Monday, November 4, 2013

BAD Gear: Blue Force Gear BFG PLATEminus

If you don't have body armour, your job is not bad ass enough. For over 10 years, I've worn a few different kinds of body armour, and with that - armour carriers. The one I am use to the most, has been the Eagle Industries CIRAS. While it has been the workhorse for a long time (due to its incredible strength and durability), it is meant for a more aggressive role over a longer period of time. I picked up the PLATEminus from Darren at for $179.00 Canadian. That's a great price considering basic plate carriers with MOLLE start at 170 for the Shellback Banshee to the SKD PIG at $329.

Fast foward to 2013 and there are myriad types of armour carriers out there, each professing to perform better than its competitors. In fact, with each generation of carrier, what we learn from fighting bad guys is indeed incorporated into subsequent iterations. As armour itself becomes more durable, flexible, lighter, we also see the complimentary changes within the carrier themselves. Also, a big part of how carriers are evolving relates to the shift from traditional dismounted infantry roles to mounted lite fighting. Armour is being worn, not just by traditional soldier-types, but also PSD, medics, NGOs, uniformed police, plainclothes police, security officers, special operations, amongst others.

Even in my career, I've transitioned from soldier to contracting, and even then I carry phones and comms more than I carry an AK. Even so, armour is a requirement for PPE. I was considering the SKD PIG, the Mayflower APC and the BFG LMAC, but I opted for this one. The main reason is that I can easily utilized my Chest Rig on top of it. Now, with the other ones you can, but there's extra bulk. With the PLATEminus its very thin and minimalist so my Tactical Tailor MAV just sits on top.  In comes the BFG PLATEminus. First thing I'm going to say is that, IT'S NOT FOR ALL ROLES!

I say this because if you think its a replacement for a full-on military patrol rig, you're wrong. Many of the features that make the CIRAS great for that kind of work is absent from this piece. Out of the box it does not have side protectors, nor does it have inner cumberbund - most importantly it does not accommodate soft armour (just backers). Note that it also does not have a grab-handle. Nor would I trust the ITW buckles to keep me harnessed in on an aerial platform (thats what riggers belts are for). This is an extremely minimalist LOW-PROFILE plate carrier. This is a very specific piece of kit designed for standalone (E)SAPI plates (III or IV) with backers in medium or large.

Here are the marketing specs:
MOLLEminus™ Technology - which really is the inverse of the traditional MOLLE system
Contructed from ULTRAcomp™ - as far as I can tell is very similar to Cam Nets. Its half the thickness of a dime and 4x abrasion resistant as 1000d CORDURA®. Apprently it can also be cut and is ripstop.
ITW GhillieTEX™ Low IR attachments cinches the 1" webbing elastic side straps for movement and breathability
Aerospacer Mesh

PLATEminus’ plate pockets are constructed from color matched CORDURA® for maximum signature reduction - eliminating black plates showing through the MOLLEminus front or the need for separate plate socks or painting.  The back of the plate pockets are Tweave to allow some “give” for various plate sizes or shapes.

PLATEminus’ shoulder straps are fully adjustable for length with hook and
loop closures that can accept the LMAC Enhanced Shoulder Pads. The straps feature sewn in One-Wrap for cable and hydration routing. The shoulder straps are edge stable and can be cut to length by the end user in order to trim additional grams and bulk. I love this for mounted roles, where getting in and out of civilian up-armoured vehicles (as well as APC's) present a mobility issue. There's lots of range-of-motion with this carrier, and my shoulders have full movement.

I've been using it for a while now as a replacement package to my CIRAS. With recently issued standalone IV plates, I retired the CIRAS in favour of the PLATEminus. The low-profile signature (both in footprint and in colour) enables me to wear it either on top of underneath a jacket. I don't have a Grey (Arc'teryx "Wolf") colour jacket, but its ok with black and grey. I'm not trying to win any colour contest, but I think that grey is the best option for low pro.

In these pictures, its worn over my LEAF Alpha jacket, but I can also wear it under the jacket, on top of my tactical Ralph Lauren Polo Merino Wool Sweater. This is the perfect piece of kit for those of you working in the tropics where traditional CORDURA® will get soaking wet and heavy. Also, if you're like me and work with clients who'd rather not be walking around with a seemingly Blackwater/XE contractor types, this be the one for you. Also, if you're like me and you tend to futz in the office, until somebody yells, "LET'S GO FOR LUNCH AT THE PRESIDENTIAL!!!!!" then you just slip it over top, snap the sides in place, put on your jacket, and go for some great Lebanese (those guys, they're taking over Africa catering by the way).

As I said this plate carrier isn't for all roles. In fact, I'd personally limit it to those who need to smuggle it inside your packed shoes through contractorus non grata zones, and of course those roles I mentioned above. Because it does not offer side plate protection, I wouldn't bring this into an active GWOT zone;  active shooter critical incident - fo' sho. Also, if you have really old-school steel shitty plates, then you may want to rethink this piece of kit. Limited shoulder padding, as well as non-adjustability of the plates internally, as well as no cumberbund renders this kit to specialized role where lightfighting is key and you don't mind bouncy plates for a short time frame. Now, having said that, I have a large carrier, and large plates, and I notice extremely little movement of the plates. If you have non-standard sized plates, then you will have to test for yourself.

Oh yeah, this thing has a lifetime warranty and is Made in the USA.

Some sort of Room Entry thing

More Room Entry thing

The PLATEminus on my body in action

Oh No's PLATEminus on the ground and dirty

Damn, my ass, it looks good. Definately Bad Ass

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Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.