The threats Joe Biden has allowed to stream across the southern border are dire: drug cartel sicarios, foreign terrorists and what could be an entire 60,000-man Chinese army division. As a result, Biden may have done more to normalize tactical gear than any president in history.

Americans have been buying guns and ammo at a record pace since Biden took office. Many now want to add body armor to their home defense kit, especially plates and plate carriers.

When it comes to plates, the rule of thumb used to be that the more you spent, the lighter the plates. The wealthy could afford lightweight composites and ceramics. Those on a budget had to make do with steel, which has come a long way, but can still weigh 8-10 pounds per plate.

Enter Full Forge Gear.

Full Forge Gear’s Feather Weight Level 4 plate offers NIJ Level IV protection – the highest level of protection against armor-piercing rifle rounds, including 7.62x51mm NATO M80 ball ammunition. This level IV plate weighs 5.7 pounds and has an MSRP of $215.99.

Full Forge Gear’s Level IIIA Plate offers NIJ Level IIIA protection against handgun threats up to .44 Magnum and other handgun calibers. It weighs 1.8 pounds and has an MSRP of $135.99.

Our friends at MKS Supply sent one of each plate for review, along with Full Forge Gear’s Shelter Plate Carrier and Magazine Carrier.

First impressions

Full Forge Gear’s Feather Weight Level 4 Plate. (Author’s photo.)

The Feather Weight Level 4 plate is a standard 10×12-inch shooter cut plate, which most prefer for its comfort, and because it will fit most carriers. It is light – really light when compared to anything with a similar price-point. Full Forge Gear says it is constructed of “advanced composite materials and ballistic ceramics.”

Its outer material is thick, durable and wipes clean of stains and debris.

This is a solid, no-frills plate.

For those not seeking protection from rifle rounds, the Level IIIA Plate is an obvious choice. It weighs only 1.8 pounds, which is lighter than most flexible body armor, yet can still stop most handgun rounds up to and including the .44 Magnum.

It’s so light it doesn’t even feel like ballistic armor.

Both plates have a good curve that fits the body well, and both come with a limited five-year warranty.

Full Forge Gear’s Shelter Plate Carrier. (Photo Courtesy Full Forge Gear.)

Full Forge Gear’s Shelter Plate Carrier fits both 10×12-inch and 11×14-inch plates. It’s available in black, tan or green. It weighs 2.5 pounds and has an MSRP of $179.99.

The carrier is covered with enough MOLLE webbing and Velcro to make it easy to customize and scale to meet your needs. It has four quick-release straps, two at the shoulders and two at the waist. The shoulder straps are well padded, and the rear drag handle secures tight against the rear panel with Velcro. Its side straps are not elastic but are extremely adjustable. However, they do not allow the user to add side plates.

The ballistic nylon is thick and rugged. The stitching is strong. This is a professional-grade carrier with massive load-bearing potential. It’s certainly not the cheap, buyer-beware crap sold on Amazon.

Full Forge Gear included their six-pocket Magazine Carrier, which weighs less than a pound and retails for $24.99.

Both the Shelter Plate Carrier and the Magazine Carrier come with a five-year limited warranty.

Takeaways

A composite level IV plate that weighs 5.7 pounds and has an MSRP of $215.99 certainly qualifies as a good deal.

I recently purchased the Universal Armor Carrier from Otte Gear. I can now add two Full Forge Gear’s Level IV plates and still stay within my budget.

In fact, I may be able to afford a few more.

The Universal Armor Carrier by Otte Gear. (Author’s photo.)