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.
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.
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.