Friday, July 24, 2020

Ballistic Armor: Helmets

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
My apologies for this article being late and not on the subject of materials as promised last week. I've been rather busy and the subject is quite complex, so in the spirit of giving our readers something I thought I'd expand a bit on what Chaplain Tim said on Thursday about helmets.

There are various types of helmets to be found on the market today, from the M1 "pot" helmet of Vietnam to the ACH kevlar helmet of today, the FAST/ATE helmets used by Special Ops and riot helmets used by police officers.

I cannot find the NIJ rating for the M1 helmet, but all kevlar helmets on the market today give level IIIa protection which, to repeat myself from last week, is rated to withstand up to 6 shots of 240 gr .44 Magnum SJHP (semi jacketed hollow point) without penetration at a distance of 5 meters (16.4 feet). None of these helmets are rated to stop rifle rounds, and I cannot find any that do. If they exist, they are not for sale to civilians.

There does exist something known as the SLAAP Plate, which is an aftermarket accessory which claims to protect against rifle rounds up to 7.62x39mm. However, it only protects the front of your helmet and costs around $700.

This is not to say that a IIIa helmets cannot protect against rifle shots; there are numerous documented instances of IIIa rated helmets stopping rifle bullets. However, the reasons for this are a combination of factors such as the angle of the shot, the type of bullet, the range of the shooter, and so forth. While I suppose it is technically feasible to make a level III or IV helmet with today's materials, it would be exceptionally heavy and bulky and therefore an uncomfortable, and possibly dangerous, thing to have on your head. We will need to wait for further advances in materials science before level III helmets are commercially viable.
Until then, you will have to make do with a IIIa helmet. Given that the head is a small target compared to your torso, it ought to serve you well in protecting you from concussion, shrapnel, and the rare pistol bullet.

However, just because the helmet will prevent a bullet's entry does not mean it will protect against the force of the impact! If you get hit with one, expect your bell to be rung hard at the very least; a concussion is more likely. To prevent further damage, you will need -- not want, NEED -- a set of helmet pads. I was able to get a set of them from Amazon for $23.

I also bought a helmet browband for $30. It provides a much more comfortable fit.

Finally, you will also want to protect your hearing. With the exception of FAST helmets, most helmets cover the top half of your ears. This is great for protecting your ears from injury, but to protect your ears you will either need to use earplugs -- which prevent you from hearing conversation and environmental cues -- or you will need electronic earmuffs which fit underneath the helmet. I have a set of Peltor Soundtrap Tactical earmuffs and they work very well with my helmet. ($63 at Amazon).

You should now know enough to get yourself an effective ballistic helmet. I apologize for the delayed post and altered schedule, and I hope that this article was enough to tide you over until next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to