German Small Arms vs USGI Helmet


The M1 steel helmet used by US troops in WW2 is a long way from the modern MICH helmet used by the military. The M1 didn’t even offer the protection of the back of the neck as the German helmet did. One reason US helmets eventually mimicked them. But how much protection did the M1 give ? Maybe a little from rocks and some shrapnel from artillery. The hilarious and constantly grumpy owner of At The Front decided to do a informal test using German small arms to find out.

He fired at a USGI Steel M1 helmet from 50 meters.

Well. Probably good thing the War Department didn’t show any GIs a test like this before they sent them to Europe. I doubt anyone is surprised by these results.

It’s possible he just wanted an excuse to show off some of his collection of Class III German small arms.

They make and sell some really cool stuff. US and German reproduction WW2 clothes and gear with some original stuff as it turns up. I have bought stuff from them for over 20 years. Check them out sometime.


  1. If you liked this video, check out Peter Samsonov’s article “Whose Helmet Was Better?” which covers Soviet 1943 test comparing results of over 1,000 helmets German and Soviet helmets shot with a variety of Soviet small arms or struck with 82mm mortar fragments.

    It was established that the resistance of domestic [Soviet] helmets was significantly higher than that of German helmets against all types of bullets. This was caused by the design of the SSh-40 [1940 model helmet], which only had a weak spot in the transition from the peak to the front portion (an 8-10 mm wide strip), unlike the German helmets. German helmets had many more weak spots, which could be seen from the locations of penetrations.

    When shooting with a rifle [7.62x54mmR Mosin mod. 1891/30 rifle] at 800 meters using a mod. 1908 bullet  (counting all hits), Soviet helmets were penetrated 7.7-10% of the time, and German helmets were penetrated 34.5% of the time. The PPSh [7.62×25mm PPsh-41 submachine gun] penetrated German helmets 41.4% of the time, but Soviet helmets only 11.5-11.7% of the time. The TT [7.62×25mm Tokarev pistol] could penetrate German helmets 38.8% of the time, compared to 12.4-13% for Soviet helmets. Even the Nagant [7.62×38mmR Nagant revolver] could penetrate German helmets 29% of the time…

    • Never trust testing performed by Russians wanting to make their stuff look as good as possible…

      I’ve seen similar testing done by the Germans and Americans, and, oddly enough, they all say their own products were best.

      Same syndrome can be seen to this day, with regards to an awful lot of things. You get the results you want, or the testers are out of jobs in short order. It’s a rare thing when the test results reflect reality, and that’s the truth.

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