Uniformed Look Outer Vest Carriers

Paul W.

Network Support V
I was wondering if anyone had these and if so what are they running? I work for a rural west Texas sheriff's office and the sheriff has just signed off on wearing outer vests that have the uniform look. Considering the high heat index during the summers, I feel that this would be a worthwhile investment. TXDPS (Texas Troopers) have just started to switch over last year. After having multiple conversation with them, it seems to be a better option. It would have to be a tan color.

Currently looking at 5.11 Class A or B outer vests and Blauers Armorskin. Anyone else have recommendations?
Don't really care if they open from the front or the sides. Also would BALCS/SPEARS soft armor fit these?
We are allowed to use the armorskin.

They are nice and lots of people like them (especially females) and it helps to be able to get stuff off your belt. The only issue is that if your armor is lighter colors it'll need to be washed more often, especially in the summer.
We went to uniform type outer vests several years ago. By far better than the inner vests. The ability to open the side panel and allow AC to flow through while in the car is great! We were using Blauer, I believe, but have had issues with durability. We just ordered new ones that will be in within a week or two, and unfortunately I don't know who makes them.
I personally prefer the traditional inner vest if in uniform. I tend to be plagued with prickly heat with either setup when it gets especially hot and humid. Just wearing a cotton/synthetic blend T shirt underneath as opposed to 100% cotton or 100% synthetic (Under Armour, etc.) seems to be about the only thing that keeps prickly heat at bay for me (same experience with body armor/plates on mid east deployment). I also feel a little more streamlined, more mobile, and less like the Michelin man with a vest on underneath. Less to snag on, less for bad guys to grab (maybe). I have more adjustability with the inner vest carrier I'm issued too.

At my agency we are issued both (inner/outer) vest carriers and it seems most guys/gals have gone back to wearing their vests under the uniform after trying the outer carrier for a while. Admittedly, I think a big reason for that though is that we are issued "Class A" type outer vest carriers (the kind with the fake vertical creases sewn in, dress uniform pocket appearance, shiny badge and name tag pinned on, no Velcro, no molle...) and it ends up being a massive pain transitioning back and forth between different uniforms (class A, class B/BDUs, bike patrol, etc) because the only uniform the outer carrier jives with is the class A.

I would possibly wear an outer vest carrier more often if admin wouldn't have dropped the ball and a utility type/"class B" carrier was authorized that would allow me to get some weight off of my hips and carry some equipment on the carrier, and if I didn't have to put all the sparkly signal mirrors (badge, buttons, nametag) on it. I just don't see the point of the "class A" fake uniform shirt type of outer carriers. I put them in the same category as drop leg holsters. Admin buys them without truly understanding their purpose and why a particular method or piece of equipment was developed.
Approximately a year ago, our department reconsidered the proposal for external armor carriers for patrol use. The first 'test' vest was going to be one with laser cut molle so as to appear clean yet allow the wearer to don mullet attachments. I was fortunate to be allowed to weigh in on this decision based on my experience and advised such a vest although clean looking would wear extremely fast and not be durable. I also provided that once the officer put molle attachments on the thin, fabric molle that the west would be weighted down.

I proposed the Safariland Oregon City and Bothell Carriers and after a wear test, they were approved for use. Now, even after some were originally opposed to the idea of an external carrier, just about the entire staff to include command personnel wear the external carrier as their armor. I've been wearing the Bothell Carrier now for about a year and can't be happier with the performance. The only difference between the two is one has molle all the way up and the other (shown below) has molle half way up and pen/knife/utility pockets.

I've been using the Elbeco Bodyshield on patrol for a year or so. Due to agency restrictions, it is the uniform-look version, without pouches or MOLLE. Durability has been excellent, and it does improve heat management. Since I sometimes have to hike trails or ride an ATV, being able to shuck the vest for extra heat management is useful.

I also use a set of Back Defender suspenders underneath the vest to redistribute some of the weight. They have worked very, very well.

Another generic advantage of the outer carriers is the ability to leave ear/ throat mikes and extra camera wiring/ mounts/ clips (AXON :rolleyes:) rigged up from day to day, without having to fight it every time you change your shirt.

At a previous agency, I used the Second chance OCS, both with sewed-on pouches, and with MOLLE. I liked it, except when it was time to use heavy winter gear. Then the old duty belt came back out.


Regular Member
EVCs used by patrol LEOs are very, very commonly seen here in the Pac NW nowadays.

Even hyper politically correct Seattle PD authorizes them and their guys/gals are using them.

I have been using the Safariland Oregon City Carrier for over 2 yrs now. Maybe 25% of our agency has gone to it. Only 1 guy has gone back to the traditional concealed SBA after trying the OCC.

2 guys in particular prefer the OCC, due to their on duty related back injuries (both have been hit by drunk drivers, one of them twice).

There has been a near total absence of public comment/feedback to the guys using the OCC's. Nothing negative. Sometime something positive. Usually, "You sure carry a lot of stuff". I inform them that I am carrying the same stuff I was before, but it's much better for my back. They get that, especially those over 40.

To me, the main advantage of a EVC is the ability to wear plates, full time
. If the murders of officers by bad guys using rifles hasn't gotten your attention, it should. I equate leaving plates in a PC in the patrol car to the 70s and 80s and even the 90s in which many LEOs didn't wear SBA, they just left it in the car with the idea that they would don it if they thought they needed it. How many perished needlessly due to this line of thinking? How many LEOs have died bc they weren't wearing plates? Dunno, but it's been more than a few.

Esp now that plates are, relatively, much lighter and thinner than they used to be.

Not so long ago, I had a major medical issue requiring emergency surgery, 5 days in the hospital, a month off work, and permanent changes to my lifestyle. The hospital bill was $75k, and my out of pocket was $1100. It put for me into perspective that I would gladly spend $1100 on top quality plates to stay alive. That's about the cost of a set of top level plates from Velocity systems (shameless plug for Mike at AT Armor).

I wear Lev 3+ plates full time in my OCC (though not the PBZ's). It was a slight adjustment, but most of the time I don't notice it, and I am grateful for them when it comes to calls when a rifle either has or might have been involved on the part of the suspect(s).


Regular Member
We authorize the shirt looking Armorskin. I wear Hanes wicking shirts with my concealed vest and a Mika vest holster for my BUG. The carriers actually have fewer pockets than our newer class B shirts. They also do not jive well with my personal PC. Issued PCs (still on order) were wisely sized to fit over external carriers for those who wear them.

I would go external if plates full time was an option, which it is not.
I LOVE my external vest, I wear an older Diamondback (UTOC?) and it is much more comfortable compared to an inner vest, for me. I'm probably going over to another agency so it looks like I'll be in the same boat, I think they lean towards the uniform-style carriers.

I'm a huge fan of all external carriers. I feel that the Class A style rarely look good, and they tend to flip up in the back and generally fit poorly. I don't think the Class A buttons and name tags and such look like they belong on an outer vest.

I like Class B style and MOLLE vests; I think they are much more streamlined, tend to be constructed better for the way the armor wears in them, and the modularity of MOLLE speaks for itself. I think even Class B style carriers look better on a Class A uniform than a Class A carrier, ever. When departments embrace them, they should just go the Class B route (if MOLLE isn't allowed) so that guys can go between different uniforms like mentioned above.

From my digging, these are the uniform-style carriers out there right now:

-5.11 Uniform Outer Carrier
-Elbeco Bodyshield
-Blauer ArmorSkin
-Survival Armor Uniform Shirt Carrier
-GH Armor Uniform Carrier
-Mocean Uniform Outer Carrier
-The Vest Man custom
-Turtle Tracks custom
-JG Uniforms custom
-Other Armor manufacturers vests that I missed :)
My department has moved to outer vests as the standard. After a trial period with one officer (we are a very small dept.) We moved to all full-time officers being issued a custom outer carrier by The Vest Man. Only one full-time officer chose to stay with an inner vest (physical issue).

When I was hired as a part-time officer I was given the option to use an issued inner vest or provide my own outer carrier if it met dept guidelines and was approved by the chief. I used an old MSA Paraclete BALCS compatible carrier that I had on hand and did some modifications to meet dept standards. It was great in the summer time having the option to remove it when on station and get airflow underneath.

Since February of this year, I have been fortunate to now be issued a custom Vest Man carrier for patrol. The Vest Man carrier has allowed me to even get more issued gear off my belt line and added a more traditional professional look. Quality is top notch and I have zero complaints about the vest itself. The only potential issue I see is the retention strap material used to close the sewn on pouches. It does not (based on feel) that it would hold of to lots of wear and tear (range, training, etc.) Only time will tell on that and it may just be me looking for problems.

Overall, The Vest Man offering is great and ordering is fairly simple and straightforward.