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Which tactical vests are best?

Tactical vests aren’t just for law enforcement — they have many uses and cover many bases. Hunters use them regularly for all manner of expeditions and they can readily be used for non-firearm-related activities thanks to their large amounts of storage space.

The best tactical vest is the UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest. This one-size-fits-most vest is supremely comfortable and highly adjustable, with tons of storage options, including four magazine pouches sized to carry most standard types of ammunition.

What to know before you buy a tactical vest


Most commercial tactical vests are made of either ballistic polyester or some mix of nylon, polyester or Cordura. These materials usually mix in some amount of mesh for breathability.

Ballistic: Ballistic polyester, originally made to protect pilots in World War II from shrapnel and other dangers, is a tough, highly protective material that stops short of being fully bulletproof. It’s incredibly durable, with some ballistic polyester tactical vests even mixing in Kevlar for even more protection, while also making it thinner and lighter.

Nylon/polyester/Cordura: Basic, affordable tactical vests are usually made of nylon, polyester or the nylon-based Cordura. The resilience of these tactical vests’ materials is determined by their thickness, which is measured in denier — a unit of weight for measuring the fineness of threads, equal to 0.05 grams per 450 meters. Most tactical vests of these materials have denier measurements of between 500 and 1,200, with higher numbers meaning a thicker, more durable tactical vest at the cost of flexibility.

Fit and adjustability

Most tactical vests come in one-size-fits-most configurations, which is generally accomplished by having adjustable waist belts and shoulder straps. Waist belts tend to have quick-release buckles, while shoulder straps have either hook-and-loop or buckle fasteners. If you intend to wear the tactical vest for extended periods of time, try to find one with padded shoulder straps as well.

What to look for in a quality tactical vest

Attack protection

There are two kinds of attack that a tactical vest might protect you from, depending on the tactical vest: stabbing and bullet. These protections will always be clearly stated by the manufacturer in the product description. In the case of bullet protection, always triple check the specifications. Any given tactical vest can have one of several methods of bulletproofing which are capable of stopping different calibers of bullets from different ranges and which cover different areas of the tactical vest.

Modulation systems 

There are two kinds of personal modulation systems used in tactical vests: PALS and MOLLE.

PALS: Pouch Attachment Ladder Systems are a webbing-and-loop system usually added to the backs of tactical vests for hanging additional equipment.

MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment is used by many manufacturers for more than just tactical vests, and most equipment made today is MOLLE compatible, including equipment used by American and British military forces.

How much you can expect to spend on a tactical vest

Tactical vests can be found in a huge range of prices, from as little as $20 to as high as several thousand dollars. Most tactical vests reside in the sub-$100 range, with a large variance in quality, so purchase carefully. Tactical vests costing $250 and up usually include some manner of bulletproofing.

Tactical vest FAQ

Most tactical vests are listed as law enforcement tactical vests — do law enforcement agencies really use these tactical vests?

A. It’s certainly possible, as most of the tactical vests you can find online are bought and shipped to all corners of the world. Usually, however, the term “law enforcement” in describing tactical vests is just a method of differentiating them from another style of tactical vest, rather than some kind of signifier that it’s used by specific law enforcement units or built to a certain level of quality.

Are there any laws regarding tactical vests?

A. Yes, there are many. Usually it comes down to state-level restrictions, like Louisiana’s ban on tactical vests on school grounds, and Connecticut’s ban on purchases of tactical vests if the purchase is not made in person. Many states also give increased sentences to those caught in illegal activity while wearing a tactical vest. Always check your state and local laws before making a tactical vest purchase. Federally, the big law is that convicted felons can’t purchase bulletproof tactical vests.

What’s the best tactical vest to buy?

Top tactical vest 

UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

What you need to know: This one-size-fits-most tactical vest is one of the best-selling tactical vests available on the market.

What you’ll love: Length and girth adjustment straps enable the one-size-fits-most aspect. There are four magazine pouches sized for almost any ammunition type and a sealable document pouch as well as a back loop for adding additional storage. The vest material is entirely mesh for comfort and breathability.

What you should consider: A few consumers spoke of the zippers on this tactical vest being weak enough to break off when subjected to a little extra force.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top tactical vest for the money

GZ Xinxing S 4XL Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

GZ Xinxing S 4XL Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

What you need to know: An excellent tactical vest option for those who want many storage options but want to save a little money.

What you’ll love: Like the UTG 547, its adjustable length and girth straps give it the one-size-fits-most function, and the vest is made of a similar type of breathable mesh. This tactical vest includes a pistol belt, pistol holder and three magazine pockets which fit most ammunition types.

What you should consider: Some consumers noted that this tactical vest can be difficult to appropriately size and can be more uncomfortable than other tactical vests.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Gfire Tactical Law Enforcement Vest

Gfire Tactical Law Enforcement Vest

What you need to know: This tactical vest is made in the United States.

What you’ll love: This tactical vest comes in sizes ranging from medium to extra-large, with shoulder-strap adjustments and side-release buckles. It’s specifically designed to accommodate modular attachments for a fully customizable experience, though it does include a front pocket for documents. Internal webbing allows for some breathability.

What you should consider: Some consumers noted that this tactical vest doesn’t fit as tightly as others do, leaving a little too much room for the tactical vest to shift.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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