Want to know about Plate Carriers?
Everything you wanted to know about a Plate Carrier but was afraid to ask! Our mission is to provide you with quality information required to buy plate carriers, body armor of various kinds, chest rigs and other related tactical gear. Please check our recent posts for the newest updates to this site and subscribe to our RSS Feeds! Also, feel free to share our site with your friends using the social media bar to the left if you find it useful!
What is a Plate Carrier?
A Plate Carrier is a type of load bearing vest used by military, police and other martial professionals to carry bullet proof SAPI armor plates and other kinds of body armor for personal protection. This kind of body armor offers protection from high powered rifle rounds to armor piercing rounds, depending on the type of plate used. Modern plate carriers and chest rigs are modifiable, thanks to a nylon PALS webbing that helps make up the MOLLE system of pouch and tactical gear attachments. Not only do plate carriers offer ballistic and blunt force trauma protection, but they put everything a soldier requires to do their job with in easy reach. Several branches of the US Military are working on their own specialized vests like the Eagle Industries MBAV for the US Army Rangers, or the Modular Body Armor Vest, and the Scalable Plate Carrier with the US Marines. There are many types of plate carrier models, chest rigs and other tactical gear out on the market. You can find modular additions for tactical vests with protective plates for the groin, shoulders and neck as well as the chest and sides. Many companies make variations of the same style of plate carrier, all with varying quality, durability and end users in mind. I’ve written up a short list of tactical gear manufacturers here and a guide of pitfals and things to look for when purchasing a plate carrier. As time allows, I will add to that list and begin fleshing out their product offerings so you can find everything in once concise location.
What is MOLLE on a Plate Carrier?
MOLLE Stands for Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment. The MOLLE system uses high strength nylon PALS webbing that gets stitched a plate carrier or other load carrying piece of equipment to allow the attachment of accessories and pouches that are made for this system. MOLLE helps bring more functionality to a plate carrier by offering a means to attach magazine, medical, grenade, radio and other pouches along with backpacks, and hydration bladders. Users can then take this assortment of pouches and mount them on a plate carrier in the most efficient means possible for their task at hand.
For instance, Most people working in an environment requiring heavy plate body armor installed in their plate carriers, would want easy access to ammo. Putting magazine pouches in an easy to reach location, usually on the lower front of the plate carrier, saves critical time and allows for the most efficient manner of reloading available. Someone working as a medic however, may want quicker access to medical supplies and may want to have the more treatment oriented pouches in an accessible location. PALS webbing can be on just about any outer surface making plate carriers highly customizable for job roles.
What’s PALS on a Plate Carrier?
PALS is yet another acronym for the Pouch Attachment Ladder System. It’s simply the horizontal nylon webbing stitched to a plate carrier and other MOLLE pouches and rucksacks that was mentioned above. PALS was initially invented by the US Army and has spread to other forces due to it’s easy of use and after market support. Attachment of MOLLE pouches occurs using a variety of fabric straps that get interwoven through the PALS webbing or older style ALICE attachment clips. Smaller items, such as tactical flashlights, buck knives, surgical scissors, and utensils can also be weaved into PALS webbing on your plate carrier or other tactical gear for easy access.
SAPI Plates or Armor Plates for Plate Carriers.
SAPI stands for Small Arms Protective Insert. These are ceramic armor plates that are made to withstand impacts from high powered rifles that can be inserted into the front back and side panels (if the tactical vest has a cummerbund capable of carrying armor plates) of a plate carrier. This adds a layer of protection to vital organs. These armor plates are made of boron carbide ceramic, or silicon carbide ceramic. Both are exceptionally strong, however the boron carbide armor plates are what the new ESAPI or Enhanced SAPI armor plates are being made out of. Most SAPI Plates are rated for Tier III body armor allowing it to take a hit from a 7.62 NATO round, while the ESAPI plates are rated for armor piercing rounds, like 30.06.
SAPI armor plates can weigh up to just over 7 lbs a piece, and are once again slipped in the internal pouches of the plate carrier.
You can learn more about various kinds of SAPI plates and other kinds of bullet proof and blunt force trauma resistant body armor for plate carriers here.