Well, this review has some age on it at this point, and we’ve looked at some fantastic gear since then. For a more up-to-date take, check out The Best Gas Mask for Tear Gas, Viruses, and Nuclear Fallout.
- Full face CBRN protective mask
- Single lens for wide field of view
- Material: Chlorobutyl rubber silicone
- Worn Mask Weight: 30 oz
- Total Weight: 3.6 lbs
- 6 point adjustable harness
- Ballistic polycarbonate outer lens
- Nylon mildew-resistant carrier bag
- Twin M61 twist-lock filters
- Filter Weight: 10 oz
What They Got Right on the M50 Gas Mask
The M50 gas mask is one of the best protective masks on the market for chemical, biological, and radiological personal defense. The lens was designed with almost every military task in mind, which give it a great field of vision. The chlorobutyl rubber silicone mask is one of the best protective skins used on gas masks to date. The head harness is very adjustable, using velcro straps which makes the fit versatile but sturdy. No more adjusting the mask each and every time you put it on.
The dual filters are one of the best features of this mask. Putting filters on both sides of the mask made the mask easier to breathe through. It also reduces the profile of the filters which is much better for tasks close to your face, such as sighting a rifle. Having a filter on each side of the mask balances the weight, and makes it much less likely to have the mask unseal from your face from being hit or jostled. The filters also contain a white tab that turns blue when the filter is contaminated or expired.
The M50 is compatible with a wide range of accessories, from canteens to Camelbaks. A voice emitter can also be attached to the front of the mask to be able to project your voice more easily. You can clean the mask using warm soapy water, but only after removing the filters. Don’t use bleach or alcohol wipes since they can yellow the lens and break down the mask itself over time.
What They Got Wrong on the M50 Gas Mask
The M50, while a great mask, still has its vulnerabilities and issues. It is still not a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), so you need to be aware that it does not provide oxygen in oxygen-depleted environments. Some HAZMAT chemicals, such as chlorine, can make the filter not last quite as long too. Knowing your limitations with the mask is important since masks can provide a false sense of security if you are dealing with unknown chemicals or substances.
Our Experience With the M50 Gas Mask
I have owned an M50 protective mask for eight years now. I have worn it for up to 12 hours at a time. I wore it weekly for about a two-year span, teaching classes while exposed to tear gas in a gas chamber. I have worn it while exposed to live Vx nerve agent and other deadly chemical weapons. I’m still here, able to type up this review, so that is pretty good proof that this mask is a workhorse of a protective mask.
One of the best features I always liked was how easy it is to wear. The balanced filters are great. They also tweaked the lens on it to not distort anything, so everything appears as it would normally. This is important when using a firearm, and it made firing both the pistol and rifle much easier. The M50 is the best mask I have worn, and I can compare it to the MCU-2P, M45, M40, M17, Russian GP-5, Israeli FM12, 3M 6700, and more.
Where to Buy the M50:
You may be able to find the M50 at a military surplus store, but they will not be common since they are still in service. Finding one online is hit-and-miss, but I would not suggest spending more than $200 on one. Be sure you are getting one from a reputable dealer so you don’t get a used mask that is no longer serviceable. Here are some reputable online dealers for the M50 and accessories:
The Final Word
The M50 is one of the best masks you can get. While some of the Avon and 3M full-face respirators offer similar performance, the M50 is the only option that is rugged enough to withstand a survival situation with ease. The thick chlorobutyl rubber silicone will keep you protected but is still lightweight enough to be tolerable for long periods. If you are in the market for a protective mask, you should definitely consider picking up an M50.
You can check out our comprehensive gas mask guide to see more of our thoughts on the best gas masks and any more information about gas masks that you may want to know.
Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.
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