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Ballistic helmets, also known as bulletproof helmets or tactical helmets, are designed to protect the wearer's head from bullets, blunt impact, shrapnel, and other threats.
A tactical helmet is designed to give protection in combat situations. Originally designed for the military it later found a way into law enforcement and similar branches. In the last century, its use has developed from stopping shrapnels to stopping gunfire.
In the 1970s Dupont introduced a lightweight fiber material called Kevlar, which is now synonymous with protective armor. Other manufacturers like Twaron fiber from Teijin is also popular.
Modern helmets come with different paddings for comfort and a multitude of options and addons.
The easy answer is military contractors who need combat protection but have to provide their tactical gear or just aren’t satisfied with the gear provided for them.
For a civilian it is mostly for the obvious reasons: Natural disasters, so tornados and hurricanes don’t drop trees and bricks on you, domestic or foreign Invasions, rebellions, laser-shooting alien invasions, doomsday zombie apocalypse or just in case of something awful happens.
From bowl-shaped steel shells to hard hat type liners, the ballistic helmets or bulletproof helmets we know today have evolved into different cuts, types, and materials.
The number of choices available to you and finding the perfect fit 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.
In 1960, DuPont developed Aramid, a heat-resistant synthetic fiber that does not melt or ignite when exposed to normal oxygen levels. It was later on marketed as "Kevlar" which we all know today is synonymous with "bulletproof material".
Kevlar® resists heat, has great tensile strength and is lightweight. Essentially, it revolutionized the design and production of bullet resistant body armor and tactical helmets.
To date, body armor manufacturers have incorporated different materials in order to improve the bullet proof quality and comfort of a ballistic helmet such as Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), commonly referred to as Dyneema or Spectra and is a lightweight high-strength strand type fiber.
It provides a great bulletproof ability and is combined with other materials to achieve the desired performance. Another is Twaron, first used commercially in 1986 and another strong synthetic fiber of the Aramid family developed by Teijin.
The Future Assault Shell Technology (FAST/High Cut/ATE) helmet, the Modular Integrated Communications (MICH) helmet, and the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) helmet are the most common types of ballistic helmet on the market today.
The PASGT is the oldest design of tactical helmet and was used by the US Military from 1983 to mid-2000s. Its predecessor, the MICH helmet, was designed to be a lighter and more comfortable type of bulletproof helmet. Rails were also added for accessories like NVG mounts without the need to do additional drilling to the helmet.
The FAST helmet, with its most noticeable trait being the high cut sides, is specially designed to allow additional features like communication headsets that can be attached with rail adapters.
Each bulletproof helmet type has its own history, design, and function in providing ballistic protection. They usually have an NIJ Level IIIA armor protection level, which have been tested against most handgun rounds like the .357 SIG FMJ FN and the .44 mag SJHP.
Wearing a ballistic helmet can give you two of the best functions you can find in any piece of body armor. Aside from providing ballistic protection with their NIJ Level IIIA rating, blunt impact injuries, and debris fragments, a ballistic helmet can also serve as mounts for additional gear.
Many modern bulletproof helmets, particularly those used by the military and law enforcement, must be able to support communications equipment as well as various gear and accessories such as an NVG shroud (night vision goggles).