Open your browser…Now go to Google…Now type in DIY tactical camouflage! Yeah…we thought the same thing…Obviously, people are searching for ways to mark up their gear to help them achieve the closest thing to concealment as they can for their hard end use! Yes we suppose there are much easier ways to get a cleaner paint job, or make your quest more convienient by purchasing [in this case] an HHV helmet already painted.
There are a couple different reasons…These days, there are few Police agencies that can get away with wearing or remotely appearing “militaristic”. We all saw the firestorm of press that President Trump received when he simply authorized DRMO’d gear from the military to go to LE agencies in need. (We are obviously restraining from going down a political rabbit hole here). After we say all of that...the traditional black for LE officers is less than desirable.
Let’s be honest, do bullets, bombs or both discriminate against the person they are targeting, regardless of what credentials the other end have? NO! Now…does a line need to be drawn between Military and Police…absolutely, but when it comes to increasing survivability for both…there does not need to be any room for…interpretation! So…back to our original point, Police Officers and the private side of government service need to keep the operator(esq) appearance to a low roar, with the ability to turn it on when needed.
Consider Your Source
Before you go bonkers, there are a few considerations one must take before defacing perfectly good gear. Failing to research and know your area can result in rendering your equipment useless and/or looking goofy while you’re putting boot to ass. What does geographic location have to do with camouflage? Well, Virtually everything
If you operate in predominantly urban areas of California, a snow based camouflage would not be optimal for concealment…ya dig?!
We can literally break down every part of the United States and recommend colors, and patterns (or lack of), BUT, we are simply leaving that up to you to decide, after all, seasoned operators know their mission profiles and area of operations best. For us, living in the Midwest; we experience all four seasons, under just about every mission profile.
Before spraying, do yourself a favor and be hyper vigilant when preparing the product your are camouflaging and the surrounding areas. Removing everything from the helmet [that is designed to be] is preferred.
The NVG shroud is removable; however, with this HHV, our objective is to break up patterns and make the helmet a functional and concealing piece of gear so we left it in place and sprayed over top. As far as Velcro…paint it…if you remove it, you’re not getting it to stick in place again. Spray painted Velcro looks bad ass anyway!
Quality helmet manufacturers these days outfit their products with removable side rails and liners. We removed ours but should you find yourself in a hurry you can leave them intact, doing so wouldn't top our list of recommendations though simply due to overspray and consistent application and over all success of camouflage.
Shall we go into great detail as to why it is of upmost importance to spray in well ventilated areas and away from vehicles. [this is an example of we must say it…if not, someone will gas them self and rattle can their car...or both].
Next, prep the area that you will be painting. It’s a good idea to sweep the floor of the area free from dust and anything else that can stick to wet paint. Lay down newspapers and drop cloths to keep overspray from the floor and walls. When painting anything, we [mostly] adopt the use of drop cloths or other barriers to protect our floor, in this case and since we would not be going crazy; we suspended the helmet from pre installed hooks to the ceiling of our garage and tied the helmet up with fishing line. We use this method of suspension for virtually everything we rattle can, its less messy and enables us to evenly apply paint to a product.
Next, further preparing the helmet for application. Before anything, remove debris, dirt or anything else that will prohibit paint from sticking. It’s not a bad idea to wet a washcloth and give it a good wiping. DO NOT USE CHEMICALS OR OTHER CORROSIVES ON THE HELMET, IT CAN DEGRADE THE INTEGRITY OF THE ARMOR. Let the helmet completely dry and give it another once over for lint before applying your first coat.
Once you have all of the prep work knocked out, its time to paint. Unless you are wearing gear for a tactical fashion show [there are those that do] we prefer to stick to the theme of “the dirtier the better”. We have adopted this concept with everything from guns to helmets, to NVGs and everything in between. There may [or may not] have been a time where everything we touched was rattle canned in one way or the other. "Dirty" camouflage is practical, and raw. it’s easy to get carried away! For sake of simplicity, we are using 3 colors to apply to the Black ATE helmet.
For our area, Law Enforcement types that use HHV helmets typically don their tactical equipment to raid meth labs, or serve warrants to the lucky recipients of felony charges for being stupid. Our camouflaging is to accommodate both mission profiles. Comprised of two dark colors [black and earth brown] and one very light color [tan]. these colors can be found naturally where we live in virtually every season of the year.
Regardless of the color schemes you choose the AO you work in, we find it best to break your application down into 3 phases. Base/blotching, break up lines and top coat.
Base/Blotching: Remember that the key to proper camouflage is to break up patterns, and solid lines. The human eye naturally fixates to this and in order to blend with the environment eliminating as many as you can will set you apart.
Black is about the best base coat as you can get in most cases, we blotched a light tan around the nape and forehead areas of the helmet. It is easy to turn a blotch job, into full on base coat, so again...less is more! Should you find yourself chasing your own tail after getting carried away, simply add a dark color to the mix. Once you achieve approximately a 50% opacity hue with the blotching, let it be, set the can down and let it dry.
Break up lines: This is where a lot of us get carried away. During this phase, we tend to revert to our arts and craft days of grade school. Yes, you can get artsy with this but the harder lines you have, the more of a pattern that is being created regardless of misdirections.
There are hundreds of ways that lines can be applied, and our way is not the only one. We simply have found what works for us. Some use pin striping tape to create lines, we randomly apply lines as we see they are needed. What kinds of lines? Diagonal, horizontal, vertical? For this project, we added the earth brown crossing through and over the tan blotching. Instead of picking a singular direction we went everywhere with them. Again, if you're too dark in some spots, lighten it up. The more you do this, you will see your camouflage start to take its place.
Top Coat(s): Once you have your blotched and line coats in place the top coat is used solely for blurring hard lines and fading color (no dead spots). We used tan to blur lines and add lighter perspective to darker areas and flat black to bring back the helmets darker base and eliminating reflective spots.
While applying the top coat, ensure that you stay outside of the suggested spray distance that is typically narrated on the can, spraying too close causes running and bright (reflective) spots on your helmet. The last thing you need is for the sun to glare off your helmet...you might as well not be camouflaged at all at! 12 inches is a safe spray distance for virtually any top or finishing coat.
After the brunt of the camouflage is applied to the helmet it is essentially up to you what to do next. Some will use natural vegetation such as leaves, pine straw or hay to give more of a pattern or natural look. It is our recommendation to choose one or the other. If you wish to use the vegetation, follow the same methods of paint application as the breakup lines.
It is common to have a few reflective spots on the helmet, THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE REPAINTING, in fact, doing so will only make it worse. We have found the best way to dull these spots out is by using a scotch brite pad and very lightly rub over the reflective areas until they are dull or matte.
The best part to all of this is there is no “right” answer to camouflage. If you’re happy and it does its job of concealing, its right. Before you start tearing your HHV helmet apart and coating it with layers upon layers of paint…ensure that the integrity of the protective parts of the helmet are not compromised. This includes the rubber mold along the base of the helmet, the holes drilled for NVG shrouds and side rails.
All in all we have about 30 minutes wrapped up into this project. Hard Head Veterans' helmets are very user friendly with disassembly and re assembly. As long as you have some sort of mechanical aptitude, dis and ass [disassembly/reassembly] can be done in no time flat. The most time consuming part of this project was waiting for each coat of paint to dry.
No, our helmet doesn't look as pretty as a factory painted MultiCam or Desert Digital lids, but it is more conducive for where we live and what our area of operations would require should we ever need the lid!