Ballistic Military Helmets and Which One is Right for You!

February 22, 2016 BrassTacs Actual

Ballistic Military Helmets and Which One is Right for You!
Typically, helmets are intended to provide protection to the soldier in any kind of combat situations. However, with the evolution of war, helmets need to be able to accommodate advanced equipment and offer better protection. Keeping these requirements in mind, you could be looking to make your choice among the three main kinds of helmets available today, the PASGT, MICH or ACH, and a High Cut or ATE (above the ear). By understanding their different features, you should be able to make an informed decision on the right kind of helmet for your combat needs.


An Introduction

  • PASGT: PASGT stands for Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops and is pronounced as “pass-GET.” Available along with the ballistic vest, soldiers in the United States military used it from the early years of 1980s to the middle of the 2000s.

  • MICH and ACH: The Modular Integrated Communications Helmet or the MICH was developed as an improvement on the PASGT while the ACH or the Advanced Combat Helmet is a better version of the MICH. Both the MICH and ACH are used by the next generation of combat soldiers.

  • Fast/High Cut/Maritime cut/ ATE® or Above the ear: These helmets were first designed for maritime special operations due to the safety hazards of water catching the ear cups on the sides of older helmets at a high speed. Ops-Core was the company to first bring the FAST helmet to market, acronym for Future Assault Shell Technology. While all other helmets were created keeping in mind the necessity of protecting soldiers’ eyes, ears and brain, the FAST helmet is designed to carry additional combat equipment.


Material Used

  • PASGT: Kevlar is a ballistic aramid fabric with a phenolic resin system. The outer shell of the PASGT is constructed out of 19 layers of Kevlar and protects the wearer from ballistic projectiles and shrapnel. It has received a rating of a Threat Level IIIA by the U.S. Army, USMC and DARPA. The PASGT also complies with the 1800 mandatory requirements of MIL-STD-662E.
  • MICH: The MICH is crafted out of an advanced version of Kevlar and offers protection from handgun shots also. In addition, it dismisses the chinstrap, sweatband and cord suspension system of the PASGT and instead includes a four-point retention system and a pad system. These systems not only make the MICH helmet more comfortable but they also offer better defense from impacts.
  • Fast/High Cut/Maritime cut/ ATE® or Above the ear: Ops-Core FAST helmets use a special composite material call Dyneema that is especially lightweight while still maintaining a high degree of ballistic protection. Other helmets in this cut such as the HHV ATE® use the same advanced version of the aramid Kevlar in the PASGT and MICH. Which offer slightly more protection, but also a slight increase in weight.



  • PASGT: Available in sizes from extra small to extra large, the PASGT helmets weight from 3.1 pounds or 1,410 grams to 4.2 pounds to 1,910 grams depending on size.
  • MICH: MICH helmets weight from 3 pounds or 1.36kg to a little more than 3.6 pounds or 1.63kg depending on the size that ranges from medium to extra large.
  • Fast/High Cut/Maritime cut/ ATE® or Above the ear: These helmets are available in sizes from medium to extra, extra large and can weigh between 2.52 pounds or 1,143 grams and 2.99 pounds or 1,354 grams.



  • PASGT: These helmets can be fitted with cloth helmet covers and are available in a range of colors ranging from olive drab, white, black, and camouflage patterns and colors such as three-color desert, six-color desert, and Woodland. Since they are used by different tactical forces, the colors are adapted to suit their requirements such as for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps’ MARPAT, SWAT teams, and UN Peacekeeping forces. The helmets may also be painted in the colors that reflect the flag and logos of the institution that the soldiers represent. Further, the helmets have bands on them with names or the blood types of the wearer. This assists medical personnel in the field to provide the right blood transfusion in case of blood loss due to injuries.
  • MICH: Compatible with cloth helmet covers, the MICH helmets can take on camouflage patterns of USMC MARPAT, Cyre MultiCam, three-color desert, U.S. Army UCP, and M81 Woodland. They also come in all black for SWAT teams.
  • Fast/High Cut/Maritime cut/ ATE® or Above the ear: Available in colors of urban tan, foliage green, black, MultiCam, and desert MARPAT.




  • Can be fitted with a band with two cat eyes or recharging glow patches on the rear of the head. These patches help prevent friendly fire occurrences.
  • Compatible with night vision eyewear, the AN/PVS Monocular Night Vision Device.


In addition, a riot control visor can be attached to the PASGT. The MICH helmet on the other hand is slightly smaller, offering 8% less coverage. This feature allows the wearer better vision especially when firing from a lying position. The ear covers are also raised higher to accommodate communication and headset devices.


Fast/High Cut/Maritime cut/ ATE® or Above the ear:

These manufacturer’s shells are designed to be load bearing and compatible with a range of equipment and devices that a soldier may need to use on the battlefield. These can include:

  • Electronic hearing protection attached to a top headband
  • Communication headphones and headsets
  • Night vision glasses
  • Lights for the weapons
  • Gas or CBRN masks that provide protection from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear toxins. The nose cup is adapted to prevent fogging.
  • Oxygen masks
  • Visors and protection for the eyes
  • Illuminators and strobes for better vision
  • Shields and protection for the face
  • Devices for identification
  • Video cameras to record events
  • Flashlight holders
  • Battery packs to power the devices


In addition, you can make minor adjustments to these helmets so that it fits securely. While the helmet comes with the typical padding mandated by CO/PD-05-04 regulations, you have the option of choosing the padding that you are more comfortable with.


This detailed information on the different helmets should help you make the right choice to meet your requirements.


Additional References:


1 comment

  • Braden Bills

    Apr 26, 2017

    I’m trying to find a nice helmet that I can wear to be safe on a gun range. I didn’t know that you could get Kevlar like this! It would be perfect for stopping bullets. I’ll see if I can get my hands on one.

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