Squared Away EP 4: Why Wear a Plate Carrier?

Squared Away EP 4: Why Wear a Plate Carrier?

May 07, 2020

Author: Dakota Terry (IG @modernsurvivalarkansas)

Modern Survival Arkansas

07 MAY 2020

Source: Squared Away EP 4

As part of my continuing preparation, I’m going to handle a concept for internal and external preparation. You may have read in a prior episode that I purchased a 5.11 Prime plate carrier and Hoplite plates for self defense purposes. I’ve seen a lot of questions about why this is necessary , and statements about plate carriers being too small to effectively protect.

Plate Carrier Concepts

The concept behind a plate carrier is similar to the concept behind a helmet: if a soldier gets hit, protect things that would take him out of the fight. With that in mind, there are three major components that make a plate carrier effective in that mission: protecting the lungs, heart, and spine. These three components of your body are vital in function, and you will not live long without them. Any of these areas can be annihilated by small caliber weapons, fragmentation from explosives, and stab wounds, and the injuries are very hard to treat effectively in the field, for even the most skilled of medical professionals.

These organs also pose the largest target on your body, with about half of your upper body on average being comprised of these three organs.

This means that by targeting your chest, a combatant greatly increases their odds of removing you from the fight in one step.

How Your Organs Work

Your body is comprised of many systems, but the three most important in this scenario are your respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems.

Your respiratory system controls the air you take in and let out. This is primarily facilitated by your lungs. Any kind of penetration of the area around your lungs can damage the lung or cause it to collapse. In the best case scenario, using a chest seal and/or decompression needle can reinflate the lung, but if it has taken a direct impact, there is very little to be done in the field to save that life. This effectively removes you from the fight, because if you can’t breath, you can’t shoot.

The circulatory system controls where your blood flow goes, how much pressure there is, and is most effected by the heart. If your heart is damaged or destroyed by enemy shooting, you will not be able to fight back for more than a few moments, as all of your blood flows through the heart. This presents many issues: lack of blood flow to brain, lungs, and muscles, all of which will start to turn off with no blood and oxygen. You are now incapable of returning fire. You are also very, very dead.

The third and last system I would mention is your nervous system. It controls how your body reacts, feels, and moves, and is controlled primarily by the brain and spine. The spine is protected mostly in the top section, leaving the bottom section exposed. Now, the spine is probably the smallest target on the human body, and it’s thin as well, and you’re protecting about fifty percent of what’s there. The upper half will control your upper body, the lower half will control your lower body.

So by protecting your upper spine, you’re keeping your weapons in the fight, you’re keeping your lungs functioning, and keeping your ability to communicate. These are all vital in any form of engagement.

What Plate Carriers Don’t Protect

In essence, plate carriers protect all the hardest things to fix to keep you in the fight, but there’s a lot of things body armor doesn’t protect. Obviously, there’s the lower half of your spine, which can leaves you very vulnerable when it’s damaged (paralysis), but there are also many organs and arteries. Your femoral arteries, abdominal aorta, common iliac artery, are all unprotected. But this are also areas where field treatment so fairly straightforward. If you can apply a tourniquet, you do it, if you can’t, you pack the wound. Properly treated wounds can buy you HOURS of time in an emergency, which is far better then the relatively quick alternative. A lot of this is situation dependent of course, but it GREATLY increases odds of survival.


To close things out, I’ll say this: a plate carrier, like any protective equipment, is not foolproof. It won’t guarantee you’ll make it out of a bad situation or engagement, but it increases your odds and buys you time. When trying to prepare for any emergency, both of those can be valuable assets. As always this is based on research that can change and isn’t always perfect. I’ve done as much verification as possible to ensure the best information, and I’ll be updating this based on information I learn moving forward.

~ Dakota Terry (IG @modernsurvivalarkansas)