Guide to Setting up Your Plate Carrier


Guide to Setting Up Your Plate Carrier

People engaging in dangerous or combat-driven situations, especially police and military personnel, can benefit from wearing a plate carrier. Also known as tactical vests or MOLLE vests in the armed services, plate carriers offer protection to critical areas, including your heart and lungs. But they also provide ample space to store items you'll need in the field of duty. 

It's hard to know what risks you might face in unpredictable situations like military combat or civil unrest. Law enforcement, members of the military and civilians alike have the right to stay protected when tensions reach a breaking point. Having protection and easy access to the items you need during these moments can be the difference between life and death. 

But knowing how to set up a tactical vest is as crucial as wearing this equipment in the first place. Continue reading to discover a proper bulletproof plate carrier setup. 

Plate Carrier Sizing and Fit

Whether you're starting a professional or civilian plate carrier setup, you need to achieve the correct sizing and fit. A properly fitting plate carrier will enable you to move on the field with agility, which is essential in situations where you may need to duck, cover or squeeze into tight areas. 

The first step is knowing the commonly available sizes of plate carrier vests. Most people can fit comfortably in a 10x12 Armor Plate Carrier, though larger or taller people may opt for the 11x14 Armor Plate Carrier variety. 

No two people have the same physique. The good news is that plate carrier vests have adjustable straps to fit different body types. For instance, the plate carrier vests from Atomic Defense have highly adaptable waists ranging from 26 inches to 50 inches. Atomic Defense plate carrier vests also include shoulder strap adjustment for a more individualized fit. 

The right fit for a plate carrier should have the following attributes.

  • Front plate: The top of the front plate should rest at the soft area below your neck, located between your collarbones. This feature serves to protect your lungs and heart from any frontal assaults. 
  • Rear plate: The top of the rear plate of a properly fitting plate carrier vest should rest a few inches below your shirt tag. This placement protects your lungs and heart from any rear-facing attacks. 

Note that plate carriers, like many types of shoes, become more comfortable the more you wear them. As you continue to wear your plate carrier, it will adjust to your body's shape and movements, leading to a more natural fit. Try doing a few large, exaggerated arm movements to get a feel for the fit of your plate carrier. 

Basic Plate Carrier Setup

Basic Plate Carrier Setup

Once you've chosen the appropriately sized plate carrier vest, it's time to set it up. Here are some basic guidelines to follow.

  • Adjust the straps: Set the adjustable waist and shoulder straps so the front and rear plates sit in their correct locations. These straps should be snug enough to secure the plate carrier vest to your body while still being comfortable to wear. 
  • Install the plates: Without the plates, your carrier vest will sag under the weight of the accessories. Choose the right carrier plates according to the type of gunfire you think you may face in the field. Note that more plates will lead to a heavier vest, but they will also offer more protection. 
  • Choose and install your accessories: The final step is deciding which accessories you'll need and where you'll place them on your plate carrier vest. Your preference should be the guiding force as you make these decisions. Consider your unique situation and make choices that are the best for your needs. 

Popular Accessories 

Many accessories are available for use with your plate carrier setup. These include essential items to cover you when you're out in the field, protecting you in various situations and potentially saving your life.

While military and police personnel may have to follow guidelines for where they place their accessories, civilians have the freedom to do what works for them. Here are some of the most popular accessories in a plate carrier setup and where to place them.

  • Magazines and ammo: Magazines and ammo differ depending on the weapon you'll be carrying. Place extra ammo on the front of your plate carrier, so you can easily access it and load your weapon without having to turn it. Note that if you will forego carrying a weapon, you can skip this step and carry around less weight. 
  • First-aid kit: Everyone should have a personal first-aid kit when planning to face a potentially dangerous situation. Your first-aid kit should be somewhere both of your hands can easily access it, or a nearby friend if you become incapacitated. For this reason, we recommend the lower back of the plate carrier vest. 
  • Communication devices: You may need to communicate with others for coordination and information purposes. Place your cellphone or radio near your chest for easy access. 
  • Administrative items: Use an administrative pouch to store items like papers, maps, writing utensils or spare batteries. Place your administrative pouch somewhere on the front of your carrier vest where you can access it while keeping it safe from impact. 

Military and Police Plate Carrier Setup

Police and military personnel have different needs for plate carrier setup than civilians may. Police officers may consider a police plate carrier setup or a police outer carrier setup. While some organizations may have strict codes for how to set up a plate carrier, many organizations are relaxing these rules so wearers can set up their plate carriers in a way that works for them. Here are some plate carrier setup recommendations for police officers and military personnel, whether they're doing a MOLLE vest setup or a police vest setup.

  • Pick the right plates: The first step is to select appropriately sized plates depending on the type of gunfire you could face in the line of duty. Examples include Level IIIA, Level III and Level IV. Each type is harder, denser and heavier than the last, and can withstand faster and larger bullets, respectively. 
  • Attach your magazines: If you expect you might have to draw and fire your weapon, you need to make sure you have extra ammo and magazines at the ready so you can continue to protect yourself. Place extra ammo in the front of your plate carrier for easy access. Some police or military personnel double up their ammo, but doing this may limit your ability to lie prone on the ground when seeking cover. 
  • Include a personal first-aid kit: Everyone in the line of duty should carry a small first-aid kit to keep them safe and healthy in case of injuries. Like civilian setups, it's best to keep the first-aid kit in a location where both hands can reach it at any time. This location is usually the lower back, but you may find a more comfortable spot in your final setup. 
  • Fill in the gaps: After you have the above items situated, it's time to fill in the gaps depending on your career. Flashlights, handcuffs, a radio and a nightstick are standard items for police officers that they can fit around their ammo and first-aid kit. Military personnel may need various other weapons or other items that correspond to their mission at hand. Whether you're a police officer or a military worker, you should strive to have all your items easily accessible across various circumstances. 

Shop Plate Carriers with Atomic Defense

Shop Plate Carriers From Atomic Defense

Atomic Defense has an excellent selection of plate carriers and plate carrier accessories to fit your needs. Whether you're a civilian, a police officer or a military service member, we have the gear to give you the setup you're looking for. We also have an extensive catalog of other products to help you stay safe and effective in your task, so browse our website to see more. 

Contact us online today if you would like to learn more about our products. 


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