Just a fancy product or worth to buy one? The FMA Aramid Fiber Helmet is the replica version of the opscore FAST Ballistic Helmet. Airsoft players around the globe specially the more MilSim oriented guys use it a lot because of its autentic look. We came across this model via our partner Gunfire Shop over in Poland to test it and to find out how it perfoms.
The helmet itself is on the market for a while and I´m sure some of you guys already heard about it or saw someone who used one. So we decided to go over this brain bucket in the categories:
- MATERIALS USED
- WORKMANSHIP & USABILITY
- QUALITY IN GENERAL
FMA is a well known name in the airsoft scene and they made lots of products for airsoft use. Not only helmets. But if we take a closer look on their helmet collection, I would say they specialized in making replicas from opscore. Those are available in all four typs like the real ones and FMA do offer a wide range of colors & camo-dipped models you wouldn´t get from opscore. Most of them are made nearly 100% out of ABS Plastic, what makes them really affordable for airsoft players. But in this review, we focus on their new leading product regarding authenticity – the Aramid Fiber Helmet.
FMA came up with this helmet after they received a lot of request from their customers to provide a most autentic helmet regarding to the material of the shell and the overall look itself. Perfectionism is a must for lots of players! So they decided to produce a shell made out of aramid fiber. What is aramid fiber? Long story short: It´s a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers. They are used in aerospace and military applications, for ballistic rated body armor fabric and ballistic composites (Source Wikipedia) more information >here<
I know some of you guys are now asking theirselves “is this helmet bullet proof”? Well we didn´t have the time to shoot on our test model with real guns and the shop who provided it would be also unhappy about it, but we can clearly say: NO it´s not bullet proof! The guys from Spartanat Gearmag did a very interesting test on one of their models. They shoot with a 9mm pistol and .223 and all bullets went straight through – you find a video about it >here<
The outer-shell has a very good “Urban Tan” finish and granular surface, which is really close to the real helmet from opscore. Good job at that point, FMA.
Beside the Aramid Fiber, FMA uses several other materials for the internals, the NVG shroud, Picatinny Adapter, Wing-Loc Adapter, Goggle Swivel Clips & the side rails which all come with the helmet. For these parts ABS plastic, styrofoam, fleece cloth on the parts who sit next to the skin, hook and loop points/strip inside the shell which hold the side & back pads in position as well velcro at the outer-shell are used. So you can add all your fancy patches, strobes, lights etc. on it.
The velcro didn´t adhere a 100% as you can see. Some small areas seem to be a bit loose. This maybe becomes a problem when you often change your patches or whatever is atteched. During our testing, the velcro stayed in place and didn´t get much looser while we added some stuff on it and removed it later.
Inside the shell you find a label which shows the size of the helmet. Here it´s M/L which fits a head circumference of 53-59cm – L/XL is about 57-61cm. These are the two available models FMA produces. The real steel helmet comes in three (four) versions: S/M – M/L – L/XL and depending on the model also in XXL.
SIDE NOTE: You have to know that the sizes of FMA are not US standard! For example: I normally use a M/L opscore helmet which fits perfect for me. For the helmet of FMA I have to use the L/XL version. This one has nearly the same circumference as the M/L of opscore. Just to let you know.
WORKMANSHIP & USABILITY
The in-liner system as seen is based on the same system as the real steel version. Most of it is made from ABS plastic covered with fleece cloth at the areas where it sits next to the skin like the whole forehead, nape and the temples, to provide the best comfort to the end-user. It also includes a so called “Occ-Dial” fitband, which allows you to adjust the fitband to the size of your head really quickly.
You turn the adjust button clockwise to tighten the fitband as strong as you prefer it. Once this is set, the helmet will stay in place even without the use of the chinstrap. I found out during the testing that the fitband gets a bit loose after ~40min when you adjust it very tight to your head. The tolerance is not big and the helmet will stay in place anyway, but you can feel it. Why does this happen? Well, I think the material gets claimed strongly when it‘s adjusted very tight and it´s a replica version so it´s normal that the locking mechanisim opens a bit because of less quality.
Compared to the chinstrap and the Head-Loc system used by opscore, FMA‘s version seems to be the same webbing material as the one from opscore. It doesn´t scratch your skin even if it gets wet while your´re sweating. Except from the buckles which are made of cheaper ABS plastic because this holds the prize low, I guess. To be honest, I´m not saying this in a bad way! The material is fine and comfortable and the replica Head-Loc system works the way it’s supposed to. Adjustment while wearing gloves is also not a problem.
The part of the chinstrap where the chin goes in is coverd with buckskin on the inside to provide a maximum of comfort to your skin while using it. Overalll stitching is ok as you can see but it can be done a little bit better (if we go into the microlevel of production) from my point of view. The stitching dosen´t scratch your skin as well.
A standard on modern military helmets in the twentyfirst century are NVG shrouds. Like on the real helmet, FMA‘s replica comes with an opscore style VAS Shroud. In contrast to the real version, which is manufactured of stainless steel, this one is made of ABS plastic. It´s their standard shroud they use on all their helmets from this product line.
It´s a three hole shroud and you´re able to fit all kind of shrouds who are based on the same mounting system to the helmet.
NOTE: Only the top screw is removeable! The two bottom screws are hiding behind the styrofoam. If you want to get them out for whatever reason, you “might” damage the in-liner system and it won´t fit in again! But normally, there´s no reason to remove the screws. If you want to replace the shroud with a metal version for example, the standard screws will fit this one as well.
The shroud feels a little bit cheap when you touch it first and you potentially think “it´s crap”! Well, that´s because it is ABS plastic they use and not metal. This should be improved! There´s also a little bit space between the shroud and the helmet on the sides as you can see on the pics.
Another problem, a real NVG arm like the rhino arm for PVS7 and PVS14 or a bit more special the mount for ANIVS NVGs wouldn´t fit into it! I tried it several times because I wanted to use my NVGs with it and it didn´t work out. The part of the shroud on top, where the upper-lock mechanism from the arm goes into, is to small. Maybe this only happens with our testmodel due to a “manufacturing error” of the shroud. We didn´t have an extra plate to check if they are similar.
Even the replica arms FMA produces as well don´t fit straight out of the box. We tested this with their “LG NVG Mount”. The baseplate of the mount is too wide. We had to remove a little bit of the material on one side and at the top of the upper-lock mechanism. After that, everything fit together and the shroud got the job done.
The bungee cord which includes metal hooks that go into the two small holes every NVG has in its mount are installed. Those are assembled under the side rails (one at each side) and the hooks are secured at the bottom of the shroud itself. Why do you need them? They´re made to eliminate night vision mount- device rattle or vibration for a more quiet (when it´s necessary) and comfortable use. The cord is strong and well secured under the side-rails. The hooks seem to be solid so there´s nothing what needs to be improved.
Nothing big to say about them. Made from ABS plastic, overall finish is well done and they´re mounted with two metal screws to provied a solid fit on the shell. The Goggle Swivel Clips version “19mm band” (removeable) are already pre-installed. You can add any typ of attachments whether real or replica made for this typ of rails like lights, cameras, headset adapter etc. on it. For the testing, I tried a Princeton Tec Charge MPLS light which fits perfect on it as well the Wing-Loc Adapter and the Picatinny Adapter both real and replica version. They also fit nicely and provide a good usability.
At the bottom you can see there´s some space between the helmet and the rail. That´s not a big issue from my point of view. The shape of the rails are a little bit larger than the shape of the helmet itself in that area. Maybe this varies from model to model a little bit due to some “manufacturing tolerance”.
You can´t have em all, but you can try is a saying every “gearwhore” knows well. But is it really true? Well, regarding to this helmet, I personally think: You can have em all! Here´s a quick list of the “replica accessories” you can get from FMA including replacement parts as well:
- Goggle Swivel Clips 36mm
- PT Headset And Helmet Rail Adapter Set
- Helmet Balancing Bags
- Helmet Middle Rail
- Helmet Hanging Lengthening Belt
- Helmet VAS Shroud
- FMA L3 Series NVG MOUNT-A
- FMA L4 Series Hybrid Shroud
- Maritime Helmet Velcro MH Model
- NVG Lanyard For Ops Core VAS Three Hole Shroud
- OPS FAST Helmet Guide
- Side Cover For Helmet Rail
- QD Cover For NVG Mount
- The Generation Of VAS Shroud
- FMA Wilcox 3 Hole Shroud
- FMA Wilcox 4 Hole Shroud
- Helmet VAS Shroud L4g19 Aid
- Plastic Mount Set For OPS Helmet Rail
- OPS-CORE ACH Occ-Dial Liner Kit
- Velcro Sticker FOR Ballistic Helmet
- Helmet Cuttlefish Dried
…but are they really needed? I leave this question open to you. The taste of what is needed or not depends on the end-user itself and his personal point of view.
But if you want to see all the accessories available for this typ of helmet, I suggest you to visit the FMA website. They have everything >here<
Yeah! I know that some guys say: Helmets are not necessary for airsoft use because thery´re build for ballistic head protection and so there´s no reason to use them, even not the replica ones without ballistic protection. I say: They´re wrong! Why? In airsoft the most important protection is eye protection, we all know that – even the military understood this. But what´s next…? In my opinion helmets are really necessary! Most of the game areas we play in are old military bases or small ghost villages if we talk about CQB. Most of the buildings there are ruins with lots of holes and debris around and the chance that you hurt yourself in a game is high. So, head protection in areas like these is f*ucking important! You only have one brain… If you rather play on greenside spots, it´s not a fault to wear one as well.
QUALITY IN GENERAL
Overall, the FMA Aramid Fiber Helmet is a very good replica. The fact that they use real aramid fiber for the shell makes this helmet “as real as it gets” to the real version from opscore. The outer-shell finish regarding to color and surface is very well done and the best out there on the market so far. You wouldn´t get an other helmet straight out of the box like this one. The plastic VAS shroud needs to be replaced with a metal one, which is more solid and provides a longer life time. The Occ-Dial locking mechanisim works fine but needs a small update from my point of view. You´re also able to use Comm-Tacs like Peltor or Sordin under the helmet. There´s enough space for them and you don´t get pressure marks on your head.
After testing this helmet for more then two months I can clearly say it´s comfortable to wear and you will be happy with it. Re-enactors, batteldisplay and MilSim players definitely should grab one to complete an authentic loadout. Retail price is about ~220€, which is a bit high for a replica without any ballistic protection.
The FMA Aramid Fiber Helmet is available from GUNFIRE SHOP in Poland who provide us the testmodel. A big thank you to the team.
We also want to thank FMA Professional Airsoft LTD who supported us during the test with information.