The Guide To Choosing Your Tactical Vest

The problem of carrying equipment is certainly, for the combatant, a subject as old as the history of conflicts itself.

As in many areas, the choice of equipment carrier has been directly impacted, force oblige, depending on the appearance, constantly new, of new equipment.

If at one time it was relatively easy to find a solution to carry a sword and a dagger, it becomes more complex to find a global, ergonomic and sustainable solution for carrying an assault rifle, a handgun , spare chargers, a radio, an IFAK kit…etc…

But before getting to the heart of the matter, it should be remembered that a piece of equipment must be chosen according to:

  • From its own ergonomics
  • Of his psychomotor habits
  • Other pieces of equipment
  • Service requirements
  • mission requirements

I/ M.O.L.L.E. :

In the following lines you will frequently encounter the term MOLLE.

A name that has become more than common in the world of equipment.

But by the way MOLLE quèsaco?

The name MOLLE stands for “Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment” or in good French: “port modular d’Équipements Légers”.

A technical solution that was born in the American army and which, at the end of the 90s, became a standard for fixing equipment.

At present, manufacturers offer us the “TRADITIONAL MOLLE” and the “MOLLE LASER CUT”.

What are the differences between Traditional MOLLE and Laser Cut MOLLE?

The “TRADITIONAL MOLLE” consists of strips of fabric 3.8 cm wide (1.5”) and 2.5 cm (1”) high. They are sewn into the superstructure. Seams are made at 90 degrees to the direction of application. This process thus leaves a free space between each seam, a space which allows the attachment of equipment.

The “MOLLE LASER CUT” uses the same principle but this time nothing in the superstructure, the spaces are directly cut in the very frame of the support. This technique allows fixed equipment to be worn much more “closed” to the body. For the sake of longevity, some brands add an internal Kevlar lining making the whole thing tear-proof!

Concerning the field of vests, in preliminary questions it is necessary to take into account the following points:

  • Volume and type of equipment to be carried. It is the quantity to have on you that determines the volume and especially not the opposite!
  • Must be compatible (or not) with soft pack and/or ballistic plates

II/ The belt/MOLLE belt

If they do not fall into the category of vests strictly speaking, the case of military belts must be exposed here because they are an alternative that places them in both worlds: belt and vest!

Increasingly popular, MOLLE belts are particularly suitable for missions or interventions requiring light equipment.

This solution is adopted, for example, for light patrols, for a presence in the camp.

It’s easy to pack a handgun, spare magazines, IFAK kit and radio.

  • Different heights are available. For example, if the PT5 belts from Templar’s Gear with a height of 65 mm offer 3 “LASER CUT” type cutouts, the PT3 model from the same manufacturer has a maximum of 6 of these same cutouts thanks to its 160 mm high.
  • Often padded, MOLLE belts offer good wearing comfort even over long periods of time.

Whatever their size, these platforms must be supplemented by a traditional belt (supplied or not) which ensures the locking around the wearer’s waist.

In some cases, a “scratch” trouser belt completes the set (see part I above).

  • Pay attention to the fact that this type of belt, due to their dimensions, can quickly interfere with the wearing of a vest, in particular a plate carrier vest.
  • The top of the belt coming up against the bottom of the vest, causing the latter to move upwards and ultimately causing discomfort for the user.

III/ What type of Tactical Vest to choose?

We are talking here about vests that are not intended for the carriage of ballistic protection.

Two ways are possible:

The “naked” vest:

The advantage of the non-factory equipped MOLLE platform is that everyone will be able to configure it according to their needs and according to their personal ergonomics.

In addition, the payload chosen will be very easily adjustable according to the missions.

It is easy to specialize your personal configuration by removing or adding carrying units (pockets, pouches, magazine holders, etc.) expressly dedicated to this or that equipment.

The vest already composed

It is “ready to use”. In general, the latest generations offer carrying solutions that cover almost all current needs (loader doors, “cargo” pockets, radio door, etc.).

However, as each manufacturer likes to “put his stamp on it”, it is worth taking the time to compare in order to find the proposal that suits us best.

IV/ The plate carrier / The flexible pack carrier

N.B.: First of all take into account the fact that some vests will accept both ballistic plates and the soft pack. While others will only “investigate” the plates or the packs!

Just like for the tactical vest, this equipment is offered “naked” or already equipped!

. The ballistic protections provide de facto by their design an increase in heat and perspiration. It is important for the comfort of wearing the vest, especially over long periods, to move towards models offering generously sized ventilation channels from the outset, or as an option.

.Unstacking system (loop or velcro):

By velcro: effective system, adjustable, but noisy when handling it, especially in the unequipped phase

By loops: Quick and discreet installation. The so-called “maritime” models offer, for example, 4 attachments allowing an operator who has fallen into the water to un-equip himself by freeing himself at the level of the shoulders and on the sides

.Dimensions of the ballistic protections:

Particular attention must be paid to the compatibility between the vest and the ballistic protections.

If concerning the plates the usual dimensions are 25 cm X 30 cm, it must be kept in mind that the flexible packs have an extensive table of measurements and that the chosen vest must imperatively correspond, under penalty of a loss of protection capacities. .

For example: The Standard Bulletproof Cover from OPEX.

When possible, nothing replaces an in-store test, especially for soft pack wearers!

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