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Tactical (tacti-cool) gear is gaining popularity among civilians in the US. From the veteran seeking to relive his war days or the hardcore prepper getting ready for WWIII, to the tactical enthusiast looking to LARP (Live Action Role Play) on the weekends they’ve all got an interest in the best ballistic helmets.

Among the sea of keyboard warriors, everyone’s got an opinion on what’s the best tactical gear. Navigating the dynamic, and often hostile, realm of tactical gear and preparation on social media can feel like a battlefield so how do you pick one out from an army of opinions and options?

In this guide, we’ll dive into everything about the best ballistic helmets in today’s market and explore key features to consider while choosing one. We’ll decode complex safety standards and offer practical tips on maintenance – ensuring your chosen gear lasts long.

Whether you’re a tactical enthusiast or simply someone who values practical gear, one of the best ballistic helmets is a fantastic addition to your gear collection.

best ballistic helmets

First Glance: The Best Ballistic Helmets

You’ve heard it said, “Protect your head.” Well, when the going gets tough and you need serious gear to face challenges head-on, that’s more than just a catchy phrase. Let’s take a peek at the elite of the best ballistic helmets available before learning more about them and revealing the full tactical helmet list.

1.Hard Head Veterans ATE Gen II Ballistic Helmet 

best ballistic helmets

 The Hard Head Veterans ATE Gen II Ballistic Helmet makes the list. With its durable construction and comfortable fit, this one sets the bar high for others to follow. It offers quality ballistic protection at an affordable price point. Don’t forget to use my code “STRENGTH” for free shipping.

2. Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet

best ballistic helmets

A favorite among professionals in law enforcement and military circles is none other than the Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet. Known for exceptional build quality and comfort levels which are off-the-charts.

3. Ops-Core FAST SF Super High Cut Helmet

If lightweight agility tops your priority list, then consider the Ops-Core FAST SF Super High Cut Helmet. Despite being light as a feather (well almost), it doesn’t skimp on protection or comfort either.

4. MTEK Flux Ballistic Helmet

best ballistic helmets

The MTEK Flux Ballistic Helmet, a relative newcomer to the market, has made quite an impression with its innovative design and superior protection features.

5. Crye Precision AirFrame ATX Helmet

best ballistic helmets

Wrapping the first glance up, we have the Crye Precision AirFrame ATX helmet. This model stands out due to its exceptional weight distribution and impressive ventilation capabilities.

This is far from all the options out there. Read on to see more!


The Basics of Ballistic Helmets

Ballistic helmets, often referred to as combat helmets or tactical helmets, play a vital role in protecting those who put their lives on the line. They’re more than just headgear; they’re lifelines that shield our men and women from life-threatening harm.

To get it straight, ballistic helmets are specially designed headgear made to protect against bullets and shrapnel. But they aren’t all built equal. Some can withstand high-velocity rounds while others might only deflect lower-speed impacts.

You also need to consider tactical bump helmets which don’t stop bullets at all. We’ll talk about those further in the article.

You might ask: how do these helmets work? The answer lies in their construction – layers upon layers of strong materials, like Kevlar, which absorb and disperse the energy from an impact across a wider area. This process reduces the force hitting any single point on your noggin’, making sure you stay safe when things go south.


The Importance of Ballistic Helmets

Injuries to the head can be life-threatening, so having a reliable ballistic helmet is essential for anyone in hazardous operations or areas where firearms may be present. That’s why having one of the best ballistic helmets is non-negotiable for anyone involved in high-risk operations or situations where firearms may come into play.

Beyond protection though, modern-day ballistic helmets also offer mounting points for other essential gear like night vision goggles or communication devices. Staying connected with your team is key when navigating dangerous terrains and night vision is all the rage nowadays in the tactical civilian world.

Whether you’re in the line of duty or preparing for potential emergencies as part of your survival strategy, understanding ballistic helmets is pretty important to know. Having an understanding of their construction and abilities not only assists you in making an educated decision but also guarantees that when the moment arrives, you are adequately equipped to safeguard yourself as well as those near you if things were ever to go “Red Dawn”.

Key Takeaway: 

This is our round-up of the best ballistic helmets and there’s plenty more to mention👇. Each helmet is designed to give the best protection possible, but it’s crucial to choose one that fits your specific needs. Whether you’re dealing with high-speed threats or need a helmet for lower-velocity impacts, there’s an option out there just right for you.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Ballistic Helmet

If you’re in the market for the best ballistic helmets, there are several key features you need to consider. These will guarantee that your helmet meets your needs and keeps you secure while looking oh-so “tacticool”.


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Dyneema Fabric is often used in new ballistic helmets

The material of the helmet plays a crucial role in its protective capabilities. Some popular materials include Kevlar and Polyethylene. Kevlar is renowned for its strength and durability, but it’s heavy. On the other hand, Polyethylene offers comparable protection while being significantly lighter. 

UHMWPE, the acronym for ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, has become a front-running material for lightweight ballistics protection in the form of Dyneema or Spectra.


A lighter helmet makes movement easier, but don’t sacrifice safety for comfort; find an optimal balance between weight and protection levels. Studies have shown that helmets weighing over 4 pounds can cause neck strain during prolonged use, so keep this factor in mind when making your choice.

Most of the best ballistic helmets on this list will be under that weight.


Fitting & Comfort

No matter how robust or light it is, if your helmet doesn’t fit well or isn’t comfortable, it won’t serve its purpose effectively – which is keeping you protected under dire conditions or playing on the range. Make sure to get one with adjustable straps and padding inside for enhanced comfort level.

Night Vision Mounts & Side Rails

best ballistic helmets

You’re probably thinking of these add-ons right off the bat. If you aren’t, these features give your tactical helmet an edge in challenging situations by allowing the attachment of night vision goggles and other tactical equipment. Here are some great examples of how they can be utilized:

You can add a helmet light, comms set ups and of course the big one, night vision devices (👈code “STRENGTH for a discount).


Ballistic Protection

Most importantly when you’re considering one of the best ballistic helmets, always keep an eye on the helmet’s ballistic performance. The NIJ standard rating serves as a reliable benchmark for this.

Key Takeaway: 

Don’t forget to weigh up tactical features, too. Night vision mounts and side rails can add more functionality. So when you’re choosing your tactical helmet, keep a balance between safety, comfort, weight, and material strength in mind.

Safety Standards for Ballistic Helmets

Ever wonder what makes the best ballistic helmets safe? It’s all about meeting the right standards unless you get a bump helmet. These are not your everyday bike helmets, advanced combat helmets are built to withstand some serious impact and keep you alive after taking a bullet to the dome.


A big part of understanding ballistic helmets involves knowing about the different levels of protection standards set by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). These guidelines help us understand what type of threats each helmet can handle so we don’t end up bringing a knife to a gunfight, so to speak.

An official NIJ helmet standard is out there (Standard 0106.01), but it was published in 1981 and is outdated and needs to be revised.

Today’s manufacturers are not testing their helmets to the old NIJ standard 0106.01, which only had three levels (I, IIA, and II). This means there is no level III or level IIIA associated with this outdated document which is what most modern helmets are advertised as (more on that in a sec).

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) sets standards for body armor, including helmets.


A Peek into The NIJ Standard 0106.01

This standard tests how well a helmet can resist penetration from specific bullets at different speeds and angles. But wait, there’s more. They also check its ability to absorb blunt force trauma with drop tests.

In other words, if you get smacked upside the head by an object or fall on your noggin’, these bad boys should help reduce injury risks thanks to their shock-absorbing layers.

Different Levels For Different Threats

The NIJ classifies ballistic protection levels as:

  • Level I and II-A: At the lower end of the protection spectrum, These tactical helmets are lightweight. They offer limited defense against small pistol calibers such as .22 LR and .38 special rounds.
  • Level II: Level II is widely favored among law enforcement officers for its lightweight design and decent protection. Level II effectively safeguards against shrapnel, blunt force, and handgun rounds up to .9mm and .356 Magnum.
  • Level III-A: A NIJ Level IIIA tactical helmet is designed to provide optimal protection against shrapnel and minimize the impact of shocks. Level IIIA has been rigorously tested and proven effective in stopping .44 Magnum rounds traveling at approximately 1,400 feet per second.
  • Level III: The Level III combat helmet is designed to be lightweight, weighing approximately 4.8 lbs or less, depending on its size. It offers protection against rounds such as 7.62 x 51mm, 7.62 x 39mm, and 5.56 x 45 mm, as well as other smaller threats.
  • Level IV: Level IV offers the utmost defense, capable of stopping the powerful 7.62 x 51 mm M80 NATO Ball round traveling at 2200 fps. Additionally, it boasts a V50 rating for projectiles like a 17-grain FSP, ensuring protection against speeds exceeding 3281 ft/sec (1000 m/sec).

These are the somewhat confusing different levels of ballistic set forth by the NIJ. Level III and level IIIA are good options and are the most common.


Beyond U.S Borders: International Safety Standards

American standards are one thing but when it comes to the international arena we’ve got NATO STANAG 2920, a universal standard. This is all about the V50 ballistic test for armor and it’s the norm across NATO countries.

These standards guarantee that no matter the location on Earth, a helmet will offer superior protection so long as it complies with either NIJ or STANAG criteria.

The Proof Is In The Testing

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Essentially, these safety standards act like a seal of quality. Manufacturers need to subject their ballistic helmets to intense testing to earn this recognition. It’s not a simple job, yet it guarantees the most elevated degree of security for those utilizing them.

Key Takeaway: 

It’s not just about making a helmet that can take a hit. These certifications demand rigorous testing against different types of bullets and forces. But, tactical helmets certified by the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) standard 0106.01 or NATO’s STANAG 2920 means you’re getting some of the safest headgear out there.

Protective tactical gear is essential for any serious range operator. A tactical helmet that offers a more lightweight but less head protection is the far cheaper bump helmet. There is a persistent debate in the tactical community between the two.

The name ‘bump helmet’ might sound funny but there’s nothing amusing about its purpose. It provides you with solid head protection from bumps and tumbles without weighing you down like traditional ballistic helmets. They are essentially tactical bike helmets.

Bump Helmets vs Ballistic Helmets

While ballistic helmets are designed to protect against gunfire and shrapnel, bump helmets are lighter, offering less comprehensive coverage but more mobility while still giving you all the same ability to carry night vision and other tactical gear on your head.

You may ask why one would choose less protection. The answer lies in the task at hand. If speed and agility outweigh the need for full armor penetration resistance, then a top-quality bump helmet becomes your go-to choice.

Plus your budget and opinion come into play here since a bump helmet is much cheaper than a ballistic tactical helmet.


Finding Your Perfect Bump Helmet

Selecting your ideal bump helmet isn’t as simple as picking up the first one that fits your melon. You need something comfortable enough for extended wear while still being robust enough to take a hit or two if things get dicey.

A few brands have established themselves as leaders in this space due to their focus on quality materials and innovative designs. Some prime examples of these are the HHV Tactical Bump Helmet (my favorite), Ops-Core Fast Base Jump Military Helmet or Team Wendy EXFIL LTP Carbon Fiber Helmet. We’ll mention more below in our full helmet list below.

Key Takeaway: 

For those quick and agile tasks, bump helmets are your go-to. They’re lighter than ballistic versions but still offer essential versatility. Some of the top players in this game are Ops-Core and Team Wendy. If you continue reading we’ll talk about some more options.

Proper Maintenance and Care for Your Ballistic Helmet

Your ballistic helmet is a lifeline, just like your faith. Okay, maybe not quite, but it still needs care to keep you safe. I’ve been through it all – the grime, dust, sweat and everything else that can mess up a good helmet. Let me give you some practical advice.

Reconbrothers Cleaning Tactical Helmet Team Wendy Cleaning Shell
Photo by Recon Brothers

Cleaning Your Helmet

The first step? Cleanliness. A dirty helmet might hide cracks or other damage that put you at risk. Use mild soap and warm water to gently clean off dirt and debris.

Don’t use harsh chemicals or abrasive materials; they can degrade the material of your helmet. Always dry it thoroughly before storing – moisture breeds mold.


Inspection Is Key

A warrior knows his gear inside out – same goes for helmets. Regularly inspect yours for signs of wear or damage.

If there’s any sign of deep scratches, dents or cracks in the shell, it may need replacement as its protective capabilities could be compromised. This isn’t something to gamble on; better safe than sorry.

Mind The Padding And Straps Too.

You think only bullets hurt? Try being stuck wearing an ill-fitting helmet for hours. Make sure straps are snug but not choking tight – remember comfort aids performance too. Adequate padding helps reduce impact forces, so always check them for degradation and go for a solid padding upgrade if necessary.

Honor Its Service Life

Even the best helmet has a lifespan, typically around 5-8 years. Keep track of its age, because old helmets may not offer the same level of protection.

If you’re using it frequently or it’s taken some hard hits, consider replacing sooner. Your life is worth more than any gear’s price tag.

Store It Right

Last but not least – storage. Store your helmet in a spot that’s cool and dry, away from direct sunlight to protect it from damage.

Just as we guys crave our peaceful corners, everything requires a suitable place to rest. This helps maintain its integrity over time.

Key Takeaway: 


Even the best ballistic helmets have a lifespan of 5-8 years. Regular maintenance and checks can extend this, but don’t compromise on safety. If there are any signs of serious wear or damage, your ballistic helmet isn’t forever so be prepared to replace it when necessary.

The Future of Ballistic Helmets

Looking ahead, we can see a bright future for ballistic helmets. Manufacturers of tactical gear are continually striving to give our brave warriors an advantage on the field by devising new helmet tech that offers improved protection from bullets but is also lighter and more comfortable.

Tactical gear manufacturers are always seeking ways to give our men of strength an edge on the battlefield. A key focus is developing new helmet technologies that offer better protection against ballistic threats while reducing weight and increasing comfort.


New Materials for Enhanced Protection

Innovations in material science promise to revolutionize helmet design. Companies are exploring high-strength polymers and advanced ceramics as alternatives to traditional Kevlar-based designs.

New research into nanomaterials, like graphene, suggests these super-strong substances could make future helmets incredibly resilient without adding weight or bulkiness.

Smart Helmets: Integrating Technology

Beyond just protection, modern tactical operations demand data integration from multiple sources – think GPS coordinates or live video feeds from drones overhead.

This is where ‘smart’ ballistic helmets come into play. These devices may incorporate heads-up displays (HUD), built-in communications equipment, or even health monitoring systems that alert medics when a soldier is injured – much like something out of a sci-fi movie.

best ballistic helmets

Ergonomics & Comfort Enhancements

Helmets aren’t worth much if they’re too uncomfortable to wear properly. That’s why advancements in ergonomics have become equally important as the drive for better protection.

Expect to see helmets with improved ventilation, adaptable fit systems, and cushioning materials that offer comfort during extended wear.

The future of ballistic helmets is an exciting frontier. As technology advances, we can expect our men of strength to be safer, more efficient, and ready for whatever comes their way. You know what that means: more advanced helmets for us civilians as well. 

Now let’s finally get into the full list of the best ballistic helmets and some other awesome options for a quality tactical helmet.

The Best Ballistic Helmets Out There: From Elite To Affordable Options

When it comes to survival and preparedness, having the right gear can make all the difference. One piece of equipment that should be on every man’s list is a ballistic helmet. These helmets are designed to protect your head from bullets and other projectiles in high-risk situations.

1. Hard Head Veterans ATE Gen 2 Helmet

My choice
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HHV Ballistic Helmet ATE

Affordable, high quality and proven to perform great. This is my personal choice for the best ballistic helmet.

* Use code “STRENGTH” for free shipping
Price accurate at time of writing

If affordability without compromising quality is what you’re after, consider investing in a Hard Head Veterans ATE Gen 2 helmet. Known for their durability and reliability, these helmets offer great value for money while ensuring maximum safety.

2. Ops-Core FAST SF Super High Cut Helmet

One of the top choices for ballistic helmets is the Ops-Core FAST SF Super High Cut Helmet. This helmet offers excellent level IIIA protection with its advanced aramid shell design. It also has an adjustable fit system for comfort and stability during dynamic operations.

3. Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet

best ballistic helmets

The Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet (👈code “STRENGTH” for a discount) provides superior level IIIA protection without sacrificing mobility or comfort. Its Zorbium foam liner absorbs impact energy effectively while its lightweight construction ensures you won’t feel weighed down even in extended use.

4. Shellback Tactical Ballistic High Cut

best ballistic helmet

The Shellback Tactical Level IIIA Ballistic High Cut SF ACH Helmet is equipped with side rails, a 3-hole NVG shroud, loop panels, bungee cords, and a ratcheting retention system. Its sleek high-cut design allows for quick access to radio headsets and reduces weight. Providing level IIIA ballistic and fragmentation protection, this helmet is both practical and secure.

5. Avon Protection F90 Ballistic Helmet

The Avon Protection F90 Ballistic Helmet The F90 high cut shell is made of 100% UHMWPE ballistic material, making it lightweight and cost-effective. Avon Protection has developed a unique molding technology for this helmet, resulting in exceptional performance. It weighs over 15% less than the ACH helmet and achieves one of the highest 17 gr V50 results available on the market.

6. Ace Link Armor High Cut Ballistic Helmet

best ballistic helmets

Ace Link Armor’s Level IIIA ballistic helmets are the perfect choice for those seeking affordability, comfort, and lightweight protection. These helmets are by far the cheapest on the list while still providing proper protection.

Remember, when choosing a ballistic helmet, factors such as weight, adjustability features, material composition, and price point should be considered alongside protective capabilities.

Being prepared is about more than just having the right gear, though. It’s also about training and mindset. In addition to investing in a high-quality ballistic helmet, consider seeking out tactical training courses that can help you learn how to effectively use your equipment in a legitimate situation.


The Best Bump Helmets

Bump helmets are essentially just non-ballistic counterparts but are still a viable option if you don’t need ballistic protection or the extra weight.

1. HHV Tactical ATE Bump Helmet

The HHV Tactical ATE Bump Helmet has everything you need out of a bump helmet and a whole lot more for only 1.4 pounds and a price that is too low to pass up. This is definitely my go-to bump helmet on this list.

2. Team Wendy Exfil LTP Bump Helmet

The Team Wendy EXFIL LTP Bump helmet is designed for maritime environments, offering impact protection and a stable platform for accessories like night vision. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and equipped with Rail 3.0. Also on Amazon.

3. Ops-Core FAST Bump Helmet

Offering protection from blunt force trauma, the Ops-Core FAST Bump helmet has a shell weight of (size L) 1.02 lbs. offering a lighter alternative to the FAST line of ballistic helmets and is ideal for training situations where helmets are configured in “mission ready” formats.

4. Chase Tactical Bump Helmet

opplanet chase tactical bump helmet non ballistic ct bump1 atau main

Stay protected and equipped with the Chase Tactical Bump Helmet. This helmet offers reliable head protection from bumps while providing a convenient platform for mounting NVG or similar gear. The upper and lower dovetail rails allow you to easily attach lights, cameras, communication devices, and other essential accessories.

5. Lancer Tactical Bump Helmet

Another bump helmet option for the very budget-minded individual is the Lancer Tactical Bump Helmet. Mainly built for airsoft, it’s still an option to get you on the range if you only want to mount night vision devices or other tactical gear for only $70.

FAQs About The Best Ballistic Helmets

What helmets do Navy SEALs wear?

Navy SEALs often sport Ops-Core ballistic helmets, known for their superior protection and comfort during rigorous operations.

Who makes the best bulletproof helmet?

Team Wendy and Ops-Core are widely recognized as top-notch. Its high-quality design prioritizes safety without sacrificing ease of use or durability.

What ballistic helmet do special forces wear?

Military Special Forces typically don MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) due to its excellent balance between coverage, weight, and adaptability for communication systems.

Is it legal to own a ballistic helmet?

In the U.S., owning a ballistic helmet is generally legal unless you’re convicted of a felony. But remember to check local laws before buying one just in case.


Choosing the best ballistic helmets isn’t a walk in the park. You’ve got to consider material, weight, comfort, and additional features.

You’re now equipped with knowledge of top models available today. Remember each has its strengths and potential drawbacks.

Maintenance is key! Taking proper care of your helmet will ensure it lasts longer while keeping you safe effectively.

Understanding safety standards for these lifesavers helps make an informed choice because not all helmets are created equal!

The future? It’s bright! Ballistic helmets are evolving fast; stay updated with advancements for maximum protection.

As far as the future goes, your faith plays an important role as well. As men of strength and conviction, we must be rooted firmly in our beliefs and values as we navigate through life’s challenges. Stay strong physically, mentally, and spiritually – because when hard times come, it’s not just about surviving; it’s about thriving.

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