Both vests serve the purpose of protecting the wearer from harsh and dangerous elements, but their main difference is that a tactical vest provides more protection than plate carrier. The level of protection is not just measured in terms of weight levels or armor thickness, but it goes beyond that scope.
Tactical vests go above and beyond to protect every square inch on the surface area wherever they can be worn, such as neck and groin areas. Plate carriers leave those spots exposed because there are no soft body armor materials tailored for those areas.
Every square inch on your body deserves equal amount of care and concern when it comes to ballistic protection regardless where you are located.https://www.platecarrierplanet.com/plate-carrier-vs-tactical-vest/
What are tactical vests made out of?
The material used for tactical vest construction varies widely due to the amount of protection necessary. Tactical vests are generally made out of nylon, ballistic polyester or a combination of both materials that gives an added degree of strength and durability. There are also tactical vests that use Kevlar as part of the construction process but those are only found in level IV tactical vest designs due to their high cost.
Is there any difference between hard armor vs soft body armor?
The main difference is the flexibility granted by an outer tactical vest shell versus rigid ceramic plates/armor panels fastened inside a carrier vest for additional protection. You will never see flexible material used on broad surfaces like back panels because it would be too difficult to assess where shooters are aiming at you from behind.
Do I need a Tactical Vest?
Tactical vests are a perfect coupling of comfort and speed. A tactical vest can be worn as an outer tactical vest with no intention to ever utilize the protection it provides. Some people choose to wear their tactical vests as level IIIA concealable body armor because it is easy to conceal beneath clothing that may not provide enough support for a rigid armor plate carrier alone, but we will discuss this later in our explaination.
The fact remains that even though the threat of bullets penetrating both types of vests is low, there is always a chance you could be shot at and your life saved by only wearing the lightest and most flexible type of bulletproof Kevlar fabric; an outer shell soft tactical vest.
As long as you are not shot in the head, neck, or groin area it is likely that a level IIIa vest with accompanying tactical soft armor panels will protect you from most handgun rounds and you will live to tell the tale.