10 Jun Reconbrothers® Direct Action® Plate Carrier Setup 2021
Reconbrothers® Direct Action® Plate Carrier Setup 2021
A few weeks ago we extensively covered the Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII with all its features and options. Since this plate carrier is so vastly configurable we decided to make a full Direct Action® setup build upon our personal experience. And in this blog we’ll be giving you all the details about it.
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That said, the plate carrier setup we’ll be talking about here is build for my personal use and I will be using it during live fire tactical courses which my brother and I will be attending soon.
We do want to warn you though, what we will present here is something that works well for us, but might not necessarily fit what you do. The purpose of this blog is to share our thinking process based on our experience, so you can pick up some ideas to create something of your own or maybe adjust what you already have.
Plate Carrier Fundamentals
The first thing we want to cover before we get into this, is talk a little bit about what we consider to be some fundamental factors to set up any plate carrier. If the setup doesn’t comply to any of these, we go back to refitting stuff until it does. So, there are 3 basic ones which we have kept in mind for several years already and those are:
- “easy accessibility”
- “mobility efficiency”
- “minimal stuff”
Above these, we now also consider a 4th one and that is “versatility”. Let’s explain ourselves a bit further:
Easy accessibility, is rather simple. You don’t want to make your stuff clumsy. For this you best position pouches you need most access to, in convenient places. You also want to consider ease of access for in stressful situations, because especially then, these things start to count.
Mobility efficiency, comes down to that fact that your carrier should work with you, not against you. For this you want to make sure it’s comfortable when doing all sorts of movements. Think about crouching, crawling, sprinting and traversing obstacles. Also consider the conjunction with other equipment like a belt or while manipulating your weapon.
Minimal stuff, is no rocket science either. You only want to carry the stuff that you really need. Too much equipment will only make you heavier and bulkier which results in being slower and less agile and thus less effective.
At last the new 4th one, being versatility, is pretty straight forward as well. The more versatile you can be, the more you can adapt to the specific situation you’re going to face. This is important because necessities can change according to the objective and if you can take off certain elements and add others, it can be an incredible powerful tool.
This of course goes hand in hand with how easy it is to make these changes, so it’s not possible with all plate carriers out there, but with this one it is.
So that being explained, let’s jump into what we’ve done to create this setup and let’s start off with the base.
Base of the Setup
First thing is the carrier itself, which is as already said, the Direct Action® Spitfire® MKII. We’re not going to get into the details of this one, because we’ve already done that in another blog. So, if you want to learn what it’s all about, you can have a look at that blog by clicking on the image.
A plate carrier is obviously meant to be used with plates and for the stuff that we will be doing, we will use ballistic plates from Protection Group Denmark. These are NIJ 3+ Stand Alone SAPI sized plates. This means they’re rated to take up to 6 shots of a 7.62 FMJ bullet. Which is more than enough for what we need and this at a very comfortable weight of only 1,5 kilograms per plate.
Now, if you don’t need ballistic protection, we highly recommend to at least fill it with training plates. Because a plate carrier simply can not function properly without them.
We recently made a very good and fairly priced set available on our shop from one of our other suppliers which replicates ballistic plates pretty closely. They have the same weight, shape, curvature and they can’t break which makes them ideal for any purpose that doesn’t require ballistic protection. So, if you’re interested you can go have a look at the plate section on our shop.
So, now we have the plate carrier and the plates. The first thing we added to it is Direct Action®’s Spitfire® Comfort Pad Set. This is a set of 6 pads in total whereas there are 2 for the front, 2 for the back and the last 2 are for the shoulders.
We found out after use that these quite significantly improve comfort because the plate bag inside is a rather thin material on the Spitfire® MKII. They also improve the air flow and moisture management on your body and are really easy to attach and take off again, thanks to the Velcro® in their design. And above that, they’re easy washable and replaceable. So, in our eyes they bring a great value and that’s why we included them.
All this together forms our core base. So, now we’ll show you what we’ve done with the rest to create this setup.
The Setup Build
Created for right dominant use
A small note first, we’re right hand dominant so we’ll explain everything for that purpose. If you’re a lefty you have to mirror the idea. So, let’s begin with the front plate bag.
Front of the setup
The very first thing that comes to mind for the purpose of shooting, is the need for ammo and thus magazines. Of course, the more the better, but keeping the weight and bulkiness in mind with the objective is the art behind it.
Going from our experience with both tactical courses and force on force experience with airsoft, we can say that a good “practical” balance can be found somewhere between 5 to 8 rifle mags with 2 to 4 pistol magazines. Counting both on the carrier, belt and in the guns. This gives you on average an ammo count somewhere between 150 up to 240 rifle rounds and 30 up to 60 pistol rounds.
We personally opt to carry 4 rifle mags on the plate carrier that are in easy access and one on our belts for emergency access.
In order to do this we have chosen to use the Spitfire® Triple Rifle Magazine Flap on our front.
Why this ones? Well, it can take 3 AR, AK and SR mags which immediately covers the most common rifle platforms out there.
It also uses shock cords for the retainment of those mags, which is certainly not an unimportant feature. The pull tabs on these are made of an anti-slip Hypalon® material that allows the handling to be much better than other design out there.
The flap is also adjustable in retention and its surface is covered with laser cuts PALS for modular possibilities as well.
And above that, if you don’t like the risk of getting plastic fragments in your face with its buckles, they can be removed and you can attach the panel without those onto the plate bag.
Additional Pistol Pouch
Now, on the outer left side of this we positioned one Direct Action® Speed Reload Pistol Pouch® as well. This one serves a special purpose besides the ones we use on our belt. We keep this one empty to perform a tactical reload with our pistol. This is mainly interesting to do here, because it’s way closer to your work area than your belt and thus also faster.
The good thing about this one in particular is that its profile is quite low and it doesn’t have the potential to break when hitting the ground. It’s also an open top design which makes it incredibly easy to insert a mag and the retention is great, because it features Hypalon® material on its inside.
Furthermore, an advantage of working with these interchangeable front panels allows you to quickly change setups which adds to that versatility factor we mentioned earlier.
Now, all this only covers 3 rifle mags, but we did mention a 4th and for this we make use of a side wing.
4th Mag Side Wing
The Spitfire® MKII allows for the placement of side wings and one of the available options is a MOLLE Wing. This one basically allows you to attach any pouch on your side and we’ve placed a Direct Action® Speed Reload Rifle Pouch® on it.
This way, we can comfortably carry that 4th magazine while keeping a low profile. The pouch its design is basically a copy of the pistol version, only a bit bigger. So drawing and reinserting a mag goes pretty easy while the retention is great as well. You also have the option to add a shock cord to this one, if you’d like to.
The advantage of doing it like this, is of course that you keep your dominant side as free as possible for the drawing of your sidearm. Plus, if you face your magazine forward, you also have a way to draw that mag while shooting from your other shoulder.
Radio side wing
Moving on, we come to the other wing side and here we’ve utilized this spot for a Direct Action® Spitfire® Comms Wing. This wing pouch allows you to carry almost any type of radio right next to your plate, since it’s adjustable in height and width.
The advantages of carrying it right here is the fact that you can easily access your radio yourself while maintaining that low profile. Now, we do know that some people may not like it this way, because it can press too much against their ribs. This is a matter of trial and seeing whether it works for you.
If it happens to not work for you, there is a back-up plan whereas you wire your radio over your shoulder to the back panel and put it in a pouch over there.
PTT spot & cable management
Together with the radio comes the placement of the PTT and for this the Spitfire® MKII is provided with PTT spots that immediately provide a sensible 45° placement.
If we’re talking about cable management, that can easily and neatly be done with the Velcro® cable and tube managers present on the carrier. With these you can manage your cables up front or wire them over your shoulder to the back, if you place your radio over there. The same can of course be done for the tube of your hydration system.
Things we left out
Admin pouch/Phone Case
Next thing we lay our attention to is what is not present on the front and we have some valid reasons to do this. First thing is that we don’t use any sort of admin pouch or phone case on top. This mainly because it highly obstructs the access to your magazines in our experience. Also the Spitfire® MKII has a pretty spacious build-in zippered pocket, so you can store some stuff in there already.
The next thing we rather avoid is the use of an under pouch. This because these things have the tendency to dangle pretty annoyingly in the first place, but also secondly, they limit the movement capabilities of your upper body quite a bit. Getting into a simple kneeling position can already be a hassle with these from what we’ve experienced.
But if you do require additional storing space up front, we’d highly suggest you to do that on the front of the cummerbund of your non-dominant side. Since it’s easy accessible by yourself this way and won’t restrict important movements a lot.
So with that said, we have now fully covered the front plate bag. Let’s now have a look at the back plate bag.
Back of the setup
Versatile Back Panel
The back plate bag is just, as the front one, a fully interchangeable panel. The one we attached in particular is a version we believe gives most people everything they need with the use of just this one panel. And that is the Direct Action® Spitfire® Assault Panel.
Features back panel top
What we like in particular about this panel is the amount of thought that went into it. The 1st things to mention are its 3 easy accessible pouches on top. These can be used for all sorts of stuff since they’re elastic. Examples are magazines, flashbangs, smoke grenades and regular sized radios as well. All those pouches feature a flap which can also be removed for an open top design if you’d prefer that.
Features back panel bottom
On the bottom there’s quite a big pocket with a velour inside which is ideal to store scratch sensitive objects like your eye pro, binoculars or even night-vision goggles.
Back Panel’s hidden compartment
Now, this is already pretty neat, but what really blew us away is the fact that this panel is an entire pocket on its own. Meaning it allows you to store a hydration reservoir directly into the back. So there’s no loss of valuable space thanks to this. This flat pocket allows you to store other stuff as well, like a big wire cutter or a crowbar for example.
That’s everything regarding the back. Let’s now go over to the cummerbunds.
Sides of the setup
The Spitfire® MKII standard comes with slim elastic cummerbunds which are great for a low profile and simple setup. But once you start using side wings, they don’t work so well. We tested it when everything was in place and we came to the conclusion not to use these for the setup, because they moved down and didn’t keep everything retained as how you’ve set it up.
So, our solution was to provide cummerbunds that didn’t have this problem. We looked for the available options and the most interesting ones to us both were the MKII Rapid Access Cummerbund and the MKII Modular Cummerbund Slim.
MKII Rapid Access Cummerbund Features
The rapid access one features PALS slots on the outside and ROC buckles to open and close the cummerbunds without making use of the Velcro. It also has an inside pocket to use side plates or soft armor panels.
MKII Modular Cummerbund Slim Features
The slim modular cummerbund is a more advanced version of the standard elastic ones so to speak. This because it maintains that same low profile, but with PALS slots to attach additional equipment.
Now, my brother and I went over them both and in the end I preferred to use ROC buckles, while my brother rather used the other one. So, we had a difference of opinion here and thus simply decided to make them both available, because they both passed our requirements. So, for those that are interested in this setup, you can make the choice of your own.
This isn’t the only option we made available. There’s another extra special one we made which comes from a hidden feature of the Spitfire® and that is the addition of the Spitfire® Cutaway System.
This is not something everyone needs and therefor we also leave the choice to you. For those that don’t know it yet, this system basically allows an immediate release and field reassemble of the plate carrier without cutaway elements. So, treatment and re-armoring is made easy this way.
The nice thing about it, is that it can be assembled on one side only if your comms and/or hydration are routed on the other shoulder side.
Our experience with the setup
And that guys, covers the entire setup. I have already ran this one on an airsoft event for testing and I can say I’m impressed with it myself. It’s very comfortable and lightweight. I’ve had a smooth use with the front panel and its shock cords which is surprising because I usually don’t like them, but with this one I had almost no hinder when using them.
The rifle pouch on the side wing was great as well. I was able to draw smoothly and reinsert my mag rather quickly, because the pouch keeps a nice open profile. Also on the other wing side where my radio is located, I had no troubles. There were no uncomfortable pressure points when it’s placed correctly.
Only thing is, that my civilian Kenwood radio is rather on the small side compared to military radios and that makes it sit pretty deep in this pouch. So accessing it is not the easiest thing. Maybe a version for smaller radios would be something interesting as well.
Another thing to mention is that the insertion of plates goes pretty easy, thanks to the soft-shell backing taking on a perfect shape. Also the use of pouches on the back went great as well for pyrotechnical equipment. My brother had an easy and quick access using those.
Extra bit of feedback
A last thing to share from my personal experience, is about the PTT spots. We covered those in our review video/blog about the Spitfire® MKII as well and made the note that some PTTs can sit pretty loose, due to the thin design of these spots. We can now say, that this is no longer the case if you fix your downlead on one of the cable managers on your shoulder.
So, in overall we can definitely say that this is by far the most advanced, lightweight and versatile setup we’ve put together up to this day and we’re very proud to work with a company such as Direct Action®.
We hope this blog gave you some insights in what works for us and that you got some ideas to improve your equipment yourself.
For those that are interested in this particular setup. It is available on our online store shop.reconbrothers.com. You can find it in Crye’s Multicam, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Black and now also Woodland, and it’s available in all sizes with an all-year around discount.
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“Reconbrothers Direct Action Plate Carrier Setup 2021”
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