I’m on my way to retiring, which means no more uniform, no more deployments, and no more heavy, cumbersome and poorly thought out gear. That being said, I still like to stay ready and be prepared. As you’ve seen from my earlier articles, I am pretty set when it comes to bags and medical gear. However, I’ve been looking for a good plate carrier. When it comes to plate carriers, there is no shortage of options. Since I’m not going to be wearing one every day, I’m not looking for the most expensive or most configurable one on the market.
What I wanted was a a plate carrier that was: light, easy to adjust, not overly complicated, and priced under $200. A few months ago, while we were at Warrior Expo East, I had the chance to look at and check out a large variety of plate carriers firsthand. What caught my eye was the LBX Tactical Speed Draw Plate Carrier.
I’ve worn Army Issue IBA’s, IOTV’s, and a few others that are commercially available so I have a pretty good idea what to look for. At first glance, I noticed the simplicity of LBX Tactical’s Speed Draw Plate Carrier. It had no useless flaps or excessive MOLLE or Velcro. There is ample MOLLE on the front of the carrier, back of the carrier, and on the included adjustable cummerbund. It is just the amount for attaching things that I would consider necessary.
Permanently attached to the front panel are 3 standard AR-15 magazine pouches that have included S&S pull tabs. The tabs are adjustable by lifting the front flap and they sit pretty tight. It takes a little work to get the magazines in at first, but once you get used to it they are easily placed in the pouches and safely tucked away.
I recently attended a local shooting competition where I had the chance to draw with the tabs both in place and off to the side. The pouches keep your magazines firmly in place and when I used the pull tabs, they easily moved when pulled out of the way.
The top front of the LBX Tactical Speed Draw Plate Carrier features velcro stitched in a MOLLE pattern for attaching I.D. badges, removable pouches, or other accessories you’d need easy access to.
The back panel has ample MOLLE and a heavy-duty drag handle has been permanently sewn into the top of the back panel. The handle is pretty robust and you can get a solid grip with no issues, even with gloves on.
The adjustable cummerbund is a two piece system connected with a stiff bungee cord which is easily adjusted to fit properly. There is a sewn in channel on the back of the plate carrier for your cummerbund to pass thru and it easily conceals the bungee fastening system. One feature of this carrier that I am extremely pleased with is the added pull handles sewn into the front parts of the cummerbund. It makes removing your carrier that much easier instead of trying to grab an end and pulling. The lower corners of the front panel have sewn in pull tabs making it easier, and less cumbersome, to lift the front panel for adjustment.
Both the front panel and rear panels are padded for comfort. Even without the use of plate backers, I felt no discomfort when I had the Speed Draw Plate Carrier on. After 3 stages at the competition and about 3 hours wearing the plate carrier, I expected to feel my SAPI plates a little. However, I had almost forgot that it was even being worn at all.
The padded shoulder straps help with comfortably. Not only are they adequately padded, but they are easily adjustable to allow for a greater range of motion and secure fit. After we finished up at the range, I removed the plate carrier and my neck showed no signs of the straps rubbing against my skin or the usual red marks you’d find on your shoulders.
The plates themselves are easily accessible and can easily inserted in both the front and rear panels. Simply open the velcro panel at the bottom, release the retainer strap, insert the plate, and then reattach the retainer strap over the bottom of the plate. The velcro strap secures to a panel sewn into the inside of the plate pouch. The entire bottom part of the plate is both secured and covered. It really doesn’t get any easier than that. After I inserted my SAPI plates, I vigorously shook and swung the carrier around to look for looseness or plate movement. I found none. The plates stayed put and did not shift or move at all.
Overall, I found the LBX Tactical Speed Draw Plate Carrier to be well made, high quality, and very comfortable to wear. It’s available in tan, MultiCam, LBX’s Project Honor pattern, and of course my favorite – M81 Woodland. The LX Tactical Speed Draw Plate Carrier retails for $169.96 and is available directly from LBX Tactical on their website.