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Plate Carriers for Big Guys

5D Tactical - 30th Mar 2022

Big guys are often overlooked when it comes to safety and protection. Not everyone is built like a Navy SEAL and big guys deserve protection too (or to look just as cool at the range or while playing airsoft)! Plate carriers are an important aspect of protection that can and should be included in everyone’s kit, no matter what size we are.

With that in mind, how do we choose the right armor for a bigger guy? Thankfully for us fat guys, there are many adjustable plate carriers on the market today that come in many different sizes so this task isn’t nearly as daunting as it may seem! Read on to find out how to choose the best plate carrier for big guys!

How to choose the best plate carrier for big guys

As we delve deeper into this topic it’s important to keep in mind that plate carriers are meant to carry armor to cover vital organs only and that goes for any size of person. These are not meant to be a full-body protection solution and that means that we must find the proper size plate carrier to hold armor that is the right size for our frame.

Make sure to find one that has MOLLE webbing so that you can attach a wide variety of pouches for magazines, a radio or trauma kits. Some plate carriers or tactical vests will also come with pockets or velcro pouches to carry your gear which can be convenient if you’re not planning on buying a lot of dedicated pouches. Just like what the average person looks for when buying clothing, we also do the same sort of mental checklist when we’re shopping for a plate carrier - we are looking for fit, protection, comfort, convenience and how tacticool we look.

As a side note, we love playing airsoft because it’s an effective training tool, great cardio and just a lot of good fun. Some veterans have even said that playing airsoft is great therapy for PTSD! Remember to train often wearing your plate carrier or chest rig because wearing armor will change how you shoot your weapon and move. Training is always the most important thing, otherwise your gear will be useless.

Do Plate Carriers come in different sizes?

In general, a big guy’s organs are the same size as anyone else, we just keep them under some extra padding. This means, some basic concepts of biology are in order. Try to find the biggest set of armor plates you can find. Remember that these can go across your sides, front and back side of your plate carrier. Try to find something that covers all the vital organs, but still allows you to move around. We also need to find a larger sized plate carrier.

What plate carrier size should I get?

When sizing yourself for a plate carrier, measure the circumference of your waist (around the navel) and chest. Using that number, find a carrier in the same size you wear in a shirt. So, if you wear an XL shirt, find the XL size of the carrier, then make sure the maximum waist and chest circumferences are large enough to fit. Thankfully for us big guys, there are now plentiful options on the market to fit all body sizes! For instance, this plate carrier from Condor has an adjustable waist circumference from 34” to 50”.

The Condor Vanquish Plate Carrier in Flat Dark Earth

We understand that Condor may not be everyone's cup of tea, so here are some additional options can considers, hoss:

Spartan Armor - Sentinel Legion XL Plate Carrier 

Valken - XL Plate Carrier II

Rothco - Oversized 3XL Adjustable Plate Carrier 

What armor size should I get?

To size yourself for armor plates for your plate carrier, measure nipple to nipple across your chest to get your width. Then measure from the top of your sternum down to your belly button, subtracting 2”-3” to get your height. The top edge of the back plate should align with the top edge of your front plate and the bottom edge should be about ¾ of an inch above your belt in the back. You usually only have a couple options for side plates, so buy those based on the side plate pockets on the carrier you purchase. When you go to choose armor plates for your carrier, be aware of the level of protection that each plate size offers

  • Level IIIA - Rated up to a .44 Magnum
  • Level III - Rated up to a .308/7.62 NATO
  • Level IV - Rated up to a 30-06

Should I buy steel or ceramic armor plates?

Steel armor is the most common type of armor plate on the market and for good reason. Steel armor plates are much cheaper and offer great levels of protection! One of the downsides to steel armor is the weight. Steel plates are heavy! Other potential downsides are steel can allow ricocheting and what is called “spalling”. Spalling is fragmentation, which is something to keep in mind with steel armor. When the bullet impacts the steel plate, it essentially breaks into fragments. If you have ever shot steel targets, you have probably noticed this effect. Fortunately, this can be contained with certain coatings. Make sure you purchase a coated steel plate.

Ceramic plates are much lighter, but they are very expensive and can be damaged. That being said, ceramic armor plates are actually better at defending against armor-piercing rounds than steel and they do not ricochet or allow for spalling. The choice is truly yours. Will you be running miles at a time in your plate carrier? Most of us truly will not, so weight isn’t going to be a deciding factor in the decision. Be honest with yourself. Ask how much and in what situations, you will realistically use your plate carrier and how often, when choosing plates.

Should a plate carrier be tight?

Plate carriers should be snug, why? We don’t want our plates shifting too much when we move for a variety of obvious reasons. Having a snug and comfortable fit will allow us to not only move freely but also remain in our kit for as long of a duration as possible. Some factors to consider for this would be good breathability and a carrier system that has enough air circulation that make longer periods of usage more feasible.

Make sure you spend time wearing, moving and training in your plate carrier with your armor inserted so you can really dial in the perfect adjustments. More time spent adjusting now means less time having to mess with it when you actually need to don your plate carrier and move quickly if there is a threat!

So whether you’re going to end up wearing this armored plate carrier for an extended period of time on the airsoft field or out on patrol, you want to make sure that you’ll be able to do it at full functioning capacity.

Get kitted up today and train!

Hopefully this makes what may seem like a daunting task, choosing the best plate carrier for a big guy, a bit easier. The right to self defense is one of the most important, no matter your size, and we are thrilled you are considering protecting yourself! Thanks for reading, have a great day, and Godspeed!