Every time you are in need for some new tactical gear, you need to keep in mind that your tactical gear should meet the perfect balance between protection, comfort and mobility. A good tactical vest might be used in a dangerous situation so it needs to provide protection, but also a large amount of freedom on the move. It should also give you space and options to organize your other small tactical items and not to weigh too much just as well.
Elements 1, 2, 3…
There are three important things to look for when getting a good tactical vest: usability, mobility and protection. These three elements, combined, give you an efficient tactical vest.
You also need to think – Molle or not? A pre-configured tactical vest has a lower initial cost and typically is lightweight. A Molle tactical vest gives you use in any situation and lets you customize it according to your needs and preferences. If you are looking to carry a single weapon (rifle/pistol), get a pre-configured vest. In case of multiple weapons systems, or a more exotic weapon system, a Molle vest with interchangeable pouches is your no. 1 choice.
The count goes on
You can also get various sizes on the tactical vests. You can choose from a small (chest size 34-35), a medium one (38-40) or even pick a large size (42-44). The sizing differs and most manufacturers will give you clear sizing information. Keep in mind that you will be carrying the vest over your other clothing so you need to size that up when ordering the tactical vest. This goes especially if you need room for extra clothing or equipment under your tactical vest.
Take a second to think about the environment and location where you’re going to wear the vest. If you need to crawl around quite often, “long lasting” is another thing to look for when buying your tactical vest. Frequent usage means a vest that can take all the elements, along with extreme weather conditions or tear by the owner. No matter if you plan to use the tactical vest daily or not, go for the long lasting vest anyways so that you don’t have to shop any time soon.
Most of the tactical vest owners out there act at least once as riflemen which means carrying a rifle or a pistol, or both. A lightweight tactical vest gives you speed and mobility on your special duties.
A good, flexible Molle vest enhances your abilities to take on any challenge on the field.
The type of gear on your tactical vest is also important and you can never downsize the hydration carrier of a vest. The utility pouches let you keep your important items close and at hand. This is way more important when using a weapon system as the magazine pouches become vital for keeping additional ammunition handy.
Tactical vests…5 steps to follow when getting one
It’s very important to know what you’re going to use your tactical vest for. It’s one thing if you plan to use the vest for some outdoor hobby and totally different when going on a military job.
Once you know why you’re getting the vest, you need to decide which type to get as there are several types of vests.
You can get a Plate Carrier– a tactical vest that is covered in Molle webbing and typically is more expensive.
A Cross Draw Vest comes with pouches everywhere and has a zipper in the middle for easy removal. This is the most common type of tactical vest (it’s very easy to find it online or in stores) and it’s the most affordable one too.
A Harness Battle Belt vest comes with a belt and may also have Molle pouches attached. It’s a lightweight model and has suspenders like straps that help with the weight distribution to the shoulders.
It’s also a good thing to try the vest on and… don’t be afraid to use it. Don’t go on your first mission with your brand new tactical vest, but instead try it on a bit around the house or close by.
The Top 3 Tactical Vest Reviews
The No. 1 Choice Award Goes to…
One size fits most and this vest is fully adjustable in girth and length. There are many things that recommend this vest as a no.1 choice any time and here are our pros:
- There are 4 adjustable rifle mag pouches (3 Right, 1 left), each for 1-2 most popular mags.
- The pouches come with hook and loop closure, drain holes and elastic to hold mags tight
- The vest features heavy duty back loop system for you to carry more gear/tools
- You can fit your documents/maps in two large internal pouches
- For emergency situations, the vest is provided with a durable rescue handle
- The vest is breathable thanks to its Mesh Ventilation System
- The zippers and the mesh materials are heavy duty
- The vest comes with a Universal Cross-draw holster which is also adjustable
- There are extra hooks and loops and attachable double-mag pouches to interchange with the holster
- The double-mag pouches feature belt loops ready for carry
- The stitching is strong
- The vest features a Walkie-Talkie pocket at the left collar bone
- The price is amazing for the quality you get
As much as we like this tactical vest for its versatility and functionality, there are also some issues that are worth mention. Our list of cons:
- There are no Molle straps on the front
- The vest is a bit uneven in certain areas
- The vest is rather stiff in the beginning
- There are some sharp corners
- The straps are a bit difficult to adjust
- There is a specific smell on the vest in the beginning, but it fades away after you air it out a bit
- This vest doesn’t accept plates but you can wear it over a plate carrier
As you can see, none of this downsides are major, they are only minor adjustments that the manufacturer could make to obtain a better product.
But, you don’t need to sit on the fence when you see this, as it’s a great bang for the buck anytime.
As always, make sure to check out the reviews and prices on Amazon.
2. The UTG Law Enforcement SWAT Vest
Another great tactical vest, specifically made for the law enforcement entry teams and firearm enthusiasts is the UTG Law Enforcement SWAT Vest.
This tactical vest is rugged and practical and brings a number of good features:
- It’s very comfortable and of good quality
- It has heavy-duty nylon on the outside
- There are many front pockets for you to organize your small gear and tactical items
- The vest has a great design and a good layout
- There is also a good combination of pouches
- The oversized back pocket is both useful and efficient
- The vest is fully adjustable at the shoulders and waist
- Some additional features make this vest a good choice
- The radio pocket, the thumb break holster come as a plus
- The vest features pistol and rifle magazine pouches
- You can use the elastic loops for the shotgun shells
- The shotgun shell loops are removable and feature a Velcro backing
- The vest is comfortable even under a backpack
- It comes with a 1-year Warranty from the Manufacturer against flaws in materials and workmanship
Even though this tactical vest stands out with its sturdiness and the comfort it offers, there are some cons that we need to point out:
- The vest is not bullet proof
- The holster is rather small
- The shotgun shell holders are too exposed
- The right hand holster with the left handed thumb release is in fact weirdly placed
Despite these minor issues, this UTG SWAT vest is a great buy as you can depend on it in military missions or… outdoor hobbies.
Check out the reviews and pricing on Amazon.
3. The MetalTac Airsoft Cross Draw Tactical Vest
When you’re on the hunt for a good tactical vest for little money, take a look at the MetalTac Airsoft Cross Draw Tactical Vest with 9 Pockets and Pistol Holster.
This airsoft tactical protection vest features pistol holsters and pockets for a better organization of your gear but there are plenty of other good things to find on this vest. Here are a few:
- The vest comes with a belt strap and it’s fully adjustable
- You can put the vest on and take it off easily thanks to its large, heavy duty zipper
- There are many pockets to help you organize your items and magazines
- You can use the pocket on the upper left shoulder for a radio or a walkie-talkie
- There are large bottom pockets to hold your magazines
- There are good, heavy duty seams on the vest
- The vest keeps your items secure thanks to its Velcro and buttons everywhere
- For the price you pay, this vest is pretty customizable
- There are many adjustable straps and for each shoulder
- The vest is comfortable to wear due to its padding
- There is pretty good ventilation on the back of the vest
- This vest gives great protection in CQB or outdoor activities
There are also some minor things that we don’t like about this tactical vest so here are our “cons” for a better image:
- Even though the zipper is strong, it doesn’t stay closed
- A heavy duty pistol might pull on the holster
- There is a specific smell in the beginning, but you can air out the vest for a while before wearing it
All in all, for the money you pay, you get a good, reliable, comfortable and pretty long lasting tactical vest. A recommended buy!
See more reviews as well as pricing on Amazon.
The Top Tactical Vest for the Money (on a Budget)
For a little over 20$, you can get yourself the US Military Enhanced Load Bearing Tactical Vest.
This well-made, good quality vest can carry up to 50 pounds of load and is designed to carry a lot of items and gear.
Here’s our list of pros:
- There are 6 pockets to fit your equipment and attachment points on the back of the vest
- You can store your mags in the 4 mag pouches, two for your M4’s and two small pouches for grenades
- This vest is designed to have a belt attached at the bottom
- There are clips for the web belt
- All pouches are Velcro with snap buttons so your items are securely locked and you can’t lose them when on a mission
- The vest is fully adjustable
- There are two adjustable cross straps and shoulder straps, also adjustable in length
- The vest features laces across the back that help you adjust the girth for a perfect fit
- The rings on the back are made to fit more of your gear
- The vest feels lightweight and comfortable
- This is an old-school vest that brings functionality and comfort
- You can wash it in your washing machine
- The shoulders are well padded, which means more comfort for you
- The vest is well made and it’s sturdy
Some things count as downsides, though, and here are our cons:
- The top plastic clips could be of better quality as they wear out too fast
- The shoulder pads feel a bit bulky, despite the comfort they bring
- The vest kind of has too many strings and pull strings to use for a custom fit
- Some pockets on the vest could be larger so they fit bigger items
But, despite all of these issues, this is still a great tactical vest with an amazing price tag!
Make sure to check it out on Amazon.
The Top Tactical Vest Plate Carrier
When you’re on a hunt for a minimal-bulk, high-performance tactical vest tries this Condor Sentry Plate Carrier Vest.
This plate carrier is long lasting and comes with great features. Here are our pros:
- It is fully adjustable for a custom fit
- There are easy accessible plate pockets that are specially designed to hold both medium and large ESAPI standard plates
- The vest comes with a drag handle
- The shoulder straps are easy to adjust
- There are hook and loop webbing panels
- The padded mesh interior lining brings comfort
- The vest is easy to remove thanks to the quick release buckles
- There are easy access inner pockets
- The plate is large enough to cover one’s major organs
- One size fits all as there are many straps for a better adjustment
- This plate carrier feels lightweight but it’s a heavy duty vest
- The vest is compact and fits close to the body
- This can carry all you need in an active shooter situation
- It has a slim profile as it has no extra fabric or thickness
- The vest sits up on the chest
- The shoulder straps are quite narrow
- This plate carrier looks great
- It’s pretty secure for your items
- The Molle webbing simply means more organization for your items
- The vest is easy to customize and you can add up more tactical patches
We also need to mention the downsides of this vest and here are our cons:
- This can’t be used as a body armor, but it works great as a second vest
- The plastic buckles on the side are rather rigid
- The adjustment straps on front of the buckles are too short
- The vest is rather difficult to adjust for a small person
- The plates inside the vest slide up and down
- There is no curve for the front plate
Next time you go shopping for a good tactical vest plate carrier, don’t hesitate to give this one a good look, as it’s a good buy.
See the reviews and pricing on Amazon.
The Top Tactical Vest with Holster
If you’re on the hunt for a good tactical vest with holster, this Firepower Deluxe Tactical Vest Black is definitely going to work for you.
The pistol holster and the radio pouch get your eye, but there are other good features on this vest as well. Here are our pros:
- There are rifle and pistol mag pouches
- The vest is fully adjustable with reinforced shoulder and stabilizer
- You can customize it to your taste thanks to the Velcro patch for name and team
- The quick-draw holster is highly efficient
- The vest comes with 2 pistol magazine belt pouches and two chest pouches
- It has 4 rifle magazine pockets
- The shoulders are reinforced with sniper stabilizer
- The pistol belt is fully adjustable
- The radio pouch is shoulder mounted for a better functionality
- The hardware is long lasting
- The ID pouch is external and has hook’n’loop exterior
- There are many pistol clip holders
- The vest features also a pocket for hydration pack
- The pockets are large
- The vest is comfortable and looks great
- It gives a good snug fit
- The holster is strapped with Velcro to the vest
- The belt fits more attachments
- The vest is breathable and functional
There are only some cons regarding this vest:
- The vest doesn’t fit great on a taller person
- The zipper could be of better quality
- The straps could be stronger
- There is a specific smell, but it fades away with time
Regardless, this tactical vest with holster is doing its job anytime you need.
Check out the reviews and pricing on Amazon.
The Best AR Tactical Vest
A good AR tactical vest that meets most of our needs and preferences is the BLACKHAWK D.O.A.V. Assault Vest System.
This tactical vest gives you not only many pockets and pouches but also magazine pouches. Here are the pros:
- There are two big zippered map pouches inside
- The interior pocket fits a Blackhawk! Hydration system
- The heavy-duty webbing on front and back goes for attaching pouches
- There are M16/M4 magazine pouches with internal securing straps and dividers
- Your small items are securely stored thanks to the five internal elastic keeper on the left and right
- The vest is very strong, heavy duty as it’s made of 1000 denier nylon
- The vest is adjustable in length and girth
- This vest is fully ambidextrous thanks to the padded Hawk Tex Sniper Shoulder
- There are three utility/flashbang pouches, side flashing pouch
- You can store even more of your items in the two large daypacks on back
- The vest comes with 10 YKK Vislon zippers
- It’s easy and quick to remove the vest thanks to the side-release buckles
- You can attach more accessories on the shoulder D-rings
This vest has some problems that aren’t deal breakers, though. Our cons:
- There is no holster for side arm
- The vest doesn’t come with a belt
- The Hydration System is sold separately
- This vest works better in an upright position
As long as you don’t mind these rather minor issues, this vest might work just fine as your AR tactical vest.
See the reviews and pricing on Amazon.
The Best Tactical Vest for SHTF/ Bug out
For those of you who want a tactical vest that does more than just fitting your gear or pistols, try this Condor Elite Tactical Vest.
It gives you so many pockets and options for storing your gear which makes it a great bug out vest. Here are some of the pros:
- You can use all the 6 adjustable mag pouches and the other two small utility pouches for your gear
- The Molle webbing is highly efficient when it comes to a better organization of your gear
- The heavyweight webbing gives you more options on modular attachment
- This vest holds everything you need on a one-day hunting trip in the woods, for instance
- There is a pistol belt
- The Molle loops on the back may be used for a hydration bladder
- There are two internal pockets that mean more space for your items
- The mesh back is well ventilated
- There are also grommets for drainage
- The vest is well built and needs no break-in time
- This is a rugged, versatile and heavy duty tactical vest
- It’s true to size
- There is easy access to your gear
- The vest brings comfort and works great on tactical training and outdoor hobbies also
- And… it’s worth every penny
There are also some downsides to the vest, so here are our cons:
- The materials could be stronger
- The shoulder area wears out kind of fast
- It’s a bit difficult to adjust the buckles on the sides
- There is no radio pocket
But, in the end, this tactical vest manages to give you plenty of space to organize your gear, in a comfortable and well-priced way.
Make sure to check it out on Amazon.