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Effective Parts to Effective Helmets

April 06, 2017 BrassTacs Actual

Accessories! a staple in the tactical world. Without them, operators would potentially not do their jobs at the same level of efficiency, and damn sure would not look half as cool in doing them. We all know that looking like a bad ass, is ½ of actually being one.  All banter aside, looks are an added bonus to the practicality of a lot of the products that are available to help warfighters and law enforcement officers efficiently and effectively put boot to ass for their country. Other than the typical IR reflective patches there is more what we feel are necessities that seasoned operators or first time tactical helmet buyters should consider when making the purchase. 

We used HHV's ATE helmet as the test subject for this review. Its cost to value ratio is something that we have not seen with various competitor helmet companies. The difference in prices allow end users to  spend their hard earned money on quality accessories just as they spent on the helmet. 

 

Parts Evolved

Those of you who attended SHOT 2017; equipment to add to your rifles, pistols and tactical equipment seemed to be the theme. It is no secret that our market and industry is saturated with guns, ammo, and some would argue; gear. The GWOT has extracted ingenuity from Former Action Guys who fought it. During the early days of modern warfare, many of us duked it out with outdated and inefficient gear, up to and including helmets.

A clear majority of the companies who are providing products to Current Action Guys know first-hand, that had they gotten products to warfighters in 2001, the efficiency output would have been blistering.  In the context of helmets…I can distinctly remember training and reacting to contact in full kit, with an ALICE pack and the old K pot helmet…the prone position with a helmet downright sucks. The single layer mesh “suspension” system inside the helmet was everything other than effective and the genius who thought plastic cups on chin straps was a good idea...was in fact, stupid. NODs mounts…for most, nonexistent; for those fortunate enough to have them…Junk. Lights, and anything other than the old school cat eyes for illumination were few and far between. Gear has become slimmer, lighter and more user friendly.

 

Take all of that, now fast forward 16 years. We have rails mounted on the sides of our helmets, internal suspension that couple as an impact absorption systems, at the end of the day, helmets are more efficient and effective than ever before.  NODs mounts are tight and are secure in place which makes for easy implementation of night vision devices. We now have counter balance systems that are duel used as storage compartments and illumination devices that we can stick right to the sides with high tensile Velcro. Helmets themselves are lighter and less cumbersome than ever before. 

 

Practical Application

We are going to chop up Hard Head Veterans ATE helmet and what we chose to equip it with. Everyone will have a different application in which they use their ballistic helmet. We chose these accessories for our practical and tactical application and what we saw fit to aide in our efficient operations in austere environments.

The worst possible move you can make is to purchase or outfit your equipment with something for looks without increasing the value in your end use. Do yourself a favor and make sure each piece of gear fits your mission profile, whatever it may be…there are options for accessories for just about anything your imagination will throw at you!  

 

 

Mount Up

The fact that you made the conscious decision to buy an HHV ATE helmet suggests that you need it for something. Whether you are LE or Military, there is a decent chance that you will be operating during the hours of limited visibility…aka Dark. Do yourself a favor and source a good mount. We chose Norotos AKA2 simply because of Norotos' long standing reputation for manufacturing quality mounts that stand up to anything. The versatility makes donning most common night vision devices easy; so long as you have the right adapters. Our mission profiles typically include both AN-PVS 14 and AN-PVS 15’s. I have on hand both adapters in the event we need to make a last minute switch. The AKA2 mount has 3 intuitive settings; 1 - down (NODs in place), ½ up (for riding in vehicles with low ceilings and restrictive spances and “up” for when the use of night vision is not imminent. Norotos manufactures 100% of the AKA2 out of high grade T-6061 aircraft aluminum so if that pesky depth perception gets skewed, the mount will hold up to falls, trips, reasonable torque and other common “wear and tear” found with operating night vision devices.

 

Norotos AKA2 NVG Mount

Material

Aerospace Aircraft Aluminum

Height Travel

1” Total Vertical Travel

Tilt

18 Degrees

Device Travel

1.5 inch total Front/Rear Travel

Auto On/Off Capable

YES

Shroud Compatibility

Norotos Universal Shroud, Ops-Core VAS Shroud, USGI MICH Shroud, USGI PASGT Shroud, Norotos 3 Hole Shroud (w/ Conversion Kit to Shroud), Norotos 1 Hole Shroud (w/ Conversion Kit to Shroud)

Device Compatibility

AN/PVS-7A, AN/PVS-7C, AN/PVS-7B, AN/PVS-7D, AN/PVS-14, AN/PVS-15, AN/PVS-18, AN/PVS-21

MSRP

$445.00 - $500.00 (Depending on device adapters)

Manufacturer

Norotos via TNVC

 

Lights,  Action

Hands free illumination; one of the more underappreciated tools that we as operators take for granted a lot of the time. The HHV ATE comes out of the box with super secure side accessory rails that will accommodate everything from flashlights, to helmet cameras. We use them for all of the above.

 

Princeton Tec was put on the map by providing the outdoor enthusiast with head borne lights that stand up to whatever elements that mother nature throws, the depths of the ocean and the Global War On Terror. Princeton Tec was started some 40 years ago, fueled for the passion to be outside. Today, that same passion drives the design processes for some of the best flashlights on the market.

 The Charge was the easy choice for us to outfit our HHV lid. Its slim design and flexi neck allows for uni directional illumination. Whether we are plotting routes on maps or clearing houses, the charge throws out 55 lumens from the LED’s that prove to be enough without being over the top. This helmet mounted light is availble in 3 color combinations. We chose the red, blue and white lights. Additional light combos are avialable in  Red, Blue, Infrared, (R/B/IR) and R/G/IR combinations. The charge is powered from one AA alkaline or lithium battery which offers a 46-hour continuous burn time at max output. Mounting the charge to your HHV is simple by simply sliding the charge into place and snugging the set screw into place. PT has manufactured the charge so it can be mounted on either side of the helmet and not impede the operator in head movement, or shooting positions.

  Princeton Tec Charge Specifications

Power Source

AA Alkaline or Lithium

Lamp

MaxBright 3x LED’s

Burn Time

46 Hours

Lumens

55

Weight

47 Grams

MSRP

$134.98

Manufacturer

Princeton Tec

 

 As technology progresses cameras are becoming a mainstay in LE or tactical operations. Not only for After Action Reviews (AARs) but to protect the operators from litigation often found after the dust settles from operations involving guns used to protect and defend freedom or another life. Had the guys from Raven 23 (Blackwater) had some of this technology, 4 patriots would not be sitting in prison for “crimes” perceived by politicians and an investigation couldn’t have been jaded simply due to facts and data collected from cameras mounted to their helmets. That is another topic for another time. My point is that with the evolution of gear and accessories a level of CYA (Cover Your Ass) is achieved as well!

 

I have grown particularly fond of the Contour Roam. It films in 1080p which is more than adequate for what I need. My movie career has yet to take off so I don’t necessarily need 4k video quality. I simply use the Roam to catalogue what I feel is important mission snippets and shooting endeavors. There are hundreds of helmets mounted cameras on the market. In all honesty, the Contour falls comfortably within the adequqte range. It does not take up a lot of room, is extremely easy to manipulate and it wont break the bank. Cost to value is a huge point with what we do, and the Roam is very reasonably priced for the quality of images and video that it takes.

Its 170-degree ultra-wide angle lens is sure to capture anything within your field of view, especially when mounted correctly to your HHV helmet. “They” say that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it” this statement couldn’t be more true with helmet mounted cameras. Spend a couple hundred dollars, throw it on your ATE helmet, think of it as an insurance policy.

 

Contour Roam Action Camera Specifications

Video

1080P/960P/720P (30FPS)/720P (60 FPS)

Photo

5MP (1, 3, 5, 10, 30, 60 Sec. Intervals)

Waterproof

30ft (w/out case)

Lens

270 Degree rotating/170 Degree fisheye

Alignment

15 Second Laster alignment

Controls

Locking instant on/Record switch

Battery

Internal rechargeable (1-2 hour continuous)

Memory

8GB included micro SD

MSRP

$299.99

Manufacturer

Contour

 

Weights and Balance

There is nothing worse than wrestling a helmet with NVGs while on misison. Although NODs don’t weigh much (1.5 lbs) every ounce counts when you have it sitting on your head for an extended period of time. We have all experienced the feeling of the Cro-Magnon effect that uncomfortable helmets and NVGs can have on your brow.

 

Tactical Night Vision Company has developed what they have coined the “Mohawk” counter balance system for tactical helmets. The Mohawk is a made from 1000D nylon which continues to stand up to the harshest of conditions. The Mk1 is also a fully modular storage device that will allow operators to attach additional illumination devices, store extra batteries, Identification or extra tourniquets. TNVC has taken the once size fits all approach to tactical helmets with the Mohawk series. It attaches to your HHV ATE by hooked Velcro that marries with the loop Velcro already in place. There is no additional mounting procedures required to put the Mohawk to work.

 

TNVC Mohawk Mk1 Specifications

Length (Strip)

6”L x 2.75”W

Width (Storage)

2.75″(H) x 5.5″(W) x 1.25″(D)

Weight (w/Weights)

1lb

Material

1000D Nylon

Attachment

High Tensile hook Velcro

Color

Tan, Multi Cam, Black, OD, MC Arid, MC Tropical

MSRP

$64.99

Manufacturer

TNVC

 

Illum

We are saving what we consider the best and most underappreciated piece of kit for last. S&S precision. A Veteran owned business out of Virginia Beach, Virginia which is operated by a former SEAL that has his hands in just about every step of the design and development process. S&S is responsible for bringing some of the most cutting edge tactical gear and defensive products to market. From the 100% polymer plate frame body armor to performance denim specifically designed for concealing and carrying a pistol, these guys have their fingers on the pulse of what is practical and applicable with anyone who fluently speaks gun! 

 

We attached the S&S Manta Strobe to the top of our HHV ATE via the Mohawk for easy identification purposes from the air, if the need ever arises. Manta Strobe is powered from one 123 battery. A blinking green visible strobe is unmistakable and can take the place of the tried and true “cat eyes” that we all used the Manta Strobe can be switched to IR mode by simply squeezing the 2 pronounced buttons at the back of the device simultaneously. S&S epoxies high tensile hook Velcro to the bottom of the device to ensure secure placement no matter where you place it.

 

S&S Precision Manta Strobe Specifications

Length

2.9 Inches

Width

2” W x 1.5” D

Weight (w/out Battery)

1.5 oz

Material

High Grade Polymer

Attachment

Contoured Hooked Velcro

Waterproof

150 Ft

Visibility

3 Miles (Overt)

Operation

Intuitive one handed operation

MSRP

$199.95

Manufacturer

S&S Precision

 

Two very popular illumination devices that S&S has brought to the industry are appropriately called the V-Lite. These lights are Vis only and are typically used for parachute ops so jumpers can identify where others are in the stick or approach. I have never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane; I’ve never seen the need…but I can identify with those who have, for their practical uses for products like these. We have repurposed the V-Lite for constant ID purposes. While moving at night, marking rooms, or other obstacles the V-Lite is by part a very universal piece of gear.

 

S&S offers the V-Lite in 7 different colors and an infrared option. Each V-Lite operates in a few different modes; On/Off, Blink/Off, On/Blink/Off and Low/High/Off each have their use in practical and tactical operations. The V-Lite is designed to be attached to gear by using the hook Velcro attached to the back of the device, operators can also use the supplied nylon lanyard to suspend the lite from gear, door knobs or whatever they may need to mark. The V-Lite can be used for waterborne ops as well, as it comes water resistant up to 50 ft.

 

S&S Precision V-Lite Specifications

Length

4.5 Inches

Width

1” wide x .50” Deep

Weight (w/out Battery)

.08 oz

Material

Pliable rubber/plastic composite

Attachment

Contoured Hooked Velcro/Nylon Lanyard

Waterproof

150 Ft

Visibility

1 Mile (Overt)

Operation

Intuitive one handed operation

Run Time

120+ hours continuous on mode

MSRP

$40.00

Manufacturer

S&S Precision

 

 

The BrassTacs

Regardless of your practical or tactical use for accessories to exacerbate your helmet or pieces of gear; make sure that each creates value in your day to day operations. As they say, there are 3 things on this planet that people will surely disagree with no matter who you are. Politics, Religion and CQB…well, we would like to add one more point of contention in there; it being GEAR. Professionals and tacticians alike will always agree to disagree that there are millions of widgets out there and they all have their place…for the most part. Yes there are Chinese knock offs found on ebay, stay as far away from those types as you can…they’re garbage! Stay with quality, American made products, designed and developed by those who had a need for the products at one point in their careers (as seen with the manufactures listed in this article). Rest assured that when you purchase products from reputable former (and current) badasses, you will see the immediate value in the gear that you buy!      




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