The TYR Tactical PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets used by James G in Iraq
So after wearing my Paraclete Armor Carrier to the point it was basically a de-threading mound that smelled so bad even my Iraqi teammates were spraying cologne on it while I was sleeping I went on the hunt for a new Armor Carrier.
It had actually been a while since I went looking for an Armor Carrier, the first ‘serious’ Armor Carrier I bought was a Blackhawk Carrier for my first contract in Iraq. From then on I was issued one for pretty much every contract I have ever been on. Even my old Paraclete was also issued, and it was a great carrier but I wanted something that gave me a bit more maneuverability.
After putting the word out on Facebook I was swamped with different suggestions. But when a few experienced security contractors mentioned a new (new at that time) armor company called TYR Tactical I set my sights on checking them out. And right when I was going to take a look at them they actually contacted me and offered to let me try out one of their Armor Carrier Systems.
So after talking to the folks I went with the PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets. At the same time one of my former teammates was also in the market for an Armor Carrier so he bought the same one.
Due to some nonsense with a former DVM employee my vest never made it to me here in Iraq. But my teammates Carrier made it here safe and sound where he wore it for around 9 months, then when he left I started wearing it – so in the end it worked out (sort of, I still don’t know what that dude did with my Carrier so I ended up just buying another on myself).
First off I would like to say that the folks at TYR Tactical are good people, I have had several friends order from them and they treat customers the Old School way – with respect and courtesy.
Something not always seen with Tactical Gear Manufactures (especially ones who make Armor) who generally see the ‘one off’ customers (meaning non government or agency buyers that don’t order 400 Carriers at a time) as an annoyance.
The Carrier and Cummerbund
This Armor Carrier is a combination of the PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets. In this combination the Carrier provides front, rear and side soft and hard armor coverage. Due to the amount of Contractor deaths from IED’s having the hard/soft side coverage is an absolutely necessity for me.
The PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and the T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets both come with soft armor inserts (SPEAR Specifications, 9mm and Frag). The PICO-1 Plate Carrier fits most ESAPI style Ceramic Plates (I have tried 8 different plates and they all fit fine).
And the T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets will fit 7” x 8” hard plates or smaller (along with the included soft armor inserts).
I really like that both the Carrier and Cummerbund come from the factory with soft armor, it is always a pain in the ass to match the soft armor you have with a new carrier. Plus you need to rotate out your soft armor every few years anyway so this saves you the trouble of tracking down the manufacturer and praying they still make the soft armor cut your were using.
PV™ “Pluma Vires”
Bothe the Carrier and the External Cummerbund are made with TYR’s patent-pending 500D, hybrid material called PV™ “Pluma Vires” that is 7 to 10-times the abrasion strength of standard Mil-Spec Cordura nylon.
The PV nylon has held up like new over the year this Armor Carrier was tested, no tearing, holes from wear or discoloration. The stitching is also top-notch with only the random thread or two coming out (completely normal for any carrier under hard-use).
The PICO-1 Plate Carrier comes with a built in Magazine insert that come standard with a 3 M-4 mag insert (can be replaced with a 7.62 Kangaroo Insert). Both my teammate and myself both use Rigs so we never used the Mag Inserts but they worked fine when tested. I have also used the Magazine insert with the Kangaroo Insert removed to just carry a pistol and pistol mag tons of times and while it is not 100% secure I have never had my pistol fall out by accident.
The Carrier goes on like any standard Cummerbund style Armor Carrier, you pull up the ‘Kangaroo’ flap and slap the ends of the Cummerbund in and slap the ‘Kangaroo’ flap down. All is held in place/down by a heavy Velcro.
Easy on and off
This is actually the fastest on/off Carriers that I have ever used; it takes about 2 seconds to get the Carrier on or off.
One thing to note is this Carrier is extremely easy to put on and off while sitting in a car. If you have ever tried to put on an Armor Carrier with 6 side-squeeze clips, internal cummerbund and 8 different Velcro attachments just to open and close the sides while sitting in a tiny ass Pajero then you will appreciate the ease of putting on the PICO-1 Plate Carrier while sitting in a car.
One of the surprising parts about this Carrier and Cummerbund combination is it is fairly concealable. Now you can’t wear it under an Armani suit, but throw a big shirt over it and it’s not that obvious you are wearing Front, Rear, Side, Hard and Soft Armor System.
For those folks still running the road in Iraq like myself keeping things low-pro when running the roads and passing through checkpoints is starting to become the norm. So still having full armor coverage and being discreet makes this armor system a great choice.
The Shoulder straps are padded with sewn in padding that goes the entire length of the straps. The straps themselves are held in place with Velcro and are quickly and easily adjustable.
The padding and slight ‘Y’ position of the shoulder straps evenly distributes the carriers weight and does not strangle the sides of your neck like many carriers do
There is a quick release pull-tab below the right shoulder strap that is held down small by a small MOLLE strap. Just give it a yank and it pulls a wire that releases the shoulder straps and side Cummerbund. I gave it a yank and it worked flawlessly without any of the usual snagging, I did almost break my foot when the front carrier fell on my foot but that is more of my being clumsy and a little drunk when testing than any design flaws on TYR’s part.
The left shoulder strap can also be released from a side-squeeze clip at the base (presumably if the main release malfunctions), I thought this was a nice addition and shows TYR’s attention to detail and innovation.
The body-side has internally raised spacer mesh that you usually see on the pricier carriers like Crye Precision’s armor carriers. The spacer mesh has Anti-microbial properties so you won’t smell like a dead cat after wearing it every day for months at a time.
The Anti-microbial spacer mesh works so well that even after two different operators wore it almost every day for close to a year it still doesn’t stink (well, doesn’t stink too bad). I have had vests that my teammates have threatened to burn if I don’t wash them after only wearing them for a couple of months so this Anti-microbial spacer mesh works like a mother-fucker.
The spacer mesh also brings the carrier off of your body just enough to bring in a bit of airflow and makes it extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The Carrier actually feels more like wearing sports padding than 8 tight sweaters like most carriers feel like.
TYR Tactical has really hit the mark with the PICO-1 Plate Carrier (ESAPI pockets) and GPC/PICO - T4416 External Cummerbund w/ Side Plate Pockets. The combination of included soft armor, the lightweight and durable 500D PV material, ergonomics, odor resistance, on and off ease along with a reasonable price makes TYR a winner and “DVM Approved for Shooting and Looting” and is currently being used by me in Iraq every day.
~James G Founder - Editor in Chief
James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and eating way too many lamb kebabs from dirty roadside Iraqi restaurants.