first published on April 1, 2016 by Will
Have you ever worried about how well your standard issue kevlar ballistic helmet would hold up to the most common rifle rounds used on the battlefield? The following ReadyMan video will not put your mind at ease.
Obviously there are many factors that come into play that determine the effectiveness of your helmet, i.e. distance, cartridge, bullet type, and angle of impact among others. I have watched enough combat footage and also have personal experiences in which the outcome varies.
During my Iraq deployment, one of my good buddies was shot in the head and killed by a sniper. The bullet went right through the front of his helmet, all the way through his head, and then struck the back of the helmet and tumbled a few inches laterally before coming to rest in the kevlar.
The story told to the rest of our unit was that the bullet had missed his helmet and struck him in the forehead. We as NCOs had to uphold this false narrative, because the last thing we needed was for our guys to lose confidence in their gear, and it’s not like we would be getting anything better.
Then, when I was in Afghanistan, one of my fellow squad leaders was struck in the head by a bullet. The Taliban attacked from an extremely high elevation, and the round came through the thin steel roof of the Humvee, through my buddy’s helmet, but was then stopped by his skull. He continued leading troops and was issued a new helmet when he returned to base. It can go both ways.
Not a single bullet was stopped by these basic issue helmets in the following video, but that doesn’t mean the helmet is useless. The battlefield is such a chaotic place, and there are many more threats to be mitigated by armor than a direct impact from a rifle round fired at close to medium distances. There are ricochets, shrapnel, flying equipment during vehicle rollovers, and countless other death sentences that can be avoided. So even though I have seen these helmets catastrophically fail, I will still be plopping mine on my dome when things turn kinetic.