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In recent years a new style of weapon used by criminals in many high profile mass shootings have been improvised with plate carriers and other backpacks: Soft armor vests. Soft armor vests, for those of you who don’t know, are basically like plate carriers except with a much lighter, easier to carry design. They allow the user to carry a heavier weapon without the need for a backpack, and because they are so easy to use and wear, they are favored by military and police units around the country. But why do people buy them?

Two basic styles currently exist, the tactop plate carrier (also known as tac vest) or soft plate carrier; both having very different characteristics, here’s how they compare. Soft armor vests are designed to hold a back and a front hard rifle plate, as far forward as possible. As far back as possible they will also hold handguns, hand guns, shotguns, and even assault rifles. The soft plates are padded and made out of heavy duty tear stop fabric. They can be worn over plate carriers in a backpack or worn over light battle Kevlar vests, making them virtually indestructible against any attack.

Hard plate carriers on the other hand are designed to withstand tremendous heat, which makes them effective in areas where there is a lot of vehicle damage from vehicle-to-vehicle impacts. Their large size also comes into play here as bigger back hard armor rifles, such as the M1 rifles, have a much longer range than smaller soft armor rifles, which are perfect for close encounters at close quarters. These large hard armor rifles also have a high firing rate, although not as high as the vests (click here). As you can see, one is much better suited to handling a specific type of weapon. This is why your mission is to find the carrier that best fits your needs.