Gas Masks - Which one should I get? thumbnail image

Gas Masks - Which one should I get?

5D Tactical - 4th Apr 2022

Do I really need a military grade gas mask? Well, has anyone throughout our history needed a weapon? The reality is, despite the rate of chemical weapons being used in America (thankfully not often) there is never anything wrong with being prepared. Gas Masks can be a very helpful form of protection against many forms of airborne toxicities such as chemicals or COVID-19 type pathogens, not just nuclear fallout. Does it seem like too much? While we aren’t in the military and it ain’t World War I… so why would I need a military-grade gas mask? Honestly, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t at least a bit curious. Ready to get your prepper on?

What is the difference between a respirator and a gas mask?

Gas masks are considered a form of personal protection equipment, covering your complete face (eyes, nose and mount) against hazardous chemicals or gasses.The filter is usually using activated charcoal for their filtration system but keep in mind that when that charcoal filter is full, it will release the filtered chemicals. To avoid any accidental mishaps, you'll need to regularly replace the filters to keep the gas mask working effectively. But wait, what’s the difference between a gas mask and a respirator then?


Two types of respirators exist; Atmosphere-supplying and Air-purifying. Air purifying respirators do exactly as they’re named — they purify the air as you breathe it into your lungs. Atmosphere-supplying respirators are where you have an uncontaminated source of air attached to you much like a SCBA (SCUBA) tank. These are the more expensive options and are cumbersome because you have to carry around a heavy tank with you everywhere.

Buying your first gas mask

Many people don’t realize that there are 169 active volcanoes in the USA. At the risk of sounding old as dirt, I remember Mt. Saint Helens. Ash was all over the place, coating several states in a thick layer of volcanic dust. That might be a reason to consider buying a gas mask, amongst many others. So how do we go about buying a gas mask? While we might head to Amazon or, that might not be the best choice. There are many things to consider when searching for a solid gas mask.

How do gas mask ratings work?

One of the most confusing parts when it comes to buying a gas mask is the ratings and acronyms used. This is where you will need to know about the uses for your gas mask. CBRN masks usually provide the highest level of protection, being that they are made for Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear threats for about 8 hours. NBC masks are created for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical threats for about the same time. Look for the NIOSH distinction on the mask when you purchase as well. NIOSH is the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety - check out their other ratings in this chart:



Remember, a gas mask has to create, essentially, a vacuum, around your face… Holes. The basic idea is to not allow anything to get into your breathing apparatuses. If a gas mask is not sealing around your face, then it won’t be effective against anything in the atmosphere around you. For guys with beards, many preppers will even keep a razor in their kit just in case they have to shave really quickly to allow a better seal. 

I’m sorry! You will look just as manly with a gas mask sans beard. Maybe. Another option for the bearded gas mask wearer is to find a hood-style gas mask which could save your majestic beard! Point is to make sure you find a gas mask that you are able to adjust to have a fine seal against your face.

Source: Ready To Go Survival

Gas Mask and Respirator filters

Obviously, the filter is a very important part of the mask - it cleans the air you breathe. Check for higher capacity filters to keep on hand as they’ll be effective for a longer period of time. Gas mask filters’ shelf life should also be checked prior to storage. A good gas mask filter will last 5-10 years, but higher-end models can last up to 20 years. Get in the habit of marking your stored prepper items with the date that you initially bought them.

Prepper Tips:

-Make sure you store your filters and mask in an airtight, nonporous, sturdy container.

-Clean your respirator or mask according to the manufacturer’s recommendations after use every time and store them immediately after they are dry.

-Also store all parts in a way that does not distort the shape of the mask.

-Do not leave your mask or respirator out in the heat, cool and dry is the best way to go.

-Check the following chart to make sure you purchase the proper filter for what you may need defense against, such as the best gas mask filter for tear gas.

Source: Geek Prepper

What kind of gas mask do the Navy SEALs and other military forces use?

The Avon Protection JSGPM M-50 Gas Mask. Source: TN Tactical Supply

We hear this question a lot, and wanted to make a point before we answer this question. Military surplus gas masks can be cheaper in general, but they are not always the best choice. Remember that these masks are usually well-used and may not hold proper shape which can make them not fit properly. Do not skimp if you are buying potentially life-saving equipment. That aside, the U.S. Military currently use the M50 Joint Services General Purpose Mask (JSGPM), currently manufactured by Avon Protection. The U.S. Military and the Navy SEALs both currently utilize the M50. One might say that if the Navy SEALs choose this gas mask, then it is probably a great choice.

What is the World’s Best Gas Mask? Which company and model should I buy?

Many companies are making great gask masks out there currently from many companies such as; Avon Protection, MSA, Mira Safety, 3M, and many more! One extremely popular mask we have been seeing a lot lately is the MSA Millennium. Buying the MSA Millennium might not be the cheapest choice, but it certainly is chock full of features and is in use by many military, police and first responder teams all across the world. The MSA Millennium is an upgraded version of the MCU-2/P that the US Air Force and Navy were issued in the 90’s-2000’s. Accessories, accessories, 41 to be precise! 

Choosing the MSA Millenium offers a killer amount of customization, with hoods,voice amplifiers, lenses etc available to personalize the mask for the wearer and the situation at hand. One other unique feature is the ability to swap the filter canister to the left or right side of the mask, which can be quite handy if you need to shoulder a rifle, making it one of the best gas masks for shooting! Many options for masks in every budget are available, to be sure, but we wanted to single this one in particular out for the amount of potential options.

Gas masks for shooting

We would be remiss to not mention a very serious use for a gas mask or respirator. As shooters, we are consistently exposed to lead. Lead can have many consequences for our health. Consider a respirator or mask when putting a ton of rounds downrange, especially in an indoor range. When a gun is fired dust and particulate matter can come back towards your face, oftentimes, containing lead. Shooters protect your health! 

Get something to keep that lead dust out, such as the 3M 7500 Series which are great because they only cover half of your face which makes it easier to work around them - especially if you have to shoulder a weapon.

Prep with 5D Tactical!

We hope this article was helpful as you begin your search for a gas mask and or respirator. You can never be too prepared as gas masks are an important part of preparedness, especially in times of civil unrest that we seem to see so frequently these days. 

Take care of yourself and your family, keep your head on a swivel and don’t forget to check us out for your 80 lower AR needs! If you ever find yourself in a pinch, you could completely build out your own AR15 in the short span of an afternoon with our Router Jig Pro.