When it comes to bulletproof or ballistic helmets, the number of choices available to you can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time investing in one. However, it all comes down to the right priorities for your protection.
Ballistic helmets, also known as bulletproof helmets, exist to protect their owners’ heads from receiving trauma and damage caused by bullets, shrapnel, and other dangers. There are a variety of shapes and materials of ballistic helmets for different needs.
Here, we’ll help you become familiar with the kinds of ballistic helmets so that you’ll know how to pick the best for you.
What types of helmet shapes are there?
History best explains why helmets have their trademark designs and shapes:
The Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops or PASGT is the helmet that replaced the M1 helmet by the 1980s, as used by the US military.
Coming in the standard PASGT shape in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes, it was known as the Kevlar® helmet. This helmet was created to level up the protection of the previous iterations that were mostly made of steel.
For the next few decades, it became the standard helmet of the military. But eventually demand for improved features such as better fitting led the military to devise newer versions of ballistic helmets.
MICH/ACH HelmetsIn order to overcome the PASGT helmet’s setbacks in terms of weight and other issues, the US military developed the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH).
Later, it was also able to produce the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH), which was MICH’s advanced version.
The two look quite similar, so you can check their specifications to pinpoint the few differences they have.
ACH has a slightly larger area for a helmet - a plus for protection, but a bit diminishing in terms of vision, as compared to MICH. In terms of ballistic penetration, ACH is a few percentage points higher than the MICH.
While ACH and the previous helmets use aramid fibers, the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) has ultra-high molecular polyethylene material or thermoplastic).
The ECH has almost a similar appearance and weight with ACH, but it is thicker and is meant to have 35% ballistic protection more than the ACH.
The Future Assault Shell Technology (FAST) helmet allots a wider ear cut. This is advantageous for those who want to utilize communication devices more, particularly tactical and communications protective system (TCAPS).
The FAST helmet is also significantly lighter than any other recent ballistic protection helmet.
What kind of materials are used for helmets?
Here are some of the best materials for helmets to date:
The most prominent fabric for bulletproof products, Kevlar® is made of super durable plastic that can withstand ballistic penetration even better than steel and other materials. Kevlar® resists heat, has great tensile strength, and is lightweight.
The ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) provides a great bulletproof ability and while it might not be as good when it comes to creep resistance such as that of Kevlar®, but it also has its own advantages such as its lighter weight.
Moreover, the UHMWPE is combined with other materials to accomplish its desired performance.
Steel, as well as other materials, was mainly used in earlier helmets before previous decades’ scientifically formulated materials appeared.
Nowadays, M1 helmets, made of steel, are still used by militaries across the world for different activities, such as rescue operations, if not for the battlegrounds.
Ballistic helmets may also be made from other materials. For one, fiberglass can be mixed in the helmet’s shell. Twaron® is another durable fabric used in some helmets. Carbon fiber strengthens some helmets, for example, by combining it with Kevlar®.
What kind of accessories can you use on helmets?
Most ballistic helmets allow the flexibility to secure the accessories such as::
You’ll most likely need side rails if you want to mount something alongside your helmet. Side rails, with their holes and fastening systems, can interlock devices for different purposes, such as communication gadgets and oxygen masks.
If you need to mount your night vision goggles to your helmet, then you should get an NVG (Night Vision Goggle) Shroud. This way, you get to attach the goggles at your forehead and flip them toward your eyes when you need them.
There are different accessories that can be incorporated into a helmet that will cater to the fit of its wearer.
For example, you can use chin straps and retention systems that adjust to the circumference of your head to keep the helmet in place.
Comfort pads are also available to serve as cushions and keep the grip of the helmet.
There are also entire helmet liner systems with features such sweat bands to absorb sweat.
There are many more helmet accessories that you can try out. Some like to use a helmet cover, usually made in mesh, that would include pouches to store small items like batteries.
You can also get a visor mask and mount to protect your eyes. Finally, you can use a counterweight pouch to retain your helmet’s balance after being attached with other weighty devices.
Different Helmets for Different Needs:
The following examples of helmets demonstrate how each varies to address the possible needs of the wearer:
- Protection Group Denmark Arch Level IIIA Bullet Proof Helmet - This high cut helmet provides a rail system that lets one fasten equipment like light, camera, and communication gadgets. It also features a dial that you can turn to tighten or loosen the helmet.
- Legacy PASGT Level IIIA Ballistic Helmet - This helmet has a simple, plain design for those who want a lightweight, yet high-performance helmet.
- Legacy MICH Level IIIA Ballistic Helmet - Also has a simple design, with a higher cut. It has accessory side rails, standard MICH/ACH pads, a mounting shroud at the front, and more.
- Legacy FAST Level IIIA Ballistic Helmet - This is a full coverage helmet, with better coverage of the ears. The side rails are also wider, which means more room to attach other accessories.
So how do you determine what kind of helmet is right for your needs? Well, you need to choose from the multiple types of helmets intended for different uses.
If you belong in the military, there are bound to be several choices depending on the function you are assigned.
Nevertheless, you can assess your probable situation while utilizing the helmet including the distance from the danger or conflict zone, the time of the day, the accessories you need, your battle tactics, and your preferred weight.
Also, the setting that you’ll use it for is a relevant factor. Another relevant factor is if the helmet will be used outside of combat operations. For example, if the helmet is going to be used for disaster rescue operations, then you might not need much ballistic protection.
You also need to judge whether you’re more comfortable with partial coverage or full coverage (which shields the ears).
The materials used, such as Kevlar®, UHMWPE, and others, also give you an idea about the quality of the helmet, aside from its specifications. You might also want to add accessories for more functionality or a better fit.
Balancing protection and mobility perhaps is the bottom line of considerations in picking your helmet.