The modern world is full of dangerous conditions encircling us every day – shocking stories about another derailed psycho with firearms and street shooting are quite common in our news list as well as armed robberies, collateral victims, and accidental shooting.
We can pretend these hazards are non-existent, but one not-so-fine day it might hit any of us square in the chest (or back), and it’s better to be covered with a solid layer of something that could withstand and dissipate this destructive force. So if you are obsessed with protection and familiar with what is NIJ Level IIIa and Spectra, if you are a VIP that needs a ballistic plate carrier designed to fit perfectly under your business suit or a crossfit athlete that decided to spice up his workout routine with a military-style weight vest, you have come here just in time because now we will speak of the best bulletproof vests and armor plates available on the market.
Table of Contents
- TOP-10 Bulletproof Vests
- #1 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier
- #2 BulletSafe Bulletproof Vest
- #3 Condor Modular Operator Place Carrier (MOPC)
- #4 Tactical Assault Gear Plate Carrier
- #5 NcSTAR Vism Plate Carrier
- #6 BulletSafe Alpha Plate
- #7 Vism Discreet Plate Carrier Vest
- #8 BlackHawk Low Vis Plate Carrier
- #9 Shellback Tactical Banshee Rifle Plate Carrier
- #10 BulletSafe Bulletproof Ballistic Plate
TOP-10 Bulletproof Vests
#1 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier
5.11 Tactical is a well-known company from California with almost two decades of experience in designing and creating clothing and various tactical military and law-enforcement equipment like backpacks, gun holsters, tactical knives, gloves, and boots. Also 5.11 is famous among sportsmen for being the official provider of plate carriers for CrossFit Games. Keeping this in mind you can probably already assume the great versatility and comfort the TacTec Plate Carrier has to offer.
As a multidisciplinary athlete, first of all, I have been really delighted how it fits me during a HIIT and shadowboxing training, it fits you perfectly tight in all the right places, and plate weight is perfectly distributed thanks to well-made shoulder straps. Speaking of ballistic plates – it fits SAPI medium and large ones and has a reliable plate fixation system to make it stick in its place perfectly still, and when necessary the whole vest can be dropped using a quick-release system that can be activated with one hand.
There are also plenty of MOLLEs available useful for carrying a good count of magazines and other stuff you want to carry. Made of 500D Nylon and covered with a water-resistant coating, TacTec carrier vest is available in 7 different colors – from black to sandstone and all camo variations.
#2 BulletSafe Bulletproof Vest
Bulletsafe (the name speaks for itself) was founded in the USA with an idea to create affordable and yet quality bulletproof vests for everyone who needs some extra protection due to their dangerous jobs. According to such policy BulletSafe Bulletproof Vest price is set to generous 299$ with Level IIIa ballistic defense straight from the box. This vest can withstand calibers up to .357 Sig and 44.
Magnum, and all lesser accordingly. It means that this protection surpasses all hits that can be delivered with all common pistols and SMGs AND (this is important because not all vests offer you protection from stabbing and piercing) all variety of melee weapons. But if this is still not enough and there is a real warzone around you, additional ballistic defense plates can be placed inside special pockets on the front and the rear sides of the vest improving its ballistics protection to formidable Level IV.
I tried this vest on with no additional plates first and then with Alpha Plate from the same manufacturer, and I can say that vest is really well designed, lightweight (2,5kg for M size with no additional plate), and comfortable. But for sure there will be some issues with concealing it without any outwear, especially if you are a lean athlete guy as I am. In everything else, it is a simple and reliable potential lifesaver for a decent price.
#3 Condor Modular Operator Place Carrier (MOPC)
Condor started as a company that profiled on camping equipment, the more company expanded the more tactical and military it was becoming. And finally, Condor covered with its wings all kinds of tactical equipment – from clothes and magazine pouches to tactical backpacks and rifle cases, and obviously plate carriers.
At first glance, MOPC looks very solid, with a closer look it has good double stitches that are unfortunately visually spoiled a couple of annoying frayed edges. Traditional velcro and plenty of moles in front of the mag pouches and on its sides for utility stuff. You can fit large SAPI plates in back and front plate holders and the side ones can take 6×6 or 6×8 plates.
Vest feels quite comfy once I managed to make it fit, net lining on its insides is a really nice thing for hot conditions or if you are going to make some workouts in it. Also, there is a useful tactical handle on the back to carry the vest around or drag its user out of trouble.
#4 Tactical Assault Gear Plate Carrier
Tactical Assault Gear (TAG) had been supplying hunting and tactical gear markets with its products since the year 2001. TAG presents its tough military-grade gear, made of extremely strong tactical nylon that is solidly stitched, for tough conditions. For me, TAG Plate Carrier has one of the most militaristic looks, beyond any doubts it gives you the sensation of real defense. This one is definitely not for concealed wearing.
But when you wear it fully loaded with Level IV ballistic plates you will feel how well made and balanced the vest is, there are no constraints for whatever movement you are willing to make. Unfortunately, there is no net lining on the inside layer, and the vest itself is quite short leaving the bottom part of your abdomen area vulnerable. Overall it is a good carrier with lots of molles and circular defense with plenty of color and camo variations to choose from. It will provide you top protection with proper ballistic plates.
#5 NcSTAR Vism Plate Carrier
NcSTAR is a manufacturer with a really impressive reach in everything that concerns tactical gear. Originated in sunny California it has already been on the market for recent 23 years. I can’t just pass by the cost of Vism Plate Carrier – for such money I bet you can’t find any better. I could not tell the difference between this one when I tried it on, and more expensive carriers, it feels solid and well made and easily adjustable. There is useful drag and carry handle for better convenience.
Inner plate holders made for the soft type of ballistic plates providing defense from pistol ammunition. The plate carrier can be upgraded with additional hard plates placed on the fly to external plate holders available through a forceful zipper, improving your protection to Level IV. However, this carrier does not provide side protection.
#6 BulletSafe Alpha Plate
We have already had BulletSafe creation in this chart, it was their Bulletproof vest with Level IIIa defense straight from the package. If this level is not sufficient and you need protection able to stop a rifle round like 7.62 moving at a speed more than 800 m/s Alpha Plate is here to help you out.
It will be a great complement to your Bulletproof Vest from the same manufacturer, in theory, it will upgrade your protection to the highest Level IV. But the first thing I noticed how light the package with the plate is, it is really hard to believe that such a lightweight thing can catch up to 6 or more AK rounds. If you had ever held a ceramic and especially steel plate in your hands, you know what I’m talking about. In everything else, it is a solid plate of great quality that fits in every plate carrier I observed here.
#7 Vism Discreet Plate Carrier Vest
Vism is a division of NcSTAR and their previous Plate Carrier impressed me with its price-quality ratio, but Discreet Plate Carrier Vest made a step even further. 16$ (with discount) for a plate carrier? Give me a break. It passed the try on and trial process easily thanks to adjustable velcro straps on the shoulders and abdomen areas. You can insert back and front armor plates to external plate pockets, easily accessible through velcro fasteners. And a couple of my IIIa soft plates fit there without any problem.
It is a modest plate carrier – no side protection, no molles, loops for hydrator tubes, and other stuff, but it does what it was meant to do – it feels comfortable to wear, and with a proper plate in it, it will protect you from any gunfire. And it is available in different colors.
#8 BlackHawk Low Vis Plate Carrier
Founded by the Iraq war veteran BlackHawk is the manufacturer with a professional approach when it comes to tactical gear. It is not only about real combat experience of its founder, but also because of his attitude – as a soldier he experienced gear failure on the battlefield, survived through this, and promised to build fault-tolerant and trustworthy gear that can be used in the high intensity of modern tactical operations. Now let’s take a look at Low Vis Plate Carrier by BlackHawk.
It is a minimalistic carrier created with a purpose to be easily concealed under the clothes. That’s why there are no molles and other tactical stuff you can find on carriers made for the open wearing. The material it is made of is rather rough, a bit rougher than on other carriers. There are adjustable quick-release buckles on the sides, to make it fit your shape or to easily take it off. It fits really well due to upper straps that are a bit angled to make it comfortable to wear in the shoulder area, especially if you are an owner of athletic «frame».
With steel armor plate in it does not draw any attention if you are wearing at least a light jacket above your t-shirt or any kind of loose fit shirt or other baggy clothes. To sum things up – it is a great minimalistic carrier, easy to use, carry and fit, suitable for you, and the ones you want to take care of.
#9 Shellback Tactical Banshee Rifle Plate Carrier
Shellback Tactical focuses on tactical gear for a real combat environment, to keep you safe anywhere from shooting range to a warzone. So they satiate the market with reliable and quality gear with plenty of options to choose from. Banshee Rifle Plate Carrier is everything included type of carrier, it has a lot of variations to customize it with additional mag pouches and utility bags through molle system.
There are no different sizes for this carrier, instead of this the carrier is fully adjustable and has one size for everyone, and will fit 10×12 Level III and IV ballistic protection plates in front\back sides and additional side plates in the cummerbund. It also has a large «kangaroo» pocket in front, but unfortunately, I could not use it without struggling with velcro that (for some reason) fills all pocket space, making it really hard to put something in quickly. There is a strong drag and carry loop on the rear with its ends stitched to the middle of the back.
Fully loaded with plates and mag pouches in front, the carrier sits tight and firm, not restricting your movements, there is even additional padding between your chest and armor plate. All this makes a sensation of a well-thought and quality product that was approved for Law Enforcement officer’s usage.
#10 BulletSafe Bulletproof Ballistic Plate
Another BulletSafe brainchild in this chart is Bulletproof Ballistic Plate. It offers you Level III ballistic protection as does its elder brother Ultralight Alpha plate, but instead of polyethylene, it is made of ceramics. It makes the plate 70% heavier, and it can withstand fewer rifle round hits in the same spot, but in return, it is much more affordable. All this makes this plate a must-buy product if you are looking for high defense possibilities from time to time and not participating in real firearms combat where every lb counts.
So as you see there are numerous vests and plate carriers to choose from for any needs, their design may vary but all of them are created with one purpose – to protect you. So these are the ones I’d go for:
- BulletSafe Bulletproof Vest. Reason: Level IIIa straight from the package, no need to do additional orders. Appropriate for the majority of civilians.
- 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier. Reason: as an athlete, I approve of this one as the most comfortable carrier to workout in.
- BulletSafe Alpha Plate. Reason: so you encountered the worst scenario and found yourself in the middle of a firefight? Take two of these to cover your front and rear, fit em’ in and I bet you survive this fight, just don’t forget the helmet.