Whether you’re on the battlefield or playing airsoft with your friends, the right tactical vest can make all the difference. But how do you know which equipment best suits your needs? To save you time, we researched and compiled the best tactical vests available on the market.
The best-rated tactical vest is the Gloryfire Quick Release Tactical Vest. In addition to its ergonomic design, this vest sports adjustable straps and versatile Molle webbing. The high-quality fabric and breathable mesh lining make it strong, durable, and comfortable.
Below, we’ll dive into what exactly makes each of these products the best in their class. We’ll also explain what makes an excellent tactical vest and the differences between vest types. So, let’s dive in.
The Gloryfire Quick Release Tactical Vest is the ultimate piece of gear to cover all your needs. In addition to having a front and back pocket for plating, this vest comes with numerous extra features.
Here’s what we like best about it:
- Made of military-grade 500D fabric.
- Quick-release system.
- Adjustable shoulder strap and belt.
- Excellent load-bearing capabilities.
- MOLLE system.
- Breathable mesh lining.
- Ergonomic design.
- Moisture resistant.
The Gloryfire vest also comes in different colors and designs.
While it’s adjustable to most body sizes, it may feel a little large if you’re on the smaller side. If you have this problem, try adding layers under the vest.
For the best features on a budget, you can’t beat the Yakeda Tactical Vest from Amazon.
Below are our favorite things about it:
- Comes with numerous pockets and accessories.
- Breathable mesh material.
- Adjustable shoulder and side straps.
- Hook-and-loop closure.
- Excellent freedom of movement.
While it lacks the durability and protection other vests offer, the Yakeda tactical vest is still a solid entry-level option.
If you want a plate carrier that offers top-quality versatility and defense, look no further—the One Tigris Multicam Tactical Vest from Amazon is for you.
This vest comes with soft plates for airsoft. However, you can switch them out for bulletproof plating if you own any.
Here’s why we believe this vest will serve you well:
- Heavy-duty plate pockets.
- Molle attachment points.
- Soft cummerbund to assist in load carriage.
- Cushioned, breathable shoulder straps
- Only weighs 2 lb.
- Loop panel for patches.
- Front-facing magazine pockets.
The OneTigris MultiCam is one of the best plate carrier tactical vests on the market. It combines functionality, mobility, and comfort.
However, some users complain that the vest runs pretty small. So if you have a larger frame, this gear might feel too tight on you.
Features of a Good Tactical Vest (What To Look For)
So, what makes a great tactical vest? It comes down to a few different key factors, along with how and where you intend to use it.
Below, we listed what to look for in the best tactical vests:
- Lightweight: First and foremost, tactical vests are about helping you store your gear. All the protection in the world won’t matter if your vest is too heavy for you to stay mobile.
- Protection: Tactical vests offer varying levels of ballistic and environmental protection. Consider how much shielding you’ll need for your purposes.
- Flexibility and Mobility: Range of motion is critical when it comes to tactical vests. You want a vest that can carry your gear without making it more challenging to climb and crawl.
- Storage: Exactly how much equipment are you carrying? Some vests only have a holster and a couple of pockets. Meanwhile, others come covered in storage space. Also, remember vests with belts and harnesses often have enhanced load-bearing capabilities.
- Comfort: If you’re going to wear your tactical vest for hours on end, it should be comfortable. Check to see what kind of cushioning and thermal protection the vests you’re assessing offer.
If you’re looking for something to wear on the airsoft field, mobility, and weight might be your biggest concerns. But for hunting or multi-day MilSim, you might prefer focusing on storage and comfort.
Types of Tactical Vests
If you’re new to tactical vests, you may be surprised to learn that there are various types you can select from. While some are better for stealth and mobility, others provide more comprehensive protection.
Here are the most common types of tactical vests you’ll find:
- Cross draw: Defined by their cross-draw pistol holsters and front-facing zippers, these are among the most popular vests. They offer various levels of protection and utility.
- Plate carrier: As the name suggests, these vests carry internal plates offering ballistic protection. Body armor plates come in “soft” and “hard” varieties.
- Concealed/plainclothes: These tactical vests are either hidden under clothes or meant to look like typical “plainclothes.” Their slim profiles and holsters located inside the vest make them great for concealed carrying.
- Battle belt harness (tactical harness): Of all the vest types, harness belt kits are the best at carrying extra weight. They typically have open faces, meaning they’re more about moving equipment comfortably than protection.
These types of tactical vests aren’t mutually exclusive. Often, the best tactical vests combine the different kinds to make up for individual shortcomings.
Is a Plate Carrier Bulletproof?
So if plate carriers provide the best protection out of all vests, they must be bulletproof, right?
The answer is yes, and no. Plate carriers offer drastically different levels of protection. You’d have to check what level the specific plate or vest you use is rated.
You can refer to the different levels of ballistic protection according to the U.S. Department of Justice below:
- Level IIA – Defeats some common handgun calibers (9mm, .40 S&W).
- Level II – Stops most handguns.
- Level IIIA – Bulletproof against all handguns.
- Level III – Defeats most rifle caliber rounds.
- Level IV – Bulletproof to armor-piercing and military-grade rifles.
Most police utilize Level II or Level IIIA body armor.
Is a Tactical Vest Bulletproof?
Whether or not a tactical vest is bulletproof depends on the type of vest. Most tactical vests on their own will not provide adequate ballistic protection. Generally, they’re meant to help you carry your equipment and stay mobile more than anything.
If you want something bulletproof, you’ll need to buy a separate bulletproof vest or use a plate carrier vest. Additionally, you want a vest with a ballistic protection rating of Level IIIA or Level III.
Tactical vests with a Level IIIA rating can stop virtually all handgun rounds up to .50 caliber. Meanwhile, Level III equipment can defeat rifle caliber rounds.
What Tactical Vest Do Police or SWAT Use?
The type of tactical vest that police and SWAT use varies. Many departments utilize tactical vests without any plating. Others combine tactical vests and belts along with bulletproof vests. Meanwhile, some even use all-encompassing plate carrier tactical vests.
Most police in the U.S. carry tactical vests using some form of bullet-resistant Kevlar soft plating. Frequently, this armor has a rating of only Level II or Level IIIA. In terms of on-person gear storage, many officers utilize their belts more than tactical vests.
Meanwhile, SWAT units typically wear hard plate carrier vests and battle belt harnesses. Their vests often carry a Level IV rating due to the implicit danger of SWAT teams’ specialized operations.
Both police and SWAT vests generally have MOLLE capabilities. That way, law enforcement can optimize their equipment as needed.
What Plate Carrier Does the Police Use?
The 5.11 TacTec and Condor MOPC are both among the most common plate carriers worn by law enforcement. Generally, police wear some form of plate carrier vest with MOLLE webbing (such as the TacTec 5.11 and Condor MOPC.)
This gives officers both the functionality and protection necessary for the job. Additionally, police typically use soft plates rated at Level IIIA or Level II.
If you expect the police to wear the best bulletproof armor, you might be surprised to learn they often don’t. In fact, the Bureau of Justice found that only 71% of police departments required the use of ballistic vests.
Is the Tactical Vest Better Than the Plate Carrier?
In a perfect world, you should get a tactical vest that’s also a plate carrier. But if you have to choose one, it comes down to what you’re using your vest to do.
If you’re primarily using your vests for recreational purposes, such as hunting or airsoft, go with a tactical vest. You usually won’t need the ballistic protection of a plate carrier during airsoft skirmishes, and deer can’t shoot you back. So, the utility and mobility of a tactical vest are more valuable.
Alternatively, plate carriers offer you much more safety if your profession might put you in the line of fire. While a standard plate carrier might lack the features of a tactical vest, they provide superior defensive capabilities.
What Is a Condor Vest?
Condor is one of the premier manufacturers of tactical plate carrier vests.
When people talk about Condor vests, they usually mean the Condor Modular Operator Plate Carrier (Condor MOPC). The Condor MOPC is one of the most respected and popular pieces of tactical gear on the market, thanks to its durability and modularity.
Based out of California, this company designs its equipment with the utmost protection and utility in mind. Their plate carriers sport MOLLE webbing and lightweight, breathable materials.
And Condor also offers front zipper tactical vests for tasks requiring more mobility and utility.
All three tactical vests reviewed in this post are among the best on the market. However, the Gloryfire tactical vest is our best pick because of its superior design and materials.
If you want a vest only for recreational purposes, a tactical vest will do because it doesn’t weigh you down with protective gear. But for more serious jobs where protection is key, go for a plate carrier with a high level of protection.
For more, check out What Is the Best Color for a Tactical Backpack?
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!