Infidel Body Armor is based out of Dallas, TX and is owned by a USAF and LEO Veteran. They were kind enough to offer me some body armor to review and I willingly accepted. I have what I consider to be extensive experience with the IBA and IOTV variety of Milspec body armor and also own and have reviewed other brands of plate carrier and armor (Bulletproofme.com) such as Tactical Tailor and Condor. I know what I like and what annoys me when it comes to body armor and feel that one shouldn’t be labeled an apocalypse craving lunatic simply by owning some Level IV plates and a vest. I think we can all admit that our world is an unstable place and that violence can erupt almost anywhere (i.e. Baltimore Riots, Ferguson Riots, every weekend in Chicago), not to mention the fringe benefits of owning a rather expensive workout weight vest.
For those of you with short attention spans who will begin to scroll vigorously while glancing a pictures in a few seconds, I’ll give you what amounts to the executive summary for this review. The Infidel Body Armor plates are well built and ooze quality (Level IV will stop multiple hits from AP Rifle rounds) and attention to detail, the same goes for the Bellator Plate Carrier. When the two are combined you have what amounts to the minimalist running shoe of the body armor world whereas other combos I’ve worn might be a standard Asics running shoe or even hiking boot. Let’s put it this way, if I were riding shotgun in an MRAP or pulling a shift at an Entry Control Point (ECP) I wouldn’t might wearing a bulkier kit. If I were assaulting (my fridge at night), navigating obstacles or walking with heavy crap on my back I’d want the Bellator + Infidel combo. It fits like a glove, has no unnecessary tacticool doo-dads and initially seems to be comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. I do have a few gripes but you’ll have to stick with the rest of the review to learn about those.
When I picked up my package from the post office that scene from Ace Ventura, Pet Detective came to mind. The box looked like it had been dropped from the back from a truck a few times and rolled down a hill but everything was still in tact. Thankfully the folks at Infidel used plenty of bubble wrap to secure/protect the contents.
The Bellator Plate Carrier is well put together. The stitching is quality and the attention to detail during construction is evident. The MOLLE straps are straight and everything on the carrier is balanced and consistent, believe it or not there are others out there which are not.
The interior of the carrier is no frills but that is fine. There are two vertical pads which are held in place via hook and loop fasteners, those are for comfort and air circulation. You’ll also make out two plastic fasteners which secure the shoulder straps to the back plate, that is one of my minor concerns with this rig. In just about every environment those fasteners should hold up fine but could still be prone to breaking (Mr Murphy), and if that should happen I suppose one would be up a creek without a paddle. Given the option I’d prefer stitching all the way around but that’s just me.
Another view of those plastic clips (again just me being extra picky) and a very sturdy looking drag handle. If you pop open the shoulder straps the adjustments are very easy to make via hook and loop fastener and you’ll also notice some well placed attachment points on the top of the shoulder, one could feed a short whip antenna through there I suppose.
Here you can see one of the Level IV Infidel plates which I have placed next to a plate from a competitor. Both plates will stop multiple hits from AP rifle rounds but the fit and finish of the Infidel plate is quite apparent.
The Infidel plate (top) is a tad thicker which leads to a small complication when paired with the Bellator.
Here you can see what it looks like when the plate is installed into the Bellator plate carrier. Again this is just me being picky but there isn’t much hook and loop real estate securing the flap to the inside of the carrier. What force would be necessary to shake that plate out? Unknown really but still I would prefer a bit longer flap and a secondary internal strap which also secures the plate. I do like the fact that the flap is internal when worn, this opposed to securing on the outer portion of the inside of the carrier which could lead to uncomfortable rubbing against the body.
Here is a picture of the Condor MOPC carrier for reference, you can see the internal strap and the rather large hook and loop flap which is used to secure the plate to the carrier. Minor details and If the Bellator had an additional 2 inches of flap I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to write about all this, still I thought it was worth mentioning.
In the above picture you’ll see that the Condor MOPC has a built in pocket for the 6×6 Level IV side plates, whereas the Bellator has no such pocket. In fact if ordered with side plates Infidel includes two Condor pouches designed to attach to the side of the carrier. In my experience these external pouches are not an optimal solution to the need for side plates, over time they begin to sag and consistently snag on things. If needed I feel that an integrated solution for side plates is a much better option so understand what your operating environment will demand before making the choice. To be fair however, gripes about side plate options for the Bellator is a bit like complaining about thick wool socks not feeling good in minimalist running shoes. If you want side plates go with another carrier, enough said.
The Bottom Line
What I like
+ Made in the USA, Veteran owned company.
+ Price point is great. As of this writing a Bellator Plate Carrier with two 10×12 Level IV plates will run you just over $600. Hold off on that spare Glock purchase which will probably sit in the safe anyways and pick up a set.
+ Quality construction. Both the carrier and plates are well made with attention to detail.
+ No frills approach. This kit gives you what you need and nothing else, many can appreciate that.
+ Comfort. What I haven’t worn the kit for days on end while sweating profusely, initially it seems to fit well and feel fine. I can tell if you if run in the Condor rig it bounces all over the place, the Bellator fits like a glove.
– Bottom flap not big enough. Easily my biggest complaint, I would feel a bit more confident in the carrier if the bottom flap was about 2 inches longer.
– Plastic clips. The rear carrier is secured by plastic clips versus stitching. 9.9 times out of 10 this will never be an issue but if I had the option, I would prefer stitching all the way around.
– Side plates not integrated. This one isn’t that much of a gripe and they clearly state on the website that external pouches will be needed for the use of side plates. It would be cool to see a high speed, minimalist integrated side plate pocket surface at some point though.
Awesome setup, get one if you can. This rig will now be my primary option versus the other brands I own. Need more info or want to watch some videos, visit their website for more details.