5.56 Timeline

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.

Blackhawk 6 round 40mm Pouch

I’m sure you guys are sick of me talking about 40mm accessories, but too bad, I’m still excited about it.

Back in 2006 prior to deploying to Iraq my peers and I (but mostly me) spent lots of time in the various tactical stores in Oceanside California spending money on all sorts of stuff that was mostly useful.

One of the new guys was assigned to carry a M203. Well many of them were, for some odd reason the platoon I was in was very M203 heavy. About two of them per team vs the normal one per four man fireteam. Our guys were not issues any pouches for holding 40mm rounds, so they were often dumped in a cargo pocket or saw drum pouch. But one of the guys in my platoon found and purchased a Blackhawk 40mm pouch and I always thought it was a pretty neat piece of kit.

There are similar pouches out there, and some of the other ones look quite nice. But the ones I’ve seen also appear bigger and bulkier than this one. I wanted to get a pouch to hold 40mm rounds, so I started looking for one of these Blackhawk pouches. Many places labeled it as discontinued, or had new old stock at very high prices. I did end up finding a seller that had these new for cheap. I paid less than $15 shipped. I’m very happy with that price. Part number is 37CL59

This pouch is pretty big. The back has MOLLE/PALS/Strike/ETC webbing. Blackhawk includes their “speed clips” for mounting it. There is also a thicker webbing section so you can use ALICE clips. The pouch is fairly deep so you can put longer illumination/flare rounds. Velcro on the flap allows you to velcro the flap open. There is also a snap for additional retention along with a sizeable amount of velcro hook and loop. The fine sand in Iraq could gum up hook and loop material so having a snap gives you another option in inclement conditions.

I don’t think I have seen the Blackhawk Speed Clips before. They are much faster to attach and remove than MALICE or TacTies, etc. I question if they are as durable or good a choice for long term/permanent mounting. I found a good video showing their use on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DdEGCxxcgw

Elastic straps in the pouch allow you to secure 6 rounds in side the pouch. It isn’t hard to stuff an additional 2 between the two rows. If you were not using the straps you might be able to stuff in even more rounds, but I haven’t tried yet.

The pouch is pretty big if you stuff in 8 rounds, but the cover handles it just fine. With the recommended 6 rounds the pouch is about 6 by 6 by 3 inches.

One last major note is that the bottom of the pouch is mesh. This lets water and debris fall the out the bottom. It also lets all that water and debris in the pouch to begin with. Eh, IMHO it isn’t a good or bad feature.

Now you might be asking, why not just use a bandolier?

Back in 2006, I don’t think any of us had seen a modern 40mm bandolier. There were the fabric 6 shot ones that 40mm rounds came in, but I didn’t see a modern bandolier until we saw the Army guys rocking them. We would see Army and National Guardsmen carrying around 20-30+ 40mm rounds. Hell, our guys were lucky if they had 6 HEDP at any given time. For us, a bandolier would have been overkill. I’ve read grenadiers complain that the 40mm bandolier would flop around, be slow to reload from, allowed rounds to get dirty and damaged, and that the bright gold nose cones of HEDP would draw attention and be a target indicator for the enemy.

I think it partially comes down to what you need. If you need to carry a bunch of 40mm round, a bandolier would be handier than several pouches. Or if you are handing off the launcher from one person to another a bandolier could also be transferred easier. But for a few rounds for my own launcher, I’d rather have them in an enclosed pouch.

John Wayne Dense Tiger Stripe From Moore Militaria

My pal Trey Moore at mooremilitaria.com has come out with a new reprp of original Vietnam war era tiger stripe. This time in the version of tiger stripe that is the most popular and well known. It’s name given by collectors is “John Wayne” for the reason it was the pattern JW and the other actors wore in the film The Green Berets.

John Wayne Dense Tiger Stripe Set. These are the classic “advisor” pattern and are the “Anglo” cut with US Sizes. True to originals, these are more slim fitting than many of the repros on the market. This run is part of a limited partnership and available solely through us in the US. These have incredible detail including color, medium to heavy twill fabric, dish buttons, green thread, and simple ink stamp for size in garment. Shirt features two double button chest pockets, left sleeve cigarette pocket, hanger tab in neck, and a gusseted double button cuff (C2B-EXP-3P1 style). This is the classic John Wayne pattern as seen in the movie, The Green Berets. Sleeve lengths and inseams are “regular” length. Trousers feature two rear bellows pockets and two thigh bellows pockets with double buttons. There is also a small single button “cigarette” pocket on the lower left leg. There have a chrome HAMA zipper and one button at the top closure. Green thread construction and no take up tabs at the waist. (ZIP-7P1 style). Sizing Note: Please note that the measurements given are the actual measurements for the waist and chest

I have bought a lot of stuff from Trey over the years and all of his reproduction uniforms are top notch. If you ever wanted a set of this stuff and didn’t want to pay 5,000 dollars for a real set that is only big enough to fit a 10 year old boy, now is your chance.


Leupold Mark 5HD The Next Day Optic For Army Sniping Program

I was surprised to read that SIG didn’t manage to grease the palms enough to get this contract.

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Leupold & Stevens, Inc., provider of the world’s most rugged, lightweight, and clear riflescopes and reflex sights, is pleased to announce that its Mark 5HD riflescope has been selected as the day optic for the U.S. Army’s Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) program. Like all of Leupold’s riflescopes, the Mark 5HD is designed, machined, and assembled at their Beaverton, Ore. factory.

The U.S. Army Mark 5HD 5-25×56 will come in a proprietary flat dark earth coating and utilize the Army’s patented Mil-Grid Reticle. The Mark 5HD will be mounted on the USSOCOM selected MK22 Mod 0 based on the Barrett MRAD bolt-action multi-caliber system chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum.

I really like Leupold optics and I am liking what I’m reading about what this one can do.

“The Mark 5HD has been built from the ground up to deliver the unparalleled performance that the men and women serving our country overseas require,” said Sam Horstman, Director of Military Sales for Leupold & Stevens, Inc. “And, like all of our optics, the Mark 5HD has been strenuously tested for durability, and fully meets the extremely high standards that the military demands. Our Soldiers need their optics to perform, and we’re glad to be able to offer a solution that’s built to deliver on those expectations.”

The Mark 5HD has been crafted to redefine accuracy, precision, and optical performance for long-range shooters. Three models – a 7-35×56, 5-25×56, and 3.6-18×44 – are available in both milliradian and MOA configurations. Pick one up and you’ll feel the difference: it’s up to 20 ounces lighter than other scopes in its class. Get behind one and you’ll see the difference, from its superior edge-to-edge clarity to its extreme low-light performance. With three revolutions of elevation adjustment, the Mark 5HD was made to max out the performance of the latest long range rifles and ammunition.

Waterproof, fogproof, and guaranteed to perform for life, the Mark 5HD is backed by the company’s legendary Lifetime Guarantee.

For more information on Leupold products, please visit us at Leupold.com.