Whether you’re a survivalist, a prepper, a security or law enforcement officer, or a member of the military, the right plate carrier can save your life in a dangerous situation.
Best Plate Carriers
1. Crye Precision AVS
The Crye Precision Adaptive Vest System (AVS) is more than a plate carrier: it is a modular, mission-configurable, and customizable load-bearing equipment system, employing Crye’s proprietary QuickMount attachment system.
The complete AVS system comprises a harness, a set of trauma plate pouches, a 1000 Cordura backpack, a detachable chest rig, padded yokes and shoulder covers, a low-profile belt, optional side armor carriers, various cummerbunds, and magazine pouches.
Optional MOLLE extensions are also available, enabling you to add extra, MOLLE-compatible accessories to your kit.
The base configuration uses only the harness and the standard plate pouch set, allowing the user to add various AVS kit elements, Velcro patches, and ID tags as necessary.
If you want to configure the Crye AVS as a minimalist plate carrier system, you can combine the standard plate pouch set with the 2-band skeletal cummerbund.
This simple setup is easy to put on and remove while remaining stable and snug against your body under all conditions.
For attaching magazines to the Crye AVS, three options are available:
- AVS detachable flap M4 supports three 30-round AR-15 or M16 magazines
- AVS detachable flap 7.62 supports three 20-round magazines for most 7.62x51mm or .308 platforms
- AVS detachable flap MOLLE provides three rows of MOLLE webbing to install the MOLLE-compatible magazine carriers (or other accessories) of your choice.
The standard plate pouch set is available in four sizes (XS, S, M, L) and four colors (Multicam, black, coyote, ranger green). They feature two internal armor pouches, one for hard armor plates and one for soft armor panels, ideal for configuring the desired weight and protection level.
Optional plate pouch sets for MBAV ballistic inserts or swimmer cut plates are also available.
Two side armor pouch sizes are available: a 6×6 set and a 6×9 set, compatible with most side armor plates on the market, ideal for augmenting a plate carrier configuration with side protection.
2. Ferro Concepts FCPC
The Ferro Concepts Plate Carrier (FCPC) system is a fully customizable tactical plate carrier system. The current model, the FCPC V5, is the culmination of four previous iterations and over a decade’s worth of research and development.
The core of the FCPC is the base plate carrier, constructed of 500D Cordura laminate and designed for use and abuse in harsh environments. The FCPC system uses Tweave Durastretch material, capable of stretching around standard-cut and swimmer-cut plates. This system conveniently eliminates the need for different plate pouches.
Two sizes are available:
- Medium, which fits medium SAPI, ESAPI, and swimmer-cut plates, up to a real dimensional maximum of 10”x12.25”x1”.
- Large, which fits large SAPI, ESAPI, and swimmer-cut plates, up to a real dimensional maximum of 10.5”x13.5”x1”.
The FCPC V5 is sold as a base system, consisting of a front and rear plate bag with MOLLE webbing and Velcro panels.
The FCPC is fully compatible with the Ferro Concepts ADAPT System accessories, sold separately and not available as a complete kit; the manufacturer recommends purchasing the elements you need.
ADAPT System accessories include cummerbunds, back panel pouches, back panel water ladders, front flaps, MOLLE adapters, and magazine carriers of various sizes.
The ADAPT Turnover magazine carriers are available in single, double, and triple configurations for carrying your 30-round or 40-round AR-15 / M-16 magazines, double or triple 7.62 20-round magazines, or double pistol magazines.
Various utility and accessory pouches, such as the Dangler or the MOLLE Admin Panel, can also be attached to your Ferro Concepts Plate Carrier, allowing you to carry miscellaneous items and documents without using another pocket or a magazine carrier.
For side protection, you can also add 3AC side plate pockets to your FCPC. These pockets are compatible with 6×6 armor panels.
Law enforcement, military, and government customers can purchase a pre-configured set, the FCPC Assault Solution, which includes the FCPC base, a 3” assault cummerbund, side plate pockets, a KTAR front flap, and padded strap socks.
If desired, civilian customers may purchase these elements individually to build the same kit.
3. FirstSpear Strandhogg MBAV
The FirstSpear Strandhogg MBAV is a lightweight, comfortable plate carrier system designed for use with MBAV cut armor plates. This plate carrier is the flagship model in FirstSpear’s lineup, as well as their best-seller.
The Strandhogg comes standard with the Overlap Cummerbund, capable of accepting soft armor plates and providing additional protection options to the wearer.
Depending on the mission, you can use the Overlap with soft panels and no hard plates for reduced weight and protection against pistols and shotguns, or combine hard plates with soft panels for enhanced protection against most firearm threats.
The laser-cut 6/12 platform and lightweight design and the patented Tubes Rapid-Release buckle system make this plate carrier easy to put on and remove.
It is one of the most comfortable plate carriers on the market, featuring additional padding, large shoulder straps, and ventilation channels on the front and rear plate bags.
The FirstSpear Ragnar accessory pouch family is fully compatible with the Strandhogg MBAV, allowing you to carry magazines for the firearm platforms of your choice plus all of the gear and equipment you need. Ragnar pouches include the following:
- Mini admin pouches for miscellaneous gear
- Patrol radio pouches
- Soft universal handgun holsters (includes a single extra pouch, ideal for a spare magazine or a knife)
- AR-15 / M16 magazine carriers, available in single, double, and triple configurations
- 7.62x51mm / .308 magazine carriers, available in single and double configurations
- Double pistol magazine carriers
- Med pouches for your first aid kits, IFAKs, and other medical gear
The Strandhogg MBAV is 100% US-made and Berry-compliant (all materials are US sourced).
4. LBT Inc. 6094 Slick Plate Carrier
The LBT Inc. 6094 Slick Plate Carrier is the lightweight version of the flagship 6094 Modular Plate Carrier, offering the same modularity and customizability in a slimmer, minimalist package.
The Slick Plate Carrier employs 500D Cordura and features mil-spec stitching with durable Type E thread, reinforced with bar-tacked stress points.
The front and back panels are joined together with two wide shoulder straps and an elastic cummerbund. Three sizes are available: Medium, Large, and Extra Large.
The Slick Plater Carrier’s low-profile design features no added padding or comfort elements, making it sufficiently slim for use as a concealable vest. Despite that, it is relatively comfortable and easy to put on and remove.
Paired with Level III+ or Level IV armor plates, this plate carrier allows you to benefit from rifle threat protection, concealable under a vest or a jacket.
This plate carrier accepts SAPI-cut plates, which may be backed with an additional soft armor insert, allowing you to adapt to the current situation.
The front plate pouch features a 5”x6” admin panel with velcro real estate and a utility pocket, about 5” deep, intended for miscellaneous equipment such as chemlights, a GPS, a mobile phone, documents, and other small objects.
The Slick also features seven retention loops dotted around the top end of the front pouch. Two of these loops are intended for use with the LBT Quick Release Assault Panel but can also fulfill other purposes, such as securing wires, drinking tubes for a rear water bladder, or radio antennae.
The rear plate pouch possesses three rows and six columns of MOLLE-compatible PALS webbing on the top half and one row on the bottom half.
The cummerbund is a 5” wide elastic band secured to the front and back panels using velcro, adaptable to various clothing and body shapes.
5. Spiritus Systems LV-119 Plate Carrier
The Spiritus Systems LV-119 Plate Carrier comprises a set of elements intended to be separately purchased and assembled by the customer, making it a scalable and adaptable system.
The minimum elements required to wear and use the LV-119 Plate Carrier system are the front plate bag, the rear plate bag, and the cumberbund.
All Spiritus Systems plate bags are compatible with SAPI-cut plates. They may fit plates with a higher thickness level but will not accept plates using other cuts or shapes.
The plate bags are available in one of two configurations: OVERT or COVERT.
The OVERT set is a standard plate carrier setup, configurable for various missions and purposes. It features a 3-row, 4-column MOLLE-compatible webbing field with Velcro for all of your identification tags and patches.
The COVERT set is the low-profile version, featuring a 3”x5” velcro patch, a “Map Stasher” admin pouch, and hidden webbing loops. Should the situation require it, the COVERT plate bags are concealable, granting rifle threat protection to the wearer when paired with adequate armor plates.
OVERT and COVERT plate bags are fully interchangeable, further increasing this plate carrier’s modularity and adaptability. If desired, you can install an OVERT front plate bag with a COVERT rear plate bag and vice-versa.
Spiritus Systems offers multiple cumberbund options to attach your plate bags, including a low-profile Velcro single-strap, 3-band MOLLE-compatible models with Tubes or Velcro attachment points, or wide-band elastic Velcro.
You can augment the LV-119 with a set of side armor bags compatible with 6”x6” hard armor plates. With the addition of side armor bag caps, the LV-119 becomes compatible with soft side armor panels, ranging from 5”x7” to 5”x14” in size.
Additional accessories include a 5.56x45mm triple magazine placard, shoulder covers, bungee retention kits, and back panel flaps for carrying miscellaneous items.
Purposes of a Plate Carrier
Plate carriers fulfill two duties: protecting your life and carrying the gear you want accessible at all times for combat, survival, or home protection.
The primary purpose of a plate carrier is to serve as protective equipment: specifically, body armor.
Certain plate carrier models can function as standalone body armor, using internal ballistic fiber panels such as Kevlar. However, they only protect against most handgun and shotgun threats, leaving the wearer vulnerable to high-velocity rifle bullets.
A plate carrier’s primary purpose is to accept sets of hard armor plates, differentiating them from soft armor, usually made of ballistic fiber. These plates are typically made of steel, titanium, or ballistic ceramic in various thicknesses, providing the wearer protection against rifle threats.
The other main reason to wear a plate carrier is the various accessory pouches and pockets attached to the front and sides are useful for carrying your gear. Just like tactical vests, plate carriers are an excellent way to carry your magazines and other gear, such as a flashlight, a radio, a first aid kit, and a sidearm. All of the equipment you load in the pockets is within immediate reach, making them very convenient to have.
Most plate carriers are customizable, letting you attach and remove modular elements such as pouches, bags, belts, straps, holsters, and more, allowing you to adapt your carrier to the mission or intended purpose.
The Last Word
Whether you need a plate carrier for security work, duty, or personal protection, remember that plate carrier sizes are not the same as shirt sizes. Choose a plate carrier that fits the armor plates you intend to use, matching their size and cut. Medium-size plates are designed strictly for medium-size plate carriers, and so on.
Avoid purchasing plates and plate carriers that are too large for your body. Even if the large armor and carrier provide you with extra nominal coverage, they are also heavier and may prevent you from getting into a comfortable shooting stance. Always choose plates and carriers that fit your body and cover your vitals (heart, lungs, thoracic cage).