What gas masks does the U.S. military use? Great question, finding a great respirator can be overwhelming, so a great place to start is finding the best gas mask producers. Gentex and Avon provide some of the best respirators on the market. The Gentex SOTR and the Avon M50 respirator are great options for those looking for military gas masks.  

Respirators are important for protecting yourself and your team from harmful chemicals or airborne particulates depending on the type of filtration the mask offers. Although respirators offer necessary protection in dangerous situations, they can also act as a communication and visual hinderance if not used and chosen properly.  

Gentex and Avon make tactical masks that combat the above negative implications of using a respirator. Read this article to learn more about how the Gentex SOTR and Avon M50 respirator masks are made to be convenient and efficient.  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

  • How do I select the right size? 
    • Most respirators come with multiple face piece sizes or adjustable straps so the mask can be used by different individuals. You want your mask to be as snug as possible against your skin to ensure air flow remains within in the mask valves.  
  • Does the respirator include filters? 
    • The Gentex SOTR comes with 1 filter and the Avon M50 comes with 2 filters 
  • How much do the filters cost? 
    • $20+ for one filter 
  • What are the correct/compatible filters? 
    • Gentex SOTR=P100 filters 
    • Avon M50=M61 filter 
  • How do you determine if the filter needs to be replaced? 
    • Once the filter becomes difficult to breathe through. Often a good rule of thumb is replacing the filter with each individual use.  
  • How much do they weigh? 
    • Gentex SOTR=Around 3lbs with an Ops-Core helmet 
    • Avon M50=1.9lbs 
  • What is the cost range? 
    • For a tactical mask that will do a great job and last a long time your budget should range from $150-$400. 


Types of Respirators Infographic

Gentex SOTR Respirator: 


  • The respirator mask has a 99.97% filtration efficiency against airborne particulates 
  • Seamlessly integrates with NVGs and other eye protection products as well as over the ear hearing protection products 
  • Two exhalation valves 
  • Suspension straps to be worn with or without a helmet 
  • Flexible and lightweight silicone face piece with a wide, wraparound, and pleated design to enable the respirator to fit to a variety of face sizes 
  • Front mounted inhalation valves and cartridge ports  
  • Intended for ground applications 
  • Price-$315 
Gentex SOTR Respirator

Features breakdown:  

The Gentex SOTR or special operation tactical respirator is an efficient tool; it can filter dangerous particulates like lead, asbestos, lubricant mist, and explosive gunfire residue from the air. As we all know, communication is key to any tactical mission, so it is imperative that respirator mask users can communicate while remaining safe from dangerous airborne particulates.  

Gentex SOTR is made to be convenient; for example, it can be used with a communications headset. Moreover, it can be worn with or without a helmet making it a great military gas mask. With exhalation valves, the Gentex SOTR is easy to breathe in, so you never feel the need to take it off in dangerous situations.  

The inhalation valves and cartridge ports are also focused on the front of the tactical mask making vision easier. The filters are quick one-handed filter change adding to the efficiency of the Gentex SOTR. The SOTR is for ground applications; if you are looking for aircraft applications, Gentex suggests the Gentex Low Profile Particulate Respirator.  

Avon M50 Respirator: 


  • Panoramic single lens visor 
  • Optically correct visor 
  • Scratch resistant 
  • Chlorobutyl rubber silicone blend mask 
  • 3 face piece sizes  
  • High flow fail-safe drinking device 
  • Front mounted exhale valve 
  • Electronic communication port 
  • Radio communications available through ECP 
  • Low inhalation resistance and excellent de-mist properties  
  • Heat build-up minimized  
  • Low-re-breathed carbon dioxide 
  • CBRN mask (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) 
  • Can filter nerve agents, blister agents, blood agents, and riot control agents 
  • Price-$395+ 
AVON M50 Respirator

Features breakdown: 

The Avon M50 gas mask is the choice respirator for the U.S. military; in July of 2014, Avon entered a contract with the U.S. military to provide 135,000 M50 tactical masks. Not only does this mask offer a great field of vision, it also is CBRN certified. With a panoramic single lens visor and an optically correct visor that is scratch resistant, this M50 gas mask ensures that users will have a clear field of vision.  

When using a mask, you want to make sure it seals around your face so that it works properly. To get a great seal, the mask needs to have the right material and it needs to fit the user’s face shape. The Avon M50 is made with a chlorobutyl rubber silicone blend to ensure optimal seal; moreover, it comes with 3 face piece sizes to help find the perfect fit.  

Unlike the SOTR, the M50 respirator mask is CBRN certified. CRBN stands for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. Therefore, the Avon M50 can be used against most dangerous airborne particulates that form from a chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear incident. It can filter out nerve, blister, blood, and riot control agents. 

Once it is established that a tactical mask can do the job of keeping your air supply clean, a user needs to ensure that they can still communicate to other mask users. The Avon M50 is a unique military gas mask because it has an electronic communication port and radio communications are available through ECP.  

Communication is a priority for most tactical gas mask users so the Avon M50 is a great fit with its extensive perks for only $395.  

Recommended markets and users: 

A profession that always should be stocked with respirators is the military. However, other industries that can benefit from this technology includes large police forces like the capital police, firefighters, industrial workers, and scientists. People who work within these professions often run into situations where they are in danger of being exposed to harmful airborne particulates.  

For instance, sometimes when fires occur, the high heat releases dangerous chemicals into the air making it hard to breathe for firefighters. Therefore, respirators can help prevent any damage to their lungs and more.

Industrial workers often deal with airborne particulates that can harm their health after consistent exposure. Respirators can help prevent life-threatening illnesses later in life. 

Many professionals can benefit from respirators; we need clean air to live and function properly so protection from harmful air should be a priority.  


The Gentex SOTR and the Avon M50 are great respirators that get the job done when it comes to protecting your air supply. The Gentex SOTR mask was made to be easy to use and maintain and convenient in the field. It is great for tactical missions because it can be used with a helmet, and it has quick-change filters so if a filter is used up in the field the wearer will not be exposed.  

The Avon M50 respirator also has a variety of useful features. This mask focuses more on the side of communication. If you are looking for a mask that will be used in a situation where you will need to vocally communicate while protecting your air supply, the Avon M50 is for you.  

Tactical masks or respirators are a necessary part of working in dangerous industries like the military, manufacturing, and public safety. They jobs play an integral role in our society; those who work in these positions should not have to worry about the safety of the air the breath. Technology like the Gentex SOTR and the Avon M50 are great options for protecting your body from harmful airborne particulates.   


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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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