Your tactical vest is your best ally when it comes to combat. With that reason in mind, preparing your gear is as crucial as preparing yourself. Of course you don’t want to get shot while reaching for extra mags placed in the wrong side of your vest. Your chest rig will only be as useful as you prepare it to be. Here are some tips on how to set up your plate carrier.
#1 Keep things streamlined
You can’t just bring all types of gears no matter how much you want to. You will always end up bringing only the necessary ones simply because your vest has limitations on how much items it can carry. In addition to that, it is best to keep things simplified.
Make it a “standard” that your eyes must be downrange on the hazard zone while you’re reaching for an item. When needed, you must be able to reach every item easily without sacrificing visibility to your adversaries. This means without having the need to look at your pouches. Furthermore, make sure that you arrange your items in such a way that it enables smooth reloads and prevents accidental snags with cables or slings.
#2 Front pouch for mags
This is one of the fundamental laws of setting up plate carriers. A modest load of 5.56 rifle mags for instance would do well on your front pockets. This is as long as it’s not necessary for you to chest mount an extra pistol, carry stacks of magazines, communicate with multiple satcoms, or mount grenades. Most rigs can carry a single shingle of three mags. Depending on usage, this number is usually enough for a decent combat.
There are also double plated vests wherein you can double up your reload mags. This might sound interesting but be warned. You might run too “thick” and you’ll have a hard time boosting yourself over walls, window frames, roof lines, or rock ledges.
#3 Put things centered
Normally, you would want to put more weight on your weaker side. For instance, a right handed person would want to carry items on his left side so that he can move freely on his right. But it’s different when you are wearing a plate carrier. You pretty much have to balance things and distribute weight at the center.
If you’re strong at your right side, it’s best to balance it with a bleeder stopper set like BOK, IFAK, or whatever you have. Place it just at the right of your 3-mag shingle. Remember, don’t put it too far to the right.
Don’t stow your carrier to the extreme sides. Any of your hand must be able to access your bandage or pressure dressing.
Wounds to forearms and hands are pretty common in a close range gun fight. With this fact in mind, you must be able to access your aid kit with either hand also.
#4 Keep shoulders clean
Maintain the areas on your front shoulders to be as clean as possible. Keep this region clean of misc. pouches, killer knives, or emergency flashlights.
At some point, you might have to shift hands and block shots from your weak side. You might as well have to put your rifle butt over your shoulder to initiate a precisely aimed distance shot.
Prevent any clutter on the butt stock junction and allow yourself to have a more comfortable wear by keeping your shoulders clean.
#5 Make pistols easily available
Value offense as much as you value your defense. Pistols must be put in place where there’s no interference drawing it. It would be great if the real estate on the rig just above your draw line is not filled up. You must be able to execute a smooth transition drill by following this tip. This includes encountering not even a single pouch while dropping your hand to your pistol butt after dropping your rifle on its sling.
#6 Pistol reloads on belt line
Most men would want to equip their pistol through a belt holster while others want it at their thighs. If you’re one of those people who run a pistol off vest, you must keep your reloads within your belt line. But keep in mind the tip above. You must consider drawing your rifle mag with utmost ease without any intrusion while drawing it.
If you want to prepare more reloads, you can attach a spare on the higher side of your vest. You can also make use of your front pocket where you keep your mag shingles and mount your reload on the left face. However, it is still best to keep pistol mags on your gun belt and not on your vest.
#7 Use a hydro bladder
Another good tip is to have a hydro bladder which you can fasten to your carrier’s rear. You can utilize this useful add-on for storing items that you don’t usually need immediate access to. Examples include spare optic batteries, drive-on rag, water purification tablets, extra pressure dressing, or anything that will fit on it.
#8 Right place for a light
Reaching for tac-lights is never a quick draw contest. So putting it in a place where you’d have to reach across your body wouldn’t be dangerous. Remember the med kit mentioned above? You can attach a tac-light carrier just at its right. If it doesn’t suit your preference, you can mount it low and far left of your plate carrier. A nice spot would be down below the line of your armpit.
Lastly, you can also use an LED light on a neck chain, a pocket light, or a headlamp aside from conventional tac-lights. The idea is to not clutter up your vest with needless things. However, you just have to keep them off the front part of your rig if you really think you need to use them at some point. The same principle goes with tools and other things you can’t fight with.
There you have it. Hope this general and specific points of plate carrier setup could help you!