Armor evolves. The invention of the firearm put a huge roadblock in the path of wearable personal protection, but we’re catching up. Kevlar, ballistic steel, and ceramic plates have all proven track records. But where does one go to get bulletproofed? Who can you trust with your life?
For me, the choice is simple. I had the chance to review AR500’s steel plates a couple of years ago. I beat the hell out of those plates. I shot them with everything I could get my hands on. After more than 300 rounds of various calibers, I finally punched the plate with a .50 BMG. After seeing it firsthand, I understood.
AR500 Armor supplies Americans with low cost, highly effective armor plates. Utilizing ballistic rated steel and Paxcon coatings, they have developed an array of plates ranging from back pack sized shield plates all the way down to a 6”x6” square side plates. AR500 is now manufacturing soft armor inserts made from Honeywell Spectra Shield, Gold Shield, and DuPont Kevlar. AR500 is quickly establishing them selves as the one-stop-shop.
New for 2015 is a plate carrier that breaks the mold. The AR500 Armor Micro Plate Carrier challenges our notions of ballistic protection. This is truly a minimalist rig. The plate maintains ballistic coverage of the vital organs, but not much else. The benefit, of course, is a reduction of weight and bulk. If you are looking for compact coverage, this is it.
- Accepts 8″ x 10″ Soft and Hard Body Armor
- Adult & Youth shoulder strap configurations
- Removable Shoulder Pads included
- ITW GT Cobra Buckles allow quick donning and doffing
- Inner mesh lining improves comfort and air flow
- Front & Back webbing for MOLLE/Pouch attachment
- Velcro web sections for ID panels or lower mounted chest rig
- 100% Made in the USA
Designed for armor
Bigger is sometimes better, but when it comes to ballistic protection there is only so much coverage necessary to properly ensure protection of your vital organs. Anything extra is nice if you ever do take fire, but the 99.9% of the time that you aren’t those same plates weigh you down and restrict your range of motion.
The Micro Carrier to utilizes 8”x10” plates; making for an extremely small and light package that offers just the right amount of protection and mobility. Beyond its size, the Micro Carrier also offers comfort and convenience that make this rig realistic for daily use.
The Micro Carrier’s shoulder straps and side straps are fully adjustable and secured with polymer cobra buckles. The straps also have Velcro fixtures for securing the excess strapping. The carrier ships with foam backed shoulder pads, and the inside of the carrier is covered in plush foam backing designed to increase comfort and airflow.
The carrier is also expandable for tactical applications, the rig is covered in molle strapping and velcro making the addition of pouches and other mission essential gear as easy as threading the straps. At the base of the carrier the molle is 6 loops wide for the use of magazine pouches. The carrier ships with a 2x double M4 magazine pouch and a double pistol magazine pouch.
Running the Micro Carrier
Options! So many options! Setting up the Micro Carrier for success all depends on your needs. You can pick a path and walk the thin narrow line of being prepared and being overly prepared. Or you can do what I did and maximize this tiny carrier for the best of both worlds.
First lets talk about plates, why pick one type when you can have two? Deciding to invest in more than one type of armor is a big decision. You are increasing your cost, adding to your bulk, and giving your wife one more reason to complain about your spontaneous spending. But it’s a necessary move if you want to truly get the most out of the Micro Carrier. Utilizing the hard plates at a tactical carbine class, or in the rare natural or social disaster, you are golden. While wearing the carrier normal training circumstances the, level IIIA soft plates give you more than enough protection and offers you a light weight option (they weigh under 1lb apiece).
The Micro Carrier ships with 2x double M4 magazine pouch and a double pistol magazine pouch. This will work, but is not ideal if you ever intend on using the carrier in concealment. To maximize efficiency adding a lay flat pouch like a BlueForce Gear 10speed pouch gives you the option to carry the ammunition you need. When not in use, the BlueForce pouches stay tight to the carrier presenting no added bulk.
When I’m not wearing the carrier, it stays idle inside of a Vanquest IBEX-30 backpack. That’s another benefit of the small carrier. It fits easily inside the bag along with a broken down rifle and all the fixxins. This set up is ideal for the undercover officer, or anyone who wants to be ready for anything at any time. You could even throw the hard plates in the bag if you think you are a total shit magnet and might run into real trouble.
Running the Micro Carrier presented no real issues. There are two sizes of shoulder straps making this an ideal rig for smaller frame shooters and ladies. Everything is up-close and personal. The magazines are right at the top of your chest, which makes magazine changes fairly easy. It does take a little getting used to having the magazines so high on your chest, but once you figure out the tactical chicken dance, mag changes are fluid and are just as fast as any other chest rig I’ve run. The cobra buckles make putting the chest rig on and taking it off extremely easy and 90% of the time it can be done with one hand.
The Micro Carrier retails for $270 with the standard package (including flat level III hard plates), and just under $600 with all the bells and whistles–Micro Carrier, curved hard plates, 2x trauma pads, 2x IIIA soft armor inserts, and BlueForce Gear 10 speed shingle. If you need that level of protection, it is a great option.
Check out these videos below for more detail on how the armor itself stands up.