SIG Sauer Academy

New SOF Protective Mask Undergoing Testing at Dugway Proving Ground

Personnel at the Combined Chemical Test Facility are preparing for the arrival of the Avon M53 protective mask in late May, developed with features to meet the requirements of Special Operations units.

Extensive testing is expected to begin in June at Dugway Proving Ground, the nation’s primary facility to test defenses against chemical and biological agents.

“The Avon M53 is highly regarded by users and agencies throughout the world due to its protective features,” said Test Officer Andrew Neafsey. “We will aggressively challenge this mask in order to verify the high level of performance required.”

The M53 is a variant of the currently issued Avon M50 mask, designed by the Department of Defense to meet the requirements of the Joint Services General Purpose Mask.

Like the M50, the M53 is designed to resist traditional chemical and biological warfare agents, select Toxic Industrial Materials (TIM), and particulates (including radioactive dust).

Among the features of the M53 variant is a wider field of vision, ballistic protection and scratch resistance of the eyescreen, and connection to either a canteen or hydration bladder for drinking.

The M53 is designed to work with most PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) without having to remove or change components. It can supply its wearer with filtered air from surroundings, tanks, air purifying respirator or rebreather.

The M53 is built by Avon Protection Systems of Cadillac, Michigan, a U.S. subsidiary of Avon Rubber of the United Kingdom that has been making respirators and protective masks since the 1920s.

By Albert Vogel

6 Responses to “New SOF Protective Mask Undergoing Testing at Dugway Proving Ground”

  1. BS says:

    Isn’t M53 already in use in US SOF since 2004?

    • Gear Guy says:

      The M53 was initially fielded to SMU’s in 2005 with fielding to the Ranger Regiment and other forces later. The newest variant is called the M53A1 and not much has changed from the original M53, aside from it being NIOSH CBRN certified. It has also been certified with a new PAPR system the will be replacing the C420 PAPRs currently in service. SOF will also be fielding a new SCBA system to replace the Drager SCBA-G’s and Scott systems currently in service.

  2. BS says:

    Isn’t FM53/M53 in use by US SOF since 2004-2005?

  3. Seamus says:

    Looks like we are only a generation or two away from a full fledged storm-trooper looking helmet. First rule of Special Forces, “Always look cool”.

  4. Raul says:

    Is that exterior mike usable with the mask?

    • Gear Guy says:

      Yes it is. It is more advantageous to take advantage of the internal microphone with a radio interface cable and push to talk, but running your mic like that still works.