I’m an Army combat veteran with 4 tours in Iraq, and somewhat of a gas mask collector. Within my collection, I own the following:
- MIRA Safety CM-6M
- Drager CDR 4500
- Drager X-plore 6300
- Drager DHS 7000
- Drager FPS 7000
- 4A1 Israeli Civilian Mask
- Israeli Military M15 Mask
- Mestel SGE 150
- Mestel SGE 400/3
- Mestel SGE 400/3 BB
- Russian M-10-M Protective Mask
- Avon M50 Mask
I originally wrote a version of this review for a Drager mask I purchased and it got a lot of helpful votes, so I figured I’d expand on it and go into detail about the MIRA CM-6M, while giving some background about the other masks I own. Considering the many options, it’s important to know what the mask is intended for, and the level of protection it offers.
Keep in mind, the focus of this comparison is for CBRN applications (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear).
Also keep in mind, that a gas mask is only one component of CBRN PPE (personal protective equipment). To minimize exposure during a true SHTF scenario, you also need coveralls, gloves, boots, and Chemtape to seal up the seams. Along with that, you would need a decontamination agent such as FAST Act for equipment, and RSDL for skin.
MIRA Safety CM-6M:
*Compliant under EN 136 CL3 standards for respiratory protective devices.
*Large visor with a very wide field of view.
*Made from butyl rubber which meets material specifications for CBRN protection.
*Comes standard with a speech diaphragm.
*Comes standard with a pre-installed drinking system and external canteen.
*Compatible with CamelBak water bladders.
*Fits standard 40mm filter cartridges, which are widely available.
*Fits up to 2 filter cartridges simultaneously, increasing the time you can go without changing filters, and making it easier to breathe under physical exertion, or for people with smaller lung capacities (kids).
*Used by military in Europe and the Middle East.
*Long shelf life of 20 years.
*Has a slight rubber smell. In all fairness, all butyl masks that I own also have some rubber smell, just figured I’d mention it just in case someone reading is very sensitive to this.
*It’s not NIOSH CBRN Approved so it would limit professional use in the USA (Most government agencies require NIOSH CBRN approval for respiratory devices as part of OSHA standards if using the mask as part of your workplace PPE). Definitely great to have, but having or not having this certification does not determine quality, just means it went through and passed a certain series of tests here in the US.
Drager CDR 4500: Fantastic all around mask that I have now designated as a preparedness backup after my CM-6M and DHS 7000. The lack of a drinking system made me seek out other options as gas masks get pretty stuffy, and taking off the mask for some water while getting out of dodge may not be an option.
Drager X-plore 6300: The structure of this mask is identical to the CDR 4500, with some slight color variation. The major difference is the rubber used for this mask is not NIOSH CBRN approved. However, It does have a NIOSH rating for use against many gases, chemical agents, and particulates. This mask holds an EN 136 CL 2 certification.
Drager DHS 7000: This mask is absolutely incredible, although extremely difficult to find and prohibitively expensive. From all the masks I own, it’s definitely my favorite. I found one that was used for around $500, and they sell new for about $800. You can use it with one of 3 configurations: an RD40 filter, a PAPR, or a SCBA. If you can find one and have the cash, buy it. For basic CBRN preparedness purposes, however, it’s definitely overkill.
Drager FPS 7000: Great mask that’s EN 136 CL2 approved, but it is not meant to protect from CBRN agents, and only works with an SCBA system.
4A1 Israeli Civilian Mask: Sold mostly in surplus stores and can be picked up for under $30. Visibility is poor considering the small visors, one for each eye. Many people in Israel have this mask in case of emergency, and I’m sure it’s saved lives over the years, but I would not trust it considering most are surplus and could have been sitting around for 20+ years. This mask is not rated for CBRN purposes. Also, do not use the supplied filter as most are long expired.
Israeli Military M15 Mask: Similar specs to the 4A1, but with bigger visors. These do expire (20 yr life), so keep that in mind if purchasing. I’ve owned 5 M15 surplus masks over the years and 3 had damaged valves, leading to a return. These masks are resistant to certain warfare agents, but not the full gamut. I would recommend looking up the spec sheet for more detail.
Mestel SGE 150: This mask looks really nice, but is not intended for CBRN purposes of any sort. There is no coating on the visor against chemical irritants, and there is no CBRN certification. Primary use for this would be against tear gas, pepper spray, and riot situations.
Mestel SGE 400/3: Same as the SGE 150, but with 3 filter ports instead of one. This mask also has a few optional accessories. Retail is around $200, and can cost upwards of $400 when fully loaded with accessories (speech diaphragm, drinking module, canteen). If you want the extra accessories, you either have to buy it pre-installed, or send it back to the factory for professional installation which could take weeks. This is a great mask to block tear gas if you’re stuck in a riot, but is not intended for CBRN applications.
Mestel SGE 400/3 BB: Same as the SGE 400/3, but has a rubbery butyl seal, thus meeting material specifications for CBRN use. The butyl option is typically $50 more expensive than silicone, so it is pricey.
Russian/German M-10-M Protective Mask : This mask is outdated and not fit to be used for CBRN protection. All it’s good for is a Halloween costume.
Avon M50: This is the current military issue mask for the US, and is a quality piece of equipment. There are a few caveats, however. The M50 uses proprietary M61 filters which are very difficult to find un-expired. As Avon only sells these masks and accessories to the military, 99% of the filters on the market are expired surplus. Also, the military generally only disposes of M50s that are defective or expired, so I would only recommend purchasing if you can get one in a sealed box, with the included instruction manual. As another reviewer mentioned, if the valves on your M50 are clear, the mask is defective. So long as you get a sealed mask with unexpired filters, and functional values, it will would work very well for CBRN applications.
Also to note, these are also ITAR regulated and cannot be exported out of the country.
The MIRA Safety CM-6M gas mask, in my opinion, gives you the biggest bang for your buck for a CBRN mask. It’s used by military all over Europe and the Middle East, meets material specifications for protection against CBRN threats, comes with a drinking module, canteen, and a speech diaphragm. The large visor makes it easy to see through, and the inner mask prevents fogging.
A comparable mask from Drager (DHS 7000) would cost ~$750, one from Mestel (SGE 400/3 BB with Infinity Drinking System) would cost ~$400, and an Avon M50 mask would run you ~$600 with all accessories. Considering the massive savings, this mask is definitely my top choice for preparedness on a budget without sacrificing features.
Hope this helps!
- June 28, 2018
- Tatiana Zrazhevskaya