Blue Force Gear PLATEminus

Background

Blue Force Gear (BFG), probably best known for their Vicker’s Combat Applications Sling (VCAS) has established itself as an industry leader with innovative products, designs based on real-world experience and multi-mission adaptability. BFG offers a variety of products from tactical nylon gear, weapon slings, load carriage equipment, and magazine pouches (such as the Helium Whisper Pouch seen in this review).

The BFG Plate Minus is described as a fully MOLLE-compatible, modular, low profile, lightweight plate carrier. Perfect for low profile/ low-viz work, the PLATEminus eliminates all of the unnecessary bulk enabling it to be worn discreetly under most outer garments. The PLATEminus is offered in several subdued colors; gray (shown here), black ,coyote brown, olive drab (green) and Multicam.

 

Overview:

The PLATEminus is intended to hold armour plates (without backers or soft armour) and is built around a minimalist design while still providing the user with a modular platform that accepts magazines pouches for your primary weapon system and a variety of other MOLLE compatible accessories . The PLATEMinus has an over-the-head design and is constructed almost entirely out of BFG’s proprietary, high performance laminate, which combines a rubber based layer with a nylon face fabric into a material BFG calls ‘Ultracomp’.

The PLATEminus consists of two main components; a front and rear plate pouch, which are attached at the sides by 1” nylon straps with an elastic section to provide flexion while moving and optimal airflow during times of high activity. These side straps are secured using side release buckles for fast and easy donning and doffing.

Size and Fit:

The PLATEminus comes in 4 sizes, which are based on the SAPI/ESAPI plate sizing; Small (8.75″ wide x 11.75″ high x 1.25″ thick) for small plates), medium (9.5″ wide x 12.5″ high x 1.25″ thick) for medium plates, large (10.25″ wide x 13.25″ high x 1.25″ thick) for large plates and extra large (11″ wide x 14″ high x 1.25″ thick) for extra large plates.

If you are unsure what plate size you should be wearing simply put the plate up to your chest; ensuring that the outside edge covers the nipple area, and the top corners should leave the anterior deltoids unobstructed when in a standard firing position. As a general rule, the higher up the plates sit the better, but basically, when standing, the top edge of your front plate should be level with your jugular notch.

Front/Rear Panels Plate Pouches

PLATEminus’ has a built in plate pocket which prevents the armour plates from showing through the MOLLEminus without needing to use plate socks.  The back of the plate pockets are constructed out of Tweave, a stretch woven fabric, which keeps the plates from shifting as well as to accommodate the various plate sizes and any variances in shape and cut. The combination of the  Ultracomp® , Nylon and Tweave provides maximum weight and signature reduction and breathability.

The front and rear plate pouches (size L shown here) has 6×6 MOLLEminus columns compatible with anything with MOLLE. Both the front and rear plate pouches on the PLATEminus are single compartments and is not designed to accommodate plate backers or soft armor. On the bottom of the plate pouch is 4” Velcro flap used to adjust the ride height of the plates and to keep them in place.

Shoulders straps:

In keeping with its low-profile design, the shoulder straps on the PLATEminus are unpadded and yet are surprisingly very comfortable. At each upper corner of the front and rear plate pouch is a 2″ wide shoulder strap, which connects the front and rear panels by means of the Velcro on the matching straps.  The PLATEminus’ shoulder strap design integrates One-Wrap, ideal for keeping comm wires under control and provide hydration tube routing. The ride height of the plate carrier is adjusted by lengthening or shortening the shoulder straps by way of the Velcro hook and loop closures and due to the nature of the materials used and design of the straps, any excess in length can be cut by the end user without having to worry about frayed ends.

Insights and Observations

The first impression I had when I first picked up the PLATEminus was how incredibly light it was compared to other plate carriers I am used to. I had been running an LBT 6094a Slick for the past 3 years which was already a huge reduction in weight from the Eagle CIRAS (land) I had been using prior to that. While I am quite accustomed to the quality one would expect from a company like BFG, this is the first review I have done on one of their products.

I installed a Large APM Single curve lvl 3 plate (10″ x 12″) in the front and in the rear.  (For sizing reference; I am 5′ 7″, 178 lbs with a 42″ chest, and  a 31″ waist). I adjusted the shoulder straps so to the shortest possible length to ensure the plate came up as high as possible. The shoulder straps, despite lacking any padding are surprisingly, quite comfortable though I will mention that the straps on the PLATEminus are compatible with BFG’s LMAC™ Enhanced Shoulder Pads for those who prefer a bit more shoulder padding.

I chose a color matched BFG Helium Whisper triple mag shingle which I attached to the MOLLEminus at lower area of the front panel. The Helium Whisper mag pouch compliments the PLATEminus’ low profile nicely and when not in use, lays down flat, minimizing the risk of snagging.

As you can see in the photos above, the sides of plate pockets are sewn ‘flat’ at the sides similar to the LBT 6094a Slick, which tapers the transition between the plate and the wearer’s body allowing you to get a much tighter placement for your rifle’s buttstock pad without having to push the plate to one side.

After a day of running and gunning the obvious advantages of the  PLATEminus’ low profile and extremely light weight design becomes even more evident. I put the PLATEminus through its paces,  and cycling through a variety  of firing positions while conducting K9 movement drills. Among other things I was particularly noting any impingement of movement,  muscle strain at stress points ‘hot pockets‘ between the body and the plates where heat can get trapped and any shifting of the plates which I had anticipated due to the very thin side straps.  At the end of the day, I noted no degradation in range of motion, and even in the kneeling and prone positions, (where many carriers I’ve had,  either shifted up too high or interfered with belt-worn kit) the PLATEminus’s design paid off. Despite the lack of padding between my body and the plate carrier, I found it to be very comfortable and very breathable and contrary to what I had initially feared, the side straps kept the body hugging plate carrier right where is was supposed to be yet allowing enough flexion to not restrict breathing after moments of high exertion.

 


When not in use, the PLATEminus can be packed up nicely into your gear bag or even discreetly into a 16” laptop bag.

Conclusion:

For a plate carrier with as much of a minimalist design as the PLATEminus, BFG has managed to integrate many of the same feature benefits typically only found on full size plate carriers, without the added weight and bulk.

While never designed to replace a full size plate carrier, or for dismounted patrol particularly because it does not provide any side plate protection or padded shoulders to sustain heavy loads (for this BFG offers the PLATEminus V2), the PLATEMinus is an amazing plate carrier system, and is an ideal option for low-vis contractor work and any other situations where being a ‘grayman’ is called for.

One of the SPEAR admins, who does contractor work in South America and Africa has this to say about his PLATEminus,

I tend to run it with a chest rig over the top and as a mounted or in-vehicle rig. I particularly like the fact that it rides up high enough not to snag on belt worn gear and that unlike Cordura Nylon which soaks up water, the Ultracomp is hydrophobic and has less of a tendency to retain water and dries much quicker when wet which is perfect  for environments such as Brazil. Much like how combat boots have evolved into trail hikers; the PLATEminus works especially well for those who anticipate doing a lot of running

-B.A.D.

(you can read some of B.A.D.’s write-ups on his experiences as Private Security Contractor and Spatial Intelligence Adviser in our ‘articles’ section)

For recreational shooters this is a great piece of kit to consider, and  at a price of under $200 it is an extremely affordable option.

Users will be impressed by the weight and profile reduction the PLATEminus offers and weighing in at just under a pound, the PLATEminus may very well be one of the lightest plate carrier on the market though I’d be interested to see a side-by-side comparison between the Crye Precision AIRLIGHT and the PLATEminus.

 

Contact Info For Blue Force Gear 

https://www.blueforcegear.com

Address: Blue Force Gear PO Box 853. Pooler, GA 31322.

Phone: 877-430-2583. Mon-Fri: 8:30AM-5PM EST

Fax: 912-330-0179

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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