Upgrading a cheap helmet – Part 1


There is an news article doing the rounds about how some research showed that World War I helmets are better are protecting from air burst fragmentation than modern helmets. That testing doesn’t really keep in mind that most modern helmets are now more concerned about direct bullet strikes and the ability to use other equipment light night vision and electronic hearing protection.

Let us look at a couple of modern helmets first.


I hated the PASGT helmet I wore much of my time in. It was uncomfortable, always gave me a headache and a sore neck.

Our “Personal Armor System for Ground Troops” helmets looked like this:

I picked up this one while I was in. Well. . . it looks like a helmet. Let us take a look at the inside.

Every time I pull this off the shelf I have to clean mold off that headband.

There is a leather headband that sits on your head and supports the entire weight of the helmet. A large PASGT like this weights about 4.2 pounds (~1.9 Godless Commie units). That is before we add a cover, night vision mount, goggles, etc. There is a simple chin strap with a snap buckle (badly frayed on this one) holding this bucket to your head.

Wearing this sucks. Turning your head rapidly will cause the helmet to rock or turn. It is not a very stable mount for night vision. The flaps over your ears adversely affect your ability to hear and locate the source of sounds. But, still I’d rather wear one than take a bullet or a piece of frag to my head.

Often it is said that a PASGT can stop a 9x19mm handgun round. These helmets are abundant and tend to be found cheap. I wouldn’t suggest buying one, but if you had no helmet, it would be a better helmet than none.

If you are running one of these, the upgrades I’ll talk about in part 2 can be done with this helmet. But I’d suggest selling it and buying a newer, lighter, and better helmet. PASGT helmets were designed in 1977, we can get better now.


I received a medium “Advanced Combat Helmet” as part of a package deal of stuff I purchased some time back. The medium is too small for my head, but I can make it work by removing a pad and rearranging the remaining pads. But first let look at it.

At first glance the ACH looks much like a PASGT. I’m not going to go into details of identifying them by their curves. All that sort of info is published in other places by people who know more about the subject than me. The ACH was mainly used by the Army so you tend to see covers in UCP camouflage.

Besides being lighter and offering better protection, the ACH and other helmets that have come after the old PASGT. Replaceable soft pads greatly increase protect from impacts. The PASGT will transmit the force of an impact right to your head. These pads give the ACH and newer helmets protection from impacts similar to that of a bicycle helmet. The ACH uses a 4 point “H harness” suspension system. This gives much more stability and adjustment for retaining this on your head and for providing a stable platform for night vision devices. Just the pads and harness is a massive improvement over the PASGT. If you currently use a PASGT and don’t care enough about the contents of your head to want superior ballistic protection, it would still be worth upgrading to pads for the comfort and blunt impact protection.

I’ve been trying to sell or trade off this ACH as I would need a Large. But there are so many for sale and so cheap that I’ve had no luck selling it. I can removing a pad and make it my head, but I’d rather just use a proper sized helmet. A large ACH is also about .6 pounds lighter than a PASGT.

Don’t settle for less

Imported Level IIIA High Cut Lightweight Helmet

I also received this helmet in a package deal. This particular one was said to be a “LongFri” brand from Botach. Cost new is about $200. A very similar helmet is sold by Kota for about $212 and is pretty well regarded.

These are suppose to be equal to an ACH helmet in protection, but high cut around the ears and come with a night vision mounting shroud and a knockoff side accessory rails.

I can’t find the picture I took of the suspension system in the helmet, so here is a picture of it outside the helmet.

There are an additional 2 pads not shown in the photo.

This suspension system has a dial adjustment in the back. It is a copy of the Ops-Core OCC-Dial. The idea is that you could rapidly adjust the tension in the system.

These high cut helmets run from half a pound to over a pound lighter than the old PASGT or ACH helmets.

Personally, I’d rather have an American made full cut (no relief around the ears) helmet of the newest tech and materials. But those are really expensive to buy from a reputable source, and I already have 3 helmets laying around I am not using. So I decided I’d take this cheap helmet and do a few cheap upgrades to vastly improve the usability and comfort of it. I’ll talk about that in part two.



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