A gas mask is one of those tools in your survival kit that you really hope you never have to use. Nevertheless, it’s an important inclusion simply because of the world we live in today. A quality gas mask will protect you from CBRN agents (1), whether they’re in weaponized form or not.
A full-face gas mask is much more effective than a simple mouth and nose shield. Our list of the Top Ten Gas Masks will help you narrow down your options so that you can choose the best mask for your needs. Our thorough Buyer’s Guide will also break down the most important factors to consider when buying a gas mask.
1. Avon M50
The Avon M50 Full-Face Respirator is constructed to military specifications and includes an interior drinking tube as well as a clear outer lens. This gas mask uses an M61 filter assembly and it ‘s one of the most advanced masks in existence and is capable of providing superior protection against chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear agents.
The M50 model’s cast flexible visor offers a wide field of vision while maintaining the best in impact and scratch resistance. The mask’s curved conformal filters also offer reduced breathing resistance and improved weight distribution. Additionally, the mask boasts an integrated Electronic Communication Port to connect an internal microphone for communication systems.
2. Dräger 6300
This gas mask is made for comfort with a 5-point harness and wide straps that prevent pressure points on the head and allow for easy donning and doffing. It is designed to fit virtually any face shape and size and the mask body itself is made from durable, skin-friendly EPDM (2). It also offers a double-layer face seal and triple sealing edges.
The Dräger 6300 provides both respiratory and face protection in an efficient, full-face breathing mask. It’s great for multiple applications and can be used with Rd40 (40-millimeter threaded) particle filters, gas or combination cartridges. That mask also features a distortion-free PMMA (3) lens that provides a 180°wide-angle field of vision.
3. SGE 1
The SGE1 is a full-face gas mask respirator designed to NATO specifications. It will protect against nuclear, biological, and chemical agents and it’s compatible with 40-millimeter filters via three distinct filter ports. It’s also drinking tube compatible, but this must be purchased separately and installed by the manufacturer.
This gas mask comes with a soft, quick-release harness with six adjustable straps. The mask’s durable polycarbonate visor has been tested to resist a one-inch steel ball propelled at 335 mph without cracking or otherwise being damaged. It also offers full visibility face protection and is heat resistant up to 800 degrees Celsius.
4. 3M FR-7800B
This full-face respirator is designed for first responders and protects against certain chemical warfare agents, such as sarin and mustard gas. It also protects against industrial chemicals and particulates. The mask’s facepiece is made of butyl rubber.
The 3M FR-7800B offers the ability to mount filter canisters on either side for convenience via 40-millimeter connections. The head harness is made from silicone and secures to your head using a suspension, six-part strap. This mask also includes a speaking diaphragm and meets NIOSH standards (4).
5. MSA Millennium
The MSA Millennium is designed to protect law enforcement and military personnel from a variety of respiratory hazards. It’s capable of protecting the wearer against chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear agents and has great application as a riot control gas mask.
This mask offers a flexible lens and a wider field of view. It provides permeation-resistant construction and built-in speaking diaphragms. It also offers a customizable, comfortable fit and the ability for easy On/Off adjustment.
6. Avon FM12
This gas mask is compatible with weapon sights and other optical devices, which makes it a great choice for tactical situations. The mask’s six-buckle fit provides an excellent seal and the contoured face seal helps to ensure compatibility with a variety of helmets.
The Avon FM12 has two filter mounts on the left and right that are designed to minimize interference and provide the ability to customize to fit your needs. The mask also contains a high-flow, fail-safe drinking device that enables connection to a canteen or hydration bladder.
7. Israeli Rubber Respirator Mask
This full-face gas mask will have you prepared in the case of an emergency that involves nuclear, biological, or chemical agents. It’s compatible with any 40-millimeter NATO filer gas canister and the mask’s straps are easily adjustable to fit all sizes.
The Israeli Rubber Respirator Mask is made of high-quality, professional-grade materials. The goggles are made with scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses. It’s also great for industrial and commercial uses such as painting, sanding, dusting, cleaning, and grinding fumes.
The PD-100 full-face respirator is designed for those who work with chemical and other toxic substances. It’s also a great gas mask for pesticide protection, chemical laboratory use, fire inspection equipment, health and epidemic prevention, and environmental technology applications.
The mask comes with dual filter cartridges and an impact-resistant lens. It’s compatible with 3M cartridges and the mask itself is manufactured using non-toxic materials. The mask’s high-density elastic straps also ensure an airtight seal and a snug fit in any conditions.
9. M15 Rubber Respirator Mask
The M15 is an IDF Government-Issue Israeli gas mask. The mask’s large triangular eyepieces provide a superior field of vision and its integrated voice meter enhances verbal communication capability. It’s the standard issue mask for all Israeli defense forces.
This gas mask also contains an upgraded exhalation valve for easier breathing. It offers compatibility with a drinking tube assembly and it fits any standard 40-millimeter NATO filter gas canister. The goggles are made from scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens and the mask’s easily adjustable straps truly make it a ‘one-size-fits-all’ option.
10. Holulo Organic Vapor
This full-face, activated carbon gas mask is made of high-quality silicone and weighs just 700 grams. It’s a great mask for working with paint, chemicals, polish, and pesticides. It can also be applied to work with fire inspection equipment, petroleum, mining, metallurgy, firefighting, disaster relief, health and epidemic prevention, and with environmental technology.
The Holulo Organic Vapor mask has a double-sided, anti-fog lens that creates an airtight seal when secured. Its lightweight design gives it a more relaxed feel, but its two 1010#, activated carbon filter cartridges will protect you from vapors, chlorine benzene, acetone, carbon dioxide, and thousands of other toxic agents.
Gas masks have evolved significantly since the first M17 that contained chromium in the filters, a substance we now know to be a carcinogen. However, with improvements in filtration, comfort, and seals, there are so many options available on the market today. To help you make an educated decision, our Buyer’s Guide will focus on protection, visibility, and hydration compatibility.
Gas masks are specifically designed to protect against specific agents. Many provide protection against a host of toxic substances, but knowing exactly what each mask you’re interested in protects against is important before making a purchase.
CBRN masks will largely provide the highest degree of protection possible against chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear agents. NBC masks provide protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical agents, but not against radioactive substances.
Filter cartridge compatibility is also important to consider when it comes to how much protection you’re getting. In general, it’s good to find a mask that accepts filters with a 40-millimeter NATO thread. This will give you the ability to choose from the widest variety of NATO filters available. Other thread options may limit the type of filters you can use with a certain mask.
Especially when it comes to firefighting, law enforcement, and military applications, a high degree of visibility and large field of view is important. These are circumstances in which it’s highly critical to be able to identify risks, objects, and other parts of the world around you in order to make decisions that can ultimately have high consequences or rewards.
Masks with singular lenses tend to provide the best clarity of vision and minimize obstructions to your peripheral vision. Some users, for example, may find that goggle-type masks don’t give them the freedom they need to survey their exterior landscape adequately.
In addition, the type of material that the lens or goggles of a mask is made with will affect the clarity of the mask, especially in adverse conditions. Just to offer an idea, many of the best gas masks only obstruct about one inch of your peripheral vision.
Hydration and Communication Compatibility
In some masks, this feature is a mere afterthought. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to wear your gas mask for a prolonged period, the ability to drink while still protecting against harmful agents will be essential. As such, we highly recommend finding a gas mask that can be used with a drinking tube.
Additionally, some masks contain a voice amplifier or meter that helps you effectively communicate through them. Depending on your intended use, this can also be an important addition. Those who work in a team in which quick, effective communication is essential to success or survival should certainly have a gas mask with a voice amplifier or meter.
Frequently Asked Questions
A gas mask is one of those survival and tactical tools that often mean the difference between life and death. But if you don’t know how to use and maintain your mask correctly, it won’t be nearly as effective as it should be. This list of Frequently Asked Questions will help you bolster your gas mask knowledge so that you can use your new mask to the best of its ability.
How long does a gas mask last?
When it comes to longevity, it’s more apt to talk about the lifespan of the filters that the mask contains. Generally, most gas mask filters will last up to about 24 hours in a nuclear, biological, or chemical situation.
How often should I change the filter in my mask?
The rule of thumb for replacing the filter in your gas mask recommends that you remove yourself from the contaminated area and dispose of the existing filter if it becomes damaged, soiled, or breathing becomes difficult. If this circumstance never occurs, it’s generally recommended to change the filter after 40 hours of use or 30 days, whichever comes first.
How should I clean my respirator?
You can clean the face piece of your respirator using the pre-packaged cleaning wipes that often come with it. If this isn’t available, you can also immerse the face piece in a warm cleaning solution and then scrub with a soft brush until clean. You can always add a little natural detergent if needed, but the temperature of your cleaning solution should never exceed 120°Fahrenheit.
What is an organic vapor?
This term most often refers to liquids that evaporate quickly and are petroleum based. Some examples include the solvents in paint, nail polish remover, and gasoline.
Will I be able to get a tight seal with my gas mask if I have a beard?
The simplest answer to this question is no. Some have tried to apply oils to their beard in order to mat it down in an attempt to achieve a better seal. But there’s really no substitute for direct skin contact when it comes to creating an airtight seal. When your life depends on it, it’s worth shaving that neckbeard.
Can anyone wear a respirator gas mask?
It’s important to note that breathing through a respirator is noticeably more difficult than breathing in open air. Therefore, people with lung diseases (asthma or emphysema), elderly individuals, and other populations may struggle to breathe when wearing a gas mask. Additionally, those with vision problems may also have trouble seeing with a gas mask on.
The first effective, charcoal-activated gas mask was invented way back in 1915 by Russian chemist Nikolay Zelinsky (5). Today’s masks are more effective and comfortable than ever. We hope that you’ve found this article useful and we wish you the best of luck selecting the right gas mask for you.