You've decided on a carrier, you've decided on some great plates, or maybe you've decided on an armor bundle! But now you're wondering what size you should be getting. Don't worry, we have you covered. In this article we will explore how to size yourself for both plates and plate carriers. We will also go over sizing for common "universal" or "one size fits all/ most" type plate carriers and plate sizes.
Now lets get some common misconceptions out of the way first. These are ideas and assumptions we often see people have, but in reality are incorrect.
1) Your Plate Size/ Plate Carrier Size Is Not Always The Same As Your T Shirt Size.
A common misconception is getting the same size carrier or same size plate as your T shirt, this is typically false. In most cases, your plate carrier size is 1 size smaller than your T shirt size.
2) Plate Carriers Are Sized For The Plates They Fit, Not Your Body Size.
This may seem confusing, but you must size yourself for plates first to determine the size carrier you need. Plate carrier sizes correspond to the size plates they hold inside, sizing is not like sizing a T shirt or a jacket. So Medium plate carriers hold Medium (and 10x12) plates, Large plate carriers hold large plates and so on.
How To Size Yourself For XS-XL Standard Military SAPI Size Plates and Commercial Plates:
There are two main types of plate sizes available on the market, one is the military standardized sizing of Extra Small through Extra Large "SAPI" cut plates. Next are the commercial 8x10" and 10x12" sizes.
10x12 sized plates are meant to be a "one size fits most" type size. It's meant to fit 80% of adult men. Even for larger individuals with excess body fat, your ribcage and the size of your vitals actually do not expand, so 10x12 plates can still often provide sufficient coverage.
8x10 is a size that we personally only recommend for short and small statured individuals.
Now, moving onto standard XS-XL Military SAPI sizes. The following chart down below outlines the dimensions for these sizes.
Extra Small: 7.25x11.5 Small: 8.75x11.75
For sizing plates, your T shirt size may be used as a reference point, but please remember that it is not as simple as getting the same size plate as your T shirt size.
We typically see that your plate size is one size down from your T shirt size. Your T shirt size should be determined by which T shirt fits well. This means it's not overly loose, or tight.
If you are somewhat between sizes, we generally recommend going with the smaller size.
For optimal coverage, your plates should extend from nipple to nipple (width) and length wise it should start at your clavicle (soft part of your sternum) and end 1-4" above your belly button when sitting down and relaxed.
It's important to not purchase a plate size and plate carrier that is too large, as that adds extra bulk and weight to your setup. This can become a hinderance and become cumbersome.
Now a more accurate way to measure your plate size is using the sizing chart outlined below:
Plate Sizing Chart:
Sizing Yourself For Plate Carriers: Now how do you size yourself for plate carriers? If you're deciding to go with a standard military SAPI sized plate (XS-XL), its very simple, just use the chart above and buy the same size plate carrier as your plates!
Every single plate carrier on the market meant for standard military SAPI sizes that come in Small through XL (XS is rare) will be standardized off of those dimensions.
Sometimes plate carriers can be bought in pieces for modularity, like with Crye carriers and Defense Mechanisms carriers. With those, you'll want to match your platebag sizes.
It's important to remember that your platebag size only affects what size plates will fit, it is not like a T shirt.
If there are different sized cummerbund options, follow the manufacturer instructions for sizing the cummerbund.
Sizing Yourself For Plate Carriers If Using 8x10 or 10x12 Plates. Now with the 8x10 and 10x12 "One Size Fits Most" type plates, plate carrier sizing is a little bit different. For 8x10 plates, you will want to find a plate carrier that has a size meant specifically for 8x10 plates, for example our Defense Mechanisms Slick Plate Carrier or Defense Mechanisms Assaulters Plate Carrier. If you use a plate carrier meant for Small SAPI plates, you will need to use a little bit of foam at the bottom of the platebag to prop the plate up so that it does not sag.
For 10x12 plates, we recommend getting Medium plate carriers or plate carriers meant for 10x12 plates. All of the plate carriers on the market are actually incredibly adjustable. So getting a Medium plate carrier with 10x12 plates will fit most individuals wearing a Small through Extra Large Shirt. Some plate carriers have cummerbund size options that allow individuals that wear a 2XL shirt to wear them.
Most of our Armor Bundles (Seen Here), most commonly come with 10x12 Multi Curve Shooters Cut Plates. Our bundles are for the most part meant to be a solution that fits most people. However our Highcom 4S17M MEPC Essentials Bundle does come with the option of Small SAPIs or XL SAPIs (11x14) as well as 10x12s. Or Highcom 4S17M Gunfighter Bundle comes with the option of 10x12 or XL SAPIs (11x14).
The following is a sizing chart for our armor bundles: (View our Armor Bundles HERE)
1) Defender Armor Bundle: Small through XL Shirts (2XL cummerbund available as addon)
2) Essentials Armor Bundle: (10x12, Small SAPI and 11x14 XL SAPI plate sizes available) S/M Cummerbund = Small through XL shirts L/XL Cummerbund = XL through 2XL shirts
3) Gunfighter Armor Bundle: 10x12 Plates: Small through XL shirts 11x14 (XL) Plates: XL through 2XL shirts
4) "Low Vis" Armor Bundle:
10x12 Plates: Small through XL shirts
11x14 (XL) Plates: XL through 2XL shirts