Tactical Helmet vs. Ballistic Helmet: Are They Different?

Are you looking for a helmet that can protect you in combat? If so, you might be wondering if there’s a difference between a tactical helmet and a ballistic helmet. Here’s a quick rundown of the main differences between the two types of helmets.

What is a Tactical Helmet?

A tactical helmet is a helmet that is specifically designed for military and law enforcement personnel. These helmets are different from standard issue ballistic helmets in a number of ways, most notably in their level of protection and the materials from which they are made. Tactical helmets are designed to protect the wearer from a variety of potentially lethal threats, including gunshots, shrapnel, and impact forces.

What is a Ballistic Helmet?

A ballistic helmet is a type of headgear that is designed to protect the wearer from ballistic threats. These helmets are used by most military and law enforcement personnel.

Ballistic helmets are usually made of Aramid fibers such as Kevlar or Twaron, but can also be made of other materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber. The most common type of ballistic helmet is the militaristic ” Kevlar” or “PASGT” (personal protection systems ground troops) design.

The Kevlar design can stop most handgun rounds, as well as shotgun slugs and shrapnel from explosions. The next level up in protection is the “ACH” or “Advanced Combat Helmet”. These helmets are designed to stop rifle rounds and come with extra features such as night vision mounts and communication headsets.

The highest level of protection is the “FBI” or Federal Bureau of Investigation design. These helmets stop rifle rounds and even armor-piercing rounds. They also include all the features of the ACH, plus extra padding for comfort and to further protect against concussive forces.

What are the Differences Between the Two?

Whether you are in the military or law enforcement, you need to know the difference between a ballistic helmet and a tactical helmet.

The terms “ballistic” and “tactical” are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Here is a detailed breakdown of the differences between them:

  • Tactical helmets are designed to protect against blunt force trauma, (such as being hit with a baton or a rock) and extreme cold or heat (such as fire or exposure to chemical agents) whereas ballistic helmets are designed to protect against bullets and other projectiles.
  • Tactical helmets are usually lighter and more comfortable to wear than ballistic helmets. Tactical helmets are constructed to be significantly more comfortable than ballistic helmets, as they need to be worn for long periods of time by personnel who are often engaged in physically demanding activities.
  • Tactical helmets often have special features that enable them to be used in night operations (such as built-in night-vision goggle mounts) or in confined spaces (such as ventilation ports). Whereas ballistic helmets are often simpler in design and meant for daytime operations.
  • Ballistic helmets are designed to protect against small arms fire, shrapnel, ricochets, and other ballistic threats. They are typically made of Kevlar or other high-strength materials, whereas the vast majority of tactical helmets on the market today are made from advanced polycarbonate materials. Some manufacturers also offer tactical helmets with Kevlar or other synthetic fibers woven into the shell, which can provide even greater protection against high-velocity rounds and sharp objects.

How to Choose the Right Helmet for You

Ballistic helmets are designed to protect against bullets, while tactical helmets are designed to protect against impact. They are typically used by police and military personnel.

Tactical helmets are made from lighter materials such as polycarbonate or ABS plastic. They offer more ventilation than ballistic helmets and are often used by SWAT teams, riot police, and security personnel.

When choosing a helmet, you should consider the following factors:

  • The type of threat you will be facing: Are you expecting to be shot at? Are you expecting to be hit with projectiles? Are you expecting to be in close quarters combat?
  • The weight of the helmet: Heavier helmets will offer more protection but can be less comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Lighter helmets may not offer as much protection but can be more comfortable to wear. -The level of ventilation: More ventilation means less heat buildup but also less protection. Less ventilation means more protection but also more heat buildup. Choose the level of ventilation that is right for you based on your needs.
  • The fit of the helmet: A properly fitting helmet will be more comfortable and offer better protection than a poorly fitting helmet. Make sure you try on a variety of helmets before choosing one to ensure a good fit.

The Advantages of Tactical Helmets

When it comes to tactical helmets, there are a few different types that are designed for specific purposes. The most common helmet is the ballistic helmet, which is designed to protect your head from projectile fire, including bullets and shrapnel. Ballistic helmets are usually made of Kevlar or Aramid fibers, which can stop most high-velocity rounds.

Tactical helmets, on the other hand, are designed for a different purpose: to protect your head from impact. They’re often used by military and law enforcement personnel who need to be able to move quickly and agilely without worrying about injuring their heads. Tactical helmets are usually made of tough polymers like polycarbonate or resin-coated fabrics, which can withstand heavy impacts.

The Advantages of Ballistic Helmets

Ballistic helmets are designed to protect your head from projectile forces. They’re made of thick, rigid materials like Kevlar or composite fibers. They’re also heavier and more expensive than tactical helmets. The main advantages of ballistic helmets are their superior level of protection and their ability to stop penetration.

They’re also better at deflecting shrapnel than tactical helmets. Ballistic helmets are typically used by law enforcement and military personnel. They’re also becoming increasingly popular among civilians, particularly those who participate in high-risk activities like hunting or off-road biking.

The Disadvantages of Tactical Helmets

Tactical helmets are designed to protect the wearer from a variety of ballistic and fragmentation threats. However, they are not without their disadvantages. One of the main drawbacks of tactical helmets is that they can be quite heavy. This can make them uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and it can also cause neck fatigue.

Additionally, because they are designed to protect against high-velocity threats, they may not provide adequate protection against lower-velocity impact threats, such as those found in many industrial and construction applications. Finally, tactical helmets can be quite expensive, which may make them unaffordable for many consumers.

The Disadvantages of Ballistic Helmets

Despite the obvious advantages that ballistic helmets offer, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered. One of the biggest disadvantages is the cost. Ballistic helmets can be significantly more expensive than traditional tactical helmets, which can make them prohibitive for some budgets.

Another potential drawback of ballistic helmets is that they can be heavier and more cumbersome than traditional tactical helmets. This can make them less comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and can also impede your ability to move quickly and gracefully.

Finally, it’s important to remember that ballistic helmets are not bulletproof. While they will provide protection from most handgun rounds and shotgun pellets, they will not protect you from rifle bullets or high-powered rifle rounds. If you are working in an environment where you may be exposed to these types of rounds, it’s important to choose a helmet that is specifically designed to protect against them.

In Closing

So, which type of helmet is right for you?

If you need protection from gunfire, then a ballistic helmet is the way to go. But if you need a helmet that will protect your head in other situations (like if you’re working in a construction zone or participating in extreme sports), then a tactical helmet is a better choice.

NEXT UP: Search and Rescue (SAR) Helmet Designs Compared

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Rebecca Ross
About Rebecca Ross

Rebecca Ross an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) consultant who runs her own occupational safety consultancy. She focuses on hazardous materials, warehouse safety, fire safety, lab safety, fall protection, head protection and other workplace safety topics. Learn more about Rebecca here or connect with her on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium