Designed as a lightweight and low profile plate carrier for training on the range, or in use for concealment operations, the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier by Direct Action is a confluence in design from the Spitfire & Hellcat Plate Carrier line and offers more current, low-profile features. The Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier retains an incredible light weight with maximum flexibility for all day use under a jacket or by itself.
Made from a blend of 500D Cordura, 210D nylon, and lightweight laminate nylon, the front and rear carriers of the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier accommodate full-sized SAPI/ESAPI/AR500 plates or any soft armor (sold separately). Both the front and rear carriers also feature extensive hook-and-loop (female) panels for attaching a variety of accessories and/or identification panels or morale patches.
The front carrier also includes female slide-release buckles (secured by elastic nylon cuffs that also include passage for comm cables) for chest rigs, magazine panels, or other associated Mayflower®/Velocity Systems compatible chest panels. The front also includes a removable magazine flap with three elastic nylon slide pouches for rifle magazines.
The rear of the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier features an integrated drag handle and extensive hook-and-loop fields for securing identification panels as well as adjusting the elastic cummerbund.
The interior back panels of the Hellcat’s front and rear carriers are a tweave material to assist with moisture wicking.
The Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier cummerbund is of a minimalist design made from elastic nylon that secures to the front and rear carriers through associated hook-and-loop (male) panels. In addition, each side of the cummerbund features two slide pockets for rifle magazines, and one adjustable slide elastic pocket for a handheld radio or other accessory that can be secured by over-the-top shock cord.
For shoulder straps, the Hellcat has two laminate nylon bands directly anchored into the front carrier, and pass through ABS plastic cinch buckles at the rear carrier. Adjustment is done via full length hook-and-loop segments. The shoulder straps also include laser-cut comms/hydration slits to keep things organized.
- Size M:
- Chest size up to 47”
- Width: 10.5”
- Height: 13.5”
- Size L:
- Chest size up to 51”
- Width: 10.5”
- Height: 15”
- Size XL:
- Chest size up to 55”
- Width: 11.1”
- Height: 17.05”
The Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier is available in a variety of colors to include; Multicam (featured), Adaptive Green, Shadow Grey and many more.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Average (3/5): For the evaluated carrier, the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier features the company’s lightweight laminate nylon, which also includes a high degree of abrasion resistance for a list price of $229. In comparison, the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier has the most direct comparison to the Stealth Low Vis Carrier ($179) by Shellback Tactical, the Slickster ($159) by Ferro Concepts, or the Tomahawk Low Vis Plate Carrier ($158) by T3 Gear. It should be noted that in some instances, such as with the Slickster or Tomahawk, the magazine pouches differed and additional pouches would be needed to make them a comparable product. In all, for its modularity and materials, the Hellcat Low Vis and other associated accessories all are appropriate (or average) in terms of cost with respect to the overall market for similar products.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect; the Hellcat plate carrier was very lightweight (even with plates added) and did not put an excessive amount of pressure on the shoulders. There was no thick padding in the shoulder straps (to add some would have affected the low profile aspect), but over time it became apparent it would have been an added improvement to have some minimal padding integrated at least into the shoulder straps. The hook-and-loop secured cummerbund was easily adjusted for torso size, and allowed for a comfortable fit around the mid-section. The attached Mag Flap with elastic mag pouches allowed for easy draw and retained the magazine well, although re-holstering the magazines was a little tricky as magazines would occasionally catch the edge of the elastic nylon cuff when driving home.
- Durability – Excellent (5/5): A majority of the materials behind the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier was a combination of 500D Cordura, 210D nylon, and lightweight laminate nylon, all of which is known to have a high degree of abrasion resistance. Moreover, there was extensive bartack and X-pattern reinforcement stitching present at key stress points throughout the carrier, cummerbund, and magazine flap. The hook-and-loop fields that provided for a majority of the inserts, joining connections, and adjustment features did hold up over multiple adjustments with only minimal fraying of material (which was within expectations). One suggestion here would be to add a pull tab or plate riser to the flap securing the bottom of plates, and aid in opening, accounting for a variety in plate dimensions, and prolong the life of the material. Perhaps the only concern from a durability aspect comes from the minimal amount of laminate nylon on the front carrier that forms the connection between the front carrier and the shoulder straps (a similarity shared with the Mk II). There is only a single layer of fabric between the two, and this will be an area of extreme stress or tension. Direct Action has reassured users that this unique design aspect has never been compromised, and has been extensively evaluated (illustrating the strength of the nylon laminate) in the field.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally, the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier was a limited modular plate carrier that allowed the user to customize it as needed. It had good adaptability with the associated Mag Flap, as well as to other similar Direct Action placards (sold separately). The slide-release buckles and hook-and-loop (female) field also enabled the carrier to be compatible with a variety of other manufacturer chest rigs, such as by Haley Strategic or Spiritus Systems. Other panels or similar accessories are available from Direct Action to expand further on the Hellcat’s modularity but some would undoubtedly affect the low-profile factor. So as a base plate carrier, the Hellcat did a very good job of maintaining a low profile under an open-button shirt or light outer wear in areas that most plate carriers are obvious in (i.e. shoulder straps, bulk, etc.). Even the cummerbund easily interchanged between a flat, minimalist band or allowed to add extra magazines without adding to excessive bulk. Thus, it was evident a lot of forethought went into developing the Hellcat while still keeping as low profile as possible for concealment operations.
- Weight – Average (3/5): The weight of the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier was a demure 19.68 ounces (without plates), thanks in large part to the laminate nylon material that kept a low profile and minimal bulk. This translated to minimal load felt in the shoulders over time, even with plates added into the carrier. And while the Hellcat lacked padding in those areas, the weight was not cumbersome nor distracting. In comparison to other products on the current market using the same lightweight materials, the Hellcat would be most similar to the Stealth Low Vis Carrier (approx. 16 ounces) by Shellback Tactical, the Slickster (15 ounces) by Ferro Concepts, or the Tomahawk Low Vis Plate Carrier (32 ounces) by T3 Gear. Still, all three of these lightweight carriers are a far cry away from more traditional plate carriers using traditional nylon or Cordura materials and designs that can weigh as much as five pounds alone (more when soaked with water or sweat). So, the Hellcat Low Visibility Plate Carrier and its materials by Direct Action were within the average weight as compared to the similar, good-performing carriers previously noted.
Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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