Bulletproof masks: pros and cons

Bulletproof masks: pros and cons
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons

Additional head (face) protection is not really new to the military. As far as we know, they were officially the first to be used in the United States by drug enforcement officers in the 1980s. This is the time of major wars with the drug mafia, and protection was required during close combat contacts in close quarters.

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For a long time, no one remembered tactical masks, except for military ones. However, after the Taiwanese special forces in 2013 at the parade appeared with face armor, ballistic masks again started talking. It turned out that they were used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and very original. And the Kevlar masks, as in the photo above, have been in service with the Hong Kong police since 2011.

Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 2
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 2

However, it is worth returning to the Taiwanese special forces, tk. it is among such structures and units of the army that masks are more common. For such special operations as storming buildings and freeing hostages, escorting VIPs and a transport convoy, they are best suited in their current form.

Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 3
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 3

This black standard mask is called DEA Armor Tactical Ballistic Face Mask Bullet Proof Bulletproof NIJ Level II. Of all this, it is important that they are bulletproof with the second level of protection (Bulletproof NIJ Level II). They are made of Kevlar, the inner part is padded with soft cushioning material. Three straps are used to fasten it to the head. The weight of the mask is 1 kg. It is worth noting that it is precisely because of the weight limitation that the maximum permissible level of protection is IIIA. The standard second level is designed to contain shrapnel and pistol bullets from 5.6 mm to 10 mm. Apart from protection, the mask also has a psychological effect.

Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 4
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 4

You might think that this is a real find, especially for police groups that have to storm apartments and private houses. However, there are also serious shortcomings. First, communication becomes more difficult, because you can’t really hear anything from under the mask. Perhaps this is solved by installing the intercom directly into the mask. Secondly, it’s not clear to me how you breathe when you have Kevlar all over your face. And given that assault squads often have to work in smoky rooms, the question is relevant. I found opposite answers, but listened to the words of American military experts. It is not for nothing that they abandoned such equipment. Thirdly, you cannot put on a gas mask – this is a continuation of the second point. The problem was also the impossibility of attaching night vision devices or a thermal imager, but it was solved by cutting down the “forehead”.

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Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 5
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 5

Soon, much more perfect samples for different tastes and colors appeared. Probably the most modern and technologically advanced protection from Devtac Ronin Kevlar. This is not just a mask, but a whole head helmet. The face is protected by a 7-mm plate; a ventilation and communication system is built inside. And so that the kinetic energy of the bullet does not break the neck, the Kevlar module flies off when the bullet hits. Today they are used and tested to a limited extent by the American and British intelligence services.

Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 6
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 6

Of the minuses, we can single out the price and weight – more than two kilograms. Another way of development is ballistic visors for standard army helmets. This option is simpler and cheaper.

Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 7
Bulletproof masks: pros and cons 7

This option is most popular in modern armies. The main problems are, again, the weight, large dimensions and “sophistication” of the modern soldier – you need to make one helmet as versatile as possible. Perhaps we will soon look at popular and interesting models. In the end, most of the samples are still inconvenient and require improvement. But it was the same with body armor in the First World War – the experience and time corrected mistakes.

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