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Home » The Best Ballistic Helmet: ACH (MICH) or FAST? Buying Guide 2023

The Best Ballistic Helmet: ACH (MICH) or FAST? Buying Guide 2023

Ballistic helmets are one of the most important protection gear. Since you’ve bought your first plate carrier and ballistic plates for it, the next step you should go for is to look at the best ballistic helmet. 

What’s good for you – I’m a practical, not theoretical person. That means I wouldn’t recommend you the best options “theoretically”, and because someone said that. My experience based on dozens of personally tested helmets, as well as access to the SOF operators and soldiers of the different occupations. That means (again), that you’ll get the information straight from the current battlefields, so to say. What’s another good for you – I wouldn’t recommend you the most expensive models. Why? Because I’m not interested in that, all my interest is to provide you quality information that would save your life. 

The best ballistic helmets are

  1. Voodoo Tactical MICH Ballistic Helmet;
  2. Ace Link Armor – Mid Cut Ballistic Helmet;
  3. Shellback Tactical Ballistic High Cut Helmet;
  4. Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic Helmet.

As you may see, there are only 4 ballistic helmets in my list. Why did I create such a small list? Why did others create lists with 10+ positions? Here’s the shocking truth… 

All the helmets are the same, period. All MICH/ACH helmets are the same by their characteristics. All FAST helmets are FAST helmets, regardless of the brand. There’s no such thing as different helmet parameters: you won’t find MICH helmet from “X” company weighs 3.5 lbs, and MICH helmet from “Y” company weighs 5 lbs. Want to sell your helmets? Test it and comply first according to the Technology Assessment Program of NIJ Standard for Ballistic Helmets.

Remember: all technical parameters of the ballistic helmets are strictly regulated. You’re not allowed to create your own “ballistic helmet” with your own parameters. You can’t create and sell a ballistic helmet made of steel or plastic. It should be either aramid/kevlar or UHMWPE. You can’t create an “earless” helmet and sell it as ACH/MICH. You can make a helmet with 1 mm thickness in order to reduce weight. 

 After all, the one and only difference between different types of ballistic helmets is brand and price. Brand “A” decided to sell a MICH helmet for $700, and brand “B” decided to sell exactly the same MICH helmet for $300. Why? Someone has a well-known brand; someone creates a pretty story behind the brand; someone manufactures helmets in the USA, someone decides to move manufacturing to China – all of these affect the final price. 


Voodoo Tactical MICH Ballistic Helmet – The Best Ballistic Helmet

Voodoo Tactical MICH Ballistic Helmet isn’t something special among other MICH/ACH helmets. What I really love about it is the quality/price ratio. This helmet has a perfect cut and protection square, already mounted accessories (rails, shroud, etc.),, and outstanding price.   

  1. Material: Kevlar;
  2. Weight: 3.5 lbs;
  3. Threat Level: IIIA;
  4. Padding: comfortable and adjustable padding system.

Ace Link Armor – Mid Cut Ballistic Helmet

Well-made and decent quality ballistic helmet. What’s really good about it is that mid cut still provide a perfect level of protection, but at the same time provide the ability of comfortable use of the tactical headphones. 

  1. Material: Twaron + Polyurea outer shell;
  2. Weight: 2.7-3.3 lbs;
  3. Threat Level: IIIA;
  4. Padding:  comfortable and adjustable padding system.

Shellback Tactical High Cut Ballistic Helmet

One of my favorite brands. These guys make good-quality protection gear, and what’s even better – for a decent price. So that’s why their high cut ballistic helmet was added to this list. Lighter and more comfortable option for many people. What I really love about it is that this helmet cut perfect for using the tactical headphones.  

  1. Material: Kevlar;
  2. Weight: 3.1-3.4 lbs (depents on size);
  3. Threat Level: IIIA
  4. Padding: D30 Trust 7.

Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic Helmet

Bentley Bentayga in the tactical gear world. Rolex in the watches world. Something that can not only protect you, but can make all tac-heads around your state jealous. Gives you 8/10 protection, 10/10 attention, 10/10 respect from those who know stuff. Additionally, have a unique form of shell and their own type of rails, which make you more unique as well. Have never seen it on the battlefield, but seen a lot of pretentious tacticool photos on Instagram (yes, I’m just another jealous and broke guy). What’s good – I have no tiny doubts about its quality and protection level – these parameters are on the highest level, of course. 

What’s the difference between PASGT, MICH, ACH and FAST?

Too many abbreviations for one article, right? But I’ll make it clear without tons of boring and annoying paragraphs. Let’s make it quickly: 

  1. MICH and ACH are almost the same thing. MICH is the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet. ACH is the Advanced Combat Helmet. MICH is the system, ACH is basically the helmet portion of the system. Both terms are interchangeable.
  2. FAST is an abbreviation of the Ops-Core Future Assault Shell Technology (FAST) Helmet. There are many features behind this type of helmet, but the most distinctive is the “earless” shape of the shell.   
  3. PASGT is an abbreviation of the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops. So speaking formally, PASGT is a combat vest + helmet, not the helmet solely. Since 2001, it has been replaced by the MICH/ACH helmets. 

What Type of The Helmet Cut Should I Choose?

It totally depends on the purpose of the helmet. Let’s say, if you’re a military personnel, or assuming the possibility of the field combat actions, I’d recommend you to buy a MICH or mid cut ballistic helmet. If you’re in the SOF or tactical team, or just want to flex with your new Peltors or Sordins – take the FAST helmet.

I personally prefer MICH helmets because of the simple and most important point: bigger square of the protection. 

The bigger square of the protection, the bigger chances to survive. If you’re going to use your ballistic helmet in the situations where grenades, fragmentation warheads, mines, field artillery, or MRLS may be used, I recommend you to take MICH/ACH helmets only. If you’re going to use your helmet in any other situation, you can take a FAST cut helmet without any doubts.

Ballistic Helmet Accessories

If you’re going to use your ballistic helmet in the situation where you may need NVG mount, tactical headlamp, Go-Pro camera, headphones adapters, you should buy the helmet with rails, shroud, etc. If you need it just for the protection, but not for performing the tasks, you can buy the helmet without accessories.           

What Level of Protection Are Used In The Ballistic Helmets?

All ballistic helmets are certified by NIJ Level IIIA, and can stop most of the handgun bullets calibers and small fragments. There’s no lower level of protection, because lower level of protection would be insufficient and lead to death. There’s also no higher level of protection, because bullets of higher calibers have higher kinetic energy – the human neck can’t compensate this energy, and may be broken (however, this kind of hypothetical helmet still may withstand the impact).  

What Kind of Protection Materials Used In The Best Ballistic Helmets?

There are two kinds of protection materials that may be used: Aramid/Kevlar or UHMWPE (Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene). Aramid is an aromatic polyamide, one of the strongest fibers available today. And Kevlar is the trademarked brand name for the aramid fiber made by DuPont™, as well as Twaron or Nomex. 

What’s better? This is an object of another article, where I should show you examples of ballistic tests, scientific research and patents. But in brief, there is no difference in protection level of UHMWPE and aramid fibers, the key point is just wear resistance.