Tactical operators such as law enforcement and military personnel rely on a wide range of personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their jobs safely and effectively. A riot control situation is certainly an application where the tactical operator needs to have several crucial PPE items. When dealing with a riot control situation, commonly used PPE includes riot suits with light body armor, helmets with face shields, riot shields, gloves, knee shields and goggles. Paulson Mfg. has been making tactical face shields that attach to ballistic combat helmets for decades. These face shields are used in riot control situations, as well as other tactical operations like SWAT, forced entry and bomb squad. Our tactical face shield line includes the DK5 series, the DK6 series and DK7 series.
When discussing tactical face shields, the conversation should start with the helmet being used with the face shield. After all, the face shield is an extension of the helmet. In fact, that is the very reason that our tactical face shields must meet the performance specifications of NIJ 0104.02. This standard pertains to helmets, which include the face shields as a complete system.
There are 2 main types of ballistic combat helmets:
- PASGT (Personal Armored System for Ground Troops): Traditional style combat helmet with front-brim.
- ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) / MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet): Modern combat helmet with no front-brim. Commonly include accessories like rails, communication devices and night vision goggle mounts.
In addition to the different helmet types, there are also different cuts of a helmet, which refers to the level of protection provided around the side/ear section. A full-cut helmet provides full protection around the ears; a mid-cut helmet covers about half of the ear area; a high-cut helmet provides no protection around the ears. While the full-cut helmet certainly provides the most protection of the ear area, the mid-cut and high-cut options are lighter in weight and usually much more comfortable. The specific helmet a tactical operator needs will depend mostly on the application in which it is being used.
Face Shield Attachment System Types
Now that we have covered the two main helmet types and the various cuts of combat helmets, let’s discuss the different types of face shield attachment systems for these helmets.
There are 2 main types of face shield attachment systems for ballistic combat helmets:
- Field-Mount: Face shield can be attached and removed by the operator with relative ease while in the field, often with no tools required. Field-mount face shield attachment systems include fabric straps with buckles, hard plastic “halo” band systems with buckles, and rail-mounts that lock the face shield into side rail systems.
- Hard-Mount: Face shield is permanently attached to the helmet with screws or bolts. The holes for the screws are typically around the temple area of the helmet.
The most popular tactical face shields offered by Paulson Mfg. are certainly the field-mount options, as the shields are easy to take off and on, and they give the helmet more versatility. However, some agencies prefer the hard-mount face shields because they want the face shield permanently attached. Just like the helmets, the specific agency or application will most likely determine which face shield attachment system makes the most sense.
Face Shield Quality
You cannot discuss features and benefits of tactical face shields without of course talking about the quality of the face shield itself. Often referred to as a window or lens, this is the transparent plastic shield that protects the face of the tactical operator. This is where Paulson’s engineering ingenuity really shines—we pride ourselves on producing world-class transparent face & eye protection.
Features & benefits of our tactical face shields include:
- Optically correct face shield which minimizes distortion and optimizes visibility
- Durable polycarbonate material; highly resistant to impact and heat
- Shield length of either 8” or 6” (the 6” model allows for clearance of an NCB cartridge on a gas mask)
- Shield thickness of either 0.150” or 0.250” (the 0.250” model has a V-50 rating for fragmentation)
- Premium shield coatings available (anti-abrasion hard coating on the exterior, permanent anti-fog coating on the interior)
Now that we have covered the basics on helmet types, different attachment systems, and the quality of the face shield itself, let’s dive into the different tactical face shield lines offered by Paulson Mfg.
DK5 Riot Face Shield
This baby started it all! The DK5 series is the legacy riot face shield line from Paulson Mfg. Originally designed for the US Military, the DK5 riot face shield is designed for PASGT helmets only—the helmet must have a front-brim or the face shield will not fit properly. The DK5 is available as a field-mount utilizing a fabric strap with buckle, as well as a hard-mount with the face shield permanently attached to the helmet with screws. The shield also includes an integral rubber seal at the shield/helmet interface that prevents liquid pass-through, which is a very important consideration when dealing with a riot control situation.
DK6 Riot Face Shield
If the DK5 was the original Paulson riot face shield, then the DK6 was the face shield that took it to the next level. To date, the DK6 riot face shield is hands down the most popular tactical face shield offered by Paulson Mfg. Like the DK5, the DK6 was originally designed for the US Military. Utilizing a plastic “halo” band with center buckle, this field-mount face riot face shield has a universal design to fit both PASGT as well as ACH/MICH ballistic combat helmets. Like the DK5, the DK6 also feature a liquid seal at the shield/helmet interface.
DK7 Tactical Face Shield
The DK7 line is certainly the most diverse line of tactical face shields offered by Paulson Mfg. The DK7 tactical face shield is intended for not just riot control situations, but for also for a variety of other applications, including SWAT, forced entry and bomb squad. The DK7 is unique in that it is available with either a plastic band “halo” attachment system (like the DK6) or with rail adapters to slide and lock into place within the side rails of a ballistic helmet. Both options include field-mount attachment systems and require no tools. Another unique feature of the DK7 is that it includes aluminum arms that extend the face shield away from the helmet, creating a gap between the helmet and shield. This allows for excellent ventilation and assists tactical operators in “cheeking” a long gun without the face shield getting in the way.
For those who need protection from liquid pass-through, our DK7 line includes shields with a liquid seal, however these are currently only available for helmets that do no include the NVG mount.
Finally, for those utilizing an exothermic cutting device for breaching operations, the DK7 is available as a breaching face shield. This shield features a 4” shade 5 green welding strip across the top, protecting the operator’s eyes from the extremely bright sparks and slag produced by the cutting/torching device.
Tactical operators like riot police officers put their bodies on the line each time they are deployed in a hostile or dangerous environment. It is imperative that their PPE does its job, so they can focus on doing theirs. At Paulson Mfg., we have been making high performance tactical face shields to protect those who serve for decades. We will continue to produce high-quality, U.S.-made tactical face shields that meet the most rigorous safety standards and perform well in the most severe situations.
To learn more about our full line of tactical face shields, please contact us today!