Anyone with a penchant for militaria and tactical expertise will know of the importance of a good tactical chest rig. These rigs are commonly used among most modern militaries – and for good reason. They offer a plethora of additional storage space that’s kept in a convient, quick to reach location.
The best chest rig will have an abundance of space for additional ammunition. Some of them even have slots for spare shotgun shells, grenades and knives.
This transcribes very well into the world of paintball and airsoft – as it’s common to use less powerful variants of flash and smoke grenades in both of these activities.
The Best Chest Rig
UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest
This sleak, tactical, black carrier rig is manufactured from top to bottom with law enforcement in mind. But it’s not so overbearing that it couldn’t be worn for other purposes such as airsoft or paintball.
This is an incredibly popular variation, if you’re looking for storage capacity and convenience this is quite possibly the best chest rig.
It has four pouches integrated specifically for rifle magazines. Each of them can hold the equivalent of about 1 AK magazine each. Alternatively, two AR-15 magazines could probably slot in per pouch. They utilise a hook/loop to keep them closed and have drain holes to stop them flooding if water gets in to the pouch.
There’s a cross draw holster located on your left hand side, designed for right handed shooters. This holster allows you to quickly draw your sidearm in the case of an emergency.
The webbing comprising the structure of this rig is pretty heavy duty – and the large free sections with velcro will allow you to swap around pouches and holsters etc as you please. There’s even several long strips of free space at the back which you can use to attach your embroidered identifying patch. (Normally used to identify people as POLICE, SHERIFF, S.W.A.T etc)
The UTG547 is easily adjustable. Whilst it does not accept plates it can easily be worn OVER a plate carrier – meaning you don’t have to sacrifice your own safety for the enhanced protection this variant grants you.
CONDOR Recon Chest Rig
The CONDOR Recon is a smaller, lightweight rig. It’s not particularly large or stocky – it doesn’t get in the way or impede your movement. If you’re looking to remain fast and agile but still increase you carrying capacity significantly – this is likely one of your best bets.
Recon chest-rigs tend to go hand in hand with “lightweight” – it’s easier to make less noise when you’re not burdened with a gigantic, impractical rig. They’re less likely to impede acrobatic manoeuvres too so if you imagine you’ll be having to navigate both horizontally and vertically this may be ideal for you.
It comes with quite a wide variety of different colours, from olive drab, tan and multicam right through to black & brown.
The shoulders are thoroughly padded and are strapped on with a crossback to design to encourage the straps to fall inward rather than outward.
It has Swivel push-release buckles for utility purposes. It has 3 pouches perfectly sized for multiple mags, up to 6 AR style magazine and up to 6 pistol magazines.
There’s a hook/loop panel located just inside the front pocket too which adds to the modularity of this piece of gear.
Overall there’s a great deal of choice in what colour you’re going to opt for and this rig grants you a great deal of storage without actually impeding your ability to aim or navigate your environment. Ideal for people who need to travel light or don’t want to splash out on a slightly more expensive rig with plate carrier functionality.
Condor Modular Chest Set Multicam
If you’re looking for a multicam chest set with a reasonable amount of modularity – this is a solid bet.
This chest carrier comes with 9 integrated magazine pouches specifically for 5.56 ammunition. It has a complete back end with proper MOLLE attachment points on it so you can increase your carrying capacity. It also have 5 mesh pockets internally, just in case you need that extra space.
The best chest rig on the market will likely be versatile.This particular rig has this level of versatility. Which could prove incredibly useful and will allow you to plan out your webbing before you actually require it.
The chest platform can be adjusted with ease or just removed completely. If you feel it’s unnecessary for your own purposes or it’s getting in the way of another configuration you wanna try out – simply detach it.
One of the more unique features of this rig is the hydration carrier, though. It has a carrier for transporting liquid built straight into the back of the vest. You’ll need to procure the bladder separately (this is often the case). But the integrated pocket for it is the perfect size – if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors with your rig this is absolutely ideal. Especially in warmer climates where dehydration can pose a legitimate risk to your health.
This piece of kit is versatile enough that you wont need to replace it for a more specialised rig if you’re using it for training/airsoft/paintball. However, it’s not a plate carrier and we’d recommend using another rig if you’re looking for this kind of functionality.
Condor Ops Chest Rig [Best Budget Purchase]
If you’re strapped for cash but need a simple and effective rig then the Condor Ops variant is possibly the best budget buy you can make. You’ll seldom see this rig sell for over 50 dollars. Despite this, is has some solid quality, heavyweight webbing designed to bare a reasonable load.
Perhaps you’ve already acquired a plate carrier which doesn’t do a great job of assisting you in hauling your gear around. In this case you may be looking for something cheap to throw over it.
The button release mechanism for the swivel locking feature means you can quickly discard of the rig (or put it on) if the situation calls for it.
Drainage grommets on either side prevent water buildup and the shoulder straps are crossed diagonally for added security. The front is large enough for a handful of pouches – just be sure to use your space wisely.
GFIRE Tactical Vest Modular Vest [Best Carrier Rig]
Whilst we do have another article on plate carriers, we felt it important to include this one in our rig article in case you stumbled across this page looking for a plate carrier. After all, functionally – many plate carriers can double as chest rigs. Others cannot.
Chest rigs, however – can’t double as plate carriers unless they were manufactured with that specific purpose in mind.
If you’re looking for a high quality plate carrier with some solid modular capabilities – this is a winner.
Manufactured from 1000D denier high quality fabric – this vest is designed to be highly durable. Whilst the vest isn’t bulletproof on its own – it has slots for bulletproof plates. Meaning you can easily slide them into place and have a carrier rig that doubles as a bulletproof vest.
The quality of plate you choose will dictate how effective the vest actually is at stopping bullets – if you’re looking for protection. Armor rating of 3 or harder can withstand rifle fire, this is a good starting point. But you should absolutely do your own research when it comes to something as critical as body armor.
Do you really want to pass up doing the necessary research on something you may potentially rely on to stop something as devastating as a bullet?
The stitching on the fabric is incredibly strong and well done, so the vest is unlikely to be unravelling on you anytime soon. This is great consider it’s absolutely covered in MOLLE webbing so you can tack on as many pouches as you’d like without really needing to worry about overburdening the vest.
Furthermore, the padded, anti slip shoulder pads mean that you don’t need to worry about overburdening your shoulders either.
Everything about this carrier is highly modular and incredibly adjustable – whether you work in law enforcement or you’re developing a penchant for airsoft. This rig will absolutely get the job done no questions asked, the company that manufacture it even offer a 2 year guarantee on their product because their so confident in the quality.
Selecting Your Ideal Chest Rig – Buyers Guide
If you’re actively shopping around for a rig, chance is you probably already have some ideas in mind about what you’re looking for.
But there are a few kind things to actually consider before you make your purchase – in order to ensure you don’t end up wasting your money.
Obviously storage space is one factor – but outwidth that you must also consider other things. Compatibility with other equipment, modularity & the quality of the underlying materials should all be major influencing factors in whether you choose to make a purchase or not.
Quality Of Materials
As always, a critical factor when sourcing your gear online or offline is to ensure the quality of materials is of an adequate standard. This is a little bit easier in person because you can visually inspect and feel whatever you’re buying. Online it can be trickier, but there’s a few key things to look out for.
With this specific piece of equipment, you’ll want to read up on how well the stitching holds up on them. Customer reviews are generally going to be more informative and less sales-y than company product descriptions.
In terms of the fabric used, high strength, durable fabrics such as nylon are absolutely ideal. Anywhere above 600D is going to serve you pretty well. It’ll be able to take a bit of a beating and generally last longer than alternativse.
The whole point of a chest rig is to increase your storage capacity whilst still having your equipment in a quick and easy to reach place. Sure – a rucksack will let you haul around gear to your hearts content, but you can’t access it quickly.
The storage capacity of a chest rig isn’t determined by how many pockets or pouches it comes with. The amount of MOLLE webbing it has combined with how structurally sound the vest is will determine its storage capacity.
A weak, poorly made vest can have all the webbing in the world. But they will start to fall apart whenever they’re made to bare a significant load.
Likewise, your vest can be incredibly strong and well made. But if there isn’t a reasonable amount of webbing on it you’re in trouble. Lack of webbing means less spaces to attach pouches to carry more gear.
The US Military was responsible for the initial popularization of Molle webbing. Primarily because it meant that infantry regiments could choose what pouches they wanted to take with them. The alternative was forcing them to rely on pre-built pre-made pockets.
If you’re an airsofter or a paintballer, the best chest rig literally won’t be any different to required by real infantry.
Authentic chest rigs are ideal for you. Namely because you’ll be able to stock up on ammo, flashbangs and smoke grenades. This can grant you a huge tactical advantage in the field and be the deciding factor between winning and losing a game.
Some vests come with their own accompanying pouches. Others can be bought as a completely blank slate and customized to your hearts content. You can even attach patches and badges to these rigs if the necessity arrives. (the police often use identifiers such as this)
Carefully weigh up how much you realistically think you can carry without overburdening yourself and go for that. Anything less and you’re short changing yourself in terms of munitions. Anything more and your stamina and endurance will begin to suffer as a result.
The overall utility of your equipment is obviously massively important too.
Having a cheap vest with integrated pouches is great. But only if these pouches can be easily swapped around and aren’t constrained to a couple of magazine sizes.
If this isn’t the case, you’ve just wasted money. No matter how cheap the rig was.
MOLLE webbing will allow you to quickly switch your configuration around to carry different types of ammunition.
It’ll even let you attach cross-draw holsters for sidearms.
The variant you eventually settle on honestly boils down to what your intended purposes are. Looking for one with plate inserts that doubles as a plate carrier? The Gfire tactical vest is your best bet. It also has an overall solid build quality and lots of ‘real estate’ space for additional pouches etc.
You can either opt for some quick and easy webbing or for something a bit more complex. A couple of different pouches to increase your carrying capacity may be all that’s really necessary. It’s important to carefully weigh up how much stuff you actually need to carry before making a purchasing decision.
If you don’t need to splash out as much – you can opt for something like the Condor Ops variant.
You should always strongly consider how much ammo you actually need to carry. The job may potentially get done with a cheaper rig. This could wind up presenting problems further down the line, though.
If you’re just going airsofting or paintballing you can afford to be a bit more relaxed with your purchasing.
Planning on relying on this for a career in law enforcement or security? Do a reasonable amount of research before making a purchase. It could save your life.