Bulletproof Helmets | What You Need To Know

May 15, 2018

Bulletproof helmets or bullet proof vests are actually a misuse of the term bulletproof. There are bullet resistant helmets and vests, but not truly bulletproof ones. If you plan on protecting your head with a bulletproof helmet you need to understand the following! 

(If you don't want any more info, and just want to see some "bulletproof helmets" checkout our line up here https://www.hardheadveterans.com/collections/tactical-helmet-hard-head-veterans). These armored helmets defeat most pistol rounds and also rifle threats with our up-armor upgrade option. 

Here's the deal:

There is really no such thing as bulletproof helmets or any armor for that matter. There are bullet-resistant helmets and armor,  but helmets that are positively bulletproof, meaning they will stop every single bullet fired into them is a misuse of the term bulletproof. Merriam-Webster defines the word bulletproof as being "impenetrable to bullets". There is only one thing that we currently know of that is truly bulletproof, and that is Superman. 

Lesson Number One with so-called bulletproof helmets, vests, or vehicle armor is that they are not impenetrable. With enough sustained fire or the use of dedicated ammo, just about any type of armor ceases to actually be bulletproof. As you can see in the case of the up-armored HMMWV, penetrations were achieved on both the "bulletproof" glass and some of the hard-armor. 

Bulletproof helmet armor that is compromised


Some armor has extreme capabilities of the resistance offered and we use various rating systems to explain this resistance. The National Institute of Justice or NIJ publishes these levels and are the industry standard for most armors. Additionally, there are unique armor sets found on ships, tanks, and other vehicles that conform to their own standards, usually classified to what they can actually defeat and resist threat wise.  

NIJ Bulletproof Helmet levels

Source: https://justnet.org/pdf/Understanding-Armor-Protection.pdf

You might be wondering:

What about these so-called bulletproof helmets? I want a ballistic helmet level IV! Well so do we here at Hard Head Veterans for our ATE ballistic helmet, but there is the little issue of weight. With advances in material fibers, metals, and ceramic armors, the weight required to achieve a true rifle rated ballistic helmet climbs drastically with each NIJ rating achieved. In our testing with next-generation metals, we are adding 7-15 lbs depending on desired bulletproof helmet coverage to defeat M80 ball at normal velocities with safe backface deformation upon impact. 

metal bulletproof helmet

Luckily advanced ceramic options have proven to be lighter and perform just as well. After a ton of R&D and working with Diamond Age Armor, we are excited to be offering our up-armor solution for our ATE ballistic helmets. Not only is it lightweight (right at a 1 lb), but it defeats the most common rifle rounds out there including 5.56 & 7.62X39! Made from silcon carbides it allows us to achieve incredible protection ratings with a thin and lightweight solution.



  • 7.62 X 39 M43 LS 123.7 gr. Russian MSC
  • 2410 ft/s Front Impact- No Penetration - 21.206 mm BTD
  • 5.56 X 45 M855 62 gr
  • 3156 ft/s Front Impact- No Penetration - 14.306 mm BTD


level IV helmet

Weight issues continued: 

The same issue applies when you want a bullet proof helmet mask.  The weight required to keep the squishy part of your face safe goes up with every level of protection you want. Now your bulletproof mask weighs as much as the helmet itself and the total weight of protection above your neck weighs more than an astronaut helmet. Though if you are training to become a Space Shuttle Door Gunner, this might be a good fit. If you are curious about helmet weights and what all that stuff you end up adding to a helmet weighs, check out our ballistic helmet weight calculator here - http://calculator.hardheadveterans.com/! 

Space bulletproof helmet

Want this patch? Check out milspecmonkey.com for it! 

What About:

The devtac bulletproof helmet though? Isn't this a bullet proof helmet full face application that is lightweight and meets NIJ specs? First off we have to agree, this is a seriously cool looking "bulletproof helmet". Assuming that the devtac bulletproof helmet doesn't have any issues with limiting vision, fogging up, or anything else. The only tests we have seen are limited to pistol rounds, and not performed in a lab. Backyard tests are always fun, but if you require the helmet to do its job when worst comes to worst make sure it meets resistance to penetration tests, V50, backface, blunt, and more. 

What's the bottom line? 

When it comes to bulletproof helmets there really isn't such a thing. The majority of helmets on the market at the moment will meet the NIJ IIIA resistance to penetration tests which is up to a .44 magnum. This means they are resistant up to these rounds under those exact testing conditions. There are a whole plethora of other lab tests you want your bulletproof helmet to meet as well and any ballistic helmet company should be able to supply these. If your curious about what these tests are, check out our page on it here - tactical helmet testing and warranty

We also hear the comment that even if a army helmet stops the bullet, that it will still break your neck. Just to to put a nail in that coffin, check out this video from Sgt. Pecker on this topic!

But here's the kicker:

Nothing in combat or a shootout happens like it does in a controlled laboratory. There are numerous documented instances of NIJ helmets rated at IIIA stoping various rifle threats. The angle of the shot, type of bullet, firearm, and numerous other's factors play into these instances.  So for these instances, we will concede that these were bulletproof helmets in a sense, at least for that one single shot that meant life or death. 

Another important advantage helmets and your head for that matter have is their curvature. The rounded nature of both significantly increases the chances of strikes being deflected. This is true not only for ballistic strikes, but blunt impacts as well. The Marine above can certainly say he had a bulletproof helmet on that day! 

bulletproof helmet hit with bullet

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