A tactop plate carrier (also known as a plate carrier or back pack armor system) is an officially licensed item used for quick and efficient deployment by military and law enforcement personnel. They most often are used in conjunction with tactical vests designed to be worn over standard street clothing for extra protection. These vests come in a wide variety of configurations, such as extra-wide options that cover the entire torso for better concealment, a mid-chest design that leaves plenty of room to wield a pepper spray, and shoulder vests that are just long enough to cover the shoulders and upper arms.
The most common variation of a tactop plate carrier is the short-term version which can be worn for a few days in a row, while the longer variety can be worn continuously for up to a month. Many units will include two extra pieces of lightweight armor to be carried along at all times, in case the primary carrier needs to be retrieved for emergency use. However, some carriers are designed so that one can be worn simultaneously with the other. This way, two people can share the same vest for a longer period of time. There are a number of different companies that make and sell these items, including: Ironman, Blackwater Gear, Armor Holdings, Armor Plus, Armor Holdings Inc., Armalite Gear, Back Pack Armor, Diamond Plate, Federal Supply Server, Gerber Gear, Hines, Kwickie Gear, Masaiya Gear, Nylon Gear, Pike Sport, Security Direct, Stren, Trijicon, Under Armour, Valessi, Wedgex and Windlasses. There are a lot more manufacturers of plate carriers, but these are the most common ones you will see on law enforcement and civilian personnel around the country.
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A tactop plate carrier has its advantages. It is easy to use, lightweight, concealable (as long as it doesn’t touch the person transporting it), easily attached to a uniform, and offers a quick and simple way to increase the size of tactical vests. These plate carriers can also be used on cars, trucks, and motorcycles. The main advantage of this product, however, is that unlike the plates themselves, body armor doesn’t need to be attached to the vehicle.