Choosing the right tactical helmet for your team or situation can be a daunting task; the process should not be taken lightly. Tactical helmets in the modern era come in a wide variety of styles and materials and are built to be high-performing solutions for the military, law enforcement, and private security.
Checklist for the bare minimum qualifications of a tactical helmet:
- Tested according to NIJ Standard 0106.01 as well as to the Mil-Std 662f, Stanag 2920, and the HPW-TP-0401B standards ballistic resistance as specified under NIJ Standard 0106.01
- Ballistic resistance as specified under NIJ Standard 0106.01.
- A tactical helmet should include padding, suspension, and harness systems combined to provide a completely integrated protective system.
- Your helmet should integrate with other tactical equipment.
- Helmet should have a Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC specified for use on tactical military equipment.
- Helmet systems should feature a minimum of a 5-year warranty on ballistic material and a 1-year warranty on exterior covers.
Best Tactical Helmets
Best Bump Helmets:
- Caiman Bump Helmet
- Team Wendy EXFIL LTP
- Chase Tactical Bump Helmet
- Hard Head Veterans Tactical Helmet Bump Helmet ATE
- Ops-Core FAST Bump Helmet
Best Ballistic Helmets:
- Shellback Tactical Ratcheting Bump Helmet
- Body Armor Direct Level IIIA Ballistic Helmet
- Legacy FAST Ballistic Helmet
- Crye Precision AirFrame Ballistic
- North American Rescue BATLSKIN Viper A5 Helmet
- Hard Head Veterans Ballistic Helmet ATE HHV
The following article highlights a few of the best tactical helmets on the market for 2023. Included are both bump and ballistic helmet designs.
Best BUMP Helmets
Caiman Bump Helmet System
This helmet is optimized for the global coast guard, search and rescue, and the National Guard. Caiman Bump Helmet is a skeletonized system that places a premium on scalability and integration. Caiman comes in five sizes, ensuring the user is wearing the exact size needed to get the job done right.
Caiman Bump Helmet Systems are designed to incorporate the latest in electronics, communications hardware, and camera headsets.
Features of the Caiman Helmet Systems:
- High cut Caiman Bump Shell
- Rail System
- Liner System
- Wilcox L4 Shroud
Team Wendy EXFIL LTP (Lightweight, Tactical, Polymer)
This platform is excellent for adding accessories, especially night vision goggle systems, while providing the highest level of impact protection. EXFIL features a built-in NVG shroud using an integrated Wilcox assembly.
EXFIL LTP features a Zorbium Foam liner for good head protection. EXFIL also has an CAM-FIT retention system for easy adjustment with cam lock sliders and a micro-adjustable BOA dial. A full complement of accessories is available with the EXFIL Helmet system.
The EXFIL Helmet comes in either a coyote brown or black color for matching tactical team colors.
Features of the Team Wendy EXFIL LTP Helmet System:
- Compatible with all EXFIL 2.0 accessories
- Includes a Shock Cored Kit for NVG
- Six comfort pads with easy adjustment
- Extremely lightweight at only 1.59 lbs.
Chase Tactical Bump Helmet
Comfort and versatility is what this bump helmet is all about from Chase Tactical. This lightweight non-ballistic helmet is a comfortable wear all day if necessary.
Chase Tactical has designed a super lightweight helmet that is easily integrated into any larger system. Night vision goggles to cameras can be attached easily with this helmet. Chase Engineers provide protection under harsh conditions.
This Extreme lightweight helmet at only 24 ounces making this component an impressive addition to a tactical kit.
Features of the Chase Tactical Bump Helmet:
- Upper and Lower Dovetail rail accessories for easily attaching components
- Padded suspension system
- Universal sizing
- Meets ANSI EN1385: 2012 Test Results
Hard Head Veterans Tactical Helmet ATE Bump
This non-ballistic helmet from Hard Head Veterans is lightweight and modular. The ATE is an ideal Bump helmet solution for tactical applications such as search and rescue and recreational sports. ATE Bump is crafted from a polycarbonate blend for ultimate protection for most applications. Blunt impact protection far exceeds the requirements for EN 1385: and AR/PD 10-02.
Hard Head Veterans Tactical Helmet ATE Bump is designed for a perfect fit. The company provides an exact way to measure the head for proper alignment and a precise measuring chart.
The ATE Bump offers the exact Rail Attachment System provided on the company’s more expensive ballistic helmets. Direct mounting to the helmet by Picatinny rails for accessories such as lights, headset adapters, and cameras.
Features of the Hard Head Veterans Tactical Helmet ATE Bump:
- 10-year warranty
- Attachable A3S Shroud
- Impact and comfort layer pads
Ops-Core Fast Bump High Cut Helmet
Ops-Core High Cut Helmet is designed for less extreme environments, where ballistic threats are non- existent. The focus of this helmet is protection from blunt force trauma to the head. Ops-Core Bump Helmets also provide an excellent integration of additional equipment.
Features of the Ops-Core Bump Helmet:
- Improved blunt impact performance
- Molded front NVG mount and 4-position ARTCM Ops-Core rails.
- Vent holes for ventilation
- Meets the requirements of BS EN 1385: 2012 and Ops-Core PS-1145
Shellback Tactical Ratcheting Ballistic Helmet
The Shellback is NIJ certified Level IIIA. It is a standard cut ACH helmet with ballistic and fragmentation protection.
This helmet is a new PASGT design, used for decades by military personnel. The ACH design allows for optimal line of sight. Personnel can add any communication devices, and the seven-piece padding design makes this helmet comfortable for extended wear periods.
The Shellback System is made entirely of Kevlar Fibers and thermoset resin for long-lasting protection. The helmet features an adjustable 4 point retention system for great fitting in all situations.
Features of the Shellback Ballistic Helmet System:
- 5-year ballistic warranty
- Level IIIA protection
- Fragmentation protection
- Customizable Fit
Body Armor Direct Level IIIA
Body Armor Direct Level IIIA Helmet System is designed as an alternative to mil-spec helmets. Body Armor uses advanced ballistic protection against handgun ammunition.
Body Armor Helmet shells are crafted from multi-layered advanced composites. Harness assemblies are made up of MICH Comfipad Suspension System, providing the ultimate protection and comfort. The system comprises a chin strap and a four-point harness.
Body Armor Direct Helmets use a reduced profile, which enables a wider peripheral and upward view. This view provides improved situational awareness with unrestricted movement. The helmet can accommodate advanced protective goggles and night vision systems.
Features of the Body Armor Direct Helmet System:
- Level IIIA standalone
- Advanced Ballistic Matrix materials
- Protects most handgun threats
- Multi-hit capabilities
- Front, back, and top of head protection
Legacy Fast Ballistic Helmet Level IIIA
FAST Ballistic Helmet from Legacy is a high-performance, multi-layer, and lightweight combat solution. The USA National Institute of Justice tested and proved the helmet can withstand a full jacketed round, 44 magnum semi-jacketed hollow point at velocities up to 1450 ft/s.
Legacy FAST Helmet meets the realities of the modern battlefield. The system offers excellent weight to performance characteristics. There is full special ops coverage with enhanced awareness because of the reduced profile and higher cut of this helmet.
The Accessory Rail Combat Helmet ARCH is a new advanced way forward in battle and the special forces community.
Features of the Legacy FAST Helmet System:
- Increased area of coverage over the ears and back of the head
- Stable and ergonomic
- Front Wilcox NVG mounting shroud
- Fragmentation protection at 2150 ft/sec.
Crye Precision AirFrame Helmet
Companies do not design just a single safety component any longer, rather an entire protective system. Such is the case with Crye Precisions AirFrame. Standards of protection have been met with this new ballistic helmet and its long list of accessories.
Modularity, comfort, and ultimate protection are all part of the AirFrame. Crye Precision has drastically reduced Headborne weight, with the AirFrame weighing less than 2 pounds. This ballistic helmet features a unique overlapping shell design creating integrated vents that provide exceptional colling.
The design of the AirFrame reduces the damaging effects of explosive blast waves. Each AirFrame uses an Ops-Core retention system for stability and comfort, with ease of adjustment. Armoring the AirFrame is easy to adjust for additional ear and face protection.
AirFrame Helmets are compatible with common ear-pro systems.
Features of the Crye Precision AirFrame Helmet:
- Patented vented shell design
- Modular ear and face protection available
- ¾ inch pads included
- Pre-drilled for NVG mounts
North American Rescue BATLSKIN Viper A5 Helmet
Viper A5 stops NIJ Level IIIA threats and features a low-profile design. Viper is built for extreme comfort and absolute protection.
Viper Helmets are a cost-effective solution for ballistic threats and head impact protection. North American Rescue’s helmet is built in the ACH shape and is easily adjusted with a 4-point attachment system.
Helmet weight is dispersed evenly with the suspension system and a supportive neck pad. The BATLSKIN Viper stops any NIJ IIIA threat and is compatible with NVG’s, Chem/Bio masks, and most communication devices.
Features of the BATLSKIN Viper A5 Helmet System:
- Stops 9mm and 44 MAG ballistics
- Ballistic rated hardware is tested from minus 40 degrees to 158 degrees F
- Movable comfort pads
- Lightweight at only 3 lbs.
Hard Head Veterans Ballistic Helmet ATE HHV
Ballistic helmets from Hard Head Veterans are designed with combat and law enforcement in mind. The Ballistic Helmet is NIJ IIIA Rated with a high cut and above the ear design. This helmet system is ideal for law enforcement, military, and private security.
ATE Gen. 2 is made from advanced para-aramid fibers, with the high cut design providing significant weight savings.
The ATE features a direct attachment system. Simply adjust the gap between accessories and the surface of the helmet. Lights, cameras, and other accessories are easily connected through the rail system.
Easily connect an A3S Shroud to the ATE helmet for added protection and functionality. The ATE features a padded system for initial impact protection, as well as a comfort pad layer.
Features of the Hard Head Veterans Ballistic Helmet ATE HHV System:
- 10-year warranty
- Convenient Rail Attachment System
- Lightweight at less than 3 pounds
- Technologically advanced
- Designed for a perfect fit
Bump Vs. Ballistic Helmets
In recent years civilians increasingly want to wear exactly what soldiers use on the battlefield. For some, there is an appeal to owning anything tactical. Some people enjoy the practical aspects of having a lot of pockets.
Bump helmet systems are used primarily for training and lite tactical situations. Bump helmets are lightweight and comfortable. The helmets are a type of tactical headwear designed to protect from falling debris and shrapnel.
This headgear also provides a convenient means to mount additional equipment such as cameras and communication systems. The advantage to a bump helmet, they are comfortable and radically cheaper than ballistic helmet systems.
Ballistic helmet systems are strictly military and law enforcement gear. They keep the head safe from varying degrees of ballistic impact and keep the team connected. Ballistic helmet systems go through rigorous safety and performance testing from federal agencies.
Ballistic helmets are more of a system rather than stand-alone headwear. Depending on the system you choose, many advanced equipment types can be added. Ballistic helmets are excellent when using Night Vision Goggles (NVGs).
When choosing the perfect helmet for you or your team, you must choose based on accessories to be added.
Ballistic helmets are designed with the ultimate comfort. Outer shells are crafted from the most advanced materials known to the military.
Ballistic Helmets for Law Enforcement
In the past, protective gear for law enforcement has been limited because of government budget cuts; however, departments are now taking a proactive approach.
Band-aid solutions, such as used military gear, do not work. Some of this gear is better than nothing but are not an ideal solution.
Officers should carefully choose the helmet that best fits their situation because officers are not wearing helmets throughout the day.
Choosing the right tactical helmet no longer involves just a single component such as a helmet. Every technologically advanced company in the modern era, building gear for the military or law enforcement, aims to build out a complete system.
No longer does a tactical company craft just a helmet, just body armor, or only plate carriers. Their aim is to be a single source for everything the department needs. This makes the decision for law enforcement or military communities easy. Sounds simple, but it is far from it.
Competition in protective gear is fierce and getting more competitive every day. Technology has leveled the playing field. Small companies with a single advancement, can parlay their fortunes to a complete protective system. This competition is offering us the best gear we can get at a faster rate than ever before.