best helmet

BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

ATE Tactical Helmet Review
HHV ATE® Ballistic Helmet

$465.00


Looking for a helmet with all the features, but not all the price? The ATE meets this need and more. Using Aramid Kevlar, the ATE achieves excellent ratings across the board, while still being comfortable and light.

PROS

Reasonable price, but still meets and exceeds all standards. Features M-LOK rails, A3S shroud, and 3 part comfort pad system. Designed to be compatible and upgradable with other helmet manufacturers systems and various components.

CONS

Shells are slightly heavier between 2.7 -2.9 lbs. Shells are manufactured overseas with US materials.

Testing Data

NIJ Level: IIIA

Back-Face Deformation: Less Than 12mm

Fragment Perfomance: 17gr V50 ≥ 2400 ft/sec (731 m/s)

Blunt Impact: AR/PD 10-02 (AVG 83G) over 14 drops.

ATE Tactical Helmet Review
Team Wendy EXFIL® Ballistic

$1,011.10


Team Wendy is known for their aftermarket padding and retention systems, so it's no wonder their full helmet is excellent. Not only is it comfortable, but you get excellent retention adjustment with their BOA system.

PROS

Arguably uses the best retention system on the market with their CAM FIT system along with the super comfy Zorbium Foam Liner with 16 customizable pads. Utilizes a two-hole Wilcox W shroud for night vision mounting needs with shock cord included.

CONS

Slightly fewer helmet accessories options available, marginally heavier shell between 2.6 lbs-2.75 lbs

Testing Data

NIJ Level: IIIA

Back-Face Deformation: Less Than 25.4mm

Fragment Perfomance: 17gr V50 ≥ 2400 ft/sec (731 m/s)

Blunt Impact: AR/PD 10-02

BEST OF THE BEST

ATE Tactical Helmet Review
3M Ultra Light

$1300.00


THE BOTTOM LINE 3M's Ultra Light Weight Ballistic Helmet is precisely that at 1.26 lbs for the shell. They have pushed the envelope in UHMWPE's production with the result being one of the lightest helmets on the market today.

PROS

3M makes one of the most advanced and lightest shells on the market and then couples it with the best accessories. Using a Team Wendy BOA system, DOT pads and their own NVG shroud the helmet is a perfect set up for many. Its rail system is ARC Peltor compatible as well.

CONS

The price point is high, and there is always a trade-off in some protection for less weight. We would like to see actual blunt, and BFD data.

Testing Data

NIJ Level: IIIA

Back-Face Deformation: Not Published

Fragment Perfomance: 17gr V50 ≥ 2400 ft/sec (731 m/s)

Blunt Impact: AR/PD 10-02

ATE Tactical Helmet Review
OPS-CORE FAST

$1,433.00


THE BOTTOM LINE The original workhorse and one of the most common helmets worn by Special Operations around the globe the OPS-CORE Fast High Cut helmet were the first of it's kind and continues to be a great helmet.

PROS

The OPS-CORE FAST or High Cut helmet is light 2.5-2.9 lbs, modular, and an industry standard, what more could you want! Comes standard with a rail system, NVG shroud, and multiple types of retention systems (OCC Dial, LUX Liner, Worm Dial, H-Nape).

CONS

Lead times and price are a factor with some customers reporting 16 week wait times, after paying 1,400 + dollars.

Testing Data

NIJ Level: IIIA

Back-Face Deformation: Less Than 25.4mm

Fragment Perfomance: 17gr V50 ≥ 2400 ft/sec (731 m/s)

Blunt Impact: AR/PD 10-02

ATE Tactical Helmet Review
Crye Precision ATX

$844.10


THE BOTTOM LINE The ATX is a revised version of the Airframe helmet to meet IIIA standards. Using overlapping shells, Crye was able to create a helmet that vents passively at the top. Options include side rails and up-armoring components

PROS

Enclose your head in anything, and it's going to get hot. This Airframe ballistic helmet helps solve that exact problem giving you more comfort over long-term use. Its rail system is also compatible with most accessories on the market that use a dovetail system.

CONS

At 3.70 lbs the overlapping ballistic shells add some additional weight. The standard chinstrap is average at best

Testing Data

NIJ Level: IIIA

Back-Face Deformation: Less Than 25.4mm

Fragment Perfomance: Not Published

Blunt Impact: Not Published

NEW & INNOVATIVE

ATE Tactical Helmet Review
MTEK FLUX Ballistic

$1,523.00


THE BOTTOM LINE MTEK's long-awaited launch of there FLUX Ballistic Helmet did not disappoint. Crafted using advanced polyethylene fibers, and a profile designed to cradle the user's head it's the new hottest thing.

PROS

The helmet itself is exceptionally light coming in at 2.2 lbs. The helmet's ergonomics follow the natural shape of the head which also gives excellent comfort and stability. 100% boltless shell, meaning no weak spots on the shell itself.

CONS

This awesome helmet will set your pocketbook back, and you can plan to wait 12-14 weeks. We would like to see actual blunt, and BFD data.

Testing Data

NIJ Level: IIIA

Back-Face Deformation: Not Published

Fragment Perfomance: Not Published

Blunt Impact: Not Published

Your Guide for Best Ballistic Helmets

With so many options and opinions these days in the helmet industry, choosing the right ballistic helmet may seem like a daunting task.

Afterall, we all talking about protecting one of your most vital organs and it's not something you want to make the wrong choice on.

Can you trust the helmet deals for 250.00 dollars to save your life, or should you spend this month's mortgage money on a $1500 helmet?

What about all the other considerations, such as comfort, weight, testing information and sizing when it comes to choosing the right ballistic helmet for you?

How We Decided

Each helmet tested was purchased or borrowed, we never accept anything from product manufactureres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here at Hard Head Veterans, we are naturally partial to our own High Cut Ballistic helmet the ATE Ballistic, but we will be the first to admit that there are other great products out there. We kept this review as unbiased as possible. The research conducted to analyze and compare these high cut ballistic helmets was in depth and based not only off initial impressions and hard data, but also off of the experiences of numerous Special Operations members, Police Officers, and industry experts.

 

Ready to head out and purchase a high cut or FAST type helmet? Make sure to check out our matrix above for our top 6 high cut type ballistic helmets and the pros and cons of each!

 

If you are looking for additional information about shopping for a ballistic helmet, continue reading our shopping guide below.

 

 

Types of Ballistic Helmets

When it comes to helmets that soldiers and police wear in modern times there are three types you will hear most often, and they refer to the shape or design of the helmet: PASGT, MICH/ECH/LWH, High-Cut/FAST/Above The Ear

 

 

Each type of helmet has its uses and purposes. For this review though we are focusing on the High-Cut style helmet also commonly referred to as the FAST helmet, a term trademarked by OPS-CORE for Future Assault Shell Technology. You will hear the words FAST, High-Cut and Above the Ear used interchangeably.

 

Product in Depth

Crye Precision Air Frame ATX

Design Difference

The AirFrame ATX is of the same design as the original airframe with a little more protection up to IIIA. The overlapping shell design creates air vents for passive cooling and can also reduce the effects of explosive blast waves. It's made in the USA from US materials.

 

Air Frame ATX review

Ballistic Helmet Testing

Test Types

One of the most critical aspects of choosing a helmet is making sure it will perform the way it's intended. While we did not submit each of our review helmets to NIJ labs for testing any reputable company should be able to provide detailed testing reports. Here at Hard Head Veterans we random batch test helmets in-house, and also send out helmets annually to a 3rd party certified NIJ laboratory for the following tests which we consider the most important.

  • Resistance to Penetration (NIJ Level IIIA (according to NIJ STD 0106.01 / 0108.01) (9mm, 357, and .44 magnum)
  • Backface Deformation: 9mm (1400fps) BFD: Avg less then 25 mm all locations (front/back/crown/sides)
  • Fragmentation Performance: 17gr V50 ≥ 2400 ft/sec (731 m/s)
  • Blunt Impact Performance: (per AR/PD 10-02): Avg Less then 150g's over 14 drops

Along with the major test's above, some others that should be tested as well are compression testing, and even element testing (hot, cold, wet, salt)

 

 

Product in Depth

MTEK FLUX Ballistic Helmet

Features

The MTEK Flux Ballistic Helmet is packed with excellent and innovative features. The ergonomics of the helmet alone make for one of the most stable helmets we have ever tried. Undercut in the rear for prone shooting, two sets of comfort pads for a custom fit, and a "bolt-through-less" shell make for nothing short, but an outstanding helmet.

 

Air Frame ATX review

Ballistic Helmet Feature Considerations

Weight

Your helmet is going to be specific to your needs, and the weight will reflect this. While all of the helmets we tested are incredibly lightweight compared to earlier helmets, some are notably lighter than others.

Lighter weight helmets typically come with a simple trade-off, less protection. Usually, the same resistance to penetration can be achieved with much lighter helmets, but the backface deformation and blunt impact numbers increase as you decrease weight.

While heavier helmets give a little extra protection, anyone who has worn a ballistic helmet for 10 + hours and walked 10 kilometers to the objective knows that every single ounce counts. This is where lighter weight helmets excel and can make the difference between cursing every step or being focused on the task at hand.

So as you can see weight plays an important role and should help you decide on which ballistic helmet is right for you.

 

 

Product in Depth

3M Ulta Light Weight Ballistic Bump Helmet

Weight

The 3M Ulta Light Ballistic Helmet doesn't even feel like a ballistic helmet when you first don it due to its lightweight design. It's precisely what you would expect from a company that specializes in innovation across multiple industries.

 

Air Frame ATX review

Ballistic Helmet Feature Considerations

Accessories & Compatability

Lights, Up-Armor, O2 Masks, NVGs, Communications systems, and much more are commonly found on any modern army helmet or police helmet.

Most helmet companies have stuck to the dovetail rail design that allows for compatibility with most others. This includes 3M, OPS-CORE, Hard Head Veterans, Crye, and more. Others such as MTEK and Team Wendy have their own systems for mounting accessories. All offer some type of standard Mil-Spec picatinny rail adapter though.

Compatability should also be considered when outfitting the perfect ballistic helmet. Companies such as Hard Head Veterans designed their helmets to work across multiple retention system types, pads, and other accessories allowing for further personalization of your helmet.

 

 

Air Frame ATX review

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Headset adapters used to mount communications headsets or ear protection are one of the most common accessories mounted on high cut helmets.

Currently, Two Companies Make These

Unity Tactical

3M Peltor 

 

 

Ballistic Helmet Feature Considerations

Retention System

Each of the helmets we tested came with their own style of retention system.

Retention systems break down into two basic categories. One with a dial adjustment in the back of the helmet, similar to a construction helmet, the other without. The dial systems allowed for additional adjustment and a great fit. The con is the extra room they take up inside the helmet.

The 4-point chin-strap system of various designs were the others we tested. X-nape, H-nape, H-Harness, and Cam-Lock. Many of these worked great depending on helmet design, while others failed to achieve enough adjustment. The H-Harness found in older issued ACH/MICH helmets were the worst we tested. With the H-Nape from OPS-CORE and the Cam-Lock in the MTEK helmet being the best.

 

 

 

Product in Depth

Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic Helmet

Retention System

Team Wendy and their EXFIL ballistic helmet come with their CAM-FIT retention system. This is a micro-adjustable dial made by BOA which allows the user to get the perfect adjustment with the helmet. Many other ballistic helmet companies also offer the Team Wendy CAM-FIT retention standard in their helmets as well.

 

Air Frame ATX review

 

Ballistic Helmet Feature Considerations

Helmet Pads
 

Searching for the most comfortable helmet pads, especially for ballistic helmets becomes vital typically after that first donning of a ballistic helmet for more than 5 minutes. Standard pads in most older helmets are designed poorly and sometimes even dangerously. Aside from the normal hot spots, headaches, and fatigue associated with uncomfortable helmet pads, pads that are too hard, too thin, or even too soft can increase the risk of brain damage from an impact.

Luckily almost all of the helmet pads we tested were average and above in our opinions. Our favorite, of course, was our own aftermarket Comfort Plus Pads, but Team Wendy makes outstanding pads, along with the pads that come with the MTEK ballistic helmet.

Most helmets used velcro discs on the inside of the helmet to allow the user to change out, modify, or re-position pads to get the very best fit.

 

Ballistic Helmet Tips

 

 

FOR YOUR SAFETY

 

Always try and keep any interior bolts or other hard components covered with your pad and retention system.

During blunt and ballistic impacts you want your skull coming in contact with pads before anything else.

 

 

 

 

How Much Should I Pay for a Ballistic Helmet?

 

Ballistic helmets are available at a variety of price points, but depending on the model, you can typically expect to spend between $200-$1500 dollars for a high cut type helmet.

For a helmet that meets all safety and testing standards expect to pay $400 or more, and for a higher end, lightweight helmet expect to pay $1000 or more.

A note on high cut helmets with prices in the $200-$300 range, the ones we tested were made with unidentifiable fibers, and none of these companies could produce test data beyond a single resistance to penetration test. Buy at your own risk.

 

 

 

Product in Depth

Hard Head Veterans ATE Ballistic Helmet

Design Difference

Utilizing USA made aramid kevlar fibers HHV adds a few extra layers to its shells to give the user slightly better protection than most lighter weight helmets. The tradeoff of 4-8 ounces for a few additional layers of kevlar means a vast difference when it comes to back face deformation and blunt impact numbers while also increasing the resistance to penetration with in-house tests defeating .50AE.

 

 

Best Tactical Helmet ATE

Tips and Tricks

  • Modern ballistic helmets are designed to be customized to your head. Don't be afraid to reposition pads, try out different systems, and find the perfect fit.
  • Like any piece of gear, take care of it, and it will take care of you. Helmets are no different. You should make sure to keep a finish of paint over the fiber layers themselves. Along with inspecting your helmet from time to time for any defects and contacting the manufacturer if there are any.
  • On color selection, we suggest choosing the one you will need the most. You can always spray paint a helmet to match changing environments or buy a helmet cover.
  • One way to offset the extra weight of attached Night Vision Goggles is to attach a counterweight to the back of the helmet. This can be done with a number of homemade solutions or off the shelf counter-weight products.
  • When considering your purchase, don't be afraid to ask the manufacturer for full testing documentation.