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Old 04-08-2005, 12:54 PM   #1
 
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US Army helmet effectiveness

I know this is off topic, but I also know that the members of this forum can probably answer this question.

I've heard anecdotal evidence of the current issue army helmet (PASGT) stopping AK rounds. Is the helmet rated to stop 7.62x39 most of the time?

I'm training soldiers this week, some of whom are deploying overseas in the near future. These kids think that their helmet is like the old flak vest, that it will stop fragments but not bullets. I explained how the bullets will penetrate the outer layer, but then stay sandwiched in the kevlar layers as it moves around the helmet. I'd like to find something in writing that I can show them.

Thanks,
Glenn

M-14 content: The smart soldiers would much rather have an M-14 when they go in harms way!
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Old 04-08-2005, 02:08 PM   #2
 
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Current Army kevlar helmets are either level IIA or II in bullet resistance lingo. That means some pistol bullets and projectiles in the 1350 fps range or less. Most of the anecdotal stories you've heard were from either angled/deflecting hits or long range hits. No helmet made today can stop full power rifle bullets or they'd be too heavy to wear!! So don't tell your troops their helmets are rifle bullet proof or you'll be filling body bags. Good luck and watch your six!!
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Old 04-08-2005, 03:12 PM   #3
 
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Penetration of the USGI Kevlar helmet by small arms ammunition is dependent upon range.

For example:
M855 (62gr. 5.56x45) ammo - 20" barrel - full penetration to 1300M
M80 (147gr. 7.62x51) ammo - 22" barrel - full penetration to 800M
M193 (55gr. 5.56x45) ammo - 20" barrel - full penetration to 515M

This is not anecdotal. These were the results of the 1977-1980 NATO Small arms trials.

I don't have the figures for the Soviet 7.62x39 round, but I'd have to say that full penetration should occur somewhere between the 515M of the M193 round and the 800M of the M80 since it's pretty well known that the Soviet (AK47) round will out-penertate the VN-era M193, but will not penetrate as well as the M80.

In any case, a lucky head shot will take out a Kevlar helmet as far as it can be seen by the naked eye and then some!

HTH
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Old 04-08-2005, 03:45 PM   #4
 
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Are your data for the steel helmet? Kevlar helmet didn't come on board until about 1982, and seen for the first time on Grenada in 1983.
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Old 04-08-2005, 04:53 PM   #5
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blunt force trama will kill you just as dead as penetration, atleast that's what they said in jail
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Old 04-08-2005, 06:34 PM   #6
 
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The Shotgun News had a story about the AK-74 and popped a 5.45x39mm through the older heavey USGI brain bucket @ 100 years. The 5.45x39mm projectile started a full 90 degree tumble when it hit the outside of the head band. That's atleast 1/2 after impact! The 5.45 has more trama than the US military's 5.56 round. It was about two years ago, don't have the issue any more.

There was also a "Mail Call" episode where Arlee (spelling, I know!) shot an AK-47 (7.62x39mm) round though some USGI military flak vest. Sliced through the Vietnam vest, and then did the new type with the Type II plating (please correct me!). I don't know what episode it was. I have seasons I and II on DVD but that's in Flordia.

Here, do an experiment at the range with a discarded brain bucket and body armor. I remember the science experiements in high school and college because we did something hands on. Put the armor on a target on the range and tear into it. When it comes to garnade chunking, use it as the target. You need something to throw garnades at for pratice, right?

Video tape it, make it something fun and intresting. It will be a change for bootcamp. I remember things easyier if it's intresting. Hang the torn up armor in the bunk next to the door to drill it into thier heads every time they come and go.
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Old 04-08-2005, 08:52 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bren10man
Are your data for the steel helmet? Kevlar helmet didn't come on board until about 1982, and seen for the first time on Grenada in 1983.
Interesting question, but of course the Kevlar helmet was undergoing years of development and then testing before being issued.

As I understood the published results, the tests were begun using the old steel helmet in 1977 but by 1980 the prototype Kevlar helmets were being tested at the Small Arms Trials, mostly due to the newly published (1980) USMC primary requirements which stated, in part, that the Corps desired "a bullet with better accuracy and the capability to penetrate all known helmets and body armor at ranges of 800 meters". This resulted in the PIP version of the M16A1, known as the M16A1E1, which didn't become adopted as Standard 'A' until late 1982, and in turn morphed into the M16A2 which didn't come on board until spring of 1984 with the Marines.

The Kevlar 'Kraut' helmet along with Kevlar body armor were already developed and were being tested prior to 1980 and at that time it was a 'given' that they would eventually be adopted across the board by all branches of our military. It just took a few years to become the Standard 'A' helmet.

Isn't it interesting that the development of the Kevlar helmet, and the new ammo/rifle combination capable of penetrating it, both paralleled one another and each took a comparable amount of time to reach the troops?
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Old 04-10-2005, 04:56 PM   #8
 
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It was explained to me that the old fritz kevlar helmet is fragmentary protection only but have been known to stop 9mm and 7.62 x 39 mm rounds - this happened in Panama when a soldier was hit and knocked out when a AK round was fired at his head from close range. He survived and the helmet exists in some Army museum. This is not something the fritz helmet was designed to take and variations in ammunition can sometimes explain why they are stopped by the helmet. The soldier was lucky - the force alone of a high velocity round hitting your head can cause severe head injuries without penetrating your helmet.
The new MICH, marine lightweight helmet and ACH helmets that have replaced the old fritz helmets are a different matter - they are rated to stop and have a hight degree of survivablity of certain 9mm rounds. Much more effective than the older Kevlar and lighter too .
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Old 04-16-2005, 07:17 AM   #9
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When we got the then new Kevlar helmets we shot them w our M1911A1s and 230g FMJ at about 30 ft. No penetration, but did leave a crater. Later, when we got our new M9s, we shot them again w 115g IMI FMJ (we couldn't get any US M882 for some reason). Still no penetration, and a smaller crater.

Have an old Army report from about 1949 that shows 230/45 FMJ penetrating the old steel pot up to 30 yds, the 115/9 FMJ at 1150 fps penetrating up to 120 yds, the 115g at 1250 fps up to 130 yds.
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Old 04-17-2005, 08:22 AM   #10
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The steel pot is good for low velocity fragments, dirt clods and rocks thrown up by artillery, holding water for various things, and making you look very cool worn tilted to one side with a web camo net on....
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Old 04-25-2005, 03:22 PM   #11
 
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Pragmatically the key is what angle the bullet strikes the helmet. And this is where your margin of safety might come from.

8 years on active duty, 4 years reserve/guard and no one ever put me under the impression that thing was 100% going to stop a bullet.
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Old 04-25-2005, 03:32 PM   #12
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Time magazine had an article on a GI that survived an AK round to the head because of his helmet. I think it was last months issue. The bullet pentrated his skull but didn't penetrate his brain.

Better than nothing.
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Old 04-27-2005, 05:18 PM   #13
 
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R. Lee Ermey ... Oooh rah!
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Old 05-01-2005, 09:23 AM   #14
 
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The kevlar helmet WILL sometimes stop a rifle projectile under the right conditions. Usually it will be from a less than dead-on hit. It was NOT designed to do this, but there are plenty of reports of saves from Panama through to Iraq and everything in between. One of the prime contractors for the helmet is here in Vermont. A soldier who was saved by one of their helments in Afghanistan came for a tour of the factory and to relate his experience. His helment was hit from behind by a 7.62x51mm ball projectile fired from about 100 yards away. The impact caused blunt force trauma to his head and blinded him, but he lived. A one-in-a thousand save? Maybe. Would I stick my head up under fire, expecting the helmet to save me? NO!

AKMS
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Old 05-06-2005, 06:33 PM   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMS
His helment was hit from behind by a 7.62x51mm ball projectile fired from about 100 yards away.
Friendly fire? Only the Allies use 7.62x51mm, unless they mean something like 7.62x54r.
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Old 05-07-2005, 03:48 AM   #16
 
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The 7.62x51mm was fired out of a G-3 by a supposedly friendly Afghan soldier/militiaman/guide, that was on patrol with the soldier. Apparently he was a turncoat. He was promptly dispatched during the incident.

AKMS
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Old 05-09-2005, 06:36 PM   #17
 
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I read an article a few months ago in either Army Times or on the Early Bird news service.

They interviewed a neurosurgeon in Baghdad.

The new helmet is good. However, it doesn't cover the head as much as the older K-pot does. Basicly, the new helmet is supposed to be easier on the soldier when he is in the prone position. In fact, the USMC, to my knowledge, has not adopted it for this reason. The neurosurgeon reported that the greatest weakness is the back area, near the medulla/brainstem (100% fatal, as it controls the involuntary relexes of the body, i.e. breathing, heartbeat, etc.). He has had numerous injured soldiers that when they arrive to him, they are basicly DOA, when hit in this area (either via bullets or via shock when an explosive goes off).
He reported that explosive force, like a severe concussion, is what has killed more soldiers than bullets to the head. The brain litterally floats around, and when shock hits it, it ping-pongs back and forth in the skull.
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Old 05-09-2005, 09:07 PM   #18
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMS
The 7.62x51mm was fired out of a G-3 by a supposedly friendly Afghan soldier/militiaman/guide, that was on patrol with the soldier. Apparently he was a turncoat. He was promptly dispatched during the incident.

AKMS
Gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling when working with the locals you just liberated.
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Old 05-15-2005, 06:19 PM   #19
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Now that we have a half-way decent helmet, what about face protection? I have read that one in four major wounds are in the face area. Seems that Uncle needs to come up with something to keep shrapnel and other things from ripping up a guys face. Anything out there in the works? Inquiring minds would like to know.
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