Ballistic helmets have been protecting the minds of warfighters for plenty of years. They serve many purposes and aren’t just meant to keep your head on your shoulders when fighting an enemy. They can also be a great host for accessories such as night vision and headsets. 

You may often hear about tactical or bump helmets as well, which are similar to ballistic helmets but aren’t rated to stop any type of bullet. True ballistic helmets are rated up to level IIIA, meaning they should be capable of defeating calibers up to 9mm, .44 Mag, and .357 Sig. 

Unfortunately, odds are, your enemy is going to be using a round that can easily defeat level IIIA, like the M855 5.56×45, 7.62×39, and 7.62×51.  And guess what? They will go through that $2,000 helmet.

If you still want a helmet to host your night vision and headset but aren’t sold on relying on your enemy to only be using a 9mm, you don’t need a ballistic helmet. I have a Team Wendy bump helmet that is non-ballistic, and it works just fine for that. 

My advice? Save your money and get more training to be a better shooter than the guy aiming for your helmet. 

If I haven’t dissuaded you yet, here are the best ballistic helmets on the market. 

1. Ops-Core FAST SF Helmet

For the absolute best-of-the-best, you have the Ops-Core FAST SF helmet. This is one of the primary helmet choices for USSOCOM, elite operators, and your favorite YouTubers who can afford the $2,000 it costs to get one. 

It’s made for severe end users and those who want and require the best for the job. 

It weighs only 1.4 pounds, has bungee cords by the NVG mount for retention and stability, and features a Head-Loc retention chinstrap to keep the helmet in place no matter how much you move. 

The high cuts also help keep your ear protection in place, which is usually a problem in helmets since the sides interfere with the fitting. Not here. The FAST SF helmet was built with everything in mind. 

You’re paying for how lightweight and reliable it is. When your life is at stake, this is the one you want. It is a great helmet if you can afford it.

Ops-Core FAST SF

Ops-Core FAST SF. Source:

2. Hard Head Veterans (HHV) ATE Ballistic Helmet

If you don’t want to spend a premium on a helmet but still want to get all the cool features, the HHV ATE Ballistic helmet is one you should consider. We’ll consider this one the best budget option. 

It’s worth noting that this helmet is heavier than the Ops-Core FAST SF helmet and doesn’t have the high cuts either. The ATE helmet weighs between 2.7 and 2.9 pounds, which makes a difference after wearing it for a while. And they tend to get a bit in the way of ear pro, depending on which ones you have.

One of my favorite features though is how the sides of the helmet feature M-Lok rails for your flashlights and other attachments. The helmet is also pretty comfortable due to the customizable comfort padding system on the interior.

The A3S Night Vision Shroud provides excellent retention and stability. You should use your bungees, though. 

If you want a relatively low-cost helmet to protect your head, consider the HHV ATE Helmet.

HHV ATE Ballistic Helmet

HHV ATE Ballistic Helmet. Source:

3. Team Wendy Exfil Ballistic Helmet

I’m a huge fan of Team Wendy’s products. I own their non-ballistic Exfil Carbon helmet, and I’ve found the fitment to be as close as you’ll get to that of the FAST SF Helmet. And it’s almost half the price. 

The high cuts give way to ear protection with no issue, and the retention chinstrap is one of the best on the market. A 3-hole Wilcox W NVG shroud provides a lightweight, secure attachment point for your night vision.

It’s still relatively heavy at 2.6-2.8 pounds, depending on the size, but thanks to the Zorbium foam liner that has 16 customizable comfort pads, it’s extremely comfortable.

Team Wendy Exfil LTP

Team Wendy Exfil LTP. Source

4. MTEK Flux Ballistic Helmet

Returning to more premium helmets, we have the MTEK Flux Ballistic helmet, which is another exceptionally light one at 2.2 pounds and offers no weak points due to it being a 100% boltless shell. 

The MTEK Flux also has a high cut edge, similar to the FAST SF, that gives plenty of room for ear protection. It has an M-Lok rail on the side for your lights and such, and the glass-reinforced polymer framed Wilcox Industries L4 shroud provides a low-profile mount for your night vision. 

It’s not pretty for your wallet, and you may have to wait a while after ordering, but the Flux is an excellent alternative to the FAST SF helmet.

MTEK Flux Ballistic Helmet

MTEK Flux Ballistic Helmet. Source:

5. HHV ATE LITE Helmet 

Remember that HHV ATE we mentioned above? Well, this is its lighter and American-made (Sweetwater, Texas) sibling. We couldn’t help ourselves and had to add another Hard Head Veterans option. 

Without sacrificing durability or quality, HHV managed to get this helmet shell down to 1.6 pounds! The high cuts are ideal for ear protection, the patent-pending Micro Lattice Pads increase comfort, and the M-Lok mounting rails allow you to add whatever lights or IR devices you need on your helmet. 

If you buy it directly from HHV, you also get discounts on other products, like 10% off $1,500 worth of night vision from Armasight and $260 off body armor from Adept Armor. 

HHV makes some awesome helmets. They are affordable, durable, and packed with features typically only found on higher-dollar ballistic helmets.

HHV ATE Lite Helmet

HHV ATE Lite Helmet. Source:


This list of helmets wasn’t based on just a simple Google search or Reddit post. My friends and I have had experience with each one of these helmets. In addition, we’ve talked to various SWAT officers who are in our shooting group. They essentially gave their “stamp of approval” on this list.

Remember, ballistic helmets are expensive and have a slim chance of saving your life. So don’t make it the most essential piece of kit on your list. If anything, you can always buy a more affordable non-ballistic helmet to keep your night vision in place and give you some added protection in non-combat situations.

If you do wind up deciding that you need a ballistic helmet, you can’t go wrong with any on this list.

Be good and take care.

Brian Zerbian
Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things.
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