Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Condor - MPC Modular Plate Carrier

I added a new plate carrier to my collection earlier is year. I've loved my Platatac MAC for years, but it is getting dated. It's not like I even really NEED a plate carrier, personal ballistic body armour is a restricted item in Australia, requiring all kinds of licencing and legal requirements to own, (for civilians, at least) so it is a pretty specialty item.

That said, I fill my plate carrier's pouches with polyethylene plastic cutting boards.  This fills it put and gives it body and structure, (for costuming purposes), but also serves as blunt-trauma and edged weapon armour. Ballistic armour is restricted in Australia, so even if I wanted to fill it with proper plates or soft-armour inserts, I couldn't. I still like to put plates in however, any armour is better than no armour. I should do a test-video some time I guess.

The Condor Modular Plate Carrier is designed with heavy webbing on all sides for any PALS/MOLLE compatible gear and accessories.

The MPC also features an integral cummerbund and padded shoulders support and comfort. If you are in a country that allows it, or just want to know the vitals,  the accepts up to 25x33cm (10" x 13") plate and "Large" SPEAR/BALC cut soft armour front and back. It comes with padded foam liners taking the place of the soft armour.

One of the first things I liked about this carrier, was that once I fitted it with my mock-plates, I found it stood up all on its own, brilliant for storage and airing after a sweaty day out adventuring. A couple of bands of loop-field on the back give you attachment options, and also tie down what appear to be drag-strap retainers. These seemed superfluous, but I guess some folks want to be as snag-free as possible. Twin metal D-rings on the shoulders give hydration and cabling tie-down options. 7 channel x 8 row PALS/MOLLE on the black offer plenty of pouch, pack or accessory options.

The built in cummerbund system wraps from back to front, and I found that that really added to the overall comfort and stability of the rig. You can see from this shot that the back-piece also maintains the shoulder-straps, with feed over and across the body, to affix via hook-and-loop to the front piece, before being held secure by Fastex style buckles and sewn-in webbing.

You can also see the but in mesh inner-liner on the back panel, this helps add a little bit of a breathing gap, but in all honesty, I can't say that I noticed much difference from front to back.

You can also see the two M4 magazine pouches built into to the cummerbund  here, with the webbing looped shock-cord retention cords that are on both sides. I was a bit disappointed with these, as only the front set appeared to be big enough to actually fit a magazine. I didn't find much else I could store in these, except perhaps some emergency SERE gear like a spare compass or fire-starters.The 6x4 PALS/MOLLE loops give ample attachment for external pouches.

 You can see from this internal view, the cummerbund is actually two parts, an elasticized belt with hook-and-loop inside and out, that holds the back piece snugly in place. This waist band in turn helps hold the front piece in place, via hook-and-loop, to let you fir the side panels firmly.

 A nice extra feature of the elastic waistband component is that there is a zippered pocket fitted inside it. Good for personal keep-sakes, or small sensitive items, this is the kind of thing I'd normally see on a travelers belt, rather than inside a military style plate carrier, but hey, just because your loaded out for battle doesn't mean you aren't immune to pickpockets, does it?

The ealastic waistband helped keep the weight of the whole rig off my shoulders a little bit, and was a very nice addition to the setup, without compromising the fit of the side panels.

The side panels attached via broad hook-and-loop patches, before being held in place securely, as with the shoulder straps, by Fastex style buckles.

The front panel itself features a mighty  8 row, seven channel spread of PALS/MOLLE, to allow all manner of pouch and accessories to be fitted. It also has a very high on the throat, and low to the belly coverage, something that I like very much, being quite a long bodied creature myself.  This combination oflong construction, and broad carriage options makes this a really appealing carrier for me, and one of the reasons it has overtaken my Platatac MAC as my chest-rig of preference.

The front panel has two bands of loop-field along the top, straddling the top PALS/MOLLE row. Along with the the shoulder strapping webbing, and the cummerbund webbing there are a couple of extra things about the front panel.

It features two broad hook-field patches, for the cummerbund to lock onto,  these suffer the difficulty all big patches of hook-field do, they are crud-magnets. I found that the wrap-forwards and buckle tight option was pretty good, and gave good coverage as well as leaving me room to breathe (never good to be in too-tight armour, especially, when you have to shoulder a pack, climb up somewhere, or run).

One thing I found that it took a little bit of doing to get the side flaps to sit right, and flush. Each side has a grab-loop, to assist in bringing it into place, but some incremental adjustment may be required to get it sitting right.

Donning and doffing the MPC was pretty easy. It was simply a matter of undoing the side panels both in buckle and hook-and-loop, and throwing the whole lot over my head, and doing up the elastic belt component.

Then it is just a matter of fixing the front piece to the belt gently, and strapping down the side panels.

The plate pockets are secured by internal hook-and-loop closing flaps at the bottom of the front and back panels, and the side plates are fitted through the back plate slots. This took a little fiddling to get the side plates into place but they seemed to stay once fitted. It would be interesting to see if they sat as well with steel plates.

Again, the hook-and-loop attachment of the side plates, even with the Fastex-buckles were probably my least favorite part of this carrier, as they took some fiddling to get to sit right, and to fully lay flat. I can see them coming open at inopportune times when you're trying to be quiet with that "sckreeeet" sound if they got hung up on something. That said, I spent some good time running about in it, weaving through the bush, and in some urbanised areas, whilst at the After The Fall: New Hill City event.

I got this second hand, and it was in good shape when I got it, and has held up tot the pretty mild punishment I have given it, (including two weeks spread out in the cooken-yard, as torture testing) so I'm pretty happy with how its turned out.

I'm slowly getting with the times as far as camo-patterns go, and am slowly building to my MultiCam collection, this was a great piece to do so. The webbing is still khaki, so it's still a blend, but I'm getting here. 

1 comment:

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