Assembling a Plate Carrier - a Tetris exercise with PALS pouches

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Plate Carriers are one of many options to form the base of your modular combat gear. This article covers short reasoning why to choose a plate carrier, which pouches are most advisable, and how to place them.

Plate Carrier and radio

Why would you choose a plate carrier

As the name implies, Plate Carriers are designed to carry armor plates and offer a base on which to attach modular pouches. If armor plates are not necessary for your mission, it's better to choose something else like a Chestrig. A PC without the plates is just an air carrier.

Plate Carrier and M05 General Purpose Pouch

The selection of pouches

Plate Carriers are not an exception to the rule that the equipment and accessories should come first and the necessary pouches second. Define what you must carry on your person and choose the pouches accordingly, instead of just slapping on some pouches you think may be necessary or you've see others use while looking cool.

Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. Keep your PC-setup as light and streamlined as possible. Armor plates add their weight to the whole already and any extra stuff adds bulk and weight that hinders your movement in various situations, vehicles, and confined spaces.

Plate Carrier and Hanger Pouch

The limitations of the platform and other gear

The order of pouches on a PC is always a compromise: the perfect setup does not exist. However, some rules of thumb may help you get started:

Life-saving items must be accessible with either hand. These include medical items you may use on yourself like a tourniquet but also magazines for emergency reloads and a knife.

Keep large pouches away from above your pistol where they would interfere with the draw. This goes for any other pouch that may require a speedy deployment: keep a clear access to them, including the space you need to actually get them out of the pouch.

Do not serve knives or other close-encounter tools on a plate to others. Sure, an inverted knife on your support-side shoulder may look very rambolicious but it's too easy for a BG to grab it and move just a few inches to meet your neck, that's bad JuJu.

Plate Carrier as part of a whole set

Fast access vs. improved protection and retention

The type of pouches is a matter of taste and mission requirements but also an unavoidable compromise. Open-top pouches are fast but your gear will be more exposed and slightly more likely to fall out compared to pouches with secure lids.

It's worth considering a happy medium where only the essential items have speedy access while spare magazines and administrative equipment are carried with a higher level of protection and retention. With some pouches, such as the Särmä TST Rifle Magazine Pouch and Pistol Magazine Pouch, you can configure the pouch in various ways according to your needs.

Plate Carrier as part of a whole set

The testrun never ends

Once everything looks and feels right in front of the bedroom mirror, it's time to avoid the trap of thinking you're smarter than everyone else. While there are a few ways to get these right and you may have found many of them, there's a countless amount of options how to make poor choices. The only way to really iron out the kinks in your gear is to use them, preferably on the clock while others are watching you.

So grab your gear and bring them to dynamic shooting events like the Brutality 2-Gun Action Matches. If you're really clever, you'll pay a few visits to the range beforehand - in secret, of course.

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