The Best Gas Masks: A Buyers' Guide [2023 Update]

The Best Gas Masks: A Buyers' Guide [2023 Update]

by Roman Zrazhevskiy

A full-face gas mask provides unparalleled protection from a wide range of debilitating—and even deadly—threats.

That means these intricate devices can save lives in dangerous situations. But which one is right for you?

When you’ve finished this guide, you’ll know everything you need to know about how a gas mask works, how key features and details differ between masks, and how to select the right mask for a variety of applications.

Note that we do our best to break down complicated terminology into layman’s terms, passing on our knowledge as manufacturers of gas masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment onto you.

Furthermore, to guarantee the utmost quality, we subject every gas mask and filter listed below to extensive, hands-on testing. Because we know just how much goes into the design, development, and manufacturing of these products, we aren't afraid test them, making sure that they can withstand the very worst conditions. 

Make no mistake: these devices can and will save your life if used correctly and in combination with the right gear. 

Understanding the specific hazards and choosing the appropriate gear is therefore crucial. Remember: different masks protect against different dangers. For example, your team may need state-of-the-art biohazard masks, a chemical gas mask, a nuclear gas mask, or masks that protect against all of the above. Military users, meanhwile, may want a gas mask that offers a good tactical advantage.

But before we elaborate on this any further, let's briefly review the history of the gas mask.

  • 01

    The History of the Gas Mask

  • 02

    The Benefits of a Modern Gas Mask

  • 03

    Basic Types of Respirators

  • 04

    Types of Filters

  • 05

    Rating System

  • 06

    Legal Implications

  • 07

    CBRN Logistics

  • 08

    Recommended Gas Masks & Respirators

  • 09

    Obsolete Gas Masks

  • 10

    How to Make Sure Your Gas Mask Fits

  • 11

    Must-Have Gas Mask Mods and Upgrades

  • 12

    Going Beyond the Gas Mask

  • 13


  • 14

    Gas Mask FAQs

The History of the Gas Mask

The earliest known gas mask was created in Iraq in the ninth century to protect people working in polluted wells. In the seventeenth century, plague doctors wore the now-iconic bird-shaped gas mask filled with herbs to avoid getting sick.

The genesis of the respirator as we know it today comes from Lawrence P. Haslett. In 1849, Haslett patented the first basic respirator design to incorporate both a filter and an exhalation port. In 1914, Garrett Morgan improved on that design and made a full-face respirator/smoke hood with visor slots and hoses that hung to the floor to protect against smoke inhalation. For filtration, Morgan’s gas mask used the same basic wet sponges the ancient Greeks trusted centuries before.

With the escalation of chemical warfare in the First World War, masks had a whole new protective role on the battlefield.

At first, these new masks incorporated a self-contained air supply. Soon after, in 1915, Nikolay Zelinsky invented the first gas mask to use activated charcoal to filter toxic gases. Combining this new portable filter with a full-face respirator and practical fighting features, Zelinsky’s Kummant gas mask began a whole new era.

In 1943, the British Army developed a more modern mask. This gas mask was lighter, less bulky, and fitted the face better than those used in World War I. It allowed the use of a separate, replaceable filter canister. It also protected against new biological warfare threats. This became the standard during World War II.

By the end of World War II, gas mask use had skyrocketed among both military and civilians. Instantly recognizable by almost anyone on Earth, they were cold comfort in the event of an unexpected attack.

Indeed, the British government had issued gas masks to every citizen, urging them to carry their masks daily. “Hitler will send no warning,” admonished the posters, “so always carry your gas mask.”

The Benefits of a Modern Gas Mask

Today’s masks and respirators are radically more advanced than their predecessors from just a century ago …

With lightweight, standardized filtration cartridges and a massive variety of gas mask and visor options to choose from, you can create a custom configuration of a modern mask that fits your exact preferences.

If you’re a busy professional, in law enforcement or the military, or working as a first responder, you probably already know what types of masks and filters you’re looking for.

If, on the other hand, you’re an individual looking to enhance your family’s disaster readiness, you need to carefully consider the threats you want to prepare for …

Is your biggest concern a pandemic—for which you only need P100 filtration—or are you looking to prep for chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threats, which requires something more advanced? Does your family live in an area that’s prone to forest fires or an urban center that might be targeted for attack?

Those with a knack for civil defense take into consideration all possible worst case scenarios, which is why they tend to gear up for the possibility of a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is not a true nuclear weapon. It uses conventional explosives to disperse a payload of radioactive material over the target area. This spreads dense concentrations of radioactive particles throughout the immediate area, contaminating the air. When it comes to a dirty bomb, civilians, law enforcement, first responders, and the military will all benefit from having CBRN-rated personal protective equipment (PPE).

Those in the medical field typically prefer P3 protection, as we learned in 2020. Another thing we learned in that same year is how rapidly stockpiles of P3 protection can be depleted, especially in the event of a global health crisis or pandemic.

Gas mask users can get practical protection from the aforementioned forest fires using specialized CO2 filters.

Suffice it to say that a modern gas mask can protect you from a myriad of threats. For general preparedness, you should look for masks that protect against CBRN contaminants:


Toxic chemicals, gases, and nerve agents


All microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi


Radioactive particles dispersed by a dirty bomb


Radioactive fallout from a nuclear device, weapon, or reactor

Remember, when it comes to protecting you from these contaminants, it’s not the gas mask itself that protects you, but rather the combination of the gas mask and filter you use. Let’s break down both of these components and see what options are available … .

Basic Respirators

A respirator gas mask fits over your face and is used to ensure the inhaled air is clean. There are two main categories of respirators:

Air-purifying respirators (APR)

These respirators use portable filters to clean contaminants from the inhaled air. These filters have limitations, so it’s important to be aware of the potential contaminants the wearer might face. It’s also important to consider whether the oxygen level will be sufficient (19.5%). This is the most common type of respirator by far, comprising the vast majority of those you’ll see in civilian and professional use.


  • Escape respirators – Designed for short-term use to escape a dangerous area, this respirator lasts only 15 minutes to an hour. These also take the form of smoke hoods. They are often issued to civilians in emergency situations or purchased in preparation for a potential disaster.
  • Particulate respirators – This is the most inexpensive respirator you can buy. It’s a simple gas mask (like a surgical mask) designed to protect against airborne particles ONLY. This includes infectious agents, which require a P-100 rating. It does not protect against chemicals, vapors, or gases.
  • Full-face gas mask respirator – This respirator combines a filter cartridge with a sealed gas mask and visor to clean particulates and chemical gases and vapors from the inhaled air. The gas mask covers the entire face and has a cartridge that filters the air as the wearer inhales. This type of gas mask respirator is the focus of this guide.
  • Half-face tactical respirators – Designed to meet the needs of military and law enforcement, these compact respirators are compatible with tactical gear like helmets and goggles, while protecting the user from particulate threats and riot control agents.
  • Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) – This respirator is essentially a regular gas mask that uses a battery-powered fan to blow air through the filter. This substantially reduces the breathing resistance experienced while wearing a gas mask. At the same time, the powered air flow creates a positive pressure environment inside the gas mask, providing a secondary layer of protection from environmental threats.


Atmosphere-supplying respirators

These respirators supply uncontaminated air from a separate source. Dealing with unknown or especially deadly threats or insufficient oxygen levels requires one of these respirators. They are rarely deployed and only by highly trained professionals.


  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) – This respirator comes with its own supply of compressed clean air. This eliminates the need for filters. This device is similar to a scuba tank and is typically used by professionals where the type of contaminant and its concentration is unknown to the wearer.
  • Air-supplied – This uses an air hose to provide air from a clean source. This is typically used in situations where workers need to be in a dangerous area for an extended period of time.

Respirator Fit

Before we move on, another important factor is how your respirator should fit and function.

A modern gas mask uses a rubber barrier to create an airtight seal with the face and neck. This seal must be intact for the gas mask and filter to function as intended, which can make for a tight fit. Loose-fitting respirators, like the escape hoods and SCBA suits mentioned above, work by creating a positive pressure environment inside of the gas mask/hood itself.

For the vast majority of adults, a tight-fitting gas mask is more practical and far more affordable. Anyone with the lung power to inflate a birthday balloon has enough lung power to operate a gas mask with a standard filter. For younger family members, a looser-fitting escape hood may be a better option.

Note that either system can be combined with a PAPR for enhanced breathing ease, especially during long hours of use. A PAPR can vastly improve the user experience for almost anyone, but for some people, it’s a necessity.

Types of Filters

But if the need arises, you want to be absolutely certain you can count on your gear—which is why we’re going to take a moment to cover storage, shelf life and logistics in general.A gas mask is only as effective as the filter it’s used with. Different filters provide different types and levels of protection. And there’s a system that’s relatively easy to understand …

Many modern filters (especially those designed to be compatible with the NATO standard 40 mm x 1/7” threading) are color-coded and tagged, so it’s easy to find the type of filter you want. Here is the basic color coding scheme:

Color Mask type Application Class Gas Concentration Standard
P3 Particles 1
low efficiency
medium efficiency
high efficiency
A Organic gases & Vapours-boiling point > 65°C 1
1000 ML/M3
5000 ML/M3
10000 ML/M3
A Organic gases & Vapours-boiling point > 65°C 1
1000 ML/M3
5000 ML/M3
10000 ML/M3
B Inorganic gases and Vapours (not CO), i.e chlorine, H2S, HCN,… 1
1000 ML/M3
5000 ML/M3
10000 ML/M3
EA Acid gases 1
1000 ML/M3
5000 ML/M3
10000 ML/M3
K Ammonia and organic derivatives 1
1000 ML/M3
5000 ML/M3
10000 ML/M3
AX Certain organic compounds with boiling point <65°C - of low boiling substances groups 1&2 gr.1: 100ml/m3 max 40'
gr.1: 100ml/m3 max 20'
gr.2: 1000ml/m3 max 60'
gr.2 5000 ml/m3 max 20'
NO (+P3) Nitrogen oxides e.g NO, NO2, Nox Maximum allowed time of use: 20min EN141
Hg (+P3) Mercury vapours Maximum allowed time of use: 50 hrs EN141
CO*C Carbon monoxide Local guidelines DIN 3181*
Reactor P3 Radioactive iodine Local guidelines DIN 3181*

Other filters will not have these colors, but will instead be a solid color, such as olive, indicating they are “multigas” filters.

Keep in mind that along with the stated respirator and filter types, there are rating requirements that gas mask manufacturers must meet for their gas mask/filter combos to be approved for certain dangerous situations.

Gas Mask Rating System

Ratings systems are set up by government agencies to ensure that manufacturers maintain appropriate standards for their gas masks and other respirators. The primary ratings you should be aware of are the following:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – NIOSH sets the standards for gas masks used by professionals in the U.S. NIOSH standards are for protection against CBRN agents, along with other contaminants you may encounter in the field. The NIOSH approval rating applies to the gas mask and filter combination.

There are many jobs for which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires NIOSH approved equipment. If you don’t wear your NIOSH-approved PPE, insurance coverage may not apply if you are injured or become ill as a result of exposure.


All products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA), including PPE and respirators, must be marked with the CE symbol, which stands for Conformité Européenne or European Conformity. A manufacturer uses this mark to show that its product meets all the health, safety, and environmental protection requirements set out by the EEA Council.


Originally developed under the Soviet Union, GOST standards include GOST 8762-75, which is a 40mm threading with a 4mm pitch. This standard was used throughout Warsaw Pact Countries for many years, and is still used by the Russian Federation.

EN 136

When it comes to PPE, the European Standard (EN) for  full-face gas mask is EN 136:1998. If a gas mask has this mark, it meets the requirements to be used as part of a respiratory protective device in negative pressure systems.

Keep in mind, there are other standards set by governments around the world for certifying full-face respirators. Having or not having a certain certification doesn’t determine the quality or usefulness of a respirator; it only shows that it has been proven to meet certain standards through independent testing by a trusted third party.

Legal Implications

There are controls on shipping US-made respirators to other countries. Specifically, the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) apply to the export of certain gas masks.

EAR controls the export of products with commercial and other potential applications (dual-use items).

The U.S. government has established safeguards to prevent a gas mask from being shipped to destinations where it could be used to counter the efforts of the U.S. military.

ITAR regulates defense products and operates under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). If a specific gas mask is listed in the ITAR United States Munitions List (USML), you must have a license to send it out of the country.

At this time, the only masks listed under the USML are those made by Avon Protection (including the M50 and C50), but that could change.

The point is this: if you plan to send your family or friends a gas mask overseas, make sure you can do so legally. The penalties for not complying with these laws can be severe.

If a foreign-made gas mask enters the U.S. temporarily for re-export, it is not controlled by ITAR. The export of PPE is, however, regulated by EAR, and falls under classification code 1A004.

To make sure you’re in compliance, contact the U.S. State Department (administrator for ITAR) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (administrator for EAR) to let them know what you’re planning on shipping and where.

That way, if you’re ever investigated, you’ll have a paper trail showing you made an effort to contact those in charge about how to proceed.

CBRN Logistics

Logistics and long-term storage are another important factor for any CBRN protocol or preparedness plan.

Sure, you might just start with one gas mask and a few filters. But as time goes on, you might get additional masks for other family members or additional filters for added protection against different threats. So, it’s important to think ahead and plan to the best of your ability to make the most of your investment.

Consider, for example, that most gas masks have a shelf life of up to 20 years, whereas the majority of filters are only designed to last 5–7 years in storage. However, some premium filters, like our NBC-77 SOF, have a longer 20-year shelf life. That makes things simpler, since the filter lasts as long as the mask, and you won’t need to rebuy protection nearly as often.

Beyond the gas mask and filters, you should consider the accessories, spare parts, and replacements you might need. “Two is one, and one is none,” as the old saying goes. So, it’s good to keep a backup gas mask around if possible. Accessories like canteens, microphones, and even replacement parts like filter covers should be in your kit. You should keep this kind of support gear around for every gas mask you’ve got. To keep things simple, MIRA Safety CM-series gas masks all use the same parts.

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to building your own CBRN stash. The best protection is ultimately going to be the protection you have on hand, so any plan is better than no plan. In a perfect world, we recommend a gas mask for every member of your family (plus one or two backups), a few CBRN filters like the NBC-77 SOF, and at least one or two specialized filters like the VK-450 (which protects the wearer from smoke inhalation).

Storage is relatively straightforward with most gas masks and filters. Filters sometimes come in a vacuum-sealed bag and almost always with a cap over the filter intake (leave this cap in place until you need to use the filter). Pay close attention to storage parameters, especially when it comes to duty use, and store your gear in a cool, dry, and safe place.

Now that you know about gas masks, let’s look at the types of gas masks that are available. This will help you decide what’s right for you and your family.

Recommended Gas Masks and Respirators

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, you can probably see why it’s crucial to make sure you get the right gas mask for your needs.

A full-face gas mask provides unmatched protection from some of the deadliest threats known to man. But to guarantee that protection, you need the right fit, the right filter, a perfect seal, and a handful of other key features.

After all, you’ve seen how a gas mask is not a simple respirator only designed to protect from particulates in the inhaled air. A gas mask is a full-face mask that, with the proper filter, protects against vapors, gases, and particles


A gas mask is rated based on the threat they are designed to protect the wearer from. The ratings are as follows:

  • CBRN

  • Chemical Blowing and Riot Control Agents

  • Specialty Ratings – designed to protect the wearer from specific HAZMAT or CBRN threats

For civil preparedness purposes, you should choose a CBRN gas mask. When researching, check the following features:

  • Certifications

  • Presence of a speech diaphragm

  • Hydration system compatibility

  • Compatibility with optics

  • Whether the rubber is resistant to chemical warfare agents

  • Whether government and/or law enforcement agencies currently use the mask—an extra indicator of quality

With this in mind, there are many popular gas masks to choose from. Your choice will depend on personal comfort, the fit of the gas mask, your budget, and the considerations listed above.

Now, we know full well which gas masks we think are the best—ours! Our MIRA Safety gas masks stand up against the competition every single time (shameless plug).

Having said that, we want to make sure that you make an informed decision. So, here’s a list of the most popular masks:

MIRA Safety CM-6M Gas Mask

The MIRA Safety CM-6M gas mask protects the wearer’s airways, eyes, and face from toxic chemicals, gases, vapors, and radioactive dust. The oral nasal cup is hypoallergenic, and  the visor is wide for panoramic viewing. The oral nasal cup also prevents fogging, even in the toughest conditions. The gas mask fits 40mm 1/7” NATO filter cartridges and is manufactured according to the EN 136:1998 standard, class III. The gas mask is backed by MIRA Safety’s 5-year manufacturer warranty.

  • EN 136:1998 standard, class III

  • Panoramic visor

  • Inner mask prevents fogging even under harsh conditions

  • Takes two standard filter cartridges, making breathing easier and increasing the time between filter changes

  • Compatible with a variety of filters for various levels of protection

  • Can be used by industry, agriculture, law enforcement, fire departments, military, or for civil defense

  • Ideal for use as a riot control or tear gas mask, considering the full face seal and level of impact resistance

  • Hydration system and canteen included

  • Compatible with CamelBak bladders

  • Speech diaphragm included

  • 20-year shelf life


This gas mask is used professionally across the globe by law enforcement, HAZMAT crews, and is made of CWA-resistant rubber. The CM-6M is feature-rich and comes in at a much lower price than competitive offerings.

MIRA Safety CM-7M Gas Mask

The MIRA Safety CM-7M gas mask is similar to the CM-6M, but is designed for military use. It protects the wearer’s airways, eyes, and face from toxic chemicals, gases, vapors, and radioactive dust, while allowing for good optics when in combat to provide a tactical advantage. The gas mask is used by the Czech military.

  • EN 136:1998 standard, class III

  • Comfortable and wearable for long periods

  • Low breathing resistance

  • Compatible with a wide variety of military optical instruments

  • Eyepieces resistant to scratches and impact

  • Includes hydration system

  • Comes with speech diaphragm

  • Easy decontamination

  • Recessed visor options for use with rifles

  • Effective within a temperature range from -30°C to 70°C


If you’re looking for a CBRN gas mask that’s compatible with a variety of optics, go with the CM-7M. A modern mask on the market might not allow you to get close enough to the stock to sight in on your target, or get close enough to a magnified scope to make it usable.

MIRA Safety CM-8M Gas Mask

The MIRA Safety CM-8M Full Face Respirator is the next generation of a moder gas mask and a massive leap forward in terms of features and functionality. With a radically redesigned, contoured visor, the CM-8M offers an absolutely massive field of view while retaining compatibility with rifle optics and popular night vision platforms. As a result, users get the best of both worlds—with the advantages of both a civilian and tactical respirator. This radical new design is based on proven respirator designs, with the same practical features and compatibility as MIRA Safety’s other professional-grade gas masks.

  • EN 136:1998 CI. 3 certification

  • Special contoured panoramic visor for maximum field of view (92.5%)

  • Inner gas mask prevents fogging even under harsh conditions

  • Can be configured for left- or right-handed filter configuration

  • Can be equipped with a wide variety of 40mm NATO standard filter cartridges

  • Compatible with all your existing MIRA Safety gas mask accessories (gas mask microphone, PAPR, etc)

  • Comes with hydration system and canteen

  • Compatible with CamelBak bladders

  • Engineered to work with popular helmet systems

  • Shelf life of 20 years


If you’re looking for a near “do-it-all” gas mask, our CM-8M fits the bill. This is bringing the best of both worlds by combining a binocular, dual recessed visor and a panoramic visor into one. For those running optics on their carbines, using NODs, using tactical equipment, or just wanting to have general CBRN protection, this is your one stop shop.

MD-1 Children’s Gas Mask

The MD-1 Children’s Gas Mask is the only dedicated, reusable children’s gas mask on the market today. It features a lightweight design with natural rubber construction, optimized for comfort and practical use by children 2–12 years old. It’s compatible with all 40 mm NATO-standard filters and features the same basic form and operation as a standard adult gas mask.

  • Streamlined, lightweight design optimized for children’s comfort

  • Nontoxic natural-rubber construction

  • Articulating 5-point mesh head harness

  • Features a panoramic polycarbonate visor for situational awareness

  • Comes with detachable breathing hose

  • Comes in 2 sizes for children 2–12 years old

  • Weighs just 1 lb. without a filter

  • Single 40-mm NATO filter port


The MD-1 is based on a proven design and uses standardized equipment to provide reliable CBRN protection for children. It’s not as easy for small children to use as the CM-3M gas mask (below), but it’s more affordable and flexible.

CM-3M Children’s Gas Mask

Developed by CBRN experts at the Israeli Defense Force, the CM-3M Children’s Gas Mask combines a hooded design with an integrated PAPR to create a positive pressure gas mask that’s practical and comfortable for small children. It’s an innovative design that’s reusable and reliable thanks to its use of 40-mm filter cartridges and the battery-powered blower.

  • Complete system with respirator gas mask, filter cartridge, integrated hydration system, blower unit and tubing included

  • Suitable for use by children as young as 2 years old

  • Uses 4 standard CR123A batteries to power the blower with a runtime of 15–22 hours of continuous use

  • Hood constructed from 4-layer PVC/nylon/nylon/PVC for maximum tear-resistance (tested according to standard ASTM D882)

  • Tested to provide up to 240 minutes of effective protection from mustard gas (CWA) according to MIL-STD-282 (method 204.1.1.)

  • The blower unit can alternatively be attached to a standard 40-mm NATO gas mask port, combining superior protection with easier breathing and longer use

  • Made in Israel


The CM-3M’s unique design makes it an outstanding choice for protecting younger children, especially those under 7 years old. It’s substantially more expensive than the MD-1 gas mask, but a large portion of that expense is the detachable PAPR, which can be used separately with other 40-mm port gas masks.

MIRA Safety TAPR Tactical Air-Purifying Respirator

Originally designed for use by the Czech Special Forces, the TAPR is a half-face respirator that uses 40-mm filter cartridges and features optional accessories to integrate with ARC Rail Adapters and MSA Gallet systems. The TAPR is a dedicated tactical respirator with enough versatility to suit a wide variety of military, law enforcement, and civilian uses.

  • Complete kit with hardshell case, ripstop nylon storage bag, and two filter cartridges

  • Compact form optimized for use with weapons and popular helmet systems

  • Uses 40-mm NATO-standard filters

  • Optional adapters for connecting with ARC Rail Adapters or MSA Gallet systems

  • Compatible with popular optics, night vision, and combat goggles


The TAPR is an outstanding and flexible solution, but it’s not designed to protect against CBRN contaminants.

Obsolete Gas Masks / Respirators to Avoid

Because of the sensitive nature of gas masks and CBRN gear, it’s crucial to stick with tested and proven respirators from manufacturers you can trust.

Military surplus masks are widely available, due in no small part to the popularity of gas masks as a costume item. That makes for a number of highly affordable masks on the market that provide no viable protection. Surplus masks are very likely expired gas masks that can’t be trusted for protection.

Here’s a quick list of masks you should avoid:

4A1 Israeli Civilian Mask

Over 4 million of these masks have been made and issued to Israeli civilians since the Gulf War. That means they’re easy to find online and in surplus stores, and they’re cheap to boot. Unfortunately, the masks that make it stateside are most likely outdated and won’t protect you when you need it. This is despite the fact that the general populace in Israel still uses this gas mask in emergencies. On top of this, the gas mask offers poor visibility, making it a no-go for military or law enforcement operations.

Israeli Military M15 Mask

This gas mask is similar to the 4A1 Israeli Civilian Gas Mask, but it has better visibility and protects against select warfare agents. However, once again, it’s generally only sold as surplus in the U.S., meaning it’s likely outdated and useless.

Cheap Chinese gas masks

These masks are easy to identify because the instructions are either in Chinese or broken English. They’re made from cheap materials and are generally rated only by Chinese oversight institutions. In addition, replacement filters are very hard to find. These masks are typically found on AliExpress, Alibaba, or white labeled by various sellers on Amazon. You get what you pay for with these masks.

M17 Gas Mask

An outdated gas mask once used by the U.S. military, notably in the Vietnam War, but later replaced by updated models. Overall it’s a useful gas mask that provides CBRN protection, but it has to be removed to change the filters.

Czech M-10-M Protective Mask

This is an outdated gas mask that does not provide CBRN protection. Its design was inspired by the M17.

GP-5 Gas Mask

This Russian gas mask is completely outdated. Production ended in 1990, so if you find one, you can be sure it’s of no use.

Canadian C-3 Protective Mask

This gas mask was made from 1960–1982 and is the predecessor to the Canadian C-4 gas mask. Although it’s been out of production for over 30 years, it’s still available on military surplus websites and eBay. This gas mask uses 60-mm threaded filters which are very difficult to find new.

Canadian C-4 Protective Mask

This gas mask is currently used by the Canadian Armed Forces. There were adhesive issues with the original black gas masks, so you should only use the green or tan gas masks. The filter can be mounted on the right or left, which is a tactical advantage. Comes with two separate eyepieces rather than a single faceplate, so the field of vision could be better.

Serbian M1 Gas Mask

This M1 gas mask was inspired by the old American M9 gas mask, and it was used by the Iraqi army in the Gulf War. If you find this in the U.S., it’s surplus and can’t be trusted. In addition, there may be chromium in the filter.

At this point, you should have a good idea of the type of gas mask and filters you need. Now, let’s get into some additional information you should know about gas masks.

How to Make Sure Your Gas Mask Fits

The proper functioning of your gas mask relies entirely on a snug and airtight fit. The gas mask must make a vacuum seal, meaning it must be the proper size and a good fit for the shape of your face.

Medium-size gas masks are a good choice for many people, but a good fit is not guaranteed. You can find the measurements for all MIRA Safety masks in the product listings on our website. You must try the mask on ahead of time to be sure it will work when you need it. Here’s how you do that:


You absolutely MUST shave any facial hair before using a gas mask. Beards and sideburns can potentially prevent forming a proper seal and compromise function

  • 1 Make sure the straps are completely loosened and pulled to the front of the gas mask, where they won’t get in your way.

  • 2Place your chin in the chin cup and roll the gas mask onto your face from the chin up. Make sure your nose is in the nose cup. You may need to seat the gas mask a few times to get the right fit.

  • 3Holding the gas mask in place, pull the straps into place on the back of your head.

  • 4Tighten each strap securely, in the following order: middle strap, top straps, and then bottom straps.

  • 5Cover the filters with your hands and inhale deeply and quickly to test the seal. This is a negative pressure test. You should feel the gas mask tighten around your face and no air should enter the gas mask. If this doesn’t happen, repeat steps 1–4.

Must-have Gas Mask Mods and Upgrades

As you now know, the right gas mask and filter combination can protect you from a wide range of threats.

The next crucial step is to make sure you can take advantage of that protection.

Something we like to say at MIRA Safety is that “your best protection is what you have with you.” That means, to do its job, your gas mask absolutely must be available to you. You need to be familiar with how to use it. And you may need a few other things to make sure it’s perfect for your needs.

First and foremost, as mentioned in the last section, you should absolutely practice donning and doffing your gas mask. In an emergency, you’ll be at least somewhat stressed when you’re putting it on, so it’s important to get familiar with the process beforehand. Ideally, you want to be able to do this with your eyes closed or at least in extreme low-light environments.

The next step is just… wearing the gas mask.

Spend some time with it, especially if you’ve never trained with protective gear. Breathing through a gas mask filter is different, and your field of view will also be different. So train with it if you can, or at least wear it on the couch for a few minutes if you can’t.

Once you’ve worn a gas mask for any appreciable amount of time, you may start to notice some other limitations.
The most common issue? Gas masks aren’t compatible with eyeglasses. That means over 70% of Americans need to consider specialized spectacle inserts to see properly while wearing a gas mask.

It’s important to note that gas mask spectacles are not like typical eyeglasses. They require special considerations for eye relief and lens shape to minimize distortion. Our MIRAVISION spectacle inserts are specially manufactured and tested to provide easy vision correction with MIRA Safety gas masks:


Remember, the protection you get from a gas mask could save your life, but you’ll still need to see where you’re going.

Another limiting factor of most gas masks is the ability to communicate with those around you. Once again, you might be deploying your gas mask in an emergency, in which case communication will be crucial. The practical solution is a microphone, like those used by armed forces, that integrates into existing communication systems.

Our MIRA Safety Gas Mask Microphone clips directly over your mask’s exhalation valve without any tools, and it integrates seamlessly with your 2-pin communications gear (including Peltor and OpSec).

But what happens if your gas mask gets messy?

What if you’ve got the right corrective lenses, good communication, but you slip and fall, fouling your visor with mud?

It might not sound like much of an issue, but you can’t always just wipe your visor clean. And if you’ve been exposed to hazards or threats—taking the gas mask off isn’t always an option.

To solve this problem, MIRA Safety looked to the world of dirt biking. Specifically, their tear-off visor covers:

MIRA Safety PROFILM visor protectors are an easy way to clean your mask in seconds with just one hand. They’re stackable and completely transparent (also available in tinted), and they provide crucial protection that can keep you in the fight.

Next up, are the crucial considerations of airflow and fatigue.

With a basic gas mask and filter, your lung power keeps the circuit going. Thanks to low-resistance filter media this usually isn’t too much of an issue, but it can gradually sap your energy—especially with any exertion.

Next up, are the crucial considerations of airflow and fatigue.

You can prevent that by combining your mask and filter with a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR). The PAPR is a sealed, battery-powered blower (or fan) that automatically draws air in through the filter media, then pumps it directly into your mask. This practically eliminates any breathing resistance while creating a positive pressure environment inside your mask that offers an added layer of safety.

Instead of plugging the filter directly into the mask, you plug one or two filters into the PAPR, then connect the integrated hose to your mask’s filter port:

An added bonus (as you can see from the PAPR’s construction) is that it moves the weight and bulk of the filters off your face, allowing for easier maneuvering in tight areas.

A PAPR is necessary for anyone who doesn’t have sufficient lung power to use a traditional mask (that’s partially why a PAPR is included with the CM-3M mask). But it’s also an outstanding upgrade for anyone who expects to use their mask for extended periods.

And last, but certainly not least, you need spare parts.

We’ve all heard the adage, “Two is one, and one is none,” but few of us have ever had to face a CBRN threat while missing one of our gas mask’s crucial components. Suffice it to say, the feeling is far worse than just losing your car keys.

Fortunately, ALL adult MIRA Safety gas masks share the same interchangeable replacement parts kit. And while we must stress the fact that users CANNOT service their own masks, this kit still provides some crucial spare parts you’ll want to keep around just in case.

Going Beyond the Gas Mask

From history and basic details to the specifics of certifications and the best (and worst) gas masks available, we hope this guide is a reference you’ll return to as you learn more and more about protecting yourself and your family or group from a wide range of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats.

Now more than ever, this kind of protection is both extremely accessible and easily customizable, allowing you to build a PPE stockpile that’s customized for your needs and situation. While these optional accessories add to the overall cost of your kit, they also add invaluable utility that can help ensure you get the results you want (or need) from your gear.

Another key consideration before you move on is what happens beyond the mask?

Because although the right gas mask and filter will protect your face, eyes, and airways, it can’t do anything for your exposed skin. That’s why we always recommend some form of full-body CBRN protection. The most thorough solution is our MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT, available in a variety of adult and children’s sizes as a total-body protective garment:

The HAZ-SUIT is ultra-thick, tear-resistant, and (unlike many of the alternatives) reusable in the event of exposure.

For next-level protection, MIRA Safety’s new semi-permeable MOPP Suit is the answer. This suit is constructed from a breathable material designed to allow clean air flow through while blocking out harsh CBRN threats. That simple advantage can keep you in action longer with less exertion and less risk of exhaustion.

You may note that the wearer’s hands and feet are not covered by the HAZ-SUIT. We also recommend some form of butyl gloves and boots to provide flexible protection for your hands and feet. Our MIRA Safety HAZ-Gloves feature ultra-thick 32-mil construction for up to 150 minutes of protection and an inner glove liner for comfort and handling:

If a full-body HAZ-SUIT isn’t practical or is too conspicuous, then the MIRA Safety M4 CBRN Poncho is a viable alternative. Weighing in at just 23 ounces and compact enough to fit into a backpack pocket, the M4 CBRN Poncho provides inconspicuous protection from potential exposure, and it’s available in both black and Serbian Digital camo:

Finally, in the event that you are potentially exposed to hazardous threats or contaminants, it’s important to have a plan for rapid decontamination if at all possible.

The MIRA Safety MDG-1 Decontamination Glove is designed to do just that. It provides instant, on-demand decontamination in a matter of seconds:

Designed to provide up to 90% decontamination from caustic threats like mustard gas in a matter of minutes, this powerful tool weighs just 5.3 ounces and tucks into almost any pocket as easily as a smartphone.


Remember: the best gas mask is the one that keeps you and your team alive.

In light of these life-or-death stakes, choosing the right mask for your needs is not to be taken lightly. Take the time to do your homework, determine what you need protection from, and then order the right gas mask and multiple filters.

Remember, too, to always keep your gas mask in good repair and practice using it. You never know when your life may depend on it!

But now we'd like to hear from you. Have we missed anything? What are your top considerations when selecting a gas mask? Sound off in the comments section below.

Gas Mask FAQs

Before you choose a gas mask, review the following FAQ, as they may prove helpful during your search:

How can I identify the certification/approval rating of a gas mask or filter?

NIOSH-approved CBRN filters are olive green with a NIOSH label. In addition, the part number will match the number on the NIOSH label. In Europe, canisters that conform to European standards should be marked with EN 14387:2004 and color-coded with a letter/number combination to indicate which contaminants the filter protects the user from.

The CE mark in Europe is placed on the product by the manufacturer to show that the product is CE certified.

ISO certification requires the manufacturer to go to a third party for product certification. The manufacturer will include a label on the product that says “ISO 9001:2015 certified.”

EN 136:1998 will be marked on the gas mask, along with the appropriate class: CL1 for light-duty, CL2 for general use, and CL3 for special use.

What does the “Cap” canister rating mean?
Can I wear a gas mask over eyeglasses?
Is it okay to get gas masks from military surplus?
How well should a gas mask fit me?
Who can or can’t use a gas mask?
Can children use a gas mask?
Which size gas mask is right for my child or teenager?
With the right cartridges and filters for the hazard, am I guaranteed protection against that hazard?
Will my respirator and cartridge/filter give me permanent protection?
How long will the gas mask protect me once I put it on?
Will a gas mask make it possible to breathe if there isn’t enough oxygen in the air?
Will a gas mask protect me in a fire?
What kind of maintenance is involved in owning a gas mask?
How can I communicate while wearing a gas mask?
Is it possible to use weapons or night-vision optics with a gas mask?
What is a PAPR and how does it work?
What is the best gas mask?