Are you interested in buying a ballistic helmet? Do you feel overwhelmed by the number of options on the market?

We put together a comprehensive quiz with questions that will help lead you to the ballistic helmet that is right for your team. In this article, we will be breaking down the questions that are posed in the quiz and explaining the different reasons the question is important to consider when choosing a helmet.

We will be asking and answering:

Keep reading to learn more about ballistic helmets and find out which one is right for you!

Ballistic vs Non-Ballistic

One of the first questions you will need to answer when determining which tactical helmet is right for your application is—ballistic or non-ballistic? Ballistic helmets offer protection from gunfire and blunt impacts. On the other hand, non-ballistic helmets are used in non-combat environments like climbing, in armored vehicles, and more.

Non-ballistic helmets are meant for situations where you may “bump” your head and need protection. Ballistic helmets are necessary if gunfire or large impacts may occur. Non-ballistic helmets are lighter and cannot provide the same protections against gunfire that ballistic helmets provide.

The other option that is almost a compromise between ballistic and non-ballistic are hybrid helmets. These are non-ballistic helmets or bump helmets that can be later turned into ballistic helmets with appliques.

If you are planning to use your tactical helmet for several different applications, then hybrid helmets may provide the flexibility you are seeking.

After determining what protection type you need your helmet to provide, you will need to decide the comfort level.


Comfort may seem unnecessary or unachievable in tactical applications. However, companies like Galvion go against that theory. With the right sizing, helmet weight, and liner, a tactical helmet can be comfortably worn for hours on end and no complaints.

This is also a great reminder that the more comfortable tactical gear is, the higher the likelihood is that users will not take the gear off (out of discomfort) and will not become exhausted or distracted from annoyance.

Wearing a heavy helmet for 10 or more hours at a time can be a lot of stress on the neck which can lead to migraines and unnecessary distractions. Therefore, comfort needs to be addressed.

When it comes to weight and tactical helmets, there is a general rule. The rule is that ballistic helmets tend to be heavier than non-ballistic helmets. The weight difference is due to the thickness of the shell.

Weight also is not just attributed to the helmet. With modern critical communications—many tactical helmets are also outfitted with night vision goggles, communications headsets, gas masks, and more. All these attachments add to the weight and possible exhaustion of the user.

If you know that the application you will be using includes long hours, then the Caiman helmet from Galvion is your best option for low weight. Ops Core also offers bump helmets that tend to be lighter than the ballistic counterparts.

The next factor to consider is the liner. Tactical helmet liners are used to provide a padded layer inside the helmet shell. The liner can provide comfort, breathability, and impact protection. As a result, liners are great for those who are wearing their tactical helmet for hours on end—as the liner provides additional comfort.

Protection Level

Tactical helmets have different levels of protection. The helmets get tested to stop a certain amount of gunfire. Military helmets are usually rated to stop a 9mm fragment. For instance, the Ops Core FAST SF is a 9mm rated helmet. 

The National Institute of Justice issued a “Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor NIJ Standard” in July 2008. In the standard, the NIJ specifies that there are five levels of ballistic protection. They are as follows: IIA, II, IIA, III, IV. On the first level—IIA—these include the gear that protects against the standard 9mm and .40 S&W ammunitions.

Image source:

It is not until the “4th” level up at III that gear is expected to protect against rifle ammunition for 7.62mm lead core rounds. On the top level—IV—gear can stop .30cal steel core armor piercing rifle ammunition.

Determining what level of protection you need your helmet to provide is an important step in choosing a ballistic helmet.

ballistic infographic


The cut is the next thing you will need to consider when deciding which helmet works best for your use. Tactical helmets tend to be either high cut or full cut. The high cut helmets are cut higher above the ears which allows for space to use communications headsets. However, with the higher cut, there is less protection.

Full cut helmets, on the other hand, come down closer to over the ear so they are not compatible with communications headsets, but they are more protective. With the additional protection is more material to the helmet so full cut helmets are heavier than high cut helmets.

Galvion and Ops Core both have different cut options for tactical helmets. When choosing if you want high or full cut helmets you are deciding a few things. Will you be using a communications headset? What level of protection are you looking for? And is weight a major factor for your helmet wearers?


Military ballistic helmets typically come in colors that most align with your uniform and then will coincide with your environment.

The top colors of ballistic helmets are tan, green, black, and gray. Tan and green are the most popular colors of helmets in the military while black is mostly used by SWAT teams.


ITAR stands for International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Tactical helmets are considered body armor which is subject to ITAR regulations. ITAR relates to the export control of body armor in and outside the U.S.

Therefore, ballistic helmets may not be exported since they are under ITAR

Why Invest in a Helmet?

Used to prevent head injuries from crashes, collisions, and other impacts, and aid in head and neck stability in uncontrolled environments, there are numerous types of helmets used in different activities: athletic (such as bicycle, hockey, and football), flight (for astronauts and pilots), and military (such as tactical bump helmets and ballistic helmets.)

According to the Department of Defense, from 2000-2019, 413,858 United States military personnel experienced a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

No matter the type, all helmets serve to protect from brain and skull trauma by absorbing and dissipating the force of impact away from the head, thus protecting the wearer, and is an important piece of gear for people participating in tactical operations. 

Types of Ballistic Helmets

There are five main categories of military helmets for sale that you might consider:

  • MICH
  • ACH
  • ECH
  • FAST

PASGT: Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops

PASGT Helmets (Personal Armor System for Ground Troops) also called K-Pots, is the oldest helmet type released in the 1980's. These helmets are made of Kevlar fibers and typically weigh three or more pounds. They are less popular than before but are still being used today. 

PASGT Helmet Worn by NAVY

Picture By Seaman Alyssa Weeks -, Public Domain,

MICH: Modular Integrated Communications Helmet

The Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH) released in 2002, was designed to be lighter and more comfortable than the PASGT Helmet. It removed the need for the sweatband and chinstrap from the PASGT helmet and includes a four-point retention system.

     MICH Helmet on Soilder

    (Picture By Cpl. Timothy Valero -, Public Domain,

    ACH: Advanced Combat Helmet

    ACH or Advanced Combat Helmet released in 2003 as an updated advanced version of the MICH helmet. Both helmets have advaned Kevlar for an increased protection against firearms.

    ACH Helmet Worn on Solider

    (Picture By U.S. Army -, Public Domain,

    ECH: Enhanced Combat Helmet

    The Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH) is a second-generation ACH, and is also known as an ACH II. Using ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene instead of ballistics fibers, the ECH is designed to be lighter than its predecessors while providing increased protection against fragmentation and rifle projectiles.

    ECH Miliatry Helmet Worn on Soilder

    (Picture By USMC -, Public Domain,

    FAST: Future Assault Shell Technology

    First unveiled by Ops-Core, Future Assault Shell Technology (FAST) Helmets are immediately recognizable due to their characteristic high-cut design, exposing the ears unlike the PASGT Helmets, MICH, ACH, and ECH. Specifically designed to prevent water intrusion and retention in the ear cups, the side rails of Ops-Core FAST Ballistic Helmets allow for additional accessories, such as communication systems and night vision equipment. Other brands now offer ATE (above-the-ear) and high-cut helmets as well. (Note: First Source Wireless has the pictured helmet – the Ops-Core FAST SF Super High Cut Ballistic Helmet for sale!)

    FAST Helmet

    Picture By Sgt. Pete Thibodeau -, Public Domain,

    There are a variety of brands that sell ballistic helmets, ballistic helmet accessories, bump helmets, and bump helmet accessories. We’ve listed some of the best-known names below:

    • Atomic Defense
      • Based out of California, Atomic Defense offers bulletproof products to civilians and governments worldwide.

    • Crye Precision
      • American-made Crye Precision products are dedicated to high performance, usability, and longevity. They pride themselves on their customer support and work to integrate user feedback into their offerings.

    • Hard Head Veterans
      • Veteran-owned and veteran-operated, each member of Hard Head Veterans’ team is linked to either the military or law enforcement, providing them firsthand knowledge on the equipment that works the best. Determined to make protective gear accessible and affordable to those who want it, Hard Head Veterans are dedicated to the safety and quality of their products.

    • Galvion
      • An internationally recognized company with offices in three countries, Galvion designs, develops, and delivers protective armor and head systems along with power supply and management solutions for soldiers and their vehicles.

    • Ops-Core
      • Part of Gentex Corporation’s portfolio of helmet systems for modern defense, emergency response, and security forces, Ops-Core modular integrated helmet systems seamlessly integrate with hearing protection, eyewear, communication system, and respiratory protection products.

    • Shellback Tactical
      • Established in 2003, Shellback Tactical’s mission is to design and manufacture premium, innovative tactical gear that is focused on mission-specific requirements, functionality, and durability.

    • Team Wendy
      • An Avon Protection company established in 1997, Team Wendy is focused on developing leading-edge products that serve to protect against serious and potentially life-threatening impact-related injuries. Their commitment to thoughtful design allows their users to focus on their mission while feeling secure in their helmet.

    • United Shield
      • One of the leading manufacturers of personal ballistic and fragmentation protection equipment, United Shield International is a supplier to major government departments, law enforcement and security services, and export their products to 80+ countries around the world.

    Best Helmet for You

    Now that you know what kinds of helmets are in the market, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites for you! (Note: All prices in USD and as of November 2023)

    • HHV ATE GEN2 Ballistic Helmet: $566
      • Coming in four sizes and five colorways, this highly-rated, above-the-ear helmet is Hard Head Veterans’ most popular item. Weighing 3lbs, it uses the MAGPUL M-LOK SYSTEM, reducing its overall profile and bulkiness. Popular accessories include lights, headset adapters, and cameras, all available on the Hard Hat Veterans website.

    HHV ATE GEN2 Ballistic Helmet

    • Galvion Batlskin Caiman Helmet: $1,864
      • Galvion Caiman comes in five helmet sizes and includes their comfortable and flexible APEX Helmet Liner. The geometry on this helmet makes it incredible comfortable and gives you a more vertical line in the back for extended coverage. This helmet comes with a 7 year warranty.


      • Ops-Core FAST SF High Cut Ballistic Helmet: $1,885
        • Coming in four sizes and six colors, this ballisitc helmet has their Vented Lux Liner for breathability and comfort. It also cuts 16mm higher than the other FAST Helmets. This helmet comes with a 5 year warranty.


      • Crye Precision AirFrame Ballistic Helmet: $1,093
        • Coming in three sizes and three colorways, this modular helmet features an unique design allowing for ventilation and passive cooling. Weighing between 2.3-2.75lbs, modular ear and face protection is available, as well as a modular ARC Rail system.

      Crye Precision AirFrame Helmet

      • Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic Helmet: $1,361.70
        • Coming in two sizes and four colorways, this above-ear helmet is an investment for those serious about their tactical equipment. At 2.6-2.75lbs, it is made from a hybrid composite material and features CAM FIT retention, allowing for quick and easy adjustment to individual head shapes. Customizable fit is further ensured by a set of movable comfort pads. Depending on the rails you select, Team Wendy offers a variety of accessories, including a visor, ear covers, face shield, and mandible.

      Team Wendy Ballistic Helmet EXFIL

      • DevTac Ronin Ballistic Helmet Facemask: $3,299
        • This full-face ballistic helmet offers the greatest amount of protection of all the products we have listed. Weighing between 4.9-6lbs, it has detachable plates that not only allow for customizable levels of ballistic protection, helmet design, and helmet function, but the separate plates also lessen the kinetic energy from bullet impacts, lowering the potential for injury. If desired, the Facemask can also be ordered in a non-ballistic version, which decreases the price to $1,100.

       DevTac Ballistic Facemask

      Final Thoughts

      An investment in a helmet is an investment in your health and safety; ultimately, it’s an investment in yourself. Depending on your unique needs, you might opt for a helmet designed to protect against gunfire, such as a Rifle Rated Ballistic Helmet, Ops-Core Ballistic Helmet, or Team Wendy Ballistic Helmet. Alternatively, you might select a simpler option, a FAST/ATE High-Cut Bump Helmet. No matter what you choose, we hope our overview has been helpful! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to First Source Wireless: we’re committed to our customers and are always happy to help you find what you need to complete your next mission!

      DEANNA PARENTI is a Marketing Copywriter at Waveband Communications. With her experience in critical communications, she helps public safety clients enhance their team communications during everyday work and emergencies.

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