shooter situations so that the ceramic plates are always loaded and all you need to do is put the carrier on.
There are plenty of pouches and MOLLE spaces to add necessary equipment to, such as a taser, first aid kit, rifle magazines, knives, and more. You need to make sure you add your equipment in spaces that won’t affect your ability to draw your weapon or use a rifle. It’s also critical to consider snag hazards when adding items. They can be bulky and heavy, but that’s a small price to pay when it can save your life.
THE PRIMARY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PLATE CARRIERS AND TACTICAL VESTS
There are a couple of differences between tactical vests and plate carriers that stand out. The first is that it’s easier to put on and take off a tactical vest with zippers. So, they’re great to throw on when you’re in a hurry. Many plate carriers have an adjustable cummerbund and straps for a more secure fit. But the different ways that make it more secure also make it more difficult to take on and off compared to a tactical vest with a zipper. Here are some other differences.
This difference is one of the primary ones. The plate carrier is much heavier than a lightweight tactical vest with a zipper. That also means that the plate carrier offers more protection because of the ballistic panels and protective material. The plate carrier will stop a bullet, but it’s not as breathable as a lighter tactical vest.
Weight is critical when you factor in what you’ll be doing while wearing it. You may find yourself in a foot pursuit, or combat situation with a lot of running involved, and a heavy plate carrier will hold you down. It can also be painful to wear.
Heat is another factor to consider. In the summer, you’ll sweat a lot even when you’re not running if you wear a plate carrier. The tactical vest is lighter, so you won’t sweat as much. The nice thing about plate carriers is that many come with hydration bladders or carriers because the manufacturers designed them for combat and law enforcement situations.
For most people, the decision is made for them by the military or law enforcement agency that you work for. Both options have their pros and cons. However, plate carriers are better at stopping bullets, and this is critical when choosing between a plate carrier or a tactical vest. Now you have more information so you can understand the difference between a tactical vest and a plate carrier.