Started by two veterans working in the Arizona desert, Arbor Arms USA features a variety of high-quality nylon products for casual or professional shooters and end users. Amid its product line, the Minuteman is Arbor Arms’ entry-level plate carrier that can be customized to ensure ideal comfort and fit while not breaking your bank account.
Designed as a modular, and minimalist plate carrier—the Minuteman establishes an ideal foundation on which to build a personalized protective system. A wide option of side-cummerbunds is also available that allows the user to choose the ideal configuration that best suits their individual needs.
Made from an overall material of 500D Cordura, the Minuteman offers an ideal and affordable option for building out a functional plate carrier for personal or professional use. The Minuteman is a “one-size-fits-most” carrier (or up to 10”x12”) for all SAPI/ESAPI/AR500 protective plates with minimal excess.
The front carrier features a laser-cut MOLLE field on a laminate nylon panel. This includes two hook-and-loop (female) fields for attaching placards, morale or identification patches, or magazine carriers (sold separately) utilizing the necessary backing.
The rear carrier includes a “slick” design with no MOLLE, but a top field of hook-and-loop for attaching morale or identification patches. A hook-and-loop secured flap covers the rear cummerbund locking system that includes MOLLE-T brackets that secure the elastic cummerbund bands to the rear of the carrier via a series of elastic nylon bands. These bands allow for the wearer to rapidly adjust sizing by several inches if needed.
The interior of the front and rear carriers is unremarkable and does not include padding, while the plate pocket of each includes a plate lifter made from Type 13 webbing to help ensure the protective plates remain at the top of the carrier. The bottom of the front carrier also includes two grommets for attaching shock cords (not included) as tourniquet holders.
At the time of order, the user can specify which type of cummerbund system they would prefer. Arbor Arms offers a variety of connecting hardware for their cummerbunds to include hook-and-loop, First Spear tube buckles, Cobra buckles, and more. Each cummerbund configuration includes three skeletonized bands of elastic nylon that are also slotted for attaching pouches or other accessories.
For shoulder straps, the Minuteman has simple 2” Type 13 webbing straps with metal slide loops in the rear. Adjustment is made via the 1” hook-and-loop band that runs the entire length of the shoulder strap to allow for a variety of sizing. Additionally, the hook-and-loop band is divided up into 1” segments to allow for mounting of other clips or other accessories.
The Minuteman is available in Multicam (featured), Wolf Grey, Coyote, Black, and Ranger Green.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): At a cost of $110.28, the Minuteman was intended to be an entry-level plate carrier for those interested in a quality product that didn’t break the bank. Arbor Arms put material and quality where it was needed for a minimalist design, while avoiding unnecessary elements. In comparison, Condor Tactical’s Modular Operator Plate Carrier ($66.95), the AR500 Veritas (in Multicam) ($119), or the entry level PLATEminus carrier ($149) from Blue Force Gear all show what the entry level of carriers looks like. Here the differences are in the quality of materials and manufacturing, with added reinforcement and longevity. As such, the Minuteman scored well for its balance of these elements, and minimalist design that helped to keep overall cost to the consumer low.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): Made from dominantly 500D Cordura, the Minuteman had a good deal of flexibility in its material and was comfortable to wear throughout dynamic movements. The carrier and shoulder straps did not pinch or chafe, while the 2” wide shoulder straps helped distribute the weight evenly on the shoulders. The various cummerbunds themselves gave different levels of comfort based on personal preference and the MOLLE-T adjustability made on-the-spot adjustments relatively easy. Though this is a quality minimalist plate carrier, users will note there is no padding in the shoulder straps, or padding on the interior of the front/rear carriers, thus for heavier plates (especially AR500 steel or multi-curve) its corners and edges were felt more readily and were somewhat uncomfortable throughout drills. As a recommendation to Arbor Arms, perhaps they may want to consider minimal padding in these high-pressure areas.
- Durability – Excellent (5/5): Arbor Arms clearly put a lot of emphasis on its plate carrier design, with the Minimalist having extensive double-line and bartack reinforcement in the shoulder straps and other high-stress points to provide longevity. The Cordura material throughout the carrier also provided an appropriate (or average) level of abrasion resistance to friction during dynamic movements and did not pinch nor chafe exposed skin. Another observation noted was the laminate nylon, with laser-cut MOLLE field, securely held on to associated cummerbund attachment points and pouches (not included) and did not fray.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally, the Minuteman was designed to be an entry-level (if not appropriate) plate carrier for civilians looking for a quality start. As such is had a very minimalist function (to hold protective plates) with no excess frills. But it did that very effectively with integrated plate risers that easily ensured the plates (regardless of dimensions) remained at the top of the carrier and avoided gaps in protection. Moreover, the inclusion of laminate nylon on the front carrier with laser-cut MOLLE showed Arbor Arms was embracing the newer material that was known to be lighter than traditional nylon while still having the abrasion resistance greater than 1000D. With its ability to customize the cummerbunds, and utilize adaptive aftermarket accessories (such as side pockets for armor, shoulder pads, pouches, etc.) the Minuteman made for a very functional base plate carrier with plenty of available room to expand upon.
- Weight – Good (4/5): With an overall weight of 1.5 pounds (w/o plates and depending on cummerbund retention system selected) to the carrier itself, the cummerbunds influenced very little in weight due to the associated differences in hardware (buckles v hook-and-loop). Yet the overall 500D Cordura and laminate nylon remained lightweight and flexible enough without becoming burdensome, while the skeletonized design of the cummerbund helped eliminate excess weight. In contrast, the Modular Operator Plate Carrier (1 pound), the Veritas (3.5 pounds), and the PLATEminus (1.8 pounds) all illustrate how the slick design and blended materials of the Minuteman make it a much lighter option that to those carriers on the market that utilize more traditional nylons. As such this gave the Minuteman a good light weight in relation to other carriers on the current market.
Overall Rating – Good (21/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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