29 Apr Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII – Before You Buy
Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII – Before You Buy
The Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII is an improved version based on Direct Action®’s popular Spitfire® plate carrier system. In order to create the MKII, they stripped down the MKI to create a much more scalable and mission configurable plate carrier.
But what does this mean in practice and is it worth it? Well, you’re about to find out in this “before you buy” blog.
But before we dig into this subject, make sure to subscribe to our blog page by filling in the form. Also Make sure to visit our Youtube Channel by clicking the button. Have a look at our store shop.reconbrothers.com for your quality tactical products.
Direct Action® as a company
So, let’s start with the beginning and first talk a little bit about the Direct Action® company itself. For those of you that don’t know, Direct Action® is part of the Polish Helikon-Tex® group and is that part of this group that dedicates itself towards special operation forces.
For this they create very modular and streamlined products with an extreme eye for detail and only work with quality base materials from the Cordura®, Velcro® and YKK® brand. Everything they produce has been thought-out and tested rigorously to comply with everything special units need to work with. And because of this, they are very well known amongst special units especially here in Europe.
Now, we recently got some various products from their assortment to test out and we got to say that we have never seen such products with this amount of detail before.
And because of this, there is an incredible amount of stuff to talk about when it comes to Direct Action their products in general. But we will cover that in another blog later.
As for today we will focus on one of their most popular products and that is the Spitfire® MKII plate carrier. So let’s get into it and begin with its build.
Spitfire® MKII – Build
The very first thing you have to understand is that this is not a “complete” plate carrier system, unless you only want to carry plates. The MKII rather serves as a base to build your own unique carrier unlike the MKI.
For this it is extremely modular and many items are available to build upon that base system. In this blog we’ll be talking about this base & also share what possibilities there are to extend it.
So, for starters the MKII is made of a 500 denier Cordura® fabric and laminate which is the standard for this sort of equipment these days.
It is a laser-cut design which makes it extremely compact and lightweight. To give you an example, this is the M size which only weighs 440 grams.
Furthermore, we know from experience that the stitching is of uttermost importance and we can say that this carrier is very neatly and strongly stitched. Most parts on this carrier are in fact double and triple stitched to face extreme conditions.
Patterns & Colors
Next thing to say is that Direct Action® is one of the brands that offers the original Crye™ licensed Multicam® pattern. They are one of the few manufacturers in Europe that make fully Multicam® products and for this they work closely with the American Crye Precision® company.
Talking about colors, the Spitfire MKII can be made in 11 different colors and patterns, but Direct Action® has quite a limited production capability and that means that their stock is also pretty limited.
Our shop’s value is to provide the MKII and other Direct Action® products even if they are not in stock at Direct Action®. Meaning we can have them custom made on request or take it from their stock. Currently we are however limited to 4 colors which are Crye™’s Multicam®, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green & Black. But once more options are possible, we will make work of those as well.
So, if you have been waiting for a specific product in a certain color to come back in stock, our shop is the place to be.
DWR & NIR Treated
Above all this, the Spitfire® MKII also has a Durable Water Repellent coating which makes it water-resistant. And since this plate carrier is built with special ops in mind, the product its camo versions are also NIR compliant, which helps to prevent detection by night vision devices.
At last regarding its build, the MKII fits SAPI or ESAPI plates with backers. Whereas the M size fits medium sized plates, the L size fits large plates and the XL size fits extra large plates. To give you an example, we here show you the M version with M sized training plates.
So now that we have covered the general build of this product, we’re now going to dive more detailed into its individual parts and let’s begin with the front plate bag.
Spitfire® MKII – Front Plate Bag
The very first thing to notice is that the front plate bag shows rather empty. But again this is done on purpose, to serve as that base to build upon.
On the front we find a pretty big spot of Velcro® loops on top for ID patches. This part also has 4×4 laser-cut PALS slots.
On the bottom there’s another big spot of Velcro® for the attachment of your cummerbunds and to work with front flap panels or chest rigs.
Interchangeable Front Panel System
In order to work with those interchangeable flaps there are two solid buckles present on the plate bag which are compatible with the Mayflower® and Velocity Systems standards. These are also covered with elastic parts to lessen the sound when they hit something.
Direct Action® also made these buckles removable for those that want to avoid plastic fragmentation when they are hit by a bullet.
Now, you might question: how am I going to properly secure a panel then? Well, Direct Action® thought about that and created these slits to attach a panel by using Velcro® tabs the front panels come with. These can be mounted on the inside of the plate bag and thus allows you to mount a panel without those buckles.
Aside this, the Spitfire® MKII features 2 PTT mounting spots. These are positioned on a 45° angle which is in general the most convenient way to mount a PTT.
Velcro® Tube & Cable Managers
Furthermore, the front plate bag also has one Velcro® cable and tube manager on each side and when not in use these can be stored in a very minimalistic way.
Zippered Chest Pocket
Speaking of minimalistic, the MKII also has a flat zippered chest pocket on its top which goes surprisingly deep. We measured it, and the pocket is 15 cm wide by 12 cm deep. So you can store quite big pieces of paper and even carry markers if needed.
Plate Bag Backing
Turning the bag around, you can see that it has a soft-shell fabric backing. This material stretches itself to fit the plates you’re using perfectly while maintaining the lowest possible profile. The fabric also feels comfortable when wearing the carrier.
Plate Bag Bottom PALS
At last to mention is that the bottom flaps that hold the plates feature a row of 8 PALS slots. This way you can mount single row pouches on the bottom of your plate bag as well. Example given a tourniquet pouch.
That was everything as for the front panel solely, let’s now look at the back plate bag.
Spitfire® MKII – Back Plate Bag
Just like the front bag, the back plate bag gives you the very same first impression, it looks empty. But yet again, don’t let that fool you, because the possible options are big.
Also here we can find lots of Velcro® loops whereas the bottom part is for the cummerbunds and the top part is for those big unit ID patches.
Interchangeable Back Panel System
Above that, on the top part there are 4×2 PALS slots and on both sides of the panel it features zippers. Together these are meant to attach back panels which are by the way compatible with the Crye Precision® AVS standard.
What sort of options you have available we’ll cover further in this video.
Similar Features As Front Plate Bag
Next features the back has, just as the front bag, are two Velcro® cable and tube managers, the backing is also the same and on the bottom of the plate bag you can here also find the row of PALS slots.
Above this, on the very top of the back plate bag there’s also a low profile drag handle which keeps easy in reach even if you have a back attached.
Cummerbund Adjustment System
The very last thing to mention about the MKII its back is the cummerbund adjustment system. We have used quite some different styles in the past amongst which some are just a big hassle to adjust, even so that you need someone’s help which is pretty ridiculous. So, we’re always glad to see a simple cummerbund design like this. In our eyes this Velcro® system is simply best and easiest design we’ve come across thus far.
But also here Direct Action® takes it a step further since even if you have a back panel attached, this adjustment system is still easy in reach. Also when using the Spitfire® cutaway system it is still fairly easy to install everything.
What this cutaway system is about, we’ll cover in a bit. So that being said, let’s go to the next part which are the shoulders.
Spitfire® MKII – Shoulders
If we have to describe the shoulders in two words then those words will be “extreme simplicity”. And this is the case for a number of reasons.
One being, they are very low in profile while still being comfortable to carry the weight. Another thing is that these are extremely easy to adjust. It only requires you to replace the Velcro® top piece and the nice thing is that you can do this yourself while wearing the whole thing.
Another thing that certainly deserves some attention are the tabs present on these. These tabs are the first part on this entire carrier that features the Hypalon® material Direct Action® widely uses in their products.
This Hypalon® material is really something unique. Because it is very strong and extremely grippy which makes it ideal to grab onto something like for example a pull tab or to retain stuff very securely in pouches. So, these Hypalon® tabs are present on here to easily grip onto them and make adjustments of your own while wearing the plate carrier.
Aside these features, other things present on the shoulders are a single row of four PALS slots with two elastic retainers on top which give you the ability to mount something on your shoulders.
Velcro® Tube & Cable Managers
Above this, you here can also find two Velcro® cable and tube managers on each shoulder to neatly organize your equipment.
The last we’d like to mention about these shoulders is the profile that connects both the front plate bag and the shoulder straps. These are very minimalistic and slim and thus give you the ability to easily shoulder a weapon for shooting purposes.
So that said, let’s now look into the cummerbunds of the Spitfire® MKII.
Spitfire® MKII – Cummerbunds
The standard cummerbunds that come with the MKII are of the full elastic kind. They are simple, very low profile, comfortable and stretch quite a bit to go well with your movements and even with your breathing.
Cummerbunds Too Loose?
In some way you can say that they are a bit too elastic even and that you really need to tighten them quite a bit to have a secure hold on your body. If they’re a bit too loose it might happen that the front plate bag starts dangling on and off your body when going down on the ground and coming back up for example.
We also tested these cummerbunds with the optional wings, which we’ll talk about in a bit, and here they didn’t hold very well. When putting in some movements, they basically started to come down due to the weight of a radio for example and then they didn’t keep everything retained as how you’ve set them up.
So, our advice is to only use these fully elastic cummerbunds if your sides are fully empty. After all they are meant for a minimalistic setup.
Hypalon® Pull Tabs
Last thing to mention about these cummerbunds, is that also they have the Hypalon® material in their design. This can be found in the pull tabs which makes it easy to get a grip on those as well.
So, we now have fully covered the Spitfire® MKII in detail and as can be seen it is not very widely useable as it comes on its own, unless you only aim to carry plates. But again that is not what it is meant for. Now comes the part where we show you the true power of this system. And for that we’ll now take a look at the available options to build upon this Spitfire® plate carrier.
Spitfire® MKII – Options
All these options are possible thanks to pre-built-in features of the Spitfire® MKII.
The very first one has to do with the wide Velcro® loop strips that can be found on top of the soft-shell backing material and underneath the shoulders.
These strips are there to add the Spitfire® Comfort Pad Set which are 6 pads in total. They are made of a closed cell foam and certainly bring an added value in regards to comfort, air flow and moisture management. They are also easy to take off and thus easy washable.
What’s also quite noticeable about these is that Direct Action® has used a special kind of non-aggressive Velcro® that we’ve never seen before and surprisingly holds really well.
The next optional hidden feature of the Spitfire® MKII has to do with the cuts that can be found on the very top of the front panel and with the narrow fabric canals on the shoulders.
These are made to be used with the Spitfire® Cutaway System which is basically a way to immediately release and field reassemble your carrier without cutaway elements.
It is a parachute type of retrofit system build with waterborne ops in mind and it allows to make an assessment, treating and re-armoring of a wounded teammate in an instant without losing the plate carrier.
Even though this system only gets held together because of friction, it holds everything surprisingly well together.
Interchangeable Front Panels
Next up is the addition of an interchangeable front or back panel. For this Direct Action® has made some different designs available. As for the front panels these are all designed to serve as magazine flaps. There are 4 versions whereas one is made to carry four SMG magazines, another can carry shotgun shells and the two other versions are made to carry three rifle magazines.
Of these last two, one can take AR, AK or SR mags while the other is a slick elastic design and can take AR or AK magazines.
The nice thing about these mag flaps, with the exception of the slick and shotgun version, is that they also feature lots of PALS to stack other stuff onto them.
Another thing to mention about these flaps is that they all have Hypalon® material tabs as well to easily pull the flap off the Velcro®. Above this, the triple rifle and SMG flap also have Hypalon® pull tabs on the bungee cord retainers and even have a Hypalon® strip on the inside of each mag pouch to retain those mags as good as possible.
Above that, these two versions are adjustable in tension due to the bungee cord construction and as for the slick version you have the choice to add bungee cord pullers as well.
Now, if you think the options are already mentioned are nice, then the back panel versions will surprise you even more.
Interchangeable Back Panels
These exist in 4 different designs. The first is a utility back panel, the second is an assault panel, the third is a breacher panel and the fourth is a backpack panel.
Before going into each design there are some features all these panels, except the backpack have in common.
The first feature is that they are all basically one large, flat pocket to store a hydration bladder or breaching tools. They all also have a large bottom pouch with a soft velour inside to carry scratch sensitive objects, like eye protection, NVGs, binoculars and so on. This is all what they have in common, where they differ from each other is the top of the panel.
Utility Back Panel
The utility version provides you more carrying space without the need for a backpack and is large enough to fit a light jacket, night vision devices, additional ammo, spare batteries, etcetera. It has a velour inside and also has a flat zippered pocket along with PALS slots with Velcro loops as well.
Assault Back Panel
The Assault version is the one made for a CQB role. This one features 3 Velcro®-closed pouches to contain various types of flashbangs, smokes, spare magazines or similar stuff since they have an elastic construction.
Also these pouches have Hypalon® tabs and on the inside they feature a tab to hold the clips of a flashbang in place. Above that, the flaps can be removed so they can serve as an open top pouch as well.
Breacher Back Panel
Another design is the Breacher panel which has four buckle-closed pouches for flashbang or smoke grenades. These pouches are something quite extraordinary, because they jump open automatically.
Also these have tabs to hold flashbangs nicely in place and they can also serve as open top pouches. Aside these pouches, there are also plenty of PALS slots on its sides to mount other equipment and this version also allows you to carry longer tools, like a sledge hammer with a Velcro®-closed bottom gap. The bottom pouch one this one is smaller than the others though.
Backpack Back Panel
The very last panel can also serve as a backpack since it has detachable shoulder straps. This one is meant as a small day pack and features a large main compartment that can fit all your essentials, as well as a hydration bladder. Additionally, the flat front pocket of this pack can fit various smaller items.
Now, aside these pre-made panels, you can also make something entirely of your own, because both the front and back panels also come in a MOLLE only version.
That being covered, the next part has to do with the cuts that are present on both sides of the front plate bag. These are there to attach wings onto one or both sides.
For this there are two version available. One is an adjustable comms wing to fit various radio models and the other is a MOLLE wing to attach a pouch of your choice. An example of this is the attachment of an extra speed rifle magazine pouch.
Then there’s also the choice to change the cummerbunds. Aside the elastic ones that standard come with the Spitfire® MKII, there are four other design options available. But first a thing we want to share about all of them is that although some of these cummerbunds are not fully elastic, they will always have an elastic part.
This is mainly meant to maximize your freedom of movement, but also provides a way to not necessarily adjust your sizing each time you switch to an extra layer of clothing or a jacket for example.
MKII Elastic Cummerbund
So, the first is another fully elastic one that offers the ability to carry up to four extra magazines. These can either be AR, AK, SR or G36 magazines. Since they are elastic in design they can also be used for other equipment and they also have the possibility to add bungee cord to provide extra security for your stuff.
MKII Modular Cummerbund
The second option is the modular cummerbund which serves as a big amount of extra laser-cut PALS space on both sides. The inside of this one is also made of the soft-shell fabric for comfort. It also serves as a flat Velcro®-closed pocket.
MKII Modular Cummerbund Slim
A derivative of this version is the modular slim design which also offers an additional laser-cut PALS platform but in a more slicker and lighter version. Therefore this one doesn’t have the integrated pocket.
MKII Rapid Access Cummerbund
The very last cummerbund version is a rapid access one which is fully based on the modular design but it additionally comes with ROC buckles. The buckles remove the need to open and close the Velcro flap each time and another advantage they offer is that they are silent in use.
Side SAPI Mounts
Now, aside the cummerbunds themselves there’s also the possibility to add side SAPI mounts to carry side ballistic plates of 6×6 or 6×8 inches. These can only be used in the pockets of the modular or rapid access cummerbunds though.
Going further in the available options, there’s also an underpouch product to carry more stuff up front. This is essentially a pouch that is mounted on the front loop panel and dangles underneath the plate carrier.
It is quite a spacious pouch and can fit all sorts of stuff. It can even take an insert from one of Direct Action’s MED pouches. It features many elastic retainers and a loop in its main pocket, a zippered flat front pocket with a velour inside, PALS with Velcro loops on the front and a row of six PALS slots on its bottom. So you can store quite an amount of stuff up front with this one.
Only thing that we from a personal standpoint don’t like is that they can be quite annoying since they dangle all the time and they also limit your movement capabilities quite a bit. But that is just our opinion about these sort of pouches in general.
Spitfire® MKII Chest rig interface
Ok, so now we come to the very last big noticeable option and that is the Spitfire® MKII Chest Rig Interface. Yes you heard it, you can transform the Spitfire® MKII into a front plate only carrier with this rig system.
And that guys was the final option you can go for to create your Spitfire® MKII into something of your own. So, having that covered let’s now look at our final thoughts about this product.
This one makes it perfect to work light, but at the same time still provides that ballistic protection up front. And above that, it also works greatly together with backpacks.
Spitfire® MKII – Final Thoughts
So, let’s cover our personal pros and cons about the Spitfire® MKII.
Durability Soft-Shell Backing
The first thing is about the plate bag soft-shell backing, in our eyes on the long term, the durability of this fabric is questionable. We talked to Direct Action® about this and they mentioned to have never had any complaints about it.
What we do think is that the addition of the Comfort Pad Set will make it last much longer, since the friction will take place on those pads for the most part.
Tension Elastic Cummerbunds
Another thing is that the standard elastic cummerbunds require a lot of tension to fit well, as we said earlier. And after some testing we would only recommend to use them if you’re not wearing anything on your sides. We do have to say that, if you use them in this way, they are really comfortable and the freedom of movements is incredible.
Retention PTT Spots
The last small negative thing we want to say is that the PTT mounting points are on the very thin side and we can imagine that certain PTTs won’t hold very well because of this. So, some sort of extra secure retention is recommended.
Aside that, we have to say that this is now the most advanced and well-though out plate carrier we’ve come across. It is an extremely compact and lightweight plate carrier, the Hypalon is a great added value, the extreme amount of options make it very mission-configurable and not unimportant the design looks badass.
In overall to be honest with you guys, we practically somewhat needed to rediscover what is possible with a plate carrier once we placed our hands on this one.
So, if you’re looking for the Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII, you can find it through shop.reconbrothers.com along with other Direct Action® products. For those that are looking for a bargain, we have also made a Spitfire Basic Combo Pack available whereas you get an all-year-around discount on a plate carrier with a front panel and optionally you can choose a back panel as well to start your very own build with a smile.
Thanks for reading our blog
“Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII – Before You Buy”
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