I had the pleasure to connect with MTEK semi recently and appreciate seeing their spirit as a new company. Their current emphasis is in facial armor and what they offer is an excelent advancement compared to earlier solutions. For example the mandible cover on aircrew helemets isn't for ballistic protection and full thick ballistic riot style visors tend to poorly affect weapon handling.
The G3A was their first design with the intent to mostly be used with crew served weaponry. A perfect example would be a turret gunner on a hummer, but this can apply to many similar situations. Since weapon cheekweld is less of a concern, the armor is hard to offer the highest balance of weight and protection. For not being some wacky metal or ceramic it is surprisingly capable of absorbing an AK 7.62x39 round without penetration. Even if not getting shot at much, the G3A makes great sense for additional IED protection. A lot of other design balance has been put into how much of the face is covered and how far away it extends. This combination gives almost no obstruction of vision while creating a gap for breathability and space for communications gear. The vast majority of glasses and goggles can still be used and thus night vision compatibility stays in tact as well. Despite the armor extention away from the face, the operator is still able to look down and have reasonable head movement even with soft neck armor on.
To offer more options, the G3C was created as a more flexible material variant. The layout is very similar, but the material is more flexible so small arms operators can acquire a proper cheek weld. Hard enough that it isn't flopping around at all, but flexible enough for weapon interaction. Since not hard armor the strength drops down, however it is still very effective in fragmentation protection and will stop most handgun rounds. This combination lends itself to working well when IEDs are a threat for ground operations or a solid protection option for law enforcement where pistol rounds tend to be the common threat.
To mount either of these MTEK came up with a snassy attachment system they call the VERSA rail. Mostly made of polymer, they are lightweight while being quite durable at the same time. They attach on the sides of the helmet and have been designed to go on the vast majority of helmets in use these days such as the ACH / MICH, but still work on older PASGT helmets. To use, the attachment in this case facial armor, is slid back on the rails until locked into place. To release, two generous sized buttons are on the back of the VERSA system. Hardware is included so mounting is possible right out of the box. Although most helmets and straps will be compatible, I was unable to get the supplied hardware to interface with my OPS-Core chin strap. Taking items off is certainly easier than putting on, but with practice it does become easier. The main thing to learn is how to angle your own hands while inserting to make sure the rails line up. Another cool thing about the VERSA rail is the possibilities for the future. This quick on/off system would be very practical for helmet lights, cameras, and similar tactical accessories.
The end result appearance is a bit bulky, yet I feel it is justified. A more streamlined approach would require a specific helmet with no on/off ability and as a practical standpoint, adding 3 inches-ish to your helmet width is not a big mobility issue. During my use so far, I didn't get the feeling I was banging into my environment any more than usual and didn't have weapon sling snagging issues. I'd like to note the G3A is usable with a rifle, just the checkweld will cause a helmet shift. Perhaps not a comfy ride, but still an option. Depending on what you are doing, the mouth coverage restricting some air flow should be noted. As a roof gunner in a moving vehicle it is for the most part a non issue, but while running around on foot it is noticable that it is easier to breath without the armor on. Depending on the weather and eye protection you are wearing, fogging issues can be enhanced with either G3 armor package. The distance from the face makes the issue tolerable, and putting extra holes is not really an option as it would greatly reduce the protection strength on either variant. Overall I think MTEK brings some worthwhile armor options. It won't be for everyone, but for those who need more protection, these are a big upgrade from the old school ballistic hockey masks. I am also looking forward to see cool guy accessories for the VERSA rail.
Lightweight- less than 1lb. (410g)
The G3A was tested for ballistic performance by using both MIL STD 662F and NIJ STD 0108.01 test methods.
- 2gr. RCC @ 4750 FPS
- 4gr.RCC @ 3600 FPS
- 16gr. RCC @ 2450 FPS
- 64gr. RCC @ 1800 FPS
- 17gr. FSP @ 2200 FPS
- NIJ IIIA (NIJ STD 0108.01)
The G3C was tested for ballistic performance by using both MIL STD 662F and NIJ STD 0108.01 test methods.
- 2gr. RCC @ 2710 FPS
- 4gr. RCC @ 2400 FPS
- 16gr. RCC @ 2050 FPS
- 64gr. RCC @ 1660 FPS
- NIJ IIIA (NIJ STD 0108.01)