How to Choose the Right Tactical Mask for Maximum Protection
The need for personal protection has never been more important than in today’s society. There are many things, both occupational and recreational, that may require someone to purchase a tactical mask.
With a high-quality tactical mask, you can provide protection from hazards while still retaining clear visibility and comfortable breathing. Different kinds of situations, though, require specific types of masks. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common tactical mask varieties and what situations they’re best suited for.
Half-Face Tactical Masks
A half-face tactical mask is typically going to be most beneficial when used for activities where protection from projectiles is needed, but full-face coverage isn’t actually necessary. It is also useful for situations where both protection and ease of communication are essential.
Half-face masks are usually quite lightweight, making them comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. With these masks, you can breathe easily and have a lot more visibility.
That being said, these masks don’t go without their faults. When opting for something that is lightweight, you’re going to have to sacrifice some of the stronger protective benefits of fuller masks. The eyes and upper face aren’t protected from hazards, and you may run into some half-face masks that don’t securely fit on all face types and will lead to gaps or slipping.
Full-Face Tactical Masks
When you’re seeking a mask that is better catered toward a high-intensity situation, a full-face mask is usually what you should opt for. If you need protection from high-velocity projectiles, such as airsoft bullets or paintballs, a full-face mask is your best bet due to its full coverage.
As opposed to a half-face mask, these masks offer more complete protection for your face. Many of them have built-in ventilation systems to assist with fogging, and if you’re worried about getting that secure fit, they also likely come with adjustable straps and padding to ensure they will stay put.
These masks come with a few distinct drawbacks, one being that they are significantly heavier than half-masks, and if they lack ventilation, they are far less breathable. They might obstruct your peripheral vision if too bulky, and they are often more expensive than their counterparts.
Respirator and Gas Tactical Masks
Whether you’re dealing with chemical, biological, or radiological hazards, a proper respirator mask will keep your lungs safe from exposure to these toxins. They’re beneficial for combat, industrial, or laboratory settings, which grants them a variety of uses.
The obvious benefit of respirator masks is that their filtration system prevents the wearer from inhaling harmful substances. They are specifically designed to protect against these agents.
An issue some face when it comes to respirator masks is that they are generally heavier than other tactical mask types. If you face this issue, you can always find a half-mask (the lightest type of mask) that is designed for respiration. A good example of a compact but powerful gas mask would be this Respirator Mask from Mira Safety.
Tactical Air-Purifying Respirator Mask (TAPR) Kit
Typical Price: $200
The Tactical Air-Purifying Respirator (TAPR) is the first EN-140 certified half-face respirator mask specifically designed for special operations, security actions, and rescue teams. Originally developed to suit the needs of the Czech Special Forces, the TAPR is designed to provide flexible, versatile protection for even the most challenging tactical situations.
- Center Port TAPR Body
- Mesh Harness
- ParticleMax P3 Compact Filter
- P-CAN Compact Filter
- Carry Case Nylon Pouch
- Low-profile Exhalation Cap
Riot Control Tactical Masks
These masks are traditionally used by law enforcement, as they offer protection from thrown objects (and chemical agents) during situations such as protests, riots, or demonstrations. These crowd-control situations have the importance of visibility and communication, but also safety from chemical irritants and projectiles.
These masks have a lot of benefits when used in the proper scenarios. They are designed specifically for riot control protection, so they often have a clear shield. The clear shield grants visibility and increased potential for clear communication, but the weight of that shield is definitely enough to feel safe.
The drawbacks of a riot control mask are its weight due to multiple layers, limited ventilation, and breathability, which can easily lead to fogging and discomfort, and the fact that since it was made with such a particular use in mind, you may not find it suitable for other types of activities.
Safety Is Key
Ideally, there would be a “one-size-fits-all” tactical mask that worked perfectly in every dangerous situation. But this isn’t the case, which makes it extremely important to be selective when considering what kind of mask to buy. After weighing the pros and cons of these masks, and their various uses, we hope you can make an informed decision that you can feel confident and secure in.