Lightweight and Versatile Plate Carrier Innovation from Mayflower R&C - ITS Tactical

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Lightweight and Versatile Plate Carrier Innovation from Mayflower R&C

By Bryan Black

Based on a Naval Special Warfare design, the Mayflower R&C APC (Assault Plate Carrier)  represents an evolution in Mayflower’s growing lineup of innovative products and solutions for the military athlete.

Despite being designed as a more “overt” plate carrier with exterior mounting options, we’re still classifying the APC as low-profile due to the versatile form-fitting nature of the design, the significant range of motion the end user is capable of and the lightweight nature of the 500D Cordura construction.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the brand new APC in both the following written review and corresponding video review below.

Assault Plate Carrier

Mayflower R&C APC 34I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the APC since receiving it for evaluation around two months ago. In that time I’ve really been able to get a feel for the multiple design elements that make this carrier stand out, as well as enable me to push myself out of the traditional loadout and shooting style I’m used to with chest rigs and plate carriers.

As designs and safety requirements have evolved in this industry, we’re seeing more thought into integrating side plate armor; as a natural result this has spawned creativity in available cummerbund options. My mention of a traditional loadout is in reference to the standard spare mag placement centered on the shooter’s chest. There’s no arguing this is one of the most optimal placements for those spare magazines and also facilitates quick reloads.

What I’ve been experimenting with is running a “slick” front and just two spare magazines; one in both the right and left side cummerbund. I’ve not only used this as a way to stay more streamlined and mobile, but as a way to work on reloads both right and left handed. I’m in no way advocating that this is the solution in all situations, but it’s been helping my training and I wanted to mention it.

Where this information fits into the design of the APC, is through the versatility of the cummerbund and the optional Triple Mag Insert that I’ll get into in a few paragraphs.

Plate Pockets

Mayflower R&C APC 01As mentioned previously, the APC is designed to provide ample PALS real estate to mount whatever mission essential equipment your needs dictate. We’ll first take a look at the core component of the carrier, the plate pockets.

These are available in two sizes, a small/medium and a large/extra-large. Being 5’10 with a 44″ chest I typically get medium sized carriers and rigs because I find that ordering the next size up leaves me with more adjustment than necessary and I also run medium SAPI plates. There is, however, a notable difference in the available PALS on the upper front and upper rear plate pockets of the S/M vs. the L/XL.

The S/M has a 2 rows x 4 columns in the front, while the rear features a single top row of 4 columns and two upper rows of 6 columns. The L/XL has a 4 x 6 pattern on both the front and back upper sections.  The lower sections on both the S/M and L/XL all have 3 rows x 6 columns on both the front and back.

Mayflower R&C APC 03I’ve taken the time to describe this is so you’ll take note of how much wider and taller the upper sections are on the L/XL plate pockets. Because of my chest size I could go to large plates, requiring the larger carrier, but I would have been dealing with a wider and taller carrier than I would have liked.

There’s also the addition of two 3/4″ vertical webbing strips running on each side of the PALS which enable you to clip in a PTT (Push-to-Talk) attachment from comms.

I feel that because of the contoured shape of the upper plate pocket section I was really able to get a nice stock placement without having to “tuck” it behind the carrier as I’ve had to do with other wider plate carrier designs.

Triple Mag Insert and Pockets

Mayflower R&C APC 10The entire upper 10″ wide x 5″ tall section of the plate pocket doubles as an admin pocket featuring internal 1″ elastic sewn into four channels for storing pens, ChemLights or other admin supplies. It’s a contoured pocket accessible via velcro at the top which has more width at the bottom than the top. I found it easy to access items in this pocket when running plates and backers.

A lower kangaroo pocket was designed to hold up to three M4 mags and accepts a brilliant insert from Mayflower R&C called the Triple Mag Insert which is pure awesome! As the kangaroo pocket lacks any kind of retention or separation for the three mags it holds.

Mayflower R&C APC 05The Triple Mag Insert was designed to accomplish those by utilizing velcro to secure the insert to the kangaroo pocket opening, while providing shock cord retention and separation with sewn-in webbing dividers. It’s also made of thin pack Nylon which cuts down on the weight and bulk of the insert.

However, I found that when running plates and backers, the amount of available space in the kangaroo pocket (either with or without the insert) was lacking in width. The sides get squeezed, thus making drawing and re-inserting the outer mags a bit laborious. While re-inserting shouldn’t be much of a concern, the extra tension when drawing them is. I’m hopeful that the production version has accounted for this and just an issue on my pre-production APC.

The real value of the Triple Mag Insert comes in it’s versatility to also be used in the Cummerbund, which I’ll get to below.

Armor

Mayflower R&C APC 19While I may now have you confused about the plate pocket sizing, the simple answer is to order based on your plate size.

They’re sized to accommodate stand alone or in-conjunction with BALCs/ESAPI or Swimmer cut plates. The S/M APC will fit small, medium and 10×12 sized plates. The L/XL APC will fit large and extra-large plates.

Mayflower R&C APC 32The plate pockets will also accommodate soft armor backers if needed to upgrade “in-conjunction with” plates to their full ballistic protection rating. I run the NIJ Certified Velocity Systems VS-33A Level III-A Soft Armor Dyneema Backers behind my SAPI plates. While we’ve mentioned Dyneema isn’t as optimal in contact shot situations, these plate backers and not designed to be worn as stand-alone protection.

Mayflower R&C APC 18Inserting plates and/or backers is a pretty straight forward, yet well thought out design. In the front, there’s simply a flap with hook velcro that tucks around the bottom side of the plate and mates to the loop velcro on the body side of the front plate pocket. On the pre-production version I have, it lacks the strap hanger that’s been integrated into the production models, which lifts the plate up towards the top of the carrier to place it in the optimal position.

Despite my carrier not having this strap, I still felt that the plate adjustment flap did a great job of keeping the plate up where it needed to be in the pocket.

Cummerbund

Mayflower R&C APC 20The PALS compatible cummerbund on the APC is a well thought out design that accepts 6″x 6″ hard armor plates and side soft armor. The APC is also compatible with Mayflower’s suite of modular cummerbund options like their slick cummerbund sans PALS and their mesh cummerbund.

Three different sizes are available in the cummerbund for the APC and only differ in length and available PALS. The small has five columns, medium has seven and large has nine. The rear cummerbund attachment is another simple, yet well thought out design.

Mayflower R&C APC 13You simply lift an outer flap that is pretty much the entire lower rear section of the plate pocket and reveal a large loop velcro field. Utilizing the Velcro One-Wrap side of the cummerbund you simply stack the two sides of the cummerbund over each other and close the flap.

What’s great about the One-Wrap is that the bottom side has hook and the top had loop so it can be stacked, enabling a lower profile and sticking to the overall design elements of this carrier. One-Wrap is a fantastic invention and I can’t say enough about what great cable ties it makes!

Mayflower R&C APC 11The front attachment of the cummerbund is via another large flap that’s essentially the entire lower front half of the plate carrier pocket. If you look in the images you’ll see that the lower corners have 45 degree angles and a small piece of webbing to facilitate easier lifting, which really helps when wearing gloves.

You simply lift the flap and mate the hook and loop ends of each cummerbund to the loop field and close the flap. On the One-Wrap side of each cummerbund is also 5″ tall doubled elastic that really makes a difference in the overall comfort of the carrier. The elastic enables the carrier to fit sung to your body, yet flex and add to the mobility the APC is capable of.

Armor

Mayflower R&C APC 21On each side of the cummerbund you’ll find small offset webbing pull-tabs that easily allow you to access the interior.

Opening it up, you’ll see the larger area for soft armor and a full-width velcro pocket designed for the 6×6 side plates. The velcro-lined interior allows you to position the side plate either forward or back, depending on preference.

Mayflower R&C APC 23What I’ve found is that the interior cummerbund plate pocket is also perfect for the Triple Mag Insert and as described earlier, that’s how I’m running my APC.

With a Triple Mag Insert on both sides of the cummerbund and  using Velocity Systems Dyneema IIIA Soft Armor inserts.

Shoulder Straps and Pads

Mayflower R&C APC 31The 2″ wide shoulders straps on the APC feature Mayflower’s velcro-backed webbing adjustment routed through two ITW Looplocs sewn-in on the rear plate pocket. The enables you to separate the front plate pocket from the rear if needed. The straps are sewn to the body side of the front plate pocket as well as bar tacked to the topmost stress point where the strap meets the pocket.

Mayflower R&C APC 29Covering the shoulder straps are the Armor Carrier Padded Shoulder Pieces, which are nicely innovative way to provide comfort and padding to the shoulder area.

They’re designed to also secure to the shoulder strap with two elastic loops, while still allowing easy access through a top flap to route comms wires and hydration tubes.

Mayflower R&C APC 28The body side of the shoulder pieces is made from 3D spacer mesh, which provides cushion and allows for air circulation and heat dissipation from the shoulder area.

I found these to really add to the comfort of this carrier and having run Mayflower’s Lo-Pro rig from our last review, it was definitely a welcome addition.

Notes and Video Review

Mayflower R&C APC 36One last thing to mention is the weight of the APC, I found it came in right at 17 lbs. fully loaded with SAPI plates, soft armor backers and side panels, Source Kangaroo Canteen in its LBT Bladder Pouch and my radio in a OC Tactical Small Radio Pouch. As it ships, the APC weighs just 1lb. 12 oz.

Something I would have liked to have seen on this carrier, is for the PTT webbing on the front to be 1″ webbing (instead of 3/4″). This would facilitate hooking in repair buckles to dock with Mayflower’s extensive line of chest rigs. It’s a feature we highlighted in our previous review of the Low-Profile Armor Carrier and UW Chest Rig. While it’s still possible to attach repair buckles, they don’t hold as well as they would if 1″ webbing was used. Velocity Systems also has a great feature called the SwiftClip attachment system to dock in chest rigs using the ITW Nexus QASM Buckles.

The APC is 100% Made in the USA and comes in MultiCam, Coyote Brown and Black. SKD Tactical is the first retailer to carry the new APC and also running a sale price of $195 on it until January 24th which is $15 off of the $210 SKD will be selling it for. They also only charge $5 for shipping!

Overall the APC is a fantastic plate carrier that’s loaded with features representative of the innovation that’s continuously evolving at Mayflower R&C. You won’t be disappointed with this carrier’s construction or it’s versatility. It truly lives up to the mobility requirements of the military athlete.

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