Plate carriers are a necessary evil for some of us. No one “wants” to wear one until the time comes that you need to be wearing one. 5.11 Tactical has a new offering in this realm, their TacTec Plate Carrier, that helps to ease some of the common issues with wearing rifle plates.
This design fits really well with the yoke shoulder strap system, the same that is used on their backpacks. The system does a really good job at keeping the pressure points of a traditional plate rig to a minimum. With shoulder straps that are generously padded, and adjustable the weight is well distributed. Hydration tubes may also be run through the hook and loop secured flaps located on the shoulder straps.
The plate carrier is designed to be a one size fits most. We put it on testers from 5’4” 125 lbs to 6’2” 250 lbs and found that while it does adjust to fit, it is not a rapid system. Be prepared to spend some time tweaking the fit. The process of shoulder strap lengthening or shortening for proper plate location is a straight forward but time-consuming and tedious process.
To explain why this takes time, one needs to understand how the quick release system works. From a central handle mounted on the top front of the chest plate, there are 2 cables that run over the shoulders and down to the back plate. By pulling the handle, one can either release the right side, the left side, or both of the cables and pull them from the carrier. Please note the cable release can be mounted in either a visible front mount or concealed rear mount location for crowd situations.
These cables are used to hold the 2 halves of the shoulder straps together as a unit by weaving back and forth through a series of loops and then tucking into the rear portion of the carrier. This design makes for rapid removal by medical staff, users, and the occasional buddy who finds it funny to drop your plates for you. The system works great, is very secure, but it adds time to re-lace the shoulder straps for fit. While not as fast to adjust as a cinch type buckle the end result is much more comfortable.
Another fantastic feature is the innovative expanding drag handle. This design allows a person providing aide to the plate carrier wearer to stand in a higher position during the drag, as well as providing less pressure on the neck of the person being moved.
The cummerbund however is VERY easy to adjust for girth and only requires opening a hook and loop panel on the rear plate panel to add or remove length. The retention panels for the cummerbund are of the proper size to allow magazines to be mounted in pouches, but not have to be removed in order to put on or take off the rig. Laser cut PALS/molle webbing covers the front and rear of the entire unit allowing one to customize the load out for a specific mission or task. The fit is very athletic and the expanding cummerbund allows the whole rig to move with the wearer. Pouches can either be mounted vertical or horizontal on the side, depending on the user’s needs.
Inside the plate pockets hook and loop around the perimeter of the pocket allow plates of different size and shape to be held secure, without movement. This creates a semi custom fit for a wide range of armor solutions for soft and hard plates alike. Inside the plate panels there are padded areas with air channels to allow for some enhanced air movement behind the plates. We tested this rig with Victory Tactical Gear rifle plates. These plates are a swimmers cut curved plate weighing roughly 8 pounds per plate.
We have worn this plate carrier in the hottest part of summer in the Southeastern United States. This means many hot and humid days, with lots of sweat. The air channels in the padding do give some level of relief from the heat, but this rig is by no means cool in the heat. None of them are.
The adjustments of the carrier for optimal fit take a bit of time. This is not a generic rig to be handed to anyone in an active shooter situation. That being said, once fitted and sized appropriately to your body, it is an easy on and off and provides a great option for rapid deployment.
We spent several days in the system training on flat ranges and trail running to get a good feel for overall performance. It fits well, rides nicely on the body, and stays put. However, keep in mind that this is still a plate carrier and all things are relative. Like we said earlier, nobody wants to wear plates until they need them.
All in all, this is a solid solution for active shooter situations and would be right at home in the trunk of your vehicle ready for rapid load out. There are some great innovative features that should make this carrier a real contender in the space. This, along with a price point of less than $200, makes it a highly recommended solution.
To learn more about the 5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier, visit the 5.11 website or your nearest authorized retailer. We have also added a short video below created by 5.11 Tactical about their TacTac Plate Carrier: