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First off, what exactly is a soft armor vest? Soft armor vests were first (and to some extent still are) only a sub category of body armor used by law enforcement officers. Soft armor vests are designed to house hard armor plates with minimal soft armor pieces or soft armor, and generally have little or no soft armor to protect you from bullets. This was used to save space, and made it easier to put vests over a uniform, making it easier for them to be recognized, and used.

Hard armor plate carriers, or vests as they’re often called, came on the scene later, following the popularity of soft armor vests. Hard plate carriers, such as Scorpion plate carriers were designed and tested for use in military and law enforcement settings. Over time, the vests became much more popular amongst civilians, seeing more use in recreational sports like target shooting and other shooting sports, which saw the need for a more durable product that could withstand the wear and tear of typical outdoor conditions, as well as resisting the normal wear and tear of years of hard use. Since then, the vests and plate carriers have become more commonplace and can be found on a much broader range of people’s bodies.

Soft plate carriers and vests come in a wide variety of sizes and types. For instance, there are full plate carriers, which are the standard equipment for most police departments; there are back plate carriers, which are used for special purposes; there are front plate carriers, which serve a different purpose than do back plates; and there are pistol plate carriers, which attach to the belt with straps that allow for easy placement on any user. Another option is the snap-on insert plate carrier, which snaps right into place, securing the plates to the user’s belt without having to permanently attach them. Soft armor also comes in various colors, designs, and sizes, allowing many different options to be incorporated into a single purchase. Some of the more common color options include tan, woodland green, desert tan, black, dark blue, chestnut brown, earth tone gray, grey, leopard green, and white.