3M Ballistic Helmet Portfolio Pushes the Boundaries of Technology to Save Lives

Eric Sof

Each day, thousands of military and police forces worldwide rely on cutting-edge protection to keep them safe. When it comes to equipping these service members with helmets, decision-makers look for ballistic protection they can count on, as well as designs that deliver the right fit, comfort, and weight for each end user’s mission and operational environment.


Today, Ceradyne, Inc., a 3M company, announces new options for decision-makers with the availability of its 3M™ Ballistic Helmet F70. The F70 delivers a high level of protection at a lightweight that far exceeds conventional (ACH) ballistic helmet specifications. The helmet geometry creates a comfortable and modular design that is well suited for a wide range of missions and includes a novel no thru-hole construction for mounting the NVG shroud, retention system, and rails. The elimination of thru-holes increases the shell’s effective protection area, reduces overall system weight by up to 31% (compared to the finished shell of an ACH helmet), and eliminates the risk of bolts becoming secondary projectiles during ballistic events.

3M Ballistic Helmet F70

The 3M Ballistic Helmet F70 provides V50 fragmentation protection against 17-grain (.22-caliber) fragment-simulating projectile (FSP) at greater than 2,760 feet per second (greater than 840 meters per second). The ballistic shell weight starts at 1.52 pounds in the high-cut version and 1.75 pounds in the mid-cut version. This line of light-weight helmets meets or exceeds all U.S. Army Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) ballistic fragmentation requirements for 2-grain, 4-grain, 16-grain, and 64-grain RCC, and 17-grain FSP when tested under MIL-STD662F.

3M Ballistic Helmet F70
3M Ballistic Helmet F70 (Photo: 3M)

In addition to the F70, the 3M ballistic helmet portfolio includes the 3M™ L110 and N49 offerings. Designed for military combat operations and counterterrorism police missions, the Combat II L110 helmet can help protect service members from bomb fragmentations, certain rifle projectiles, handgun bullets, and blunt impacts. The helmet protects against select small arms projectiles, including a V50 ballistic limit value greater than 2,400 feet per second (greater than 731 meters per second) against the 7.62 x 51 mm M80 NATO ball projectile.

Extra inventory

The Ultra Light Weight Ballistic Bump Helmet N49 is the first multi-use helmet for bump and ballistic operational requirements. At just over one pound (shell weight, size L), the N49 is the lightest helmet to provide ballistic fragmentation and blunt impact protection. It provides V50 protection against 17-grain (.22-caliber) FSP at greater than 2,200 feet per second (greater than 670 meters per second) when tested under STANAG 2920.

“Having a wide range of choices is critical, as ballistic protection and mobility requirements differ for each end user,” said Terry Griffith, defense business manager, 3M Advanced Materials Division. “But with all the different helmet options available in the marketplace – and the varying information about them – it can be a struggle to compare them and evaluate which one best meets the requirements. Identifying the performance-to-weight ratio of different helmets can bring clarity to this decision-making process.”

A performance-to-weight ratio is calculated by identifying the V50 ballistic resistance against the 17-grain .22-caliber FSP, then dividing it by the helmet shell aerial density. 3M understands the value and supports this ratio’s use to give decision-makers a consistent means of comparing helmet choices.

3M will discuss the performance-to-weight ratio and showcase its portfolio at booth 2442 at the USA 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition, October 14-18, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

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