The branches of the U.S. Military are trained to deal with the most dangerous situations and respond to spontaneous, short notice crises— be it diffusing bombs, dealing with airstrikes, close-quarter combat, anti-terrorism operations, or providing humanitarian assistance both here and abroad. This multi-mission role requires a high level of protection to ensure that they can carry out their tasks effectively and as safely as possible. Now, thanks to the M50 mask, our warfighters can be protected.

 

The M50 Joint Service General Protective Mask (JSGPM)

Manufactured by Avon Rubber, the M50 JSGPM is a most advanced general service respiratory protection mask system that seeks to be both lightweight and comfortable. It consists of the mask, a mask carrier, and additional accessories. Here’s what the M50 JSGPM can offer:

  • Optimum protection. The primary purpose of the mask is to ensure that the wearer is shielded against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats. It has above-the-neck, head-eye-respiratory protection for more than 36 hours. It is also flame-resistant. The filters can also be replaced without breaking the protective seal through their self-sealing valves.
1st MLG Marines train for contaminated environment at Camp Pendleton. Photo by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik / Wikimedia Commons.
  • Enhanced field of view. It has a panoramic single lens visor that is scratch-resistant and has an optically-correct visor. Prescription lenses can also be mounted inside the mask. There are also outserts for extreme environments, sunlight, and even laser, so the wearer’s sight is optimal.
  • Improved comfort. The M50 has three facepiece sizes to ensure proper fitting. The drinking system was also designed to be high flow and fail-safe so that drinking wouldn’t be a hassle. It is also reasonably light, weighing 1.9 lbs.
  • Better air management. Wearing a mask for an extended period of time could be suffocating. With that in mind, the M50 mask was created to have low breathing resistance and excellent de-mist properties. Heat build-up and re-breathed carbon dioxide were also minimized.
  • Easier communication. Communication is important when dealing with dangerous operations; that is why this mask has a front-mounted exhale valve that allows clear and direct communication. There is also an Electronic Communication Port (ECP) for optional voice projection.

While the M50 was designed to provide the utmost protection on the battlefield, its counterpart variant, the M51, has been specifically designed for combat vehicle operators. It still has the M50 mask plus a CVC hood for head and neck protection from Gore Chempak™ barrier technology, a communication lead and hoses to incorporate with vehicle blowers and Collective Protection (COLPRO) systems. These masks replace the M40 and M42 series masks.

 

Additional Accessories

A new M50 joint service general purpose mask is shown on Dec. 1, 2011, at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Photo by 1st Lt. Anthony J. Lesterson / Wikimedia Commons.

Aside from the mask itself, the system comes with a mask carrier for complete storage for the mask, the filters, manual, two outserts for the visor lens, and an innovative Voice Projection Unit (VPU) to compensate for the voice being muffled behind the mask itself. There is also a dust/decon filter cover that’s ideal in a contamination scenario to provide shower-proof protection for the filter. As mentioned earlier, the CBRN filters can also be replaced as needed. Lastly, outserts are interchangeable depending on the user’s need. They can be mirrored, clear, sunlight, blue blocker, breach, or laser resistant.

 

Can Civilians Buy M50 Gas Masks?

According to Galls.com, a website exclusively catering to America’s public safety professionals, the M50 gas masks are restricted from sale to civilians as part of ensuring the safety of the law enforcement officers. In fact, proof of occupation is required when purchasing them. They also have to be shipped to the law enforcement agency address. The short answer is no.

It is undoubtedly a risky job to serve in the military or law enforcement, and gear like the M50 JSGPM are part of a continuous effort of improvement and development of better and safer protective gear.  And unlike previous gas masks designs that left you looking weirdly rat-like in appearance, the M50 looks cool too.

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