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AfterSHOT: Team Wendy Scalable Helmet

Walking the miles of SHOT Show offerings, you often find a gem or two hidden in between all the commercial offerings that are being shown as “proof of concept” or prototypes that flex some design muscle.

Team Wendy, known for their very high-quality ballistic and bump helmets, had a very interesting approach that shows off their vision of future protective headwear. Their “Scalable Helmet” is a modular unit, comprised of inner and outer shells: The base interior is a lightweight, ventilated skeleton that armored top layers can be clipped onto to add ballistic protection.

A scenario to explain the gear: A mission requires a long ride to insert troops using off-road vehicles or small boats. Bump helmets with capability to mount night vision is necessary, ballistic protection is not. Once approaching the target, fragmentation and bullet-resistant helmets are required. Bring two helmets? Compromise comfort and bring on fatigue by wearing an overly-heavy ballistic helmet on the ride in? Or answer all the needs in one modular system?

Team Wendy answers this with the understanding that a helmet can be called upon to serve many purposes, such as:

  • A platform to mount Night Vision Devices;
  • A place with rails to mount cameras, batteries, lights, communications / earmuffs, etc.;
  • The traditional “crash” or bump helmet role in off-road vehicle use;

and

  • Fragmentation to small arms fire protection,

But a user might not want the same helmet for a long insertion portion of a mission as he would require for the actual combat portion: for instance, a lengthy boat ride to a target objective would require bump protection and NODs mounting, but heavier ballistic protection would be unnecessary. Instead of using two helmets, or compromising with one heavier one, Team Wendy’s approach allows the user to lighten the weight on his neck by shedding the ballistic shell during the ride, and then clip in armor necessary for the next task at hand when approaching the target.

The Team Wendy Scalable Helmet

The inner helmet is honeycombed for air venting and weight savings. The target goal for the production models would be to have the inner base perform to a minimum of ACH blunt impact performance (10 ft per sec impact under 150Gs in all locations). The outer shells are scalable to address the armoring the user needs for each situation: A lighter shell that meets a threat level for frag only, or a 3A level (pistol round protection), or the heaviest armor shell that provides rifle round protection.

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The scalable helmet is more than just an armored brain bucket: the novel rail systems are pretty next-level as well. The rails are set in a very low profile on the base carbon shell so the ballistic shell covers as much of the user’s head as possible. Removable Electrical contacts are embedded into these rail areas to allow powered equipment to be clipped onto the helmet without separate batteries required.

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Team Wendy is working with Wilcox on things to come, but an initial item, a modified Princeton Tec helmet light is shown below. The battery module on the light is removed, as power is received through the rail. Items with heavier batteries like night vision and cameras, especially when front-mounted, can save a lot of weight on the user’s head. A Wilcox power block holds two 123A batteries and clips to rear of helmet. These power blocks are stackable and clip into each other so multiples can be carried.

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A Wilcox front mount is permanently installed on the inner shell so the visual position and offset of night vision doesn’t change when you armor up and add shells to the skeleton. No adjustments are needed when going from the bump version to the ballistic add-ons.

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Doubtless we’ll see some changes as the helmet reaches production, but this prototype provides a rare sneak peek of the next generation of armor. As Jon Hauserman, Team Wendy’s Product Development Engineer explains, “This is our result of end user feedback and our suggestion of what the evolutionary future of helmets could be.”

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We will updating the Constant Coverage article, well…constantly. Bookmark that here at this link.

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What is the NSSF SHOT Show?

The NSSF SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show) and Conference is an annual event held by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Typically attended by thousands of people from all 50 states and over a hundred countries, it is (quite rightfully) described as the “…world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related products and services.

Imagine the Worlds’ Fair, but packed with everything from mini-guns and every breed of body armor, bows and boots; from eye pro and ear pro to optics and ordnance, socks to swords…you get the idea. If you’d like to see a sampling of the companies who will be showing at this year’s SHOT, there’s a live map right here, though it doesn’t reflect the organizations set up elsewhere, in hotel suites, etc.

View imagery from our coverage of last year’s SHOT Show right here.

2016 SHOT Show

January 18 — Media on the Range (numerous shooting facilities in and around Las Vegas)
January 19–22, 2016
Sands Expo and Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nevada
Hours:
Tuesday, January 19 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 20 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 21 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday, January 22 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Shot-Show-2016


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