While there are always questions to be asked when buying anything, those in the market for a ballistic helmet don’t have a lot of options when it comes to features. Most effective models will fall into similar categories and be certified for NIJ Level IIIa protection.
Rather, the questions that should be asked are more towards the intended use than the specifications of the model:
- What? – you are up against
- Who? – are you in the chain of command
- When? – will the mission be taking place
And the importance of these questions is in the exact order. The third one, referring to the length of the mission, is important to a point. But, sacrificing some neck pain decades in the future is a good trade if it will protect you from a flying fragment to your head.
Other features, like the possibility of adding on gear or the aesthetic design of the helmet, only come after the primary parameters are met. Until then, they shouldn’t even come into the calculation.
The longer you need to wear your armor, the lighter it needs to be. Fatigue, especially prolonged, will significantly diminish your fighting capability and awareness, which can be lethal.
Because of this, members of law enforcement and domestic private security who work 8-hour shifts need something lighter. Something like the BHBH™ Boltless High-Cut Ballistic Helmet only weighs up to 2 ½ lbs for the biggest models and is quite comfortable.
Additionally, such long missions are usually in familiar terrain or defensive capabilities. With no risk of explosives or traps, it is better to have increased mobility and spatial awareness than increased coverage.
If you are working in teams where you need to communicate frequently and without technology, it is better to have something that doesn’t cover your mouth and ears. A high-cut helmet will be a better option in this case as well.
Also, for most vehicle operators that will use comm systems designed for the vehicle, leaving your ears open is preferable.
But, if you are only there for the mission and everyone knows exactly what their job is, this can be a needless risk. Covering your ears with both ballistic and audio protection will prevent harm from stun-grenades and similar devices.
Also, a wider area of protection will cover the back of your head where the brain is most exposed. Even a simple blunt trauma to this part from falling rubble or even a hit from a blunt weapon can incapacitate you.
Traps and Explosives
If there are IEDs or anti-personnel traps there is no option but to go with something like the LCBH™ Low Cur Ballistic Helmet. Shrapnel, debris, shards, or any other types of fragments are the biggest danger on the battlefield and you need to keep your head secure.
Combined with good neck protection, such a helmet might be heavy, but it will ensure your protection. Ideally, you will want to be swift when using it and to finish your mission as quickly as possible.