Best Plate Carriers | Military, Law Enforcement, Budget

Who Makes The Best Plate Carrier?

The Crye Precision JPC seems to be at the top of every list. It’s been proven on the battlefields by our military and urban environments by various law enforcement agencies.

Aside from the Crye Precision JPC, if you want to run with what DEVGRU and Army Delta commonly use, you need to consider the LBT 6094 modular plate carrier.

Plate Carrier Buyer’s Guide

Plate carriers are life-saving gear for anyone operating in a hazardous environment.

Whether you work in the private military contracting industry, law enforcement, or the Military, you will need a plate carrier for your specific mission.

However, choosing the best plate carrier can be difficult due to the sheer number of available options.

No matter the price range, they all do the same thing: hold armor plates that will hopefully stop bullets and edged weapons. However, you do, however, get what you pay for.

This buyer’s guide will help you navigate all those options and choose the right one for you and your mission.

7 Best Plate Carriers

We’ll get into specific plate carriers throughout this article, but to give you a quick rundown of the best ones, here you go. Keep reading to find out why we picked them.

Crye Precision JPC 2.0Best of the Best$266.10 at Crye Precision
Ferro Concepts SlicksterBest for Low Profile Setups$160.00 at Ferro Concepts
Blue Force Gear PLATE-6 MOLLEminus Plate CarrierWhen You Need To Go Full Battle Rattle$299.95 at Blue Force Gear
Ferro Concepts FCPC V5 Plate CarrierGreat for Simple Setups$267.00 at Ferro Concepts
West Coast Armor LVPCBest Concealable Plate Carrier$219.99 at West Coast Armor
LBT 6094 Plate CarrierPreferred Plate Carrier by DEVGRU$573.28 at LBT
Velocity Systems Law Enforcement Plate CarrierBest Law Enforcement Plate Carrier$210.00 at Velocity Systems

Best Plate Carrier For The Military

Any deployed military member will tell you that a quality plate carrier is worth its weight in gold. They work in dynamic environments that can turn from a safe zone to a full-on battle rattle in the blink of an eye.

There are many different types and styles of military plate carriers, so it’s always important to carefully review your unit SOPs before purchasing.

The Crye Precision JPC Jumpable Plate Carrier is always at the top of every list when talking about plate carriers for the military and special operations units.

best plate carrier: Crye Precision JPC
The JPC (JUMPABLE PLATE CARRIER) is a lightweight and minimal armor vest designed for maximum mobility, weight savings, and packability.

Those who need to handle more weight without killing their shoulders should consider the Blue Force Gear PLATE-6 MOLLEminus Plate Carrier.

The name of the game is Mobility. Being able to get in and out of vehicles without getting hung up is pretty important for our guys operating on convoys.

This provides fully modular load carriage capability but significantly reduces weight and bulk over traditional armor carriers. The PLATEminus plate carrier is designed to hold ESAPI/SPEAR armored plates and has fully enclosed plate pockets that protect the plates.

"Plate 6" provides users with built-in 6"x6" side plate pockets and cummerbund side closures. It also has a flat admin pocket behind the front loop field and a drag handle on the back.

best plate carrier: Blue Force Gear PLATE6 MOLLEminus
MOLLEminus is a revolutionary load carriage platform that is fully MOLLE compatible while being the lightest on the market.

The Plate 6 is available in a low profile version without side plate pockets and adjustable side straps for low-threat environments or side plate pockets that fit 6" x 6" hard armor side plates secured with a Ten-Speed cummerbund for a more secure fit and hold extra mags or equipment.

RELATED – Best M4 Mag Pouches [Buyers Guide]

Plate Carriers used by DEVGRU and Delta

I asked around some of my contacts within the SOF community what plate carrier they used and they all pointed to the LBT 6094 plate carrier as their go-to for missions.

The LBT 6094 is one of the most-used plate carriers in the Special Operations community, especially those in Tier 1 units such as DEVGRU and Delta.

Tier 1 guys are issued several different plate carriers because they have a wide variety of missions, from direct action to more covert requirements, like surveillance.

As an assaulter on one of these teams, though, the LBT 6094 plate carrier is probably the best piece of gear.

Best Plate Carrier: LBT Modular Plate Carrier
The ultimate in plate carrier performance.

Best Plate Carrier For Law Enforcement

The Law Enforcement Plate Carrier (LEPC) by Velocity Systems has to make the list based on its modularity. I’ve had the privilege to be a police officer and soldier and the kits I was forced to wear state-side couldn’t compare to the Interceptor vest I wore in Iraq.

The Velocity Systems LEPC gives you everything you want in a plate carrier for those men and women serving in blue.

The carrier is as sleek as it could be and still holds an NIJ-listed Level IIIA, III, or Level IV body armor plate. Even with Level III body armor, the LEPC plate carrier will reduce your profile compared to what most LEOs wear now at Level 3A.

As an LEO, I know that being able to freely move my arms across my body and above my head was critical to my safety on the job. I’m most impressed with the plate carrier’s durability and thin and compact design.

Best Plate Carrier: Velocity Systems Law Enforcement Plate Carrier
The Mayflower RC by Velocity Systems Law Enforcement Plate Carrier (LEPC) was designed for ultimate modularity.

Best Concealed Plate Carrier Vest

The Low Vis Plate Carrier (LVPC) is a plate carrier setup designed for low visibility with reduced print and signature for law enforcement, special details, personal security details, and executive protection. The absolute minimalist design strategically uses materials for a formfitting, plate-profile-reducing, and comfortable system.

You can choose Level IIIA, Level III, and Level IV body armor.

The LVPC plate carrier vest comes equipped with one of two cummerbund options. The first option is an elastic cummerbund with storage sections for magazines, communications gear, or accessories.

The second option is a slick elastic cummerbund for the operator or agent who will need no access to additional equipment supported by the armor system, thereby allowing the user to maintain the lowest profile.

Best Plate Carrier: West Coast Armor
The Low Vis Plate Carrier is a special profile armor system designed with reduced print and signature for law enforcement, special detail, PSD, and EP. The absolute minimalist design makes strategic use of materials for a formfitting, plate-profile-reducing, and comfortable system.

Best Range Armor

If you’re pulling a plate carrier and plates out of a kit bag at the local range, you’ll probably look more like a wannabe’ Operator’. But if you shoot in the open, whether on private property or at a public outdoor range (or go to sketchy gun ranges), it may not seem like a bad idea.

For range armor, you only need a slick plate carrier without all the pouches hanging off it unless that’s your thing. Or if you already have a plate carrier setup for home or professional occupation, then it makes sense to train and practice with it at the range.

If you’re looking to purchase a new plate carrier for use on the range, then we’d suggest you take a hard look at the Ferro Concepts Slickster.

Best Plate Carrier: Ferro Concepts Slickster
The newest generation of the Slickster™ has been designed as a minimalistic multi-mission plate carrier for Law Enforcement and Military professionals.

Best Budget Plate Carrier

The Mayflower Assault Plate Carrier is a one-and-done plate carrier that doesn’t require any additional pieces or parts, which can drive up the cost. All you need to do is add the plates! It’s a straightforward but high-quality platform.

Best Plate Carrier: Velocity Systems Assault Plate Carrier
The Mayflower Assault Plate Carrier (APC) is designed to provide the wearer with a high degree of mobility while providing ample surface area for mounting mission essential pouches.

When placing your order, you can choose from three cummerbund options. One has three pockets for magazines with standard MOLLE, another is a low-profile elastic, and the final option is a low-profile elastic with pouches.

The front kangaroo pouch has three magazine pouches, and the ample MOLLE ladders make it easy to add extra equipment.

While the APC may be considered suitable for jumping, it’s a little larger than the typical minimalist plate carrier. However, it provides significant protection. You can also add optional side plates to accompany your front and rear plate bags, making you feel like an APC with four plates.

Overall, the Mayflower APC is an exceptional plug-and-play option that’s exceptionally well-made, durable, and comfortable.

RELATED – Top 5 Must Have Tactical Gear Accessories

Different Uses of Plate Carriers

First and foremost, a plate carrier is for ballistic protection: it can defeat different types of ammunition, frag or shrapnel.

In addition to providing ballistic protection, there are a few other uses of plate carriers.

Plate Carrier vs Chest Rig

Most plate carriers are manufactured with different attachment methods, such as Velcro and Molle webbing. In addition to securing body armor plates, the plate carrier can be configured to carry spare ammunition, communications equipment, medical gear, and other mission-critical needs.

With the Molle webbing attachment points, you can configure your plate carrier to your personal preference. There are a few SOPs you’ll need to follow, such as making sure you can access your magazines and medical with both hands. Other than that, you’re clear to attach M4 pouches, frag pouches, radio pouches, and medical gear in a way that works best for you.

Chest rigs are great at providing the space necessary to mount all this gear in an easy-to-access setup. However, the chest rig lacks ballistic protection, which is where a plate carrier becomes essential.

Best Plate Carrier: Crye Precision JPC
The Crye Precision JPC 2.0 (in Multicam Black) is a lightweight and minimal armor vest designed for maximum mobility, weight savings, and packability.

Being able to attach this additional gear to your plate carrier takes the burden off your waistline, as well as carrying an additional pack on your back, all while providing you with a certain level of ballistic protection.

Plate Carrier vs Weight Vest

Weights vests are different from plate carriers. Both add additional resistance to body-weight exercises, like pull-ups, push-ups, and running, but they’re fundamentally different in shape, load-bearing capability, weight distribution, and obviously their primary use.

Weight vests let you add weight in small increments, up to a certain point. They’re usually only designed to carry weights specifically made for the vest. Some weight vests come pre-weighted, so you’re stuck with what you get.

Plate carriers start at the weight of the plates you’re carrying and are often designed with a MOLLE attachment system to let you add and distribute weight (in the form of gear) wherever necessary.

2022 Definitive Plate Carrier Buyer’s Guide
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Austin Youngblood does pushups during Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 11, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

You are getting a great workout and a workout with your lifesaving gear on. If you’re military or law enforcement, knowing how your plate carrier will work in dynamic environments is critical, and working out with it is a sure way to shake out any nuances.

What To Look For When Buying a Plate Carrier

First things first, what are you using the plate carrier for? Are you using it for a professional occupation, home protection, or for a coming collapse of society and you want to be prepared?

When it comes to buying a plate carrier, spend once and cry once. Why? Because if you really need it and your life or a family member’s life is at risk, you’re going to want the best. Do you want to bet your life on that $50 Amazon plate carrier or have the utmost confidence in a proven plate carrier system? You do not want to leave it to chance or buy something cheap because it looks cool but is not used by professionals.

If you’re in the market for a plate carrier, especially if it’s your first, there are a few questions you need to answer. Once the following two questions are answered, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the type of plate carrier to start looking for.

What should I attach to my plate carrier?

This can be quite a debate. Some say to carry as much ammo as you can fit, while other, more seasoned military operators will say to carry three mags on the plate carrier and one in the gun. Both are correct answers, depending on your primary mission.

For someone in a more generalized ground combat role, having upwards of 6 magazines on your plate carrier makes sense. For those operating in top-tier military units, their missions are much more specialized, allowing them to be more streamlined with few magazines.

For the average guy looking to defend their home and being prepared for more common threats such as violent riots and other homeland attacks, 3 mags across the front of your plate carrier are plenty, but that’s just my personal opinion.

Ferro Concepts ADAPT KTAR Front Flap

at Tactical Distributors
Prices accurate at time of writing

The next most important thing to consider is medical. Many companies make compact tear-off pouches specifically for plate carriers. As the term implies, you can "tear it off" the plate carrier when needed.

Aside from ammo and medical, you’ll want to consider some type of admin pouch to carry smaller items such as a multi-tool and navigation aids such as a small GPS and compass.

Remember, just because you have free space on your plate carrier doesn’t mean you need to cover that space with unnecessary gear. Carry only what you NEED. Otherwise, you’ll "What-If" yourself into carrying more kit than you need, adding unnecessary weight you need to bear.

RELATED – Top 5 Chest Rigs Available Today!

What armor plates should I use in my plate carrier?

Just because you have body armor plates in your kit does not mean you’re bulletproof. All armor can be defeated depending on the ammo being used and the number of hits it has taken.

Knowing the threats you’re going to face is key to identifying what type of armor to use in your plate carrier. There are two types of body armor: soft armor and hard armor. Soft armor is typically in the form of a soft insert that is rated at level 3a, which only stops handgun rounds and other threats such as knives. These are found in backpacks much of the time and not inside a plate carrier. For your plate carrier, you’re going to want to look at hard armor in order to defeat rifle threats.

For the best all-around hard armor plates, go with Level III+ which is rated to defeat 5.56 M193 and the hotter M855 rounds. These are the most common rounds used in AR15 rifles. Level III will also defeat other rifle rounds, such as 7.62/308 and 300 Blackout.

Level III Hard Plate

at West Coast Armor
Prices accurate at time of writing

If you want to go big and have armor that will defeat true armor-piercing ammunition, then you need to look at Level IV plates. These are usually reserved for police and military, but if your local threats warrant that level, then, by all means, spend the money on it.

What are Cummerbunds?

In the body armor world, a cummerbund is a piece of elastic that allows the wearer to adjust the waist size of the plate carrier.  Most companies include common PALS loops for MOLLE-accessible attachments like radio pouches, ammo pouches, I-Fak, Tazer cartridges, and axillary pouches.

I recommend only attaching something small to your CBN1 because the integrity of the strap is at risk when you attach something heavy like a satellite radio or a double 5.56mm ammo pouch. I’d use this area for miscellaneous things like handcuff keys, extra cuffs, knives, etc…

Velocity systems provide 3 different options to choose from based on your mission requirements. The Low-Profile Elastic Cummerbund (CBN1) comes in 4 different sizes and fits almost every plate carrier at Velocity Systems.

The Low-Profile Elastic Cummerbund With Dividers (CBN1D) features the same 4 sizes as the CBN1, but it has added dividers to provide extra storage for first responders, such as medics, firemen or beat cops in large cities like NYC or Chicago.

With the dividers, you can add heavier attachments to the cummerbund because the straps that hold it to the plate carrier are reinforced with 500 denier nylon.

The LEPC with the CBN1D can allow first responders to carry extra life-saving medical equipment such as tourniquets and small medkits.

The Standard MOLLE, Plate Pocket (CBN3) is what I recommend for officers who are going into a hostile situation and need more places to carry ammo and medical gear.

They come with 6" x 6" plate pockets to slide in a side plate and 7 rows of PALS loops for MOLLE pouches (large). The CBN3 comes in 4 sizes, each with a specific number of MOLLE pouches.

It’s important to measure your waist correctly because the entire purpose of a cummerbund is to fit the form and shape of the plate carrier. If you get a size too small, the cummerbund will dig into your side and chafe your stomach and hip bone. Velocity Systems offers 4 distinct sizes to fit any size LEO.

If a cummerbund fits properly, it can improve modularity and the amount of gear you can carry into the field. Adding a cummerbund can also increase your level of protection because the added width can help accommodate side plates to protect your flanks.

Plate Carrier Setup

The human body comprises timers and switches, and the heart and lungs have the shortest timers if damaged, short of the brain and spine, which are the two switches.

A timer starts as soon as a bullet impacts the human body. The speed of the timer depends on where the bullet impacts and the number of impacts.

A kill switch is a specific area of the human body that dispatches the threat immediately when impacted by a bullet. Two primary areas of the human body are considered kill switches: the head and the spine.

To protect against these, the front-facing armor plate needs to ride roughly from the center notch of the collar bone and cover to just below the rib cage. The rear plate mirrors the same placement.

Once the plates themselves are squared away, the plate carrier setup can be divided into three basic sections: ammunition, medical, and admin.


The most common way to keep rifle magazines attached to the plate carrier is by way of a single-layer magazine shingle. The magazine shingle uses the molle attachment method and keeps everything as low profile as possible. The most common sizing is the 3-mag shingle.

You can opt to double stack your magazines on the front of your plate carrier to increase the amount of carried ammunition, but that does come with some downsides. Those downsides are that it’s almost impossible to shoot from the prone position and having to climb over or traverse high obstacles such as fences or walls can be impeded.

2022 Definitive Plate Carrier Buyer’s Guide
A U.S. Army Soldier from Bravo Company, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division performs live fire exercise training in support of Salaknib at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, Philippines on March 6, 2022. (U.S. Army photograph by SPC Joshua Oller/28th Public Affairs Detachment)

If you think you’re going to need additional magazines, you could try mounting single M4 magazine pouches to the cumberbund versus stacking the front of your plate carrier.

Yes, the extra ammunition is great, but at what cost? You must rethink your setup if you cannot shoot, move, and communicate effectively.


Often medical kits are mounted on battle belts according to unit SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). The mission will dictate the gear and the setup of that gear, but medical needs to be a priority.

As mentioned earlier, there are companies that make compact tear-off pouches for plate carriers or medical inserts that fit inside a single M4 magazine pouch. Regardless, the kit needs to be accessible with both hands in the event one of them becomes disabled. If there is no room for an actual medical kit, then at the very least, mount a tourniquet on the plate carrier that can be accessed from either hand.

North American Rescue C-A-T Holder

at Tactical Distributors
Prices accurate at time of writing

A friend of mine was severely wounded in Iraq due to a vehicle IED. Before their convoy rolled out, he instructed everyone in his unit to place their CAT Tourniquets on the front of their plate carriers. Doing so saved his life that day.

As his HUMVEE rolled past a parked car, that parked car was detonated, throwing him roughly 25 yards from the HUMVEE. His instincts kicked in, and he grabbed ahold of his tourniquet, ripped it from the front of his plate carrier, and administered it to his leg.

North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet

at Tactical Distributors
Prices accurate at time of writing

To this day he attributes his survival to having his tourniquet on the front of his plate carrier.

Last but not least, Admin

Before plate carrier-mounted communications were common, the top center of the plate carrier was generally reserved for admin pouches, which were used to store maps, map pens, a backup compass, spare batteries, and other small items.

Nowadays, gear such as KAGWERKS dominates that space, providing the warfighter with a digital layout of the battlefield.

2022 Definitive Plate Carrier Buyer’s Guide
Staff Sgt. James Abney, 25th Air Support Operations Squadron tactical air control party Airman, demonstrates how to use a GPS communication system that is designed to attach to body armor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Even with the plate carrier-mounted computer systems, it’s still recommended to have some type of admin pouch. Generally, you have enough real estate on a plate carrier to mount a vertical admin pouch to the left or right of the 3 mag shingle.

To go along with admin, you must have a pouch to secure your handheld communications radio. As with the vertical admin pouch, comms pouches are typically mounted to the left or right of the 3 mag shingle depending on your setup. Most will run radios on the non-dominant side of their plate carrier to allow easy access to their sidearm or manipulation of their primary weapon.

In Conclusion

Most gun enthusiasts either own a plate carrier and armor or are giving it some serious thought. This list of the best plate carriers should get you well on your way to better protection.

If you’re seriously considering buying your first plate carrier and armor plates, these recommendations should help narrow down your search. Once you’ve bought everything and put it together, go out and shoot with it on.

Test your loadout by going to the range and working out with it. Gear is life and life is gear.

Table of Contents

  • Who Makes The Best Plate Carrier?
  • 7 Best Plate Carriers
  • Best Plate Carrier For The Military
  • Plate Carriers used by DEVGRU and Delta
  • Best Plate Carrier For Law Enforcement
  • Best Concealed Plate Carrier Vest
  • Best Range Armor
  • Best Budget Plate Carrier
  • Different Uses of Plate Carriers
  • Plate Carrier vs Chest Rig
  • Plate Carrier vs Weight Vest
  • What To Look For When Buying a Plate Carrier
  • What should I attach to my plate carrier?
  • What armor plates should I use in my plate carrier?
  • What are Cummerbunds?
  • Plate Carrier Setup
  • Ammunition
  • Medical
  • Last but not least, Admin
  • In Conclusion

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