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Review of the Velocity Systems SCARAB Light Plate Carrier

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A Review of the Velocity Systems SCARAB Light Plate Carrier

By Gimpalong
5 January 2016


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Introduction


This review focuses on the SCARAB Light plate carrier designed and released by Velocity Systems in 2014. Based out of Dulles, Virginia, Velocity Systems is best known for its collaboration with Mayflower Research & Consulting in the development of the Assault Plate Carrier (APC). Those familiar with the popular APC platform will find a lot to like in the SCARAB which offers a lightweight, minimalist design, but with some additional features that the lower-priced APC lacks.

The carrier featured in this review is in size "Medium" with a cummerbund labeled "M/L" and was purchased by the author. This review is entirely unsolicited and the author has received no compensation or endorsement from Velocity Systems or any other retailer.
 

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Full view of the PC with the detachable front flap removed.


Initial Impressions


The SCARAB is both small and light. While certainly much lighter than my EPC, the SCARAB is not in quite the same weight class as the Crye JPC. The carrier fits snugly with room for adjustment in both height and width. I am 5'6" 145 lbs and the medium SCARAB fits me with room to scale up or down. A Crye AVS with medium harness, by contrast, barely fits me when cinched all the way down. I had initially toyed with the idea of purchasing the SCARAB in size small and am glad that I went with the medium as the medium already seems quite tiny. The cut of the carrier is such that it does not impede shouldering a rifle and the shoulder pads, although narrow, are comfortable and nicely padded. The mesh padding inside the plate bags is very comfortable.
 

Overview


The SCARAB follows the traditional configuration of most modern plate carriers featuring front and rear plate bags and a cummerbund. The plate bags are sized to SAPI plate sizes (S, M, L, XL).

The front plate bag features a velcro loop field for attaching patches, two vertical loops for mounting Swift Clips, a kangaroo pouch and a detachable front flap that secures inside the kangaroo pouch. The detachable front flap is 6 PALS columns wide by 3 PALS rows tall (6x3) on the medium version. Underneath the front flap, the body of the SCARAB is loop velcro with an 8x3 distribution of PALS webbing. The Swift Clip system allows for the mounting of Mayflower Placards or chest rigs such as the Mayflower UW or the Haley D3CR systems. The rear plate bag features zippers on either side to mount a zip-on panel. The only zip-on panel that works with the SCARAB is the one made by Velocity Systems. Neither the Crye nor the Tyr zip-on panels are compatible. The top of the rear plate bag also has a velcro loop field for attaching identification patches. The interior (chest side) of both plate bags is composed of a padded mesh grid which is very comfortable and something I've only seen elsewhere on the Ferro Concepts PC. Each plate bag has an interior plate pocket with a single 1.5" wide strap that attaches via velcro in order to position the plate at the correct height for the wearer and prevent it shifting around inside the bag.
 


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Front of PC with front flap removed.

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Rear of PC.

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Kangaroo Pouch. The removable front flap velcros into this and then folds over the front of the PC.

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Swiftclip system with Mayflower R&C Placard installed.

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Swiftclip system with Mayflower R&C Placard installed.

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Rear view of the PC. Note the zippers for adding Velocity System's proprietary zip-on panel.

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Interior of PC. Note the padded mesh lining.

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SAPI plate height adjustment strap.


The SCARAB's cummerbund is a two-piece design and has a distinct mesh construction presumably to facilitate cooling. Although I have heard some concerns about the durability of this cummerbund design, the mesh design seems sturdy. Unlike most conventional carriers which have a cummerbund that either velcroes or ties together inside the back plate, the SCARAB's follows a slightly different design. Rather than tying together with elastic or paracord or attaching via overlapping velcro, each section of the cummerbund has three "cummerbund fingers" that integrate into the inside of the rear plate via a series of channels or "button-holes." While this system is secure it can be a bit of a pain to adjust when either shortening or lengthening the cummerbund. The cummerbund itself is available in four sizes (S, M, L, XL). The smallest cummerbund has a mounting area of three columns of PALs, the size medium has four, the size large five and the size extra large six. The front of the cummerbund that seals under the carrier's front flap has a square cut out in it. At first I thought that this was solely to make it easier to grip and pull up, but I think it is also designed to let the front flap "grip" through the cummerbund to the actual body of the plate carrier. This could, I suppose, offer a more secure way of holding the cummerbund in place. One nice feature is that PALS webbing is sewn on both the inside and outside of the cummerbund.


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Cummerbund profile.

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Cummerbund attachment.


The shoulder pads of the SCARAB are noticeable slimmer than traditional PC shoulder pads which tend to be wide and set at fixed geometry. One of the frequent complaints of the APC design is the very wide shoulder pads that tend to cut into the unprotected neck. One criticism of the Crye JPC is that the shoulder pad are set far apart and feel like they are sliding off the shoulder. The SCARAB solves both these problems with skinny pads that attach via a D-Ring built into the front of the plate bag. Velocity System's calls these pads "ULTRAcomp" and they articulate on the D-Ring to suit the body type of the wearer. An accompanying padded sleeve slides over the straps themselves and is surprisingly comfortable. The sleeve is made of a slightly stretchy material and I encountered no issues sliding my comm wires and hydration tube through the sleeve over the shoulder strap.
 


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Shoulder strap with padded sleeve pulled back.

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Shoulder strap. Note the D-Ring on which the strap articulates for better fit.

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Shoulder strap and sleeve.



Fit


The following photos give an idea of the size of the SCARAB in comparison to a Flyye replica of the Eagle PL in size S/M.
For comparison, I am 5'6", 145 lbs.
 

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The Flyye EPC and Velocity SCARAB Light in comparison.

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The SCARAB is quite a bit smaller, but the plate-bags on the EPC are designed to take MBAV-Cut armor and are wider as a result.

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EPC.

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SCARAB.





Construction

For a detailed overview of the SCARAB's stitching see the following review:
https://primaryandsecondary.com/2015/09/what-is-quality/

To briefly summarize, both the plate bags and the cummerbund have a full width bartack on the PALS webbing. General stitching on the SCARAB is 8 stitches to the inch in comparison to 4 or 5 stitches per inch on lower quality gear. The PALS webbing is dimensionally correct and properly aligned. Lower quality products often have uneven distances between loops of PALS which can make mounting pouches difficult. This is not an issue on the SCARAB. Overall, the construction seems solid.
 


Criticisms


One of my criticisms of Mayflower APC was that the 500-denier cordura used in the design tended to wear and fray over the life of the carrier. My APC had seen fairly light use during its life and had a few worn spots when I sold it on. The SCARAB features similar construction and I've already noticed that the padded mesh inside the plate bags is starting to fray in a few places.

While most PC designs use heavy duty hook-and-loop velcro, the hook-and-loop used in the SCARAB seems somewhat flimsy. The loop velcro in particular seems soft and weak. When securing the carrier I always take extra time to make sure that the front flap is securely holding the cummerbund to the body of the PC.

It is unfortunate that Velocity Systems chose not to add a built in admin pouch. This was a convenient feature on both the Crye JPC, AVS and Mayflower APC.

The rear plate bag does not feature a drag handle of any kind. This is kind of unfortunate as the absence of one on the APC was a source of criticism. The lack of a drag handle, however, is not uncommon on many lighter weight PCs. The SCARAB also has no release system to quickly dump the entire PC such as the JPC 2.0s "Emergency Doff" system.
 

Conclusion


I have long been a fan of Mayflower's APC design and I noted the SCARAB when it was released in 2014. Despite being a mid-to-high priced carrier, the only information I could find about the SCARAB was limited to a few blog posts. Prior to this writing there existed, to my knowledge, no detailed review of the SCARAB.

The SCARAB is a well-built plate carrier with many modern features. The padded plate bags and ULTRAcomp, articulated shoulder pads are both comfortable and innovative. The biggest drawbacks are the light-weight velcro used on the cummerbund and carrier body and the lack of a built-in admin pouch. The SCARAB retails for $325 and is priced to compete with the LBT 6094 ($350), Crye JPC 2.0 ($359) and Crye AVS without harness ($300+), Ronin Assaulter Lite ($325), Ferro Concepts PC ($250+) and Tactical Tailor Fight Lite PC ($300). In comparison with these similarly priced PCs, we can see that some basic features like a quick-detach front flap, Swift Clip system and ability to take zip-on panels are pretty standard. The SCARAB complements these features with nicely padded plate bags, unique and comfortable shoulder pads and the overall low-weight, low-profile cut of the PC. Unfortunately, limited availability in the retail market and long wait times direct from Velocity Systems make procuring a SCARAB a bit of a chore. In the end, however, the wait is worth it.
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Sometimes i wonder if the people who design platecarriers are having a competition with the people who design AR15 fronts. There's just no end to either.

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