BLOK DPM helmet preview

BLOK
DPM Helmet “preview”
review
and imagery by Arnie
Stock
Specifications
RRP
Unknown at this time
Size One
size fits all 
Weight 360g

Features


mist proof lense
– ventilated

– washable

– modular

Click here to visit MasterChief's
In associaton with ExtremeProcurement
and MasterChief’s

It’s always a nice surprise
to receive interesting things in the post. This time we’ve taken on the prototype
BLOK DPM helmet to use, abuse and generally mess around with, courtesy of Extreme
Procurement. So what does BLOK stand for? That’s a jolly good question, and
one that we’ve gone back to the manufacturers to ask about. ^_^

One point of note, please
take into account that this is a prototype that we have received, and as such
the final release is certain to improve upon this model.

What’s
in the box?
The first thing I noticed about the
BLOK DPM helmet was that it is amazingly light, and I hadn’t even taken
it out of it’s delivery box yet! A quick check with the kitchen scales
show it to weigh in at a mere 360g.

Once you’ve got
over the weight issue, and finally rip open the box to see if there’s
anything in it the second thing to amaze me was how solid, and well
kept the form of the mask is given how light it is. What do I mean?
Well for a mask that’s made of fabric, it’s incredibly rigid. It’s actually
quite difficult to put the look and feel of it into words, but it’s
almost as if the mask was fitted to an invisible manikins’ head, and
then placed in the box.

Still got no idea
of what I’m on about… okay I’ll take a photo. ^_^ – which you can
see it to the left
.

In with the mask
in the box I received a set of instructions (more about that later),
and a handy lense/visor cleaning cloth.

The
visor:
The
visor is made of a thick fog proof material. Despite the fact that the
visor is thick, there is no visible refraction of light, so the image
isn’t bent in any way it any direction.

The inside of the
visor has been coated in a ‘magic film’ of some description that stops
it misting up, I was a bit doubtful myself, but after sitting here typing
this review in a very warm room, and making several extended trips to
the coffee machine, I still couldn’t fog the thing up. Now that’s impressive,
as I’m quite a warm blooded creature, and can normally mist up the most
‘unfoggable’ of glasses.

The manufacturers
note that the outside of the lense will fog, but the inside will only
fog up if part of your face touches the lense itself. A special cleaning
cloth is provided to clean the inside and outside of the lense, and
finger marks and grease from mucky hands will lead to mist/steam forming
on those marks.


Bottom of the mask with the neck guard removed, showing the breathing
hole

Breathing:
“Coffee, you can’t drink that in a full face-mask!” Ah..
but yes you can – under the nose of the mask you’ll find the only access
point to the mask. This hole is where all that lovely and much needed
fresh air gets in. Handily it’s also the perfect place to poke a straw
in. (Yup that’s how I drank my coffee).

So why was I drinking
hot coffee? Well to be honest at 11pm on a Saturday night I really couldn’t
justify running round the block in a full DPM mask. Drinking a mug of
coffee was a handy way to elevate my body temperature, whilst still
sitting here typing this review. Don’t worry I will get out to testing
the mask on the skirmish field, but sadly I haven’t had a free moment
to do so yet.

Dimwit
Test II – ‘the revenge’:

Yup it’s back, my very own “DimWit test” (as seen
in GunMart – thanks Roger!). For those of you that don’t know the Dimwit
test is, it’s my own patented test for masks and goggles. What does
it incorporate? Well it’s simple really, you fire a few shots point
blank at the mask/lenses, and a few volleys of full auto AEG fire at
a range of about 2-3 feet from a reasonably powered rifle (at least
300fps/0.2g). Needless to say, until the mask has been tested, you don’t
carry out the above tests whilst wearing it, unless you are a real Dimwit!

If the mask survives
with no marks or damage, then you can be fairly sure that the mask and
lenses are suitable for the purpose that they are intended. You’ll notice
that if you carry out the Dimwit test on your average ski goggles your
be left with some beautifully perforated and ventilated lenses. But
I digress from my point.

..Back to the point,
the BLOK mask and lenses passed the test extremely well, neither the
external material, nor the lenses showed a single mark from where they
were shot in the tests. In short – it passed with flying colours. Now
all I had to do was to test the mask whilst someone was wearing it.
As I’m such a glutton for punishment, and the only person mad enough
to volunteer for such a duty, it was down to me to wear the mask and
get shot.Now all I needed was a good friend who’d be more than happy
to take pot shots at me. I didn’t have to look far…

You
want me to what?
My
housemate was most concerned when I asked if she’s be kind enough to
shoot me in the head. Erm.. well actually no she wasn’t, it just would
have been nice if she was. ^_^ After explaining that I wanted to carry
out some scientific tests on some new equipment she was slightly less
enthused with the whole“let’s go and shoot Arnie with my pistol”
idea.

Notably the mask
comes with the warning:

“use
of this prototype is solely at the risk of the owner. It claims no specific
protection at this point in its development, and is purely for use in
reducing the risk of injury”

You may have noticed
the letters ‘AS’ in white on this prototype. These letters indicate
this the model is intended for Airsoft use, and the letter from the
manufacturer indicates that at this stage it
is intended for use with 250-270fps (0.2g) equipment.

Given these two
points and that all the AEGs in the house clock in at over 300fps, I
was reduced to using our TM MK23 springer at point blank for these tests,
it’s a pokey little pistol, and more than up to the job.

“Plink..
thud”:
I was shot point blank several times
all around the mask and lenses, and although you can hear and feel the
BB impact, I’m happy to say it’s not a painful experience. The only
slight problem I had was a shot on the ear cover, that caused a slight
ringing in my ear, but that was more down to the side of the mask being
pushed up against my ear quickly.

So
what’s it like to wear?
It’s actually a very comfortable
item to wear. Personally I prefer to just wear eye glasses for skirmishes,
but after a few nasty hits to the neck and head, I’m a bit more conservative
in what I wear. I have a roughly 7 3/4 size head (sorry I can’t remember
the modern measurements, but I have quite a large head), and it fits
me quite comfortably, and doesn’t restrict my neck/head movement in
any way. The fact that the mask is so light also goes a long way towards
making it a very comfortable item.

Inside the mask
the bulk of the material has a shiny coating that somewhat reminds me
of an old Thermos drinks cool bag. I guess the idea is that is keeps
you cool / warm depending on the given circumstances. Handy features,
also include the comfy padding over the inside of the nose area.

Below the nose area,
in front of your mouth (basically the inside of the muzzle) you’ll notice
that the material has a sort of fishnet backing to it. This is because
the material that makes up the front of the mask is some sort of hardened
rigid plastic, strangely the throat guard (the bit that dangles down
below the chin) seems to be made of the same stuff, but is very flexible.

To
put the mask on, all you have to do is pull the velcro strap at the
side away from the helmet, undo the neck guard (if fitted), pull the
sides of the helmet away, and poke your head in the back. Then all you
have to do is pull the the two backs together, the top piece down, and
pull the strap across the back of your head.

Putting the mask
on (and removing it) is thankfully a very simple action to perform on
your own. The manufacturers do however recommend that you put
the mask on with the adjustment of a ‘buddie’ to ensure that there are
no gaps and that all straps are down up as they should be. This is sound
advice, as it stands to sense that no one can see the back of their
own head.


Nail and Depardieu, separated at birth?

Some of the innovations
I really love in this mask/helmet are in the way that it can be adapted
to fit just about any head/face. As I’ve already mentioned the mask
is adjustable at the back, but if you have the nose of a frenchman (Gérard
Depardieu
) or of a certain “Crocodile Shoes
Geordie (Jimmy Nail), then fear not.

The front muzzle
can be easily adjusted and pulled away at the sides to allow it to move
forward, and then be re secured on the velcro at the sides. You can’t
pull the muzzle completely off, as it’s bolted to the bottom of the
lense.

Build
and design:
I’ve mentioned some of the construction
in the review before, but here’s the full detail. The mist free lense
is held onto the mask by three ‘unscrewable’ bolts. The neck guard,
the top and the sides of the mask are made of a dense foam material,
whereas the muzzle is made of a moulded material that keeps it’s form
very well, whilst still remaining flexible to a degree.

As I’ve mentioned
you can remove the neck guard, as it is Velcro’d to the underside of
the mask, and merely pulls away. This is handy, as I’m sure that the
neck guard may be a bit of an overkill in terms of protection for some
skirmishes, or may simply get in the way of some tactical clothing.
Having said that though, whilst fitted it’s very comfortable.

The ear areas of
the mask are shaped to cup the ear, and have holes cut through the material
better aid hearing, and.. the holes aren’t large enough for anything
BB like to get through. It’s quite obvious that a lot of care and detail
has gone into the design so far.


Left: the inside of the ear cover | Right: the outside of the
ear cover

The
lense is a made of a 2-3mm thick clear plastic, it’s well moulded and
basically ‘unmistable’. The lense is held onto the mask by three bolts,
one on either side, and one below the nose.

These bolts are
well secured, but I’m curious as to if they will undo themselves during
extended skirmishing. Personally I find it very doubtful, as they are
well fitted and secured. That said, if anyone is in doubt a little blue
thread lock would help ease any fears.

Build
quality:
It’s a little unfair to be harsh on build
quality at this prototype stage, well it would be if there was anything
I could criticise. The build quality is top notch, and all the stitching
and gluing is done to a standard that you could expect on a production
model.

The only slight
gripe I had was where the glue was coming away at the top of the mask
at the back, where I’d somewhat excessively pulled the sides away to
squeeze my head into it.

Specifications:
Here’s the specs as I was given them from Extreme Procurement:

1. Mask was designed
for special forces training
2. It was designed to be light, flexible, protective, non – steam
up, washable, one size fits most head sizes (but has size adjustment)
3. Manufactured from a laminate of materials specially created for
the purpose
4. There is a skirt attachment to protect the back of the neck and
the side of the neck
5. There is also a neck guard for the front of the neck
6. Most importantly, the breathing system means a shot cannot enter
the guard unless shot from the wearers chest
7 The design is protected by patent application, copyright and design
registration
8. When BB was fired at point blank, no pain is felt but you can hear
the contact

Now if you read
carefully above there’s one point that I’ve missed out there. You can
actually machine wash this mask, all you have to do is to unbolt
and remove the bolts and lense. Another point that’s worth noting is
something that the instructions mention:

“…If
multiple users transfer the guard form user to user without washing,
it is suggested that the inside of the guard, and in particular concentrating
on the mouth and nose areas, are wiped with an anti-bacterial wipe (such
as Jeyes Wet Ones Ultra) to prevent bacterial transfer”

A basic translation
would be that if your a smelly git, think twice before lending your
mask to your girlfriend for use.

Conclusion:
Now
I’ve never been a huge fan of full face protection gear, but that’s just my
personal feeling, as I feel a little claustrophobic in them. The BLOK helmet
has remedied my dislike of full face gear, you can hear and see everything
perfectly well in it, and it’s very comfortable and easy to breath in.

One major (and very obvious..)
advantage with this mask is that it’s impossible for a BB to get into a properly
fitting mask to hit the wearer anywhere on the head. A couple of readers have
emailed in recently (after the Guarder
glasses review
) with horror stories of teeth that have been shot
with stock AEGs that have smashed with the impact. If you want to ensure that
you walk away form a skirmish with no tell tale scars or red welts on your
face, this is the mask for you.

It’s comfy, it’s light
to wear, it’s practical, and it comes in tasteful (and somewhat fashionable)
DPM camo, what more can you want? It’s true that wearing full face masks isn’t
quite as fashionable as wearing glasses for skirmishing, but personally I
prefer to not have any permanent Airsoft related damage done to my head. ^_^

An official launch date
and price have not been set for the mask, but you can expect to see prices
of around £50 per item. I gather that for bulk orders it’s quite easy
to have team names printed on them.

Internal
Links:
BLOK
news article
– please
do read this article for further information imagery and photos of this product

External
Links:
Extreme
Procurement Limited

the (soon to be) UK retailers of this product
MasterChief’s
– Will also be stocking the new headgear when it’s officially launched.

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last modified:
Wednesday, May 9, 2001 9:37 AM Copyright 2001 ArniesAirsoft




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