Designed to be a minimalist plate carrier for low-visibility work, or as a base platform to individually customize, the PLATEminus V4 is the next iteration by Blue Force Gear to further advance its plate carrier lineup.
The V4 incorporates the compatibility of the original PLATEminus MOLLE ptaltform, with Blue Force Gear’s proprietary ULTRAcomp™ laminate material, which is half the thickness of a dime and four times as abrasion resistant as 1000D Cordura. The V4’s ULTRAcomp laminate is laser cut to create a fully MOLLE compatible matrix of slots and voids to reduce weight, complexity, and potential failure points over traditional platforms.
The front and back carriers are designed to fully enclose SAPI/ESAPI armored plates (not included) and include integrated shoulder harnesses. The rear cummerbund adjustment panels, and rear side of the side panels feature Ball Loaded Index Points (BLIP) that aid in tactile sensation when donning or adjusting. The interior lining of the V4 features a moisture-wicking Tweeve lining that help assist in mitigating heat from the body. Both the front and back carrier feature a (female) hook-and-loop panel for identification panels or morale patches.
The fully adjustable shoulder harnesses secure across the shoulders via hook-and-loop, and include retention bands for securing hydration lines or communication cables. The V4 also features a fully adjustable cummerbund in front or back with Blue Force Gear’s military grade Ten-Speed elastic, and secured by wide hook-and-loop panels.
The V4 comes in Coyote (featured), Black, and Multicam and is sized to match the following:
- Small – 8.75″ wide x 11.75″ high x 1.25″ thick – For Small SAPI / ESAPI plates
- Medium 9.5″ wide x 12.5″ high x 1.25″ thick – For Medium SAPI / ESAPI plates
- Large 10.25″ wide x 13.25″ high x 1.25″ thick – For large SAPI / ESAPI plates
- Extra Large 11″ wide x 14″ high x 1.25″ thick – For Extra Large SAPI / ESAPI plates
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): The market for minimalist plate carriers averages between $100 and $300 depending on the quality and quantity of materials used. Although the V4 has not yet been released, it is estimated that based on the design and use of proprietary Blue Force Gear materials, the cost for the PLATEminus V4 will be approximately $180-$200. This would place the V4 at an affordable range for most individuals looking for a quality plate carrier to customize, without taking a substantial hit in the wallet.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): With no excessive materials or design, the V4 was a very sleek and lightweight plate carrier that afforded a high degree of comfort and range in motion. Obviously this would vary depending on adding more magazine carriers or accessory pouches, but as a minimalist platform the V4 was very comfortable. The adjustable shoulder harness and cummerbund were made from the military-grade elastic that allowed the wearer to find the perfect height and compression level around the torso. The BLIPs on the back corner of the rear plate carrier and rear of the cummerbund were readily tactile, although it would have been an improvement in the design if it had been on both the front and back corners of the side panels rather than just one—or better yet on the fold-over flap on the front plate carrier since that will be the one you use the most.
- Durability – Good (4/5): The V4 is made dominantly from Blue Force Gear’s proprietary ULTRAcomp™ laminate which has an amazingly high degree of abrasion resistance, minimizes materials needed, and maximizes flexibility. At no point in testing did the carrier separate, plates slide, or adjustment areas not retain their setting. There was extensive bartack stitching throughout the V4 that reinforced all key stress points. The elastic bands in the cummerbund did not fray nor warp, and retained their overall tension levels. The retention bands on the shoulder harness were a little weak on grip, because they are a different hook-and-loop material than the cummerbund, so hydration tubes or communication cables may actually work their way loose. This could be resolved by Blue Force Gear by making the retention bands wider, to afford more contact surface for the hook-and-loop. Some fraying in the (female) hook-and-loop material was observed when opening/closing of the V4s side panels and attributed to normal wear (it was in the center field of the material, not at the stitching).
- Functionality – Good (4/5): From a minimalist standpoint, the V4 is about as functionally sound as you could imagine. The design featured no excessive hardware or materials, and the laser cut MOLLE pattern into the ULTRAcomp™ laminate ensured widest compatibility to preferred magazine or accessory pouches without excess stitching. Additionally, the V4 has a legacy-type design wherein the cummerbund of the plate carrier is secured around the wearer’s torso to the front carrier, on top of which a fold-over flap is secured on top of the cummerbund. This approach in design has been used for some time. It would have added to the V4’s overall Functionality score if the outer side of the fold-over flap had a corresponding field of (female) hook-and-loop to allow additional non-MOLLE mounting systems (such as the D3CRX Chest Rig by Haley Strategic) to be added.
- Weight – Excellent (5/5): Coming in at an amazingly light 1.8 pounds (without plates), the V4 is obviously a very lightweight design thanks in part to its materials and minimalist intent. This helps spare the overall wear and strain on the user due to excess materials. In comparison, other plate carriers from 5.11, Condor, Tactical Tailor, Shellback Tactical and others with the same legacy design are a full pound heavier or more. The V4 actually comes in closer to the weight of other minimalist carriers, such as by Crye, which puts the PLATEminus V4 on-par with other performance manufactures.
Overall Rating – Good (21/25)
Product Link: https://www.blueforcegear.com/plateminus-plate-carrier
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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