Platform Bulletproof Vests

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When you are in a tight spot, a tactical advantage is everything. Having just your plate carrier and your weapon seems enough at first, but there wasn’t a plan yet that survived the first contact. Your platform bulletproof vest is there to attach all of the things you need to get yourself and your team from a tight spot, or to prevent getting into that spot in the first place. There are three things that a platform vest must have:
  • Easy loading/unloading capabilities
  • Good weight distribution
  • Easy plate change
Although most vests that are adjusted to be platforms or have a capability to add such a feature will be carried with a hard plate, a hard plate is not a strict requirement for a platform vest. Because they will have a pocket for a ballistic panel, you can change the type of protection you can use. Ideally, a security company can buy several different types of protection to use on the same vest. This way the price would be overall less than buying several models, especially if it is combined with other gear. Thankfully, there are combination options for sale, and you can usually determine by the specs which kinds of pouches and attachments you can place on the platform.

What Makes a Platform Bulletproof Vest?

Generally, when we mention platform vests, we refer to any type of carrier with MOLLE webbing or other ways to attach a lot of gear, especially when combined with a battle belt. But, a plate carrier that can accommodate a good chest rig that would serve as a platform would also become such a vest. Aside from the webbing and attachments for the gear, a good load-bearing system should also be in place. Having a lot of gear on your chest and sides will disturb the natural balance of the body, and you will need something to compensate if you want to keep the soldier’s back and spine healthy long-term. Finally, the vest should have good ventilation and solid padding. Comfort may not be the main thing that comes to mind with overt military vests, but it is crucial during an extended mission.  Good ventilation and weight distribution will allow for greater maneuverability and conserve some of the energy. Because of the specialized nature of most missions that require a platform vest, having lower fatigue levels will be crucial. 

Protection Levels in Platform Vests

While it is plausible to use lower NIJ levels for a platform vest, that would be somewhat pointless considering the overall weight. Technically, a platform vest can house any type of ballistic panel or a hard plate, but the latter is more common. As you can easily swap plates, using NIJ Level III and Level IV is common. Most army units and police departments go for Level III or Level III+ as their regular plates. Then, if there is a situation where soldiers may be under fire from armor-piercing rounds, they would slide in Level IV hard plate armor. For security companies and private protection providers, using UHMWPE NIJ Level III+ plates is often the optimal choice. These plates are relatively light and offer protection from anti-personnel rifles. Combined with the tactical advantages of a platform vest, they can make a very versatile unit.

When Would You Need a Platform Vest?

While some security providers may opt for a platform vest as a general tool that would house a variety of gear, this would have more to do with hedging your bets than using the maximum advantage of this type of vest. Where a platform vest shines is in specialized missions where some types of equipment will be used regularly. This includes medical and rescue missions, search and recovery, as well as quick assaults and dropdowns. For medical missions, the whole kit can be placed right in front of the medic and be available the moment they arrive at the scene without the need to lay their tools next to the. For rescue and first aid performed on difficult terrain, this advantage can mean the difference between life and death. For combat missions, platform vests can house additional ammo holsters, grenade pouches, as well as other tactical gear compartments. By bringing them into the field, the soldiers will quickly adapt to the changes in the situation and respond using the best tactics available to them. Finally, a good platform vest layout can turn every soldier into a self-sufficient tactical piece. Because of its versatility, you can have your medic provide grenade cover. For small teams with a wide variety of missions, this can prove to be invaluable.