TYR Tactical

Ops-Core Special Operations Tactical Respirator

There was a time when helmets were only worn by SOF for airborne operations. Now, it’s standard practice to wear both helmet and body armor in both live-fire training as well as operations. Similarly, when I joined the Army in the mid-80s, the only eye pro were crappy Sun, Wind and Dust Goggles. By the late-90s, effective eye protective glasses and goggles were standard issue and wear in garrison, as well as deployed. The same can be said for active hearing protection. While it’s still not universal, most service members have access to hearing protection with active noise reduction features in addition to their ear plugs. We’ve adapted to the realities of the threat environment and driven technology solutions to the point of protecting head, eyes and ears. Now it’s time to get serious about protecting our service members’ respiratory system.

I first saw the Special Operations Tactical Respirator in the Gentex booth at Warrior West and was immediately impressed. There is no active requirement for this product. Gentex saw an unstated need and spent internal R&D Dollars to create a solution. I have a lot of friends with heavy metal poisoning from years of operating in threat environments as well as training in shoot houses. You’ll pick up a lot of lead just breathing during training, but being deployed exposes folks to a lot of residual, environmental threats as well. In the case of heavy metals, they collect in your body and left untreated, poison for the rest of your life. Naturally, it’s best to avoid altogether, or at least mitigate exposure. That’s where the SOTR comes in.

Adapted from technology created for use in the F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) and leveraging over 35 years of other experience in the development of oxygen masks and CBRN equipment for aircrew and aircraft maintainers, Gentex Corporation designed its first respirator for ground applications, the Ops-Core Special Operations Tactical Respirator (SOTR). The new half-mask respirator will provide protection against a wide range of oil and non-oil based particulate contaminants encountered by Special Operations Forces, tactical operators or specialized law enforcement officers.

The half-mask respirator filter offers at least 99.7% filtration efficiency against airborne particulates including lead, asbestos, lubricant mist, and explosive gunfire residue. If it catches on, I can see future development of a filter for use against riot control agents and even CBRN threats for in-extremis use.

Key customer input driving the development of the respirator was that existing respiratory masks were excessive for the current threats they faced and that they did not integrate well with helmets or weapons systems. Employing their streamlined systems approach to design, Ops-Core developed the new respirator to provide protection without interfering with operator’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), and to seamlessly interface with weapon systems for optimal effectiveness.

Other key features of the low profile half-mask respirator include a microphone, compatibility with standard ground communications headsets, two exhalation valves for easier breathing, easy-to-adjust suspension straps for both helmet worn and helmetless wear, a flexible and lightweight silicone face piece to enable fit to a large variety of facial types, front mounted inhalation valve and cartridge ports for enhanced field-of-vision, and a quick, one-handed filter change. In addition to the strap seen here for stand-alone use, the SOTR will also attach to the FAST helmet in a similar fashion to the O2 mask used for MFF parachuting operations.

Available in early 2017, the Ops-Core Special Operations Tactical Respirator was developed at the company’s facility in Rancho Cucamonga, California, which is dedicated to the research, development, and manufacture of respiratory protective products for military and law enforcement professionals.


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33 Responses to “Ops-Core Special Operations Tactical Respirator”

  1. Joshua Todd says:

    Interesting I was just wondering about an update on this yesterday. Likely to be a good option for USAR work as well.

  2. ThisIsWrong says:

    I can see the cost easily spiral out of control for this super new innovative product.

    Get a 3M respirator for $20 and enjoy the same level of protection.

    • Jeremy says:

      Ah yes, a respirator made with no regard to subdued colors, comms integration, or fitment with helmets. Definitely a suitable substitute. Got any other bright ideas?

      • SmartyMcSmartass says:

        I see you are easily mislead by advertisement.

        Have you ever worn such a respirator at work? Let me tell you, it doesn’t affect speaking. Ever worn one while you had a helmet on? Fits perfectly. Want to know why? Because construction workers have been wearing these for ages, using comms and helmets.

        • Jeremy says:

          Yes, I have one worn one. As I recall, it had bright pink filters that were large and ungainly, and it sucked to breath through. So loud visual signature, and awful for aerobic activity.

          I look forward to your next stupid username.

  3. Big_Juju says:

    I torn between REALLY, REALLY wanting to participate in “love-fire training” and running away from it as fast as I can.

  4. Joe says:

    Paul Howe mentions the need for a mask in his book; nasty Mogadishu dust and trash sparked it.
    Also, this is how you get stormtrooper helmets.

  5. Chris says:

    USAR would be nice, especially if lightweight and easy to change out filters. 9/11 that was huge problem, now why many are so sick and dying, they just took their respiratory protection off when it was so saturated.

    Yes a 3M is cheaper, but have you tried getting a cheek weld with cartridges on each side of the half or full face APR. They just are not designed for shooters.

    The real fun part is how many clean shaven Special Operations guys have you seen?

  6. Firewalker says:

    Nevermind tactical uses, which are many and clearly needed, this looks like something that would fit comfortably under a welding helmet. This would be a boon to welders working in noisy environments (mining industry especially), being able to communicate by radio while maintaining a respirator.

  7. Martin Lambert says:

    I wonder how you can breathe in this thing?

  8. d says:

    I’m gonna assume they’re making a kit that integrates the straps with the rails just like O2 masks. I mean since it’s their mask and rail. I can see popping one strap and letting it dangle post-assault to get back to normal breathing and verbal communication.

    I’m all about the technology.

    • SSD says:

      I’ve seen the kit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t photograph it and they didn’t provide a photo of it, but it exists.

  9. Bill says:

    I’ll take two. Just in training I’ve been exposed to lead, mold, asbestos and primer compounds. It’d be handing when stumbling into meth labs before the fully equipped hazmat guys get there.

  10. James says:

    I was wondering why the straps weren’t integrated to the rails given who makes it, glad it’s to be offered both ways.
    Just an available N95 filter in addition to the particulate filter would be nice, probably be relatively simple and light compared to one for Riot agents and other chemicals.

    • NinjaMedic says:

      Reading between the lines the base filter is a P100 (“will provide protection against a wide range of oil and non-oil based particulate contaminants”+”filter offers at least 99.7% filtration efficiency”) equivalent to a HEPA filter. This is already better than an N95 filter (not oil resistant/filters 95% of particles).

      • James says:

        I would imagine they would put that rating somewhere. The thing is the ratings also specify particle size, it can stop the 99.7% of a larger particle size and not meet the rating.

        • James says:

          Also if it does meet the particle size since it is oil resistant it would hold an R rating not an N.

  11. Interesting concept. Of course it’s not going to work very well with the current Tactical Beard trend, but when the GWOT ends in another 10-15 years…

  12. Dellis says:

    I wear a 3M Home Depot brand mask a good deal when painting on cars and doin things with icky chemicals and mold in cars and they get rather uncomfy after a stretch.

    Now by the picture provided I am not sure how the overall fit is, as in snug to the face. It seems as though it may have weak side stability right around the cheek bone area. The helmit chin straps are the normal straps of most regulators, going on top of head and behind neck giving a more secure fit. Perhaps when attached directly to rail this is not an issue?

    Am I wrong in that from anyone who’s worn one?

    Other than that I like the low profile of it and as mentioned the typical 3M mask is not shooter friendly as the filter cartridge is just too bulky

    • SSD says:

      This connects the same way an O2 mask does as it’s based on an O2 mask and uses the same connectors you attach an O2 mask to a FAST helmet. Consequently, it’s going to seal like an O2 mask.

  13. Jack says:

    Is it fire resistant? Last thing I need is this thing melted to my face, occluding my airway after an explosion.

  14. Hubb says:

    Does it protect against burn pits?

    • SSD says:

      Now there’s a question.

    • Mac says:

      Thats what I was thinking. Given the air time (no pun) burn pits on deployment have had in some veterans media circles be prepared to don glow belt then SOTR when moving external to the ‘B’ hut.

      P.s. hope the safety guys at DOD aren’t reading this :0

  15. Gab says:

    what is the MSRP. No matter what i will get 2

  16. cy says:

    Does it make you sound like Darth Vader when you talk?

  17. mehmaster says:

    the cif are becoming the sith.