Military and law enforcement personnel are typically what we think of when we think about tactical vests. They are, however, used by a lot of private security details, survivalists, hunters, and outdoorsmen as well.
A good tactical vest serves multiple purposes. Many carry armor plates that protect the wearer against gunfire. They also serve to keep weapons and other critical gear items available at a moment’s notice. Most importantly, a tactical vest holds together the rest of a military uniform, such as the jacket, holster, and pants. Without it, the rest of the uniform is essentially useless.
Our list of the 10 Best Tactical Vests will help you learn more about each product so that you can make the choice that’s best for you. Also, be sure to check out our Buyer’s Guide and Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about tactical vests!
1. GZ XINXING
The first tactical vest on our list is an all-in-one design that can be employed for airsoft, paintball, combat training, hunting, or military and law enforcement use. It is a customizable design that’s fully adjustable in both length and girth using six tension straps on the sides and two long Velcro strips on the shoulders.
This vest is mounted on tough nylon mesh material and secures via a front zipper and a pistol belt that threads through the loops on the bottom of the vest. The left side of the vest offers a pistol holster that fits most medium-sized pistols and the right side features three ammo pouches, a large shell carrying pouch, and a shooting pad.
2. Yakeda CS
The Yakeda CS Field vest is an ultralight, breathable design manufactured specifically for combat training. It is adjustable for waist sizes between 33 and 53 inches and lengths of 20.5 to 22.5 inches. The rear of this vest is double-ply mesh, which allows for the addition of a hydration bladder.
The shoulders of this vest are adjusted using long Velcro strips that also include 2 metal D-rings for easy attachment of carabiners or other equipment. The left side offers a medium-sized pistol holster and three adjustable pistol mag pouches. The right side features 3 ammo pouches, a large shell carrying pouch, and a shooting pad.
3. Blackhawk Omega Phalanx
Blackhawk brings us this tactical vest designed for those working in homeland security. This heavy-duty Nylon mesh vest offers maximum breathability while still standing up to the rigors of everyday use. It is adjustable for both length and girth.
This vest offers 10 YKK Vislon (1) zippers and side-release buckles for rapid donning and doffing. It is also an ambidextrous vest with a padded Hawktex (2) sniper shoulder and heavy-duty webbing on front and back that allows you to attach appropriately fitted pouches.
4. Rothco Cross Draw
Designed for the roughest of field users, the Rothco Cross Draw is an adjustable, MOLLE compatible vest constructed with heavyweight polyester mesh. Adjustments are made via the vest’s shoulder straps and a drawstring waist to help you find a perfect fit.
This vest offers three ammo pouches and three pistol mag pouches. It also features two document pouches to keep important papers safe and secure. It secures with a front zipper and adjustable pistol belt. It is also an ISO certified tactical vest (3).
5. Barska XV-200
This tactical vest from Barska is designed for right-handed users and offers a high degree of customization and adaptation. It fits waist sizes from 38 to 50 inches with adjustable shoulder straps and side straps, as well as ladder buckles on each side for quick adjustments.
This vest offers a number of hidden inner pockets and web system compartments with Velcro closures. It also features three detachable pieces, including a right-hand draw holster, three-section pistol mag/flashlight pouch with Velcro closures, and a heavy-duty adjustable belt with pouches.
6. Voodoo MSP-06
The Voodoo MSP-06 Entry Assault vest is made for police and military missions, and is great for anyone that doesn’t want to worry about buying another tactical vest from any other company because Voodoo offers a lifetime warranty!
This vest offers side-release buckles with adjustable web straps and fully adjustable shoulder straps for a customized fit. It also features three pistol mag pouches, three M4/M16 30-round mag holders, a first aid/ammo pouch, two inside zippered map pockets, a hook-and-loop strip for ID patch, and much more.
GLORYFIRE brings us this lightweight tactical vest that’s best for law enforcement professionals and combat training. This vest is designed to accommodate modular attachments on all sides for superior functionality and operator mobility.
This tactical vest offers removable, anti-slip padded shoulder pads with hook-and-loop guides, as well as adjustable shoulder straps and heavyweight webbing for those modular attachments. It also features an emergency drag handle, a front map pocket, padded mesh interior lining, and an adjustable cummerbund with pockets.
8. Condor Elite
The Condor Elite tactical vest is made for everything from hunting to daily work in a private security detail. It includes the Condor pistol belt, padded, rubberized shoulder with built-in shock stop, and fits medium-to-large chest sizes up to 44 inches.
This vest’s built-in pouches include two utility pouches, 6 M4 mag pouches, and two internal pockets. It also features a mesh back for ventilation, a zippered front with two quick-release buckles, and webbing for MOLLE attachments.
9. UTG 547
The UTG 547 is a tactical vest designed for law enforcement personnel. The vest boasts high-quality zippers and a durable rescue handle with maximum strength for even the most rugged of field operations. It is also fully adjustable in girth and length.
The UTG 547 offers 4 deluxe, adjustable rifle mag pouches with hook-and-loop closures, drain holes, and elastic to hold mags in place. It also features a deluxe, universal cross-draw holster and UTG’s signature mesh ventilation system that helps release moisture and heat.
10. ArcEnCiel Molle
The last vest on our list is a military grade design made for combat training, airsoft battle, paintball game, and more. It is constructed from 1000-Denier Nylon materials and stitching with a PVC-lined nylon that guarantees high-tensile, wear-resistant ability.
This vest offers various MOLLE attachment points for adding pouches and comes with 3 magazine pouches, 1 map pouch, 1 walkie-talkie pouch, 1 flashlight pouch, 2 communication pouches, and 1 medic pouch. All pouches are removable.
The United States Marine Corps originally adopted tactical vests as recently as 2006 (4). They are increasingly used outside of the armed forces because of their practicality and life-saving ability. This Buyer’s Guide will focus on comfort and fit, what you can carry, and how these vests help you maintain performance.
Comfort and Fit
This is the most important aspect to consider when buying a tactical vest because you don’t want to end up with a vest that you can’t wait to take off at the end of the day. The ideal vest should blend seamlessly into your existing uniform and will help you do your job, or complete your mission, more effectively.
The important take-homes here are to find a vest that fits your chest and torso sizes. You also want to be sure to find a vest that offers a sufficient degree of adjustability if the gear you’ll be wearing under or over the vest will change greatly from situation to situation.
A good rule of thumb is to narrow down your search to sizes that you’d normally buy in other garments. In other words, don’t search for an XL tactical vest if you typically wear medium shirts. Don’t get caught up in pouches, hidden compartments, and MOLLE compatibility and forget that finding a vest that fits you comfortably is the most important consideration.
That said, once you’ve found a comfortable fit, you’ll also need to consider all the gear you intend to carry in your tactical vest. Some vest offer space for a hydration bladder and water bottles. Others prioritize storage for ammo, pistols, and other combat gear. Some vests come with a set number of pouches while others offer the ability to add or subtract pouches as needed.
The second worst mistake you can make when buying a tactical vest is to underestimate just what you want to carry in it. Make sure to fully evaluate the amount of gear (and size of that gear) you’ll need to haul before committing to a specific vest.
For example, pouches that are designed for M-4 magazines most likely won’t fit AK magazines, and even if you are able to squeeze them in, it’ll most likely affect your mobility and performance. Be intentional with the tactical specifics of carrying capacity when it narrowing down your search.
Lastly, you’ll need to find a tactical vest that doesn’t affect your performance in the field. Comfort and carrying capacity are great, but if you can’t do your job to the ability that you’re used to, then your tactical vest become a hindrance rather than an aid.
A good example is considering where you pistol points when it is holstered in a given vest. Then consider where it points when you sit down. Does this make it more difficult to quick-draw to your weaker side? This is just one demonstration of how the specific design of a tactical vest can impact performance.
The good news is that comfort and fit are generally synonymous with the degree to which a tactical vest will affect your performance. A well-fitting tactical vest that allows you to carry everything you need comfortably will only complement your performance and make you more efficient and effective.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tactical vests can serve a variety of needs. Knowing how to properly use and maintain your tactical vest, however, is critical no matter how you decide to use it. These frequently asked questions will give you more information about tactical vests.
What is the proper way to wear a tactical vest?
Make sure you adjust the straps of your vest exactly how you like them from the very first time you put it on. The bottom of the best should be right at your navel so that it protects your vital areas but also allows you to stand or sit with comfort. After your vest is adjusted properly you should be able to take it on and off by only undoing one of the side straps.
How many types of tactical vests are there?
Generally, types of tactical vests are made for the following scenarios: tactical situations, combat training or shooting practice, hunting, paintball or airsoft, and fishing.
Are these vests bulletproof?
These vests themselves are not bulletproof. Most manufacturers produce either the vests or the bulletproof plates that can be inserted into them, so you’ll most likely have to make two purchases.
Can I throw my tactical vest in the washing machine?
No! You typically shouldn’t machine wash a tactical vest unless instructed to do so by the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Most tactical vests can be adequately washed with a wet cloth or sponge.
How much do tactical vests weigh?
While this ranges from vest to vest, most weigh somewhere between 2 and 6 pounds when empty.
What is ‘MOLLE’ compatibility?
MOLLE stands for ‘Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment’ (5). It allows for a high degree of customization by adding or subtracting modular used for specific purposes.
Will my tactical vest keep me warm?
While this is not the intended purpose of tactical vests, they are worn over your usual gear and they are adjustable to accommodate extra layers on colder days. Tactical vests, however, are actually designed not to trap heat and moisture, which makes them poor insulators.
What are tactical vests made of?
The vests mentioned above are made out of a variety of materials. Generally, vests are made of many layers of fibers with high tensile strength. This can be nylon, polyethylene, polyester, and others.
The fact for many professionals that wear tactical vests regularly is that every single gun can be deadly (6). It’s hard to predict when or where danger will come from, which is why a tactical vest can be a lifesaver. We hope that this information has helped you narrow down your choices and select the tactical vest that’s best for you!