Most people who like shooting have already seen a tactical vest up close when they spent time on the shooting range or when they went hunting, so they know a tactical vest can be used for carrying and storing many tools, accessories, and ammunition. But did you know that tactical vests have a secret pocket for storing a hydration bladder to keep you hydrated? The following article presents the various types of tactical vests including best plate carriers and the advantages and disadvantages of wearing one. Our tactical vests reviews present the best-selling models and the pros and cons of each model.
Tactical vests were first invented to offer protection for those working for law enforcement and military agencies, but they are used by a lot of other people now. They are designed with convenience and comfort in mind, so they contain a lot of different sized pockets and pouches, allowing the used to store equipment, weapons, ammunition, and supplies. Choosing the best tactical vest depends on its purpose, versatility, functionality, and comfort. If you have an idea on how you’re most likely to use the vest, finding the right one is just a matter of time.[go_pricing id=”tacticalvest”]
Best Plate Carriers and Vests (Updated List)
1. Yakeda Army Tactical Vest
This tactical vest has a nylon mesh structure on which the rest of the adjustable accessories are attached. This material will allow your body to breathe even in the warmest and most humid conditions. The vest is “one size fits all”, so once you adjust the straps and belts it should fit you perfectly. The vest comes with a lot of attachable accessories you can use. The vest’s right shoulder has a rubber padding which will lower the recoil for any right handed shooter using a rifle. A right handed shooter can also mount the detachable draw holster on the left side of the vest. Unfortunately, this holster cannot be attached to the right, making it useless for left handed shooters. There are several pouches that come with the vest. The magazine pouches will hold a regular AR magazine, but if you use the extended magazines you won’t be able to close the Velcro top, so they might slip. However, you can store the extended magazines in the interior pockets where they will fit nicely.
- Highly Functional – This vest comes with a lot of mountable accessories, so you’ll be able to use it in various scenarios.
- Good Quality – The vest is made out of heavy duty material and the stitches and Velcro are top quality
- One Size Doesn’t Fit All – The vest is designed to fit all sizes, but if you’re a particularly large person it won’t fit you properly.
2. UTG Tactical Scenario Vest
This tactical vest will provide a comfortable wear and still be highly functional at the same time. The vest should fit most people and it comes with adjustable straps to change its girth and length. The vest uses a mesh system which will release most of the moisture and heat from your body. The vest has two interior map and documents pockets which are closed with a zipper. The back mesh pocket can be used as a hydration bladder holder. The vest also comes with an adjustable pistol belt complete with pouches. There are 4 adjustable rifle magazine pouches and 3 pistol pouches. The vest also has an adjustable cross draw pistol holster you can use on either side or attach to the pistol belt.
- Universal Cross Draw Holster – The pistol holster can be used on either side or it can be attached to the belt, so every shooter will be able to use it comfortably.
- Durable Nylon Mesh – The vest’s nylon mesh is very strong and it should last for a very long time.
- Shoulder Pad Is Not Adjustable – This vest’s shoulder pad is not adjustable, so if you’re a left-handed shooter you’ll have the pad on the opposite shoulder without any use for it.
3. UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest
This tactical vest will provide a comfortable wear no matter how warm it gets. The nylon mesh will allow most of the humidity and warmth produced by your body to be dispersed in the surrounding air. The vest has high-quality zippers to hold it tight next to your body. The adjustable straps allow it to change sizes both in length and in girth. The vest comes with a lot of adjustable accessories and a high-quality pistol belt complete with pouches. Most shooters will be able to use the universal cross-draw pistol holder since it can be placed in various positions to be drawn with either the left or right hand. You can even mount the pistol holder to the belt and place an additional double magazine pouch in its place on the vest.
- Tough – This vest is made out of durable materials and it will be able to withstand anything you put it through.
- A Lot Of Magazines – If you mount the pistol holster on the belt and use the additional rifle magazine pouch, you’ll have a total of 6 rifle magazine pockets and 5 pistol magazines
- Sharp Corners – This vest’s Velcro sections have sharp corners and they can scratch and annoy you.
4. Nc Star Vest
This tactical vest is constructed out of tough PVC and high-quality mesh webbing, providing maximum durability and comfort at the same time. The vest has a front zipper and uses 2 buckles and 3 adjustment straps on both sides to make sure it will fit your body exactly how you want it to. The vest comes with 3 Rifle magazine compartments, 4 magazine pouches which will hold one or two of the most popular pistol magazines each, one large utility pouch, and a fully adjustable universal cross-draw pistol holder. The vest also comes with a pistol belt complete with 2 pistol magazine pouches you’ll also be able to use for storing various tools, flashlights or folding knives. The belt attaches to the vest using buckle flaps, so it keeps everything in place.
- Fits Most People – This vest was designed to fit most people, but its actual size will hold everybody wearing a T-shirt sized S – XXL, or even larger
- MOLLE Compatible – This vest is MOLLE compatible, so you will be able to attach all your other MOLLE accessories to it
- Sewn-in Magazine Pouches – The magazine pouches on the vest are not adjustable, so you can’t move them around or remove them as you would like.
5. Voodoo Tactical MSP-06 Entry Assault Vest
This tactical vest uses 3 side-release adjustable web strapped buckles and one adjustable shoulder strap on each side to ensure a proper tight fit for every shooter. The nylon web mesh and PVC material will provide increased protection while allowing your body to breathe, ensuring a comfortable wear even after long periods of time. The vest comes with 3 rifle magazine pockets and 4 pistol magazines pockets. 3 of the pistol pockets are attached to the vest, while the fourth one is attached directly to the adjustable pistol holster. The vest also has a first aid large pouch which can be used for additional magazine storing, 2 inside zippered document pockets and many universal attachment straps you can use for additional pockets.
- Good Quality – This vest’s manufacturers knew what they were doing when designing this product. The vest is made out of high-quality materials and it’s built to last a long time.
- Highly Adjustable – The vest is highly adjustable so one size will fit more people with different builds easily.
- Right-Handed Pistol Holster – This vest’s pistol holder can be attached in different positions, but it can’t be used properly by a left handed shooter.
6. Condor Sentry Vest | Tactical Vest
This adjustable tactical vest is specially designed to be worn over your usual gear. The vest is lightweight and it can be quickly adjusted using the shoulder straps and the quick release buckles on both sides to fit most people. The vest’s interior is made out of padded mesh. This will allow you to wear the vest and be comfortable even in warm and humid environments because the vest will not trap the warmth and humidity generated by the body within it. This vest was designed as a plate carrier. The vest alone has no ballistic protection, but it can hold 10×12 SAPI plates both on the front and the rear. The vest also has MOLLE rows which are sewn correctly and spaced accordingly.
- MOLLE Compatible – This vest is MOLLE compatible so you’ll be able to attach all the other MOLLE compatible accessories to it without any kind of problems.
- Can Hold Plates – This vest was designed as a plate carrier. It can hold rifle plates of up to 10×12.
- No Accessories – This tactical vest doesn’t come with any accessories. However, there are straps sewn into the vest, so you’ll be able to attach anything you want on it.
How to Choose the Best Tactical Vest that Suits your Needs?
Most people think that finding the right tactical vest is not that difficult. How hard can it be? It’s just a vest, after all. The truth is that there is more that one type of tactical vests and each type does some things better than others. The following section will explain what to look for when you decide on buying a tactical vest.
- Vest Type
There is more than one vest type, so you should know what you’re actually buying before you do.
- Multi-functional Vest – This type of vest comes with different accessories and pockets. Most of them have multiple rifle magazine pockets, pistol magazine pockets, a medical pouch, a specially designed radio pocket, and other accessories. They also have a universal pistol holster attached, and most of the times the holster is detachable, so you’ll be able to move it in a position which allows you to draw fast. These vests have a large storing capacity and you’ll be able to take many rifle or pistol magazines with you, along with a radio, flashlight, a multitool, or anything else you might need in a tactical situation. They are very adjustable and come with multiple straps on the side and at least one on each shoulder so you can adjust them both in girth and in length to ensure a proper fit. This type of vests doesn’t offer ballistic protection, and even if you have internal mesh pouches or pockets, you won’t be able to use them for placing rifle plates. However, you will be able to use these pockets for storing maps, documents, or a hydration bladder on the back.
- Plate Carriers – This type of vests is specially designed with one purpose in mind. They will allow you to carry plates so you can be protected in the case of an armed exchange. The vests alone don’t offer any ballistic protection, but you can use them to carry plates both in the front or in the back. They are specially designed to fit over your usual gear, and you can adjust them using straps on the sides or on the shoulders. They can be adjusted both in length and in width. They usually come without additional accessories, and they never include the ballistic plates. However, they are compatible with other accessories, pockets, and pouches, and they’re usually MOLLE compatible. This means that every other accessory which is MOLLE compatible will be able to attach to them nicely, so you can accessorize them as you wish.
- Fabrics Used
There are a lot of different fabrics used in the production of tactical vests, but here are the most common used ones and their advantages.
- Nylon Mesh – Most manufacturers use the nylon mesh as the structure on which they build the vest. The reason behind this popular build is that the nylon mesh is lightweight but durable. Another reason for using nylon mesh as a structure is the fact that the vest is usually worn over your regular gear, be it a T-shirt, blouse, shirt, or jacket. If the vest were constructed from something else, it would add to the insulation, making you warmer. This might have been a good thing in the cold season, but if you’re in a warm and humid environment humidity is the last thing you need. That is why most manufacturers will use nylon mesh for the tactical vest’s structure. You will be able to use it over your regular gear without having to suffer from the heat it traps, or from the cold it doesn’t block.
- PVC – PVC is usually used over the nylon mesh for similar reasons. It’s lightweight and durable, and it won’t interfere with your clothing preferences. Another reason why PVC is used is its strain and tear resistance. This material is very durable and it will hold a lot of weight without any kind of problems. This makes PVC suitable to hold the Velcro straps sewn into it. You can attach any number of pockets and pouches, and the material will hold them all without rips or tears no matter how much ammunition you store in them.
- Rubber Surfaces – Some manufacturers incorporate some rubber surfaces in their vests. The role of the rubber is to stop or lower the impact of the recoil the shooter will be able to feel. The rubber patches are usually positioned on the right shoulder.
This is an important part of your vest. Most shooters have their own preferences when it comes to pockets locations, and everyone like to place their pistol holster just right. Having a tactical vest with many adjustable accessories will allow you to change their locations or remove them completely exactly as you would like. Adjustability should be very important to you if you are a left-handed shooter. Most tactical vests are designed for right-handed shooters, so if you’re a lefty you’ll need to make many adjustments.
When And Why Should You Wear A Tactical Vest?
There are a lot of situations when wearing a tactical vest will give you an advantage. The following section addresses some of these scenarios.
- Tactical Situation
If you’re involved in a tactical situation, wearing the right gear can make the difference between getting out of it unscathed or not. In this situation, wearing a tactical vest is not optional, it’s mandatory. The best decision in a tactical scenario is to wear plate carrier tactical vests. These vests are specially designed to hold ballistic armor plates. Most of them will be able to fit a 10×12 rifle plate perfectly, but other plates sizes can be used with some models.
However, in a tactical situation not only the plate matters. It’s also important to be able to reach all your ammo and accessories. This is where a tactical vest is essential. It’s true that most people involved in a tactical scenario use other elements of tactical gear, like tactical pants or gloves as well, but neither of them gives you the same advantages as the vest. Tactical pants can also be used to store different accessories, gadgets, or ammunition magazines, but they are more difficult to reach than the vest, and they can be uncomfortable to wear when they’re filled with ammo and weigh a lot.
Most tactical vests are MOLLE compatible, so you’ll be able to attach all other MOLLE compatible accessories on them. You will be able to attach holsters, ammunition pockets, radio pockets, grenade pockets, medical pouches, and more. You can configure them to match your exact needs, so you’ll have the advantage of entering a tactical situation with all the gear and accessories you’ll use in reaching distance.
- Combat Training Or Shooting Practice
If you’re going to be involved in a tactical situation at some point, you have to be ready for it. That’s why it will be better if you wear your tactical vest during combat training, or during your shooting practice. This way you’ll get used to the extra weight you’ll have to carry in a tactical situation and you’ll perform better. If you don’t want to drag all your equipment with you every time you go to the shooting range, you can just fill some of the pockets with weights which will be similar to the ones you’ll wear in the field. However, using this technique might not be the best since the weight won’t be distributed properly over the whole surface of the belt.
No matter if you use weights or equipment in your training, you definitely have to wear your armor plates if you’re going to use them in a tactical scenario. Their weight will make acquiring and aiming at a target slightly different that what you’re used to because they will put some extra pressure on your back and shoulders. You have to practice while wearing them if you want to perform well in a tactical situation.
- Hunting Vest
People who enjoy hunting know that wearing a tactical vest is an advantage every time you’re stalking, baiting, or blind hunting. The extra pockets on the vest allow you to carry more gear with you, but you can also carry snacks and water if you have to. If you’re blind hunting, wearing a hunting vest can represent a big advantage, as you can have everything you need at close range. You can fill your hydration bladder and store it on the back mesh, so you can have a drink from time to time, and you can hold highly nutritive snacks in the larger pockets so you’ll be able to last longer while waiting for the animals to appear in front of your shooting position. Tactical vests can be used with great results in other forms of hunting as well. You can use them while stalking or tracking to store your accessories or extra ammunition, or you can use them for storing your calling accessories.
- Paintball Or Airsoft Vest
Despite the fact that many people still consider paintball and airsoft as being games, both sports have become more competitive and more demanding over the years. Modern paintball and airsoft competitions have larger prizes and use more gadgets than they had just a few years ago. With both of these sports gaining in popularity, they have also become more demanding. This means you have to be better equipped if you want to perform well in a paintball or airsoft match. A paintball vest will allow you to keep your extra ammunition close and will allow you to store every accessory you need safely.
- Fishing Vest
Fishing is a great way to spend time relaxing in nature. A fishing vest will allow you to keep all the necessary accessories and tools close to you when you go fishing, even when you decide to change between several spots. You won’t have to carry all your fishing gear with you. Just store the essentials in your vest and you’re good to go.
10 Most Common Questions Regarding Best Plate Carriers!
- Is This Tactical Vest Bulletproof?
This is probably the most popular question about tactical vests you’ll find online. Here’s what you should know about this topic.
- There is no such thing as a bulletproof vest. Actually, there is no single accessory you can wear that can be bulletproof. Best case is, the tactical vest will be bullet resistant. There are only a few things actually bulletproof on this planet, and vests are not part of them.
- Even though some tactical vests can be bullet resistant, you won’t be able to buy them as such. Most vest manufacturers only produce the vests, while other companies produce the bulletproof plates that go in the vests to make them bullet resistant. Some companies produce both vests and plates, but they still don’t sell them as a bundle. The reason behind this is that you can choose between more than one type of ballistic plates for your protection. The thicker and more resistant the plate, the more expensive they will be.
- Not all tactical vests can be used as bullet-resistant vests. Some of them won’t support ballistic plates.
- If you want to buy a bullet-resistant vest, you should look for the best plate carrier models in the market. They are specially designed to fit different types ballistic plates, and most of them will accommodate plates with sizes of up to 10×12.
- Keep in mind that a bulletproof vest will not make you Superman. Each ballistic plate is able to withstand a certain amount of force and pressure. If that certain amount is exceeded, the bullet may pass through the plate and enter your body, albeit with less force. The plates are also placed on the front and on the back of the vest. The regions under or above the plates, as well as those on their sides, will not offer any protection.
- A bulletproof vest will not protect you from stabs or slashes. If you need a vest which will be able to withstand an attack coming from a knife, you need to buy a multi-threat vest. These are usually heavier and more expensive.
- Is The Vest Going To Keep Me Warm?
Another popular question you’ll find on the Internet. Most people wonder if they will be able to wear the tactical vest as clothing when the temperatures drop. The answer is no, you won’t be comfortable wearing only a tactical vest in the cold. Here is why.
- Tactical vests are designed to be worn over your usual gear. If you want to go shooting in the high summer temperatures, you can wear a tactical vest right over your T-shirt. If you want to shoot during the cold months of winter, you can wear it over your jacket.
- Tactical vests manufacturers specially design them to be comfortable and not to trap the heat and moisture produced by your body. This makes them poor insulators, so you won’t be able to wear them in the cold over your T-shirt and be comfortable.
- How Many Ammo Magazines Will My Vest Hold?
There is no general answer to this question. Some tactical vest models can hold up to 5 rifle magazines and 5 pistol magazines at the same time, while others can only hold up to 3 rifle magazines and 5 pistol ones or less, depending on the model. You should be able to find this information in the product description section or on the manufacturer’s website.
- Will My Tactical Vest Hold Extended Rifle Magazines?
Most tactical vests have rifle magazine pockets which are specially designed to hold a standard magazine. If you try storing an extended clip in them, you won’t be able to close the top, so there is always a risk of losing them in a tactical situation. However, you can store the extended clips in the larger interior pockets. If your tactical vest is MOLLE compatible you can buy special pockets for extended magazines and attach them to the vest.
- Is My Tactical Vest MOLLE Compatible?
This depends on the vest’s style.
- Plate carriers are usually compatible and they have MOLLE webbing all over their surface, allowing you to arrange any MOLLE compatible pouch anywhere you’d like. They are usually more expensive than other tactical vests.
- Cross-draw vests are usually not MOLLE compatible, or if they are, they are not fully compatible. The models that aren’t compatible usually have all of their pouches and pockets sewn into them. This doesn’t leave any available space for MOLLE webbing, so you won’t be able to mount additional pouches on them. The models which are partially compatible have a section of MOLLE webbing, so you’ll be able to mount some additional pouches on them.
- Will My Tactical Vest Fit?
This is always a problem when buying something online. The best way to get answers is either reading the online reviews or checking up with the customer service.
- Can I Wash A Tactical Vest?
You shouldn’t machine wash your tactical vest unless the manufacturer’s instructions clearly state so. Most of the times you’ll be able to remove most of the stains with a wet cloth.
- How Much Does A Tactical Vest Weigh?
Tactical vests’ weight differs from one model to another. However, most of them weigh between 2 – 6 pounds when their pockets are empty.
- Can I Add Pockets To My Tactical Vest?
If your tactical vest is MOLLE compatible you can add as many pockets as you’d like. If your vest is a cross draw model, chances are you won’t be able to add more.
- What Is The Strap On The Back Of My Tactical Vest Supposed To Do?
That strap should allow you to carry the vest easier. It will also allow you to drag someone wearing the vest to safety, if necessary.
Best Tactical Vest Comparison Chart
|Yakeda Army Tactical Vest
|Nylon mesh material
|Hook-and-loop Closure, Drain Holes and Elastic to Hold Mags Tight
|UTG Tactical Scenario Vest
|Sturdy nylon webbing with heavy plastic zipper and heavy mesh
|Velcro Closure, Drain Holes and Elastic to Hold Mags Tight
|UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest
|Nylon mesh material
|Velcro Closure, Drain Holes and Elastic to Hold Mags Tight
|Nc Star Vest
|Tough PVC on top of mesh webbing
|Length is adjustable
Heavy duty rescue drag handle and loop patch
|Voodoo Tactical MSP-06 Entry Assault Vest
Adjustable web straps
Adjustable shoulder straps
|Condor Sentry Vest Tactical Vest
|Hook & Loop Webbing Panels | Padded Mesh Interior Lining
We’re confident that once you’ve read our short reviews and the comprehensive buying guide, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which is the best tactical vest for your needs. Now that you know what model to buy, keep in mind you have to pick the best color for your situation. Sometimes it’s best to find a color which will make you blend into the environment, so you’ll be harder to spot, like in a tactical scenario, in an airsoft match, or when playing paintball. Other times it’s better to choose a color that will make you stand out against the environment, like when you’re out hunting, or when you’re fishing. Standing out in a hunting area can actually save your life, so make sure you’re going to choose accordingly.
You should always think about your specific needs when you’re looking for a tactical vest, gloves, pants or any other necessary tactical outfit, even just a boot knife; so you shouldn’t buy a model just because it looks cool. A hunter may pick a different model from that picked by a hiker, which in turn may be different from that picked by an airsoft shooter. Since you’re looking to buy some tactical gear, make sure you check out our articles and products on ShootingandSafety.com.