The Brigandine Plate Carrier by SKD Tactical

The SKD Tactical Brig Plate Carrier shown with Lvl 4 Stand Alone Ballistic Plates and optional accessories.

Brigandine:  noun  A coat of mail, typically one made of iron rings or plates attached to canvas or other fabric.  There is your word of the day, so lets jump into the PIG Brigandine Plate Carrier by SKD Tactical.  (And yes, since we have more acronyms, PIG stands for Patrol Incident Gear)  While the modern Brig Plate Carrier doesn’t have any iron rings or plates, or canvas for that matter, it is a plate carrier made to protect your vitals, just as the brigandines of old.  And lets start there, with the old.

Since forever ago, there has been violence.  Be it large scale wars or closer to home with interpersonal violence, such as a home invasion.  And as long as there has been violence, there has been the need for protection, such as armor.  Furthermore, while the armor has changed and evolved with respect to materials, we’re still looking at protecting those most vital pieces of anatomy, the heart and lungs.  Just as the original brigandines protected those areas, so does the Brig Plate Carrier.  So what is new with the Brig?

The rear plate bag (left) features PALS webbing while the front plate bag is covered in female velcro.

The Brig starts off like most plate carriers in that it is comprised of two plate bags, shoulder straps and a cummerbund.  But as we dive into the details, we begin to see how the Brig shines.  The Brig is inherently modular by design.  While I’ll touch more on the modularity in a minute, lets flesh out the Brig as it sits.  

The front plate bag is covered in a female velcro field.  This allows for the cummerbund to attach to the front as well as the sizing straps which are attached to the front plate pocket, but loop themselves through the rear pocket and then fold back onto the front.  This lets you easily size the plate carrier to yourself while wearing it, or release one side when taking it off.

The rear plate bag is covered with PALS loops.  The top half of the carrier, loops included, are covered with a female velcro field, while the bottom is nylon webbing.  The PALS webbing allows for pretty much any MOLLE compatible pouches to be mounted, to include hydration bladders or breaching kits.  The top of the plate bag has metal loops sewn in, these are for threading the shoulder straps from the front plate bag.  The rear bag also is what the cummerbund is attached to.  The meat of it is made of an elastic material while the ends are covered in male velcro so that they can be secured to the front plate bag.

The Brig that is sized for SKD’s ballistic plates is cut in towards the top, allowing greater mobility.

A note on sizing.  One of my favorite things about the Brig PC is that the plate pockets are sized and sold individually.  What does this mean?  If you have ever worn body armor for “reals” either in the Military, Law Enforcement, or when it counts, you probably came away with some observations.  Most body armor is pretty restrictive for movement, especially some of the older designs.  SKD Tactical approached this in a way that makes sense to me, by offering different sized plate bags for different types of ballistic plates.

While that may not seem like a big deal, it crucial on two levels.  First of all, plate fitment.  If your plate bag on your plate carrier doesn’t fit the plates you have in it (a common occurrence), then the plates aren’t where they need to be.  Either the plates are too big and won’t seat into the carrier at all, or more common than not, the plates are too small for the plate bag and don’t fit snugly.  This leads to the plates shifting during dynamic movement, and the even bigger issue, sagging low.  This leads to them being out of the place and exposing vitals that should be covered.

The other benefit of different sized plate bags being sold for different plates is that you can choose them ala carte.  For example if you want to run something along the lines of a “swimmer’s cut” front plate, giving you more range of motion with your arms and minimizing the ballistic plate from interfering with shouldering a rifle, you can do so.  You can then choose a larger footprint plate, like a ESAPI for the rear, where those are largely non-issues.

The 3 Magazine Shingle can be placed under the cummerbund, instantly giving the wearer the ability to carry 3 onboard rifle magazines.

While the Brig is the centerpiece of the “plate carrier”, it is part of SKD Tactical’s SYSTEMA.  Think of it as a whole group of products that can be used individually or in conjunction with other products.  With the ability to scale up and down as needed.

While I wouldn’t consider the Brig PC a super “low profile” plate carrier, it most certainly isn’t overt.  You can get away with throwing a cover jacket or shirt over it and have it not stand out too much.  But if the need calls for it, you can scale it up easily.  By way of example, within SKD Tactical’s SYSTEM, you can attach a 3 magazine shingle to the front of the plate carrier.  It simply attaches by velcro across the front of the plate carrier and then further secured by putting the cummerbund ends over the top of it.  Or if you need side options, they make sleeves that go over the cummerbund with PALS webbing.  This will let you mount most any type of pouches around your sides.

Some notable upgrades when it comes to comfort are their shoulder pads and pontoons.  SKD Tactical offers Mk1 and Mk2 Shoulder pads.  Two different styles of shoulder pads that go over the shoulder straps of the Brig Plate Carrier.  They offer the user some extra comfort in addition to the ability to route communication wires or hydration tubes from their back to their front.  The Pontoons are a nice addition too.  They are padded strips that can be affixed with velcro inside the front or rear plate bag, lined up vertically.  In addition to a little bit of cushion, they provide airflow channels between the armor and the wearers body, helping keep you cool in hot climates or during high exertion. 

The optional shoulder pads and pontoons are a nice upgrade when it comes to comfort.

All of this said, what has been my experience with the Brig PC and how has it done for me?  Outside of range sessions, I’ve used this plate carrier to compete in 3 separate Tactical Games events.  Each one a two day competition involving 6 different physically demanding stages.  From rope climbs with the plate carrier and rifle slung, to 5 mile cross country runs followed by shooting.  Not to mention climbing over walls and under obstacles.

Through it all it has done a good job for me.  It is pretty comfortable, as much as a 15 pound plate carrier (with Lvl 4 Stand Alone plates) can be over the course of 5 miles or so.  It also, with the swimmer’s cut plates, allows for plenty of range of motion as well as not interfering with shouldering the rifle.  There are a few spots where over the course of me using it, the material has been worn through.  Nothing major or structural, just an edge of where the plate wears.  I will say with a velcro front, you do need to be aware that as velcro fills up, it becomes less functional.  So if you low crawl through mud, be sure to clean your carrier or the velcro won’t stick.  Overall though, it is a solid carrier for the money.

The ability to keep the front of the plate carrier slick, depending on requirements, means there are no snag hazards.

So how much does all of this cost?  The Brigandine Plate Carrier is $120 and comes in a variety of sizes to fit 10”x12” SKD Plates, 10”x12” Velocity Plates, TAP Gamma Plates as well as Medium, Large and Xtra Large ESAPI Plates.  They are offered in black, coyote, ranger green and multicam as well as sold individually, allowing you to purchase a front or rear plate pocket.  The 3 AR Magazine Shingle (which can be used as a chest rig with a separate harness) costs about $50.  A set of 2 Pontoons runs $20 and Mk1 and Mk2 Shoulder pads run $30 and $35 respectively.

But everyone likes a package deal.  So you can purchase the Brig Plate Carrier, a set of 2 Pontoons, Mk1 Shoulder Pads and 2 SKD Tactical Stand Alone Lvl 4 Ballistic Plates for $480.  Not a bad deal for a turnkey armor package.

About the author: Ivan Loomis has spent a lot of time outdoors, backpacking and camping as well as extensive international travel. Eventually, he landed in the Marine Corps in the late 90’s. After a hiatus from the service to race the Baja 1000 a couple times, he reenlisted with the Air Force. Departing that he wound up in a large metropolitan Police Department for a spell before landing in the Security Contracting world.One constant through these experiences was gear and weapons. Having spent time in a lot of environments and with the opportunity to field a lot of equipment, he’s grown fond of well-made gear.He now shares those experiences, adventures, and knowledge through contributing articles and videos to various publications, including his own site:

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Yep yep September 8, 2020, 7:44 am

    Blah blah 🤣😂😂…… Don’t complain about what you didn’t build!!! Jealous much?

    • Yep yep September 8, 2020, 7:45 am

      Slim chances that is for you

  • Mark Kiernan September 7, 2020, 7:28 pm

    I’ll stick with my Testudo thank you, I also have a Chinese made vest that was half the price and almost as good a quality as the Testudo the only major difference is that some of the mag pouches are not removable but it carries 9, 30 rd AK or M4 and 4 Pistol Mags I substituted one of the side pouches for a cross draw pistol holster and My wife likes it just fine. If a guy wants bigger plates there are some Italian Surplus Plate Carriers that hold 14″ Plates and have an apron pouch to cover your more sensitive region.

  • Slim September 7, 2020, 9:45 am

    Haha… Where the rest?! How about a plate and carrier that actually covers the full chest and belly?! there’s a reason the newer guys shoot for the belly since if your a little high you hit chest and if your wearing a vest you get shots straight to the gut which will stop anyone even more than a chest shot. Ever had surgery any place near your abs and then tried to bend over at all… Can’t do it! Your and are everything when it comes to moving and a chest shot just isn’t since people do and can easily still bend over which can’t be done with a gut shot. Your own post a week or two back supports my claim of today’s shooters now aiming mainly for the belly. Also people don’t get shot on their sides?! You know the side of the area where all your vitals are?! Plate carriers are just for people who think it’ll help and in reality I bet more than not people are shot and killed many many times over wearing a plate carrier since the plates at best 11″ x14 and most all people actually buy and wear are the 10″ x13″ plates! Measure your chest and belly and see if its even close to 11″ tall! It’s not in can tell you that right now unless your like four foot tall!

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