Military Surplus Gas Mask 101: All You Need to Know

Military Surplus Gas Mask 101: All You Need to Know

Gas masks have been used for decades to protect individuals from harmful gases and chemicals in various environments. Military surplus gas masks, in particular, have gained popularity among collectors, survivalists, and those interested in military history. At the Army Navy Marine Store we carry a large selection of surplus gas masks from a variety of Militaries from around the world including the US, Israel, and Poland. In this blog post, we will explore everything you need to know about military surplus gas masks, including their history, functionality, and considerations when purchasing one.

What are military surplus gas masks?

Military surplus gas masks are gas masks that were once produced for use by military personnel, but are now available for purchase by the general public. These masks are typically sold as surplus items after they have been replaced by newer models or are no longer needed by the military. They are often sought after for costumes, and by collectors and enthusiasts due to their historical significance and unique design.

How do military surplus gas masks work?

Military surplus gas masks are designed to provide respiratory protection against various types of harmful gases, chemicals, and particulates. Most military surplus gas masks are rated as “NBC” as they protect the wearer in situations where the air is contaminated with radioactive particles, biological agents, or chemical agents. They consist of a mask that covers the face, a filter canister that removes contaminants from the air, and straps that secure the mask in place. When worn correctly, the mask creates a seal around the face, preventing the entry of contaminated air.

Are military surplus gas masks safe to use in a survival situation?

If the military surplus gas mask has been stored properly, is in good condition, fits correctly, and has the correct filter it may still be effective in a survival situation. However, you will most commonly see military surplus gas masks sold “as-is” or “for costume purposes only”. This is because as a seller we have not tested and certified their protective qualities or functionality. The most common military surplus gas masks you will see for sale were produced during the 90’s, and the rubber can deteriorate over time. 

What should you consider when purchasing a military surplus gas mask?

When purchasing a military surplus gas mask, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Condition: Check the condition of the mask and its components. Look for any signs of damage or wear that may affect its functionality.
  2. Filter: Determine the type of filter used in the mask and its expiration date. Gas masks with a NATO 40MM thread will accept a 40mm filter and are the easiest to find. Filters have a limited lifespan and should be replaced regularly.
  3. Size: Ensure that the mask fits properly and provides a secure seal. Different masks may come in different sizes, so choose one that suits your face shape and size.
  4. Intended use: Consider the intended use of the mask. Some masks are designed for specific environments or hazards, so choose one that aligns with your needs.

Our recommended military surplus gas masks:

US Military MCU-2A/P Gas MaskUS Military MCU 2A/P Gas Mask

The MCU-2A/P is our top pick for a military surplus gas mask. It was the standard mask for the US Air Force and Navy into the late 90’s. It features one of the largest viewing areas with its one piece silicone lens, an internal microphone, the ability to swap the voice diaphram to the side depending on the shooters preference, and a drinking tube. It accepts any NATO 40mm filter.

Israeli Military M15 Gas MaskIsraeli Military M15 Gas Mask

The Israeli Military M15 is another highly rated military surplus gas mask. Its large, impact resistant, eye sockets provide a much wider field of view than the civilian version. The gas mask also includes a voice emitter, prescription lens frame mount, and a drinking tube. It also accepts any NATO 40mm filter.

Polish MP5 / French ARF-A Gas MaskPolish MP5 Gas Mask

The Polish MP5 an French ARF-A military gas masks are essentially the same mask with only the voice diaphram being lightly different. These quality military surplus gas masks are popular due to their large field of view, however, they lack the drinking tube that the U.S. MCU and Israeli M15 provide. They accept any NATO 40mm filter.

Romanian / Hungarian M74 Gas MaskRomanian M74 Gas Mask

A Cold War era military gas mask that is extremely popular for costumes. These gas masks have a smaller field of view than the above masks, and do not provide a drinking tube. They accept any NATO 40mm filter, and we recommend changing out the included GOST filter if you are planning on using it.

Israeli Civilian Gas Mask

Israeli Civilian Gas Mask

At one point Israel had a gas mask for every single one of its citizens. These masks produced during the 90’s were mass produced to protect its population. They provide a very small and narrow field of view, and do not have a drinking tube or voice emitter. The accept any NATO 40mm filter.

Shop our full selection of military surplus gas masks and filters.

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