Plate carriers, they are in abundance in this industry but few seem to try new things and many just copy existing designs. If you are like me you have tried quite a few and possibly torn, broken, or modified the carriers to fit your likes, needs, and/or mission. The creators of MOS Tactical went through the same conundrum. After thousands of dollars and many failed experiences MOS decided that they can make a better and more capable plate carrier with options for most missions.
Whether you use a plate carrier for home defense, Law Enforcement, Military, Contracting, Security, zombies, or any other reason that includes running, swimming, fighting, and/or training. MOS has options for you. I believe that plate carriers are a personal and also a body type dependent decision, but in this article I hope to add a little more insight as to why my go-to carrier is now the Special Purpose Armor Vest – Warfare or SPAV-W from MOS Tactical.
The SPAV-W is feature full, but not overdone. It has a lot of the necessaries and not many things I would change. The SPAV-W comes in four different sizes and can accommodate more color variations than I have ever seen a company offer. I opted for Ranger green for no other reason than that it is one of my favorite colors. It blends with urban and rural settings really nice.
This carrier holds SAPI and ESAPI plates and you get a choice in cummerbund style which on mine was a skeletonized. It uses shock cordage to adjust from the rear so sizing isn’t hard and it has a lot of adjustment. Around the front, shoulder, and back panels have communications/water hose routing loops that are hook and loop, nice feature for those that use that equipment.
The shoulders straps use a proprietary almost permanent hook and loop that is really tough and won’t come detached without you wanting it to. On the front panel there are two vertical loops that accept the female end of swift clips to attach varied panels. The Kangaroo pouch is one of my favorite parts to the SPAV-W. Not only do you get options on the type of front you want, but with the kangaroo pouch you have an amazingly simple but very functional feature.
MOS sews the flap higher which makes it hinge at a higher point giving you the ability to fully lift the flap to don your armor (old knights English voice). On most plate carriers if you have fully loaded mags on the carrier you can’t lift the flap high enough, but on the SPAV-W you can lift the flap all the way up due to the hinge point. Seems like a small thing but for people who put kit on and off all the time this is an amazing feature. The Kangaroo pocket on front will also accept an included mag divider. The carrier is made out of 1000D Cordura and is said to be designed to last, we shall see. Even if I completely wreck it they have a No questions asked lifetime guarantee. Awesome!
Picture Below: Doing some Pool PT with the SPAV-W, it drained water really well.
When I test equipment I like to be realistic. Just like in my previous reviews I use the equipment for all my activities that will warrant the need for it. The SPAV-W was put through my abnormal workout routine of running, swimming, fighting (Jujitsu/Greco), circuit training, force on force simunitions training, and of course shooting. When it first arrived it was in the usual bags and in its separate pieces.
It comes with a nice detailed manual with pictures and the steps to take to assemble the SPAV-W. It doesn’t take an engineer to put it together but due to some of the proprietary parts it’s nice that there is a detailed manual. After sizing, I put my standard loadout on it, I used the MOS Tactical Mag divider inside the kangaroo pouch, put a Benchmade SOC-P, I place a 3 mag Ten-Speed pouch on my left side for little things like a tourniquet and gloves, and placed my cheap and heavy steel plates in it. Even in the military my kit wasn’t cluttered and when people place unnecessary pouches and gear all over the place I simply find it stupid, so don’t do that.
Running, swimming, fighting, and circuit training with the SPAV-W I found that it was very forming to my body. Some carriers make you feel like the Michelin man and others are uncomfortable around the neck and rub in uneven areas. Running with it was easy, the pocket up front held my house key, the mag pouches held my phone and wallet. The communication routers came in handy for my headphone cables which was nice.
Swimming with it proved to be just as easy and it dried out overnight. Chlorine and salt water didn’t fade or change the color at all, nor did I find anything more loose or degrading. When circuit training and fighting lots of plate carriers snag, I was happy to see that there was none of that and the lack of the wasted drag handle was well received. When an opponent is looking for a control point on the carrier that isn’t the shoulders that you can strip hands from there was virtually none to be found. Over all for my physical training activities it worked as it should.
When shooting, whether real or sims the plate carriers range of motion and the ability for the cummerbund to compress and expand when needed was amazing. During a Sage Dynamics Low light techniques class, I found myself quite flexible and able to rotate my torso in ways many others couldn’t due to their gear restrictions or lack of physical flexibility. I wanted to see how the material held up to multiple impacts from the sims and it performed flawlessly. Shouldering a rifle seems to be a problem with many but I found no issues doing so on the SPAV-W.
Something I never see anyone talk about when it comes to plate carriers is how they wash. It’s not cool I guess but I was raised with the “care of equipment” in my creed and I still stick to it till this day. So how the SPAV-W washed was important to me and with a dip in the pool and a quick hose down the dirt, paint for sims, and any other debris that was on it was gone. Perfect.
Now nothing is perfect. I did find that occasionally the rear ring of the shoulder strap would rotate a become stuck in the vertical position. Easy fix to reorient the ring to its horizontal position. Another thing I would have like to see was an option for loop molle on the kangaroo pouch to help with retaining a panel that would be swift clipped on there. There is an option for no kangaroo pouch that would give you that ability, but I want both.
You can see the ring on the back of the shoulder and how it rotates and gets bunched up. Easy fix but something to note.
Picture Below: They were even cool enough to send me this carrier with my name as the serial number.
Like I said at the beginning choosing a plate carrier is a personal and also a body type dependent decision. It is one that you really shouldn’t take lightly. Many companies are toting around the “Budget friendly” plate carriers but in reality you may be buying crap and needing a new kit in no time. If you are going to be using a plate carrier in a professional capacity may I urge you to consider spending good money the first time and not spending a third of it 4 times. You wouldn’t buy cheap ammo for self-defense or cheap armor, so why use a cheap carrier that will fall apart. Buy quality. I am in no way saying this is the end all be all plate carrier that the Spartans would use at the hot gates, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take this carrier to go “do work” myself. Over all, the MOS Tactical plate carrier is a fantastic buy for whatever your mission and is now my “go-to” carrier for all my needs. Choose your plate carrier wisely.
MSRP: $375.00 each via MOStactical.com
Overall Total: 22/25
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the SPAV from MOS Tactical via Spotter Up. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.