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Direct Action® Thunderbolt® – The Ultimate Compact Chest Rig?

Direct Action® Thunderbolt® – The Ultimate Compact Chest Rig?

Direct Action® Thunderbolt® – The Ultimate Compact Chest Rig?

As you know, we already have quite some experience with plate carriers. For chest rigs that is far lesser the case and with that we thought to ourselves let’s try one out. For that reason we looked at some options available and bought a version of the Direct Action® Thunderbolt® Compact Chest Rig. So, in this video we’re going to show you what this rig has to offer.

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.

Our Relationship with Direct Action®

A thing we would like to mention up front is our relationship with Direct Action® because we like to be straight forward to you guys. For those that don’t know, we’re a reseller of their products and offer the solution for Direct Action®’s limited production capacity problem which may lead to long periods of products being out of stock.

Now for the chest rig we’ll talk about here, as mentioned before, we bought this one ourselves purely for testing purposes and getting more familiar with these things. So you’re aware of that.

Our approach

What we also want to put out there is that we will always aim for an objective view with these type of videos apart from whether we sell the product or not. And for this one that’s no different. Our approach on this is by first giving you an overview of the product and after we’ll give you a review from our personal experience.

No financial involvement

Last thing we want to say is that there’s no financial involvement in the making of this video. This video is produced at our own costs and thus we thank you for all your support!

Having said that, let’s go over to our product and give you the overview of this Thunderbolt® Chest Rig.

Direct Action® Thunderbolt® – Overall design & features

First thing worth mentioning about its overall design is that it is derived from a combination of Direct Action®’s two most appreciated chest rigs. Namely, the panel of the Tiger Moth®, but a bit smaller, and the pouches of the Hurricane® Chest Rig.

Another thing that is immediately noticeable is how compact and light this rig is. It only weighs 620 grams, which is not that much for how it is configured in our eyes. But we’ll get to that configuration in a bit.


Of course this is all thanks to Direct Action® using a laser-cut design and the materials they’ve chosen. The main materials they’ve used for this is are a 500 denier Cordura® laminate and a soft-shell fabric as backing. This type of Cordura® is known to be a great choice in regards to its durability, weight and the soft-shell is perfect to provide comfort and good moisture wicking.


Above that, the materials are durable water repellent treated to face those wet conditions and also prevent detection by IR sensitive devices such as night vision optics. Here the plain colors had an IRR treatment and the camo versions are NIR compliant.


Moving on, also the stitching is very properly done on this product, even with double and triple stitched stress points. And we like to point that out because the stitches are usually the first thing that start to fail on this type of equipment.

Direct Action® Thunderbolt® – Overview

Thunderbolt® Panel

That being said, let’s now have a closer look at the panel itself. As mentioned before, this is based on the design of the Direct Action®’s Hurricane® Chest Rig. However, it does have a few changes thanks to the feedback they’ve got from end-users.

In principle, the configuration can be split up in three different parts. The most outer part is a bunch of fixed pouches, behind that there are rifle mag pouches and for the most inner part there is a flat pocket.

Row of fixed pouches

Let’s work our way from the outside to within, so let’s begin with these fixed pouches. In total there are five on this row and they’re made to carry pistol magazines, a first-aid kit, radio and other essentials.

Flap pouches

Let’s have a look at the two most outer pouches first since they’re the same. These are big flap pouches that are buckle closed. They are designed to take all sorts of equipment, going from as big as a smoke grenade to a radio or they can even carry a trauma kit with the insert from Direct Action®’s Vertical MED Pouch.

These pouches can also be tightened to your needs thanks to their shock-cord design and their flaps can be adjusted in height or even removed. Above this, Direct Action® also provided a way to neatly carry excessive strap material for the buckles with the use of Velcro.

Also worth mentioning are the buckles they’ve used on these and on the rest of this rig. By the looks and feel of them, these can certainly take some beating.

Pistol mag pouches

Going to the center left, this rig has two pistol mag pouches.These feature Velcro closed flaps which can also be adjusted or taken off. These flaps are also provided with Hypalon® tabs which is a very grippy and durable material that makes it perfect to handle, even with gloves on. Above that these mag pouches are also adjustable in tension.

Utility Pouch

The other center pouch that is aligned to your right when you’re wearing it, is a zippered utility pouch for small items. This one opens very conveniently for an easy access and is outfitted with two internal elastic straps to organize your stuff. It also features one Hypalon® hook on top.

That’s all for the outer row of fixed pouches, let’s now go one row back and look at the rifle pouches.

Row of rifle mag pouches

The rifle pouches on this rig can better be described as one big pocket with separations in it to provide spaces for four magazines. These pockets allow to be used for AR, AK and SR magazines and are also adjustable on the bottom.

Furthermore, each of these pockets are equipped with shock cords to retain your mags and also feature Hypalon® taps for ease of use.

Now, besides these tabs the inside of each of these pockets are also equipped with a strip of Hypalon® that help to provide a certain degree of grip on your magazines.

Inner flat pocket

Moving on, we come to the most inner part which is the flat pocket.

This is a Velcro closed one that also features Hypalon® tabs to ease pulling it open. The pocket is also pretty big with a size of 28×11 cm. This makes it great to store maps, notebooks, markers and so on.

Also worth noticing is that the backside of this flat pocket is made from a soft-shell fabric which provide a comfortable touch to your body.

Furthermore when it comes to the features of this panel, on its bottom it is also outfitted with a row of PALS over its whole length to attach single row pouches or strap something onto it. Beneath that there’s another row of 4 PALS slots for you to mount an additional utility pouch and thus provide more carrying space if required.

That’s it as for the panel itself. Now, before we overview this rig its harness, we first want to talk about a compatibility feature that’s possible with this rig and some other Direct Action® products.

Unique compatibility feature

Just as any chest rig, this one can be separated from its harness thanks to its 6 buckles. Now, once separated this panel can be used onto the Spitfir®e or Hellcat® plate carriers together with the Direct Action® Chest Rig Interface.

The purpose of this is that you change your plate carrier into a system that provides ballistic protection up front and thus allows you to wear a backpack comfortably. The addition of this panel then creates a setup with all your necessary fighting equipment up front.

That being said, let’s now get a look into the harness the Thunderbolt® comes with.

Thunderbolt® Harness


The rig comes with an adjustable harness. For this both the shoulders and the back strap can be changed in length. These can extend pretty greatly, especially the back strap. To give you some sort of idea, for us regular sized guys, we have to reduce the length quite a lot so there’s certainly room for bigger people out there.

Also, just as on the pouches, the excessive material of these straps can be neatly tucked away with pieces of Velcro blockers. This in comparison with the usually used elastic bands makes a pretty big difference. Because as every chest rig user knows, those elastic pieces never hold their place unless you apply some tricks on them.

Back strap

Furthermore, the back strap features an elastic piece that can stretch when you’re bending your back. This avoids that back strap from becoming too tight on the body so you always have a good fit.

Shoulder straps

If we look at the shoulder straps you can see that the they have a very slim profile which makes it ideal to comfortably carry a backpack over them. And thanks to the fact that these are made of the Cordura® laminate, you don’t have to worry about their strength.

What’s also noticeable on the back of these straps is that it features a soft fabric on its inside for comfort and on the outside there’re 4 by 2 PALS slots. These obviously give you the ability to MOLLE something on your back if want to.

PTT spots

Last thing to mention on these is that they also feature PTT cuts on the front for if you’re running a radio. Underneath those cuts you also find stitched pieces of Cordura which can be used to organize you wiring.

Having said that, we have gone over the features of this Thunderbolt® chest rig. So now let’s give you our personal thoughts on it and let’s go over its cons first.

Personal Experience


Lack of modularity

The first one is that the Thunderbolt its pouches cannot be taken off, moved or stacked. In principal this doesn’t allow for a lot modularity, but we do think that Direct Action® made a very smart approach on creating a good general purpose setup.

This because the pouches are all located in very logical and convenient spots that allow you to create a bunch of different setups. Plus the fact that it can hold AR, AK and SR magazines adds to its variety of use.

Tight pistol mag pouches

Speaking about pouches, the pistol mag pouches up front are a bit tight for the use of double stacked magazines. So taking them out is not an issue, but putting them back in quickly is not an easy thing.

Also noticeable is that these pistol pouches are located on your left when carrying the rig. In other words, left-hand dominant people will have a harder time reaching those mags with their support hand. Of course Direct Action® had to make a choice on this and going for the largest group of people was a logical thing to do.

Use of flat pocket

Another con regards the access and use of the inner flat pocket. Opening this pocket is not the most ergonomic thing to do. It also requires some force to open it and although it’s a pretty spacious pocket, taking whatever is in there is not a very easy grab.

Now, even though it is not very handy, it does provide convenient space to utilize.

Slim PTT spots

Aside this, talking about the PTT spots, we do have to say that are positioned pretty high and your PTT might interrupt when shouldering a weapon. Also due to its very thin material there’s not a lot of support for the weight of the PTT and the clamp might even come loose during use. So a smaller type of PTT is recommended with this one.

A good solution that worked for us was using elastic bands to holds the PTT in place.

Compatibility with plate carriers

Last con, we like to point out is that the rig cannot solely act as a front panel on Direct Action® their plate carriers. This is only possible with their chest rig interface which is a bit of a bummer in our opinion.

So that mentioned, let’s have a look at the pros.


Smart general purpose design

Without a doubt we can say that this rig is very smartly designed and the product is very properly finished. We’ve personally used it in various active ways, meaning running, crouching, going prone and so on all while shooting. Not with a backpack though, but we can say that this rig is very comfortable to wear on its own, even when fully loaded.

Fitment & use

It also stays very nicely in place during all your movements and there’s not a single change in its size thanks to those Velcro strap blockers. Most equipment is also easy to access on this rig and grabbing or reinserting those rifle magazines goes smoothly as well.

Use with a backpack

At last, we have worn the rig a few times with our big fully loaded backpacks for testing and we can say that wearing this chest rig underneath is very comfortable and hardly even noticeable besides its added weight.


In overall we’d say this is a very impressive product from Direct Action®. It’s a nicely made chest rig and it will certainly serve very well as a very compact all-in-one system.

And with that all said, we have come to an end with this blog. If you’re interested in the Direct Action® Thunderbolt® Chest Rig or any other Direct Action® products, you can find it through shop.reconbrothers.com in the colors Crye™ Multicam®, Woodland, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green or Black.

Something new we want to mention at last is that from now on, above the fact that the camo versions are NIR treated, all the plain colors from Direct Action® products are IRR treated to help reduce your infrared profile if you want to consider that type of stuff.

Thanks for reading our blog

“Direct Action® Thunderbolt® – The Ultimate Compact Chest Rig?”

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