Personal Protective Gear For A Nuclear Threat.

Re-Post from MDSA


As a kid, the threat of nuclear war was a very real. One of the reasons I chose to go to NBC School while in the military was due to my interest in learning how to survive it as a teenager, and realizing that whatever I may have learned as a civilian, I could probably learn a lot more in the military. At one point I served as a Battalion NBC NCO, and assisted in the planning and conducting of battalion level training events.


Although there are a lot of resources out there, the book Nuclear War Survival Skills is still one of the best and most practical. Although a lot of people believe you need a military NBC suit to survive fallout, in actuality, a standard rubber rainsuit will protect you just as well. The military NBC suit is more for the chemicals in a chemical attack than the nuclear radiation threat. You cannot survive in a high radiation dose area simply by what you are wearing. Wearing a protective suit is to help keep the fallout off of your clothing, keep it off your skin, and to make a barrier that is easily decontaminated (decontaminate by hosing or brush off the fallout). Below is a rainsuit on the left, and an military NBC suit on the right.


Besides the mask you wear to keep from inhaling radioactive debris, the other accessories you need are gauntlet type gloves and some type of over boot. Both of these items need to be able to be easily decontaminated like the suit you’re wearing, and heavy rubber seams to be the best material for that.


Left to right: Green military rain/NBC overboots. Old style military NBC over boots, and military NBC gloves with cloth liners (makes getting them on and off easier). NOTE: Make sure you duct tape the seams where your gloves and boots are covered by your suit.

Last but most definitely the most important part of personal nuclear apparel is the mask. The purpose of the mask is primarily to filter the air you breathe. Inhalation of radioactive particulates will kill you from the inside out. A secondary purpose is to keep the fallout out of your hair and the inside of your collar if the mask has a hood. Even a dust mask will work, but I use a military issue masks for their durability and filter compatibility with what the military uses. Below is the M17A1 Mask on the left, the M40A1 on the right. Both have the hoods attached.


A lot of people discount the older M17A1 masks, but if you find one in good condition, grab it. The internal filters are a pain in the ass to change when needed, but this type of mask is harder for someone to rip off your face in a close quarters fight. However, the side filter models do give you a better cheek weld when using a rifle, and the filter is easy to change quickly.


Keeping track of your personal dose of radiation is done by wearing a dosimeter “pen”. This is pictured on the left above. The item to the right is a dosimeter charger. This is basically a meter that you look through and a needle inside tells you what your radiation exposure is on a scale that is inside the “pen”.


Last but not least in the electronics department is a radiation survey meter/geiger counter. Depending on the model you get, you can measure the radiation level in your immediate area, or at a distance (some have a cable that you can place at a distance from the meter). This will give you the Rad/Gray level for your location.

Nuke-O-Spot rad-gray.jpg

Rad to Gray conversion chart.

That’s all we’re gonna discuss in this post about personal protective apparel for a nuclear threat.


12 thoughts on “Personal Protective Gear For A Nuclear Threat.

  1. what level of filtration does the mask need? I assume a good P100 filter would do the trick? Or should it have a vapour removal filter as well?

    I ask because I have industrial chem suits with 3m full face masks and P100 filters for all the family. I use them for work but a few years back I ordered extras for the family and stored them away with 100 changes of cartridges. I cycle them out as I need new ones for work and as kids grow.

    Unfortunatly there is not a lot of good info on using them for radiation, but I figured since the P100 will stop fine particles and is a tighter filter than used for asbestos work and it is oil resistant thatit was the best choice.

  2. Pingback: Two From MDT | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. MOPP LVL 4 I hated being in that. training really sucked esp. when left in that shit for up to 8hrs. Glasses insert always fogged up in them,(could not see much less shoot) you looked like a coal miner when up got out of the suit.I thought it was better then the rucksack flop after getting out of it. The atropine injectors where a joke, ours was expired.They did keep us warm when we were in them at night.
    Then when it was time to exit the suit and no all clear was given, your supposed to have the lowest ranking dude in your squad take his Pmask off and then wait something like 5 mins. If he doesnt die then its all clear. I volunteered every time for that duty, as an E4, even in Iraq
    During Desert Shield/Storm every other day we were suiting up to LVL4 mainly because the NBC detectors where always malfunctioning. Finally when we started our push into Iraq my LRSD team “forgot” our MOPP gear at the LD.

  4. As a 14 yr 54B/74D trained guy, I always kept on hand my wife’s old stockings to go around the filters in case of fallout. It was a way to easily filter out all but the very smallest particles of fallout from collecting in the mask. Plus it would not block airflow much. Just another option if resupply is not happening. At least in a post nuclear attack.

  5. Do you know of any masks that work with eyeglasses? I know the M17a1 could be fitted with prescription lenses but don’t know how available they would be for either mask

  6. Pingback: MDT: Radiation’s Effects & How To Mitigate Them | Western Rifle Shooters Association

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