Grey Ghost Gear SMC: Part 1 – This Is The Way

Debuted at SHOT Show 2020 by Grey Ghost Gear (GGG), the Shoot, Move, Communicate (SMC) Plate Carrier has secretly been under development for several years. Bringing together some of the most advanced materials, the SMC is ideal for professional application or to bring together a solid training iteration on the range.

Intended to be a modular, and adaptive plate carrier—the SMC brings together a number of elements that make it ideal for a wide range of missions or settings. By itself, the SMC is the foundational piece of gear that allows for a minimalist, and lightweight plate carrier. But when combined with GGG’s new line of laminate nylon pouches and SMC Back Panels (sold separately), the SMC is extremely dynamic.

Made from the new line of laminate nylon material, the SMC fabric has an abrasion rating greater than that of traditional 1000D nylon at a fraction of the weight. In addition, the laminate nylon has the added ability to resist moisture saturation and thus shed any excess weight that may be encountered from sweat or rain. The front and rear carriers have a “one-size-fits-most” capability (or up to 10”x12”) for all SAPI/ESAPI/AR500 protective plates thanks to its elastic tweave side material.

Both carriers feature extensive laser-cut MOLLE fields; while the front comes with an integrated hook-and-loop (female) field at the top for identification or morale patches, as well as a removable 5” (H) x 6” (L) hook-and-loop (female) panel that is secured via MALICE clips.

The rear of the SMC also includes a hook-and-loop secured nylon drag handle, and large YKK zippered shuttles down the sides for the associated Back Panels (sold separately).

The tweave interior of the SMC’s front and back panel feature GGG’s horizontal, closed-cell, padded bands that give the wearer a 4” wide, nylon mesh channel between their body and the carrier—thus allowing for air movement and heat dissipation. The attached hook-and-loop flap inside the front/back carriers enable for ballistic plates, regardless of sizing, to be securely held.

The skeletonized cummerbund allows for easy dissipation of excess heat while still providing pockets for side plates. The MOLLE field along the cummerbund also allows for added pouches or accessories.

The cummerbund itself is secured to the front carrier by GGG’s Rapid Open Connector (ROC) buckles that feature an upwards keyhole locking mechanism that necessitates a three-direction unlocking movement to avoid accidental disconnections. Adjusting the cummerbund is done via two MALICE clips that secure it to the rear carrier and can adjust to any torso size.

For shoulder straps the SMC has an overlapping hook-and-loop adjustable system with included padding that is segmented by additional ROC buckles (or with the included slide ring). This allows for the SMC to be easily slid on or off, or completely released in an emergency. Each shoulder strap also includes front, mid, and back elastic cuffs for strap retention as well as threading various communication cables or hydration tubes through.

The SMC Plate Carrier is available in Multicam (featured), Black or Coyote Brown and is only available in a size Large.

For the purposes of this evaluation, the new Compact Triple Mag Panel 5.56 – Laminate was included in field trials, as well as the Admin Pouch Enhanced Thin – Laminate to determine how the SMC plate carrier would work in conjunction with other GGG accessories. Two SMC Back Panels were also evaluated, but will be covered in a separate review (Part 2).

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $322 for a base plate carrier, the SMC had the ability to perform as a quality stand-alone piece of gear—with the added functionality of dynamically meeting the needs of multiple mission sets. Thus, what you are investing in is a single platform with high quality materials that can serve as multiple plate carriers in one. Given that, market alternatives of plate carriers using similar materials and/or design would include the Strandhögg ($486.93) or Assaulter Armor Carrier ($515.02) by First Spear, the Tactical Amatus ($249.99) by LBX, or the Quick Release Plate Carrier ($354.95) by DFNDR. It should be noted each of these alternatives are stand-alone systems and lack the interchangeability of the SMC to fit multiple mission roles. This while the cost of the SMC is appropriate (or average) for its materials and overall design within the current market, buyers are also getting the ability to grow and modify the plate carrier for multiple roles—something few plate carriers can do.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): Once the shoulder straps and cummerbund were appropriately fitted to position the plates correctly, the SMC held a very good quality of comfort with significant padding in the shoulders and on the interior of the front/rear carriers. This made dynamic movements to the side comfortable with no binding or pinching. The ROC buckles held the weight of the carrier (fully-loaded) without accidental slippage and locked securely. The only notable feedback to GGG on the comfort of the SMC would be to consider increasing the thickness of the foam padding directly under the ROC shoulder buckles. In lateral movements the location of the shoulder ROC buckles could be felt uncomfortably pressing into the collarbones, and with some thicker padding (or potentially readjusting the hook-and-loop position of the shoulder straps themselves) the shoulder straps would give the SMC an excellent level of comfort.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Grey Ghost Gear has recently expanded its laminate nylon line of products, a material that often boasts an abrasion level greater than 1000D traditional nylon at a fraction of the weight. This translates to products that are stronger, more durable, and more pliable in various products. Added into that as the base material for the SMC, extensive use of bartack in the cummerbund and X-pattern reinforcement in the shoulder stitching all gave the plate carrier a high degree of long-term durability. At no point during evaluations were edges noted to be fraying or deteriorating, most likely due to the laser-cut process to seal the cut ends of the laminate nylon and form a clean cut. Likewise, the plastic ROC hardware proved durable despite numerous attempts at donning/doffing the carrier and always retained a solid lock.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): Functionally, as a stand-alone plate carrier, the SMC did a good job at carrying plates and various other pouches while still retaining an extremely light overall weight. Many design aspects, such as the skeletonized cummerbund and tweave interior liner helped ensure heat dissipation so as not to add to wear on the user. The newly designed ROC buckles brought a quick way to don/doff the plate carrier over traditional hook-and-loop enclosures. But really the functional aspect of the SMC lay in the interchangeable rear back panels easily secured to the YKK zippers on the rear carrier, that allowed the SMC to grow beyond just a piece of individual kit and really make it (and the wearer) part of the team. GGG currently offers four different types of SMC back panels, each tailored to a specific mission or need (that will be covered in Part 2), but they allow the wearer to bring additional supplies or functions into the fight that otherwise most plate carriers don’t account for outside of needed a completely separate carrier. Thus, for the sum of its parts and application to multiple mission-sets, the SMC had an excellent level of functionality.
  • Weight Excellent (5/5): At 1.5 pounds (w/o plates) the SMC owes its excellent light weight to the laminate nylon utilized throughout the overall plate carrier. This laminate nylon is quickly emerging as the next evolution in materials for a variety of tactical products due to its high degree of durability, moisture/stain resistance, and weight-saving designs. The SMC is among several manufacturers currently utilizing this material, which places it in the lead for new concepts in plate carriers. But in comparison, the Strandhögg (1.7 pounds) or Assaulter Armor Carrier (1.5 pounds) by First Spear, the Tactical Amatus (2.3 pounds) by LBX, or the Quick Release Plate Carrier (3 pounds) by DFNDR all show that the SMC is among some of the lightest plate carriers using the same designs or materials.

Overall Rating – Very Good (22/25)

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I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

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