Ranger Regiment and SEAL Team Six scope out new kit from Ops-Core

New Ranger helmet cover?

When I stopped by to check out what was new from Ops-Core at the SHOT show, I talked to industrial designer Rafael Montes about their latest and greatest kit.  The above is the new Multi-Cam helmet liner that they made for the Ranger Regiment.  It struck me as strange that they were looking for new helmet covers.  When I was in 3/75 we tossed them all together in favor of spray painting our helmets instead.  At first, we painted them tan when we deployed, and then green when we were in Garrison.  Eventually, we settled on a much more intelligent approach: find one greenish-tan type color and stick with that year round.

Whatever the rational (and I’m sure there is one even if I’m not aware of the details), I think the Regiment will be well served by whatever Ops-Core comes up with.  I’ve been told that Rangers are already rocking out the Ops-Core helmets and Special Forces are getting them as well.  I could tell that Rafael understands the end-user and gets that the details do in fact matter to those who have to live with his kit for 6+ months at a time during deployments.

New “skull crusher”? About time if you ask me.

Also on display was this newly redesigned “skull crusher”.  The scary sounding name comes from the original model that came issued with PVS-7 and PVS-14 Night Vision Devices back in the day.  They were a well intentioned piece of gear that allowed soldiers to utilize night vision without having to wear a helmet.  Unfortunately, they were very uncomfortable, and it was next to impossible to adjust them so that you could see through your NOD’s correctly.

Rafael show me the Gunsight Mandible

Another interesting innovation is the Gunsight Mandible.  The idea behind this is to give soldiers some added protection while off-roading without the need for removing their tactical helmet.  Dirtbikes and ATVs have become much more popular over the years with SOF units in Afghanistan.  The problem is, a standard helmet provides ballistic protection, but not complete coverage of the face, as a motorcycle helmet does.  Another cool feature: the mandibles can bend inwards a little bit so that soldiers can get some semblance of cheek-to-stock contact when firing their weapon.

Not shown: a new maritime helmet for SEAL Team Six.  It’s lightweight and provides protection from shrapnel but not ballistic protection.  That’s well and good if the operators desire it, but I did have to roll my eyes at one thing.  Inside the helmet are pictures of cartoon pin-up girls.  Apparently they had also requested “morale” elements in their order.  I never thought I’d say this, but if DOD is cutting their budget, maybe ST6 needs a line item audit.  There are soldiers carrying shot out M4’s, so maybe the “morale” money can be best spent elsewhere.

*Update 1: I was recently contacted by someone from Ops-Core who wanted to clarify and make a few corrections.  I reported what I was told by a company representative at SHOT, but it seems that some of this information was inaccurate.  Please excuse the errors, we try hard to get the facts straight, but sometimes these things happen.

-The picture of the helmet liner is not the one made to specifications provided by the Ranger Regiment, rather it is the mesh one you see in the background of the picture

-The maritime helmet mentioned above DOES in fact provide ballistic protection up to 9mm.

-The pin-up girls in the maritime helmet were put there by Ops-Core on their own initiative.  This was not something that was requested or something that SOCOM was billed for.

Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger, Special Forces Soldier and is the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.

  • Adam

    After seeing both FAST helmet covers in person (solid and the mesh in the background of your picture); which one do you prefer and why?

  • Nick

    The skull crusher is awesome! Is it possible to wear a baseball hat on backwards over it? If so then it would be perfect!

  • lol

    How could you not take a picture of the maritime helmet?
    I’d nothing else it sounds like the cartoon pinup photos are worth the laugh

  • Tim K.


    Was wondering if you had a chance to check out the helmet to the right of the Skull Crusher, looks like an ACH style cut. Was Ops Core demonstrating an update to their OCC-Dial/Head-Loc system or something else?

    • Sorry Tim, I didn’t check that one out. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a whirl wind for me at SHOT because I had to do it all in one day. They basically showed me their latest and greatest military kit.

      • Lance

        Whats bad about used M-4s in your article seem that’s what they like to use in Somalia.

        • 1911builder

          The M-4 is a good weapons platform.

          The ‘shot out’ statement probably refers to excessive wear on the reciprocating bolt/bolt carriers and the barrel.

          The barrel is considered to be shot out if there is excessive wear and erosion on the throat at the front of the chamber.

          Reduced accuracy and reliability are bad things.


  • FormerSFMedic

    Awesome stuff Jack! I’m glad to see our guys getting the Ops Core helmets. A lot of people don’t realize that the Ranger battalion isn’t like other SOCOM units. They don’t always get the newest kit available nor are they authorized to wear much of it. So it’s somewhat of a relief to see these guys getting the best lids on the market. I have to say that at this point, no one does it better than Ops Core!

    • Adam

      How does Crye’s Air Frame stack up against Ops-Core’s FAST in your opinion?

      • FormerSFMedic

        About 6 months ago I had the opportunity to try the Air Frame out during a private sector CQB course. There was a Federal LEO unit testing the helmets out during the course. The officers as well as the instructor (who is widely known in the training community) all had high praise for the Crye designed lid. My opinion is that the Air Frame is right on par with the Ops Core Fast helmets. It was noticeably lighter and much more stable than the ACH 2000 style lids. I’m still not sure about the overlapping design. I would have to have more experience to really have an opinion on that. I will say that the theory behind the overlapping geometry does make sense, although I still wonder if it could be a hindrance in some situations where the end user may find themselves in a tight spot.

        Despite my positive experience with the Air Frame, I still believe the Ops Core Fast helmet to be a better design. Remember, the Air Frame uses Ops Core accessories like the H-Nape Chin Strap and the ARC Rail to make it more stable and modular. With that being said, the Ops Core Fast helmet uses the OCC-DIAL chin strap system which I believe to be even more comfortable and stable when using NVG’s. I think both lids are fantastic choices, but the Ops Core Fast gets my nod.

  • 35F

    Awesome. Ops-Core is the best, hands down.

    Hey FormerSFMedic, I think I remember seeing somewhere that you work at Crane. I’d like to find more about what’s going on out there. Any chance we can talk offline?

  • Lance

    Like the new helmet design it don’t look like a crappy German helmet knock off like the older PSGT helmets did and its lighter and modular hope it can become a standard helmet one day.

    • majrod

      Ugh, I hate responding to your posts because they seem to devolve. That said I can’t take the risk that you might influence some impressionable mind with “tactical chic”.

      The German stahlhelm has proven to provide the most protection to the soldier especially against artillery. We relearned that when we were developing the Kevlar. Its only downside is it degrades the soldier’s ability to hear. Something we tried to address with the MICH.

      We haven’t faced an enemy with an artillery capability. Like my comment below about helmet covers. Let’s hope we don’t have to relearn old lessons.

      • Tim K.

        Didn’t the ACH/MICH design also decrease the amount of blastwave pressure inside the helmet in comparison to the PASGT, partly because of the cut of the helmet over the ear? Thought I remembered reading a study a few years ago about skull flexure during TBI events as a result of blast wave pressure and the comparisons between different helmet types to reduce this occurrence.

        • majrod

          Tim – When I was in the Battle Lab at Benning the briefings cited better hearing for raising the sides of the ACH and eliminating the front lip because of challenges engaging from the prone.

          Not sure but I think the blast issues were being addressed by the new and improved suspension systems.

    • xcalbr

      The PASGT was sophisticated in its day. In a era where war with the Soviet Union was possible, it would make sense to field a helmet more protective than the steel pot. Just like the ACH is a evolution of the PASGT, the PASGT was miles better than the steel pot.

      • majrod

        x – Future enemies will have mortars and artillery. Something conventional troops face much more than special ops and the reason for my post countering Lance’s desire to see this go forcewide because of the cool factor.

        • Lance

          If it works why not give it to regular forces. the Current Kevlar helmets are way too bulky and copied by almost every military out there. A Unique US helmet like this would be awesome.

          By the way the German helmet was not better than US ones in the past fact was the way PASGTs where set up would but more pressure from a near by explosion trapped in to the helmet. This design negates that.

          Not every one takes your loud mouth approach Prvt Rod. The fact the PASGT or ACH is old a new helmet would be better.

  • Tim K.

    @ Adam
    I had a chance to try both of them on when I was in RC(SW), I will say that Air Frame makes even the FAST seem a little heavy. I noticed a slight difference in weight between the two when I switched back and forth between them, with the Air Frame feeling lighter. They were both mediums and both had NVGs attached.

  • majrod

    Jack – The Rangers relearned the lesson that helmets and hard surfaces have some “shine” factor especially when wet. You can’t attach vegetation to a “slick” helmet. Not so important in urban warfare, much more so in the boonies. Finally helmets without covers make a very distinctive sound when branches hit or scrape them, pretty important when moving through some orchard to get the drop on an HVT.

    What’s old is new, again!

    • xcalbr

      hahaha amazing isn’t it? why do we constantly re-learn critical lessons like this?

  • lightfighter

    Although anything is better than the old style head crusher, I find this new Ops Core version to be an odd duck. It’s so nearly a complete helmet that I don’t know why one would choose it over their other bump or sport helmets. The only reason I can think of is that it’s adjustable, ie : ‘one size fits all ‘. This might be good for sharing amongst unit members but wouldn’t each be issued NVG compatible helmets anyway ?

  • Ignorant civie

    Pardon my living up to my username, but what is the benefit behind the FAST helmet? Better hearing? And at the risk of sounding like an airsoft geartard, just out of curiousity which units (besides the ones mentioned) use it?


    I have seen a few of the OPS CORE FAST Helments out here in Afghanistan and so far I am a big fan especially on how they fit.

  • Sivispace


  • majrod

    You know Lance I’m being quite patient with a pogue contractor. When we had the old system you had more negatives than a country dog has fleas. This isn’t the place to attack a combat vet especially when one has never worn the uniform and greatest claim to fame is stapling targets to a target riser. You are humping the wrong leg.

    The “unique” argument is for MARPAT doesn’t work for those that care about fit/function. Your statement that the stahlhelm was not better than the US M1 helmet in the area of protection as I stated just goes to show you don’t know *** you’re talking about. You’re greatest accomplishment is getting me to pay attention to you.

  • Lance

    You know Pvt Rod you can ignore comments and state you love German weapons and accessories fine your the one who acts like a child and attack everyone who don’t agree with you.

    Heck FormerSFMedic agreed on the new helmets and we have differences in weapons and taste but he civil and can agree to disagree and doesn’t yell and demean people he disagrees with.

    If you where smart and I know you hate me just ignore my comments say what you like but don’t get into attacking others opinions on Helmets guns and camo are like belly buttons every one has one. Just calm down.

    • Sivispace

      Well said. There’s no reason to resort to the rhetoric of personal attacks. As has been said, an armed society is a polite society. In my opinion we need more politeness and less rage.

      • majrod

        Agree. Let’s debate respectfully and knowledgeably. Most here want to learn.

  • majrod

    Dunce – I’m not attacking your opinion moron. I’m pointing out “tacticool” isn’t a basis for selecting kit and that you are factually wrong ref the german helmet. There were no insults until you started demeaning my service. I have nothing against privates except I wasn’t one (and neither were you, ever) Tinkerbell.

    Tell you what, don’t demean my service and I won’t point out you never served.

    I predicted you would devlove the conversation. I was right.

  • Lance

    Now Now your name calling again see that anger isn’t productive leave your opinion and stop this attacking.

  • Please see the above update folks!

  • xcalbr

    “If it works why not give it to regular forces. the Current Kevlar helmets are way too bulky and copied by almost every military out there. A Unique US helmet like this would be awesome.”

    The ACH is a fine helmet. It offers superior protection to the PASGT, especially when it comes to reducing head injuries. There is no reason to make every soldier wear a special operations specialized helmet when they do not need one.

    “By the way the German helmet was not better than US ones in the past fact was the way PASGTs where set up would but more pressure from a near by explosion trapped in to the helmet. This design negates that.”

    JC, the German Stahlheim was miles better than the helmets of other nations. It as intended to better protect soldiers in the trench warfare of WWI and it did its job well. Of course, it was periodically updated though served its purpose well.

    The ACH also reduces that. The head injuries weren’t so much exacerbated by the “funneling” of the explosive energy into the soldier’s helmet, rather the padding of the new MICH/ACH helmets reducing concussions significantly compared to the leather head harness of the PASGT.

    “Not every one takes your loud mouth approach Prvt Rod. The fact the PASGT or ACH is old a new helmet would be better.”

    The ACH is miles ahead of the PASGT. It is a modern helmet that is superior to other designs out there. The Ops Core helmets are ideal for special operations forces, though interestingly enough, they still employ ACH/MICH helmets. There are other special operations forces that have adopted Ops Core helmets (Norway). There is no reason to spend millions on new helmets that offer the same protection as existing ones.

  • Polish SOF also invested in Ops-Core gear lately. There are photos of GROM guys in Afghanistan wearing them – gucci and all.

  • FormerSFMedic

    @35F- I would be glad to talk to you offline. You’ll have to give me a way to contact you, because I’m not real keen on sharing my info on an open forum like this, but if your willing to, I’ll get in touch.

  • Sgt wilcott

    The helmets look cool and they should have abandoned the skull crusher back in the day. The new one looks even bigger then the last one. Try carrying one of those plus all your other bs. Ill take the new helmet anyday

  • InTheKnow

    “Inside the helmet are pictures of cartoon pin-up girls. Apparently they had also requested “morale” elements in their order. I never thought I’d say this, but if DOD is cutting their budget, maybe XX-X needs a line item audit. There are soldiers carrying shot out M4′s, so maybe the “morale” money can be best spent elsewhere.”

    There was no request for “morale elements”, nor are there any such requirements written into the contract for the helmets. Feel free to go and file a Freedom of Information Act request. The pictures are there, chosen and placed by Ops-Core. There are no complaints however about the stickers being there.

    • Please re-read the article, including the update I posted at the end a number of days ago.

  • InTheKnow


    Thanks for working to get it right.

  • Canopylight

    This couldn’t be anymore wrong. As far as weapons and NODs, and some other misc. combat gear Ranger Batt is ahead of the curve with SF. They’ve had Crye uniforms for sometime, it was just a matter of time of USASOC signing off on these helmets being jumpable. You are right and saying that it’s often not okay to wear personal gear.

  • Ceradyne and Threat4 have just releases the MOHAWK helmet with integrated comms & hearing protection

  • Ray
  • Jonathan T

    Wait are the mandibles on the Gunsight Manadable capable of taking ballistics? If they are I don’t see why they just don’t use that as a bassis to a new helmet for full head protection.