For quite a long time now I have been searching for the “perfect plate carrier”, a struggle which I’m sure a lot of us in the community feel the effects of, and have always found myself being drawn to the gloriously expensive delights of Crye Precision. The JPC was a steadfast part of my gear collection, and as it is the system I have the most time on it will be the basis for many of my comparisons. I first heard of Velocity Systems when a good friend of mine managed to get his hands on an extremely rare early rendition of the now widespread SCARAB plate carrier, and my interest was piqued by the innovation and sheer complexity of the build that had gone into that piece of gear. As a result of that interest I couldn’t turn down a very fortuitous trade that landed me with a Mayflower APC, and caused me to sell my beloved JPC.
Overall the APC is a smooth blend of protection and comfort. Made from the highest spec materials with the level of quality control expected of the higher end gear manufacturers, this rig boasts hardiness and gives the user the dependable feeling that it isn’t going to rip or fray at the first opportunity. In terms of its features it actually feels most similar to a cross between an LBT 6094 and strangely, a Warrior Assault Systems DCS (although without any dubious logo copying of course). The vest houses a multitude of small, satisfying features that really lend to the feel that this is a truly “designed for the operator” vest, that isn’t holding back to make a profit, but is simply trying to improve the experience of the person wearing it.
The front platebag appears to be of the standard 6×3 MOLLE field, velcro closure flap design, with a velcro panel above for flags etc. Concealed within this design however, are 3 pockets each with a specific purpose. For starters, the APC is host to a kangaroo pouch capable of housing 3 STANAG pattern magazines with the corresponding insert. I like this pouch more than its Crye equivalent on the JPC, as I feel it is better concealed, and as the opening is that little bit further up and away from the first MOLLE row on it’s front, I have more confidence that the velcro is not going to be pulled open by weight added in extra pouches, as it gives more of a downward pull on the hook and loop than on the JPC. This higher opening is also particularly useful for myself to secure the covering flaps for my C2R ammo pouches, which reduces the perceived gap between my magazines and front plate when the pouches are closed, giving me a tighter and slicker profile on my front.
Above the kangaroo pouch are the integrated admin/map pockets, which are located behind the 4×2 loop covered MOLLE panel in the top-centre of the platebag. Myself I do not really find these pouches particularly useful, as this is a vest worn for airsoft not real soldiering and so the amount of administrative items I carry is severely reduced. The design itself is in fact quite interesting, with a velcro closed and relatively deep admin pocket, complete with 1 inch elastic webbing for securing small items, supporting an open topped map sleeve on its front directly behind the MOLLE. This is definitely a useful feature for someone using the APC in a real life environment, as constantly ripping open velcro to do a nav check is a tactical no-no, and the map sleeve itself is tight enough to hold a thickly folded map quite securely.
Another extremely useful feature on the front platebag of the APC are the vertical webbing straps and included ITW QASM clips designed to carry a detachable placard. These are complemented by the colour matched loop fields located along the MOLLE rows on the front flap on the platebag. While I myself am not the biggest fan of the placard revolution, it is once again due to my using this platform strictly for airsoft purposes. If I was required to wear this for work it would certainly be very useful to be able to rapidly transition from a 5.56 to 7.62 configuration as and when weapon systems change hands within the Platoon.
The actual plate carriage in the front and rear platebags is of a very clever design, with variable ride height in the form of a vertical adjustment strap once again proving this platform to be truly designed for comfort of the operator, without cutting corners to save expense. This adjustable system allows you to properly place your plate on the front of your body, without running the risk of your entire carrier being below your belt line or digging into your throat. Another shared feature of the APC’s front and rear platebags are the unconventionally positioned shoulder straps. They are located closer together and higher up the platebag in order to make the wearing of slings and packs more comfortable, whilst also making it much easier to shoulder a weapon. Whilst this feature is good in theory, the only downside to it is that the stock shoulder pads that come with the rig have a tendancy to rub the sides of your neck, and so I have removed them and will in future replace them with a more slimline option e.g. Crye AVS shoulder sleeves.
The cummerbund included in the APC package is also teeming with features. Staying true to the tried and tested solid cummerbund design I have more confidence in this to support heavier items than in the skeletal version integral to the JPC, which I found to sag when pouches that did not use all three molle rows were attached e.g. a BFG booboo pouch loaded with batteries. Another advantage of the full cummerbund is the added protection offered to those who will use it to be a Tier 1 Operator at the weekends. I always found that the JPC did not offer enough protection from the dreaded point-blanc in the side hit often experienced when moving through doorways on CQB sites. While there will be some who say “man up it’s just a game”, only an idiot would accept pain when they could have avoided it. This leads me onto the integrated soft armour pouches on the APC cummerbund. Once again mayflower are giving you as many features as they can for the retail price, and they do a good job. For me these large pouches have their uses, either for routing comms cables in a very comfortable and discreet manner, or for adding extra magazines through the use of velcro secured pouches such as the Ferro Concepts turnover pouch, which will engage with the closing velcro on the side armour pockets. Finally the cummerbund is secured to the rear plate bag with a double layer of 5 inch elastic, meaning that the overall platform moves with your body, and prevents any pinching or discomfort caused by rubbing.
In conclusion the Mayflower APC is truly a masterpiece of design, with more features than a space shuttle and very affordably priced at around £200 on the second hand market. The confidence it has given me in Velocity Systems’ production quality is astounding, and the level of care and attention given to making this as user friendly as possible has certainly given me a new candidate for the “perfect plate carrier”. Like an iPhone is extortionately expensive for not that many features, the JPC is relying a lot on the Crye Precision name to make you fork out for extras to improve it. In this respect the APC is an Android phone, that has twice the features for half the price. I would recommend it to anybody looking into a medium cost SAPI cut plate carrier, and I think given how little it cost me, it is something that will remain in my gear locker for a very long time indeed.
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