TAG Vanguard Plate Carrier Review

TAG Vanguard Plate Carrier Review | With Crye Skeletal Cummerbund

By: Will

(Blacksheepwarrior.com reviews are genuine and not paid for)

Plate carrier reviews are at the heart of what motivated me to start blacksheepwarrior.com. Why? Because myself and many of our writers, wear them on a daily basis and as you may or may not know, a crappy plate carrier can be the bane of your existence, where as, a quality mission appropriate plate carrier melds into your existence, and is quickly forgotten allowing you to focus on the task at hand, whatever that may be.

Also check out our new Agilite tactical K19 Plate Carrier Review here.

Tag Vanguard Specs:

Vanguard Key Features:

  • Fits 5.56mm, 7.62 x 39, & 7.62 x 51 magazines
  • Interchangeable cummerbund system
  • Fully adjustable & padded shoulder straps
  • Spacer mesh for comfort & breathability
  • Large Velcro® area for placards
  • All matching Velcro®, webbing & hardware
  • Berry Compliant, Made in the USA, Lifetime Warranty, 500 denier Invista® Cordura® nylon.

Vanguard Dimensions:

  • MEDIUM: Fits 10″ x 12″ Plate (Standard Size)
  • LARGE: Fits 10″ x 13″ Plate
  • X-LARGE: Fits 11″ x 14″ Plate (Most Uncommon Size)
  • Weight (Empty): 2 lbs. 5 oz. (w/ Standard Cummerbund)

TAG Vanguard Plate Carrier Features:

Let’s take a moment to go over some of the TAG Plate Carrier’s features and look into some of the reasons I chose this plate carrier over other options on the market at the time.

When I look for a plate carrier to use on a daily basis I am always thinking about two things first and foremost; low profile shoulder straps and a stable, skeletal cummerbund.

There is nothing worse than a plate carrier with big, bulky, padded shoulder pads on the straps, I mean….. who remembers the 80’s and all the chicks walking around with shoulder pads??? Not cool! I didn’t realize how crucial it was to have a slick low profile shoulder straps until I used them on a previously reviewed plate carrier from Raine Black. I still remember the first few days humping the mountains of southern Arizona wearing a 5lb armor plate, front and back, along with 6 liters of water and my M-4 slung. The heat was oppressive but the worst was the pain I had in my shoulders. It was excruciating. But, after a few days, the pain went away and I was able to appreciate the fact that my neck wasn’t being chaffed by slings and Camelbak straps fighting for real estate on my shoulders.

Morale of the story? Like so many of life’s challenges, man up and work through it, you will thank me.

Like I mentioned before, the Vanguard Plate Carrier’s shoulder straps are low profile yet they still allow for adequate adjustment and control of hip antennas and other items via velcro keepers and molle webbing. And, they do have a slight amount of padding that isn’t over the top.

The tops of the shoulder straps have both nylon webbing and elastic webbing for mounting and routing tourniquets, hydration tubes, radio antennas, handsets, comm wires, V Lites, and strobe lights. I personally use it to route my whip antenna.

The second crucial feature for me is the cummerbund. And this is where the Tactical Assault Gear Vanguard Plate carrier really shines with its Crye Precision licensed Skeletal Cummerbund.

Im a big fan of the Crye skeletal cummerbund and I would consider replacing any future plate carrier’s cummerbund with one which will be easy seeing TAG sells their licensed version on their site.

If there is one thing I can’t stand its a floppy unsupported cummerbund that takes up unnecessary space, prevents airflow and doesn’t support the weight of IFAKs, Mags and radio pouches among other things.

The Vanguard’s Skeletal cummerbund doesn’t have any of those faults and features a rigid build, ample space, webb and support to add any military spec mission specific soft gear.

Adjustments are made via the back of the plate carrier via a flap and the Vanguards’s cummerbund attaches via G hook mount which are quick and easy enough to adjust but hard enough to make you want to get it right the first time. You can also adjust the cummerbund via the velcro flap on the front of the plate carrier. The Cummerbund is also available with TAG’s RIHV release system and several sizes.

TAG Skeletal Cummerbund Sizes:

  • SMALL: 39” – 49”
  • MEDIUM: 42” – 52”
  • LARGE: 45” – 55”
  • X-LARGE: 48” – 58”

Other Things I like about the TAG Vanguard Plate Carrier:

Another thing that is rather important for me personally when choosing a plate carrier is the amount of velcro loop on the front and back. I am required to use law enforcement placards and the TAG Vanguard has ample, color/camoflage matching Velcro loop on both front and back. In fact, Tactical Assault Gear wasn’t cheap when they built the plate carrier and didn’t skimp on velcro as it covers all the the usable space on both front and back from edge to edge. This was accomplished without sacrificing webbing as its still there where you need it!

The Vanguard Plate Carrier features adequate internal padding with a center channel and spacer mess to direct sweat to the bottom and allow breathing. The materials are a coyote mesh (my plate carrier version was Multicam) and I have never had any reason to complain about the fit, finish, or build of the body side of the plate carrier.

The rear of the plate carrier features a well tacked (understatement) drag handle that thankfully has never been required or tested, but I am fully confident in its build quality should the need arise. This might be a feature that would be easily overlooked in a review or by a tactical gear manufacturer, but TAG didn’t skimp on this part and as you will see in the photos, the drag handle is more than just “tacked” and is connected in a substantial way.

Additionally, the drag handle features hook and loop and is secured out of the way but easily accessed when needed.

The front of the Vanguard Plate Carrier features a front flap with an integrated triple rifle magazine pouch. This is well built like everything else on the plate carrier but I will say that for my personal taste I would have liked the sizing of each magazine compartment to be for a standard AR-15 or AR-10 magazine depending on what the end user chooses.

TAG for their part decided to go with a one size fits all approach which may have been a requirement from a large government end user or such but we will never know. It really doesn’t bug me as much but if I were to make a change I would let the end user select the magazine size while ordering. Just my .02 cents.

The bungie tie downs for the mags are the same as on many plate carriers I have reviewed and I have had to re-tie them occasionally but that is really just par for the course with that type of magazine retention.

When the Vanguard arrived for my review, it came with a TAG Radio pouch as well which started out its tour of duty on the outside of the cummerbund on my left hand side. After a month or so, stepped out on a limb and placed it on the inside of the cummerbund in the gap next to my front armor. Like the Vanguard, the TAG Radio Pouch has performed without issue and I highly recommend giving that placement a try if your current armor carrier allows for it. Better yet, buy a vanguard plate carrier with crye skeletal cummerbund and set it up like that.

As with all plate carriers, there is eventually going to be something you just don’t like. But aside from the one size fits all, built in triple rifle mag pouch, I really can’t think of anything.

The carrier fits my large sapi plate armor with no issue even though it is a medium sized plate carrier. Moreover, you can get the vanguard in a number of sizes: Need Plate armor? Our sister site carries it.

  • Vanguard Plate Carrier Sizes and Weight:
  • MEDIUM: Fits 10″ x 12″ Plate (Standard Size)
  • LARGE: Fits 10″ x 13″ Plate
  • X-LARGE: Fits 11″ x 14″ Plate (Most Uncommon Size)
  • Weight (Empty): 2 lbs. 5 oz. (w/ Standard Cummerbund)

The Tag Vanguard Plate Carrier is available int he following colors:

  • Black
  • Coyote tan
  • Multicam Arid
  • Multicam Black (sexy)
  • Multicam Tropic
  • Multicam OCP
  • Ranger Green

Where to Buy the Vanguard Plate Carrier with Crye Precision Skeletal Cummerbund

The Vanguard Plate Carrier platform is easy to order new directly from TAG online. You can shop around and maybe find a better deal but for now we will embed the link to the product page below. The price is reflective of a quality military designed Berry Compliant, Made in the USA plate carrier with a lifetime Warranty.

Tactical Assault Gear

Vanguard Plate Carrier Review Wrap up

Well, to wrap up this TAG Vanguard Plate carrier Review, I want to say thanks to TAG for providing the plate carrier and really encourage you to check it out if it meets your mission set. Carrying armor plates doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and this plate carrier is currently my favorite! It’s well designed throughout and overbuilt! Give it a try!

I hope this review was helpful! if you ever have any questions you can hit us up and ask. We are fellow end users and want to help. Did we miss something?

  • Will

Read our other plate carrier reviews here

2 thoughts on “TAG Vanguard Plate Carrier Review”

  1. Hmmm It’s really an informative article. Basically, I’m a deployment officer and want to get a best plate carrier for deployment. Now I’m clear about this. Thanks!

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