There it is, we have covered what I consider to be the basic equipment to carry every day to be an effective armed citizen and the foundation of what it takes to be a modern minute man. Trust me, I know it is a lot of gear to wear every day, you see why cargo pockets will never go out of vogue for the gun culture. We simply carry too much shit.
This week we are going to dive deep into the murky waters of support gear that will elevate your EDC role to neighborhood support/modern minute man. It will also elevate your tacticool LARP status as well. These articles are going to have to be long format, it is just the nature of what we are dealing with and the gross volume of stuff to cover, so, if you’re reading this on the crapper at work, go ahead and wave your hand to reset the automatic lights, settle in and prepare for those legs to get numb.
I flirted with how to kick this off, personally, I think armor and carriers are a great place to start since, to me at least, not getting shot is more important than shooting someone. Armor won’t stop you from being shot, it will stop that nasty little piece of angry lead from entering your body, at least the vital stuff anyway. If you have looked for even a fraction of a second you know that every company in Gods creation makes armor and carriers now, that’s great, we want people to have the equipment available to best protect themselves and their families, but how do we sort the trash from the gems? Who makes the best? Who has the best price? And who does it with the most style?
If garand thumb taught us anything, it is that looking cool when in full LARP is what matters most. So, armor. When you hear body armor most people think of the 1992 swat cop t.v. show they saw as a kid were they gear up in their soft armor for the raid, those have a place, but generally speaking those are for pistol rounds only. What we are looking for are plates, armor designed to stop rifle threats, at a minimum and as a general rule you want to be able to stop the caliber you carry.
There are different levels of armor plates, you can read up on those on your own but as a general rule you should buy the best you can afford. Lets start with armor first and we will run it on a scale from poors to big chimp energy. As a side note, nothing that I recommend will be inferior wish.com garbage, you can bet your life on all of it, some will just have significant drawbacks which we will get into.
Starting at the bottom we have AR500 armor and their steel plates, they are the most budget friendly by far because they are typically running a special every week and those specials usually include the carrier. It is a great company that makes awesome armor that anyone can afford and their bundle options are awesome, they definitely have a carrier and armor to suit your needs.
Pros to steel armor, it is multi hit capable, it is not fragile (if you like to throw your gear around in the truck or after a long day these are great because they can take a serious beating), their plates have a crazy long shelf life, and they come in at really nice prices, typically $200-$300 with a carrier. There are some cons, steel armor has risk of spall (shell fragment that splatters as it hits) so you definitely want to opt for the built up anti spall coating, you 100% must get curved plates, you don’t know suck until you’ve worn flat steel plates for a 6 hour class, their shipping time is usually about 12 weeks out sometimes longer. Mine took about 13 ½ weeks to arrive so you need to be patient. The biggest con is weight, these girls are hefty, with each plate coming in at around 11 lbs. That puts plates alone at 22 lbs not including the carrier and any mags or accessories you were planning to add. It doesn’t sound bad on paper but trust me, that weight will beat you into the ground faster than Mike Tyson. If you are ballin on a budget and don’t have any other choice and just cannot afford to go any higher, you could do a lot worse.
Our middle of the road offering comes from a company called RMA. Their most popular modes are the 1155s, they are a level 4 polyethylene ceramic blend. These come in about $100 more than the AR500 plates but add better ballistic coverage and save on weight. These little chonks come in at about 8lbs per plate, 6 lbs may not seem like a lot of weight savings but when you’re wearing this in a class, you’ll cut off a leg to save a few ounces.
Pros to these are better ballistic threat coverage, way better lead time with the majority of the time being next day shipping, and a definite weight savings. Cons are going to be the higher price point, they don’t come with a carrier, they are thicker at about an inch, and they are more fragile. You won’t wanna be throwing your carrier around with ceramic plates.
Lastly, big chimp energy, the high rollers, the big ballers. Possibly some of the best armor on the market is made by Hesco. They make a wide array of styles, like everyone, but they seem to always do it better. I want to highlight a specific plate of theirs, the l210 special threat plates. These are an in between from level 3 to level 4, they don’t meet the level 4 requirements but they will stop light armor piercing intermediate cartridges. I encourage you to read up on the levels and NIJ certifications as well as size and cut of armor when you’re done here.
Pros to the l210s are definitely weight, coming in at 5.4 lbs per plate they feel great to wear all day, they’re only .6 inches thick, and they typically ship in 1-2 business days. Cons are going to be that they aren’t full level 4 and they drop M80 ball protection but they pick up light armor penetrating protection, lastly is the price these come in about $400 for just the plates.
Those are my three picks for plates covering a wide array of budgets, but I would like to add a note. This list is not comprehensive, there are a billion options and each of the companies I mentioned each make multiple models. I will tell you this when it comes to plates, buy the best you can afford. If you can buy the 3 lb mac daddy ultralight super hescos with multicurve, buy them. This is not an in depth on each plate or every model from every company, I am giving you three very solid picks and I hope you start doing research about them to make an informed decision. If you have any questions about selection, drop a comment and we will be more than happy to help you out.
Now we are going to shift gear to carriers, why did we cover plates first? Same reason I tell people to buy the contents of a backpack before they buy the bag, you need to know what’s going inside so you can buy the carrier or bag to fit. If we don’t we (guys) will overdo it and get the biggest most ridiculous carrier or bag we can find and it will be too heavy to comfortably do anything in or will have excess wasted space.
Most of the plates out there fall into the medium category, and this is important so pay attention. When you buy a carrier it will ask medium or large, the sizing has nothing to do with your body type and everything to do with plate size. Medium plate carriers fit standard 10”x12” plates. I am a big guy 6’ 3” and 275 lbs and I run a medium plate carrier that has great vital coverage.
So, you know the drill by now poors to big chimp. AR500 will once again take the first slot because they are just so darn affordable and if you bought their armor package it was coming with a carrier anyway, I want to specifically highlight their testudo gen 2 carrier. I was incredibly impressed when I got mine with how rugged and well made it was and I recommend it often. Even if you bought the Gucci plates they would feel right at home in this carrier. The shoulder straps are nicely padded and the cummerbund is adjustable to someone much much bigger than me.
Mid level will be the ferro concepts slickster which is my favorite carrier and what I personally use right now. These are a bit harder to get your hands on because they are so popular and when you do find one it is a la carte and you have to buy their cummerbund separate. It is an annoyance if you’re looking for a one stop shop but nice for those of us building something specific. I prefer it because of how low profile it is and the scalability from concealed carrier to overt.
Lastly there is the first spear strandhogg, at the price of a new Glock this thing is pricey but comes with more sex appeal than Jennifer Aniston. This can be purchased all together or a la carte as money allows and is made with the highest quality materials. One of the biggest perks is it does not use Velcro to secure the cummerbund like the other two do, instead opting for a quick detach interlocking tube design.
No matter your mission there is something in here for you, if this is your first time purchasing armor or a carrier and you really want the best you can get, get the big pimpin plates and save on the carrier. I promise you won’t be disappointed. This topic can be somewhat controversial and really does require research that I just can’t include without making this a book, read up on this stuff, make a selection, if you have questions just drop us a comment and we will be more than happy to steer you through it. These waters are murky, they only get murkier and deeper as we go along.