The Shellback Tactical Banshee Plate Carrier (PC) is a relatively new PC that has been making some serious waves thanks to its combination of quality, comfort, function, and very reasonable price.
Quality and Construction
No one would care about an inexpensive PC if it was poorly made. The Banshee is certainly not poorly made. The stitching is straight and perfectly executed. The seams are double, triple, even quadruple stitched in places. The drag handle is attached with 2 huge box stitches. The webbing is straight and even with very beefy bar tacks. All of the large hook and loop fields that create the cummerbund closure are reinforced with extra stitching. It is constructed from 1000D nylon throughout.
This is an inexpensive PC but it certainly isn’t a cheap PC. The Banshee will change what you expect from PCs in this price range.
The feature list on the Banshee is lengthy. I will not hit on everything but I will expand on few things that make it great.
The padding on the Banshee is very well executed. There is a balance that must be struck between comfort and low-profile and the Banshee finds that balance. There is thin padding in the plate pockets that is about 1/8″ thick which is not so much that it adds a lot of bulk, but it does serve to take the pain out of the corners of your plate rubbing against your shoulder blades. The padding in the shoulder pads is slightly thicker and really makes the Banshee very comfortable.
The cummerbund design on the Banshee is quite good and very versatile. There is an inner and outer cummerbund that can be used in conjunction with one another or independently. The inner cummerbund is removable and is made from 1″ webbing and features a side release buckle on both sides. The outer cummerbund is also removable and uses a typical hook and loop flap type closure. It is covered with MOLLE webbing inside for attaching side plate carriers and outside for attaching pouches. The outer cummerbund is adjustable for girth via a section of shock cord which is hidden inside the sleeve that holds the cummerbund to the carrier. The outer cummerbund can also be opened to install soft armor. This set up allows you to run just the inner cummerbund when you need a lower profile carrier or to use the outer cummerbund when you need to have more space for gear. It works quite well.
The shoulder straps have some nice features. As I mentioned before, the padding is very well done. The way that Shellback Tactical covers the side release buckle is also very clever. This covered buckle allows you to shoulder your rifle like the buckle isn’t even there. There is webbing on the shoulder pads that can be used for routing comms or hydration tubes. I wish the elastic loops were just a bit wider but they work.
There is also a kangaroo pouch that can be used to carry additional magazines (there is a mag pouch insert in the works) or as a general purpose pouch (an insert is available now). Other features include plenty of loop material for attaching name tapes and patches and a reinforced drag handle.
The Banshee PC really shines when you run it through its paces. It is so compact that it really feels more like a chest rig than a plate carrier. It is exceedingly compact and quite lightweight considering that is made from 1000D nylon throughout. A 500D option would be really nice.
The plate pockets are designed for 10×12 plates and have plenty of space for soft armor with most plates. The TAP Gamma plates that I have are a near perfect fit.
The shoulder pads sit well on the shoulders without binding, pinching, or rolling. They are spaced well to keep them off your neck. The shoulder pad design makes it very easy to get the plate pockets high enough to provide full coverage. The Banshee rides nice and high, just like it should.
There are no surprises when shouldering a rifle. The compact size of the Banshee really keeps it out of the way of your buttstock as much as possible. All plate carriers are going to change the way that you use your rifle. The best ones will change it as little as possible. The Banshee is one of the best that I have used.
Donning and doffing is fairly easy, especially if you are just using the outer cummerbund. The front flap tucks up under the plate which can be a bit of a pain and seems unnecessary but it is easily released by pulling the tab down. It is a minor annoyance, but I suppose it does add some extra security to keep the flap from opening at an inopportune time.
The shock cord on the outer cummerbund lets you adjust it so it rides fairly snug while still allowing for some expansion for breathing – even heavy breathing if you are running drills. Since this cummerbund has very little structure without soft armor inserts, running the cummerbund fairly snug helps keep the pouches from sagging. There is quite a bit of adjustment so it fits over layered clothing very easily.
You might find that the cummerbund wants to slip to one side or the other. This can be solved easily with the addition of a shock cord loop that ties the webbing on the cummerbund to the webbing on the carrier. This locks the cummerbund in place while still providing the necessary flex and movement.
The inner cummerbund is difficult to adjust when you are wearing the PC, because the location of the strap ends make them awkward to pull. It may break in but mine hasn’t so far. If you attach the straps of the inner cummerbund so that you adjust by pulling the webbing ends forward, it helps, but that makes it more difficult to buckle.
The shoulder strap design does leave a little to be desired. The padded portions are split so that half are on the front and half are on the back. This isn’t an issue for me, but larger users may find that there isn’t much padding on their shoulders if there is any at all. This can be solved by purchasing the new accessory shoulder pads. I also find that the shoulder strap webbing slips a bit over time so you may want to use some good quality tape, like the tape from Battle Systems, to secure the straps.
The Banshee PC, like all things made by man, isn’t perfect, but overall it is the best value that I know of in plate carriers. I typically do not make such a big deal about price on this blog since I prefer to leave it up to you, the reader, to decide what something is worth. However, in this case, the price is part of what defines the Banshee though it isn’t what the Banshee is all about. The Banshee PC isn’t a great PC for the price. It is just a great PC.
Now is a great time to think about purchasing a Banshee from Shellback Tactical. Their upcoming Black Friday sale will let you pick one up at 35% off the already reasonable price (find more details on their Facebook page). You can also check it out at SKDTAC.com.