7 Best Gas Masks, Respirators, & Filters [2020 Hands-On]

From wood dust to smoke…and even nuclear fallout…we’ve got you covered.

Hands-On Tested Gas Masks
Hands-On Tested Gas Masks

We’ve researched, asked experts, and hand-selected the best gas masks and respirators for a variety of safety and prepping scenarios.

Then we tested them for fit, function, and value.

And for the extreme ones… we even gassed ourselves and tested rifle shooting ability.

Pew Pew Tactical Shooting with MIRA Safety Gas Masks
Pew Pew Tactical Shooting with MIRA Safety Gas Masks

So get ready for lots of pics and even some videos.

By the end you’ll know the best protection for your purpose.

Best Gas Masks & Respirators

1. 3M P100 Particulate Respirator

Probably what you think of when you first hear “gas mask.”

3M P100 Particulate Respirator
3M P100 Particulate Respirator

But…these are known as respirators and the 3M P100 above isn’t your regular dust mask or even surgical mask.

There’s a TON of acrynoms and numbers in the respiratory protection game.

If you’re getting something affordable and compact…get something with a P100 rating.

Wearing the 3M P100 Respirator
Wearing the 3M P100 Respirator

The more normal N95 is not oil resistant and only filters 95% of airborne particles. While the P100 is oil proof and filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles.

Sounds like not much of a difference…but can be a killer mistake if you’re exposed to asbestos from a collapsing building or bacteria/viruses in the air.

The 3M P100 filter is my basic pick since it’s affordable and also has an exhalation valve so it doesn’t get too stuffy after long use.

10
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Easy to keep in your bug out bag or vehicle. Plus, I use them for minor wood-working and renovation touring.

2. 3M Half-Face Respirator 7502

Boom…let’s amp it up a little.

3M Half Face Respirator with P100 Filters
3M Half Face Respirator with P100 Filters

This 3M Half Face Respirator uses disposable filters so you can keep re-using the “shell.”

20
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The half face respirator is great for better protection of your nose and mouth since it creates a nice seal.

Wearing the 3M Half Face Respirator
Wearing the 3M Half Face Respirator

However, they are sized and I’m wearing a medium.

The attachments are also pretty comfy and intuitive…and don’t require someone to help you put it on.

3M Half Face Respirator Tabs
3M Half Face Respirator Tabs

For filters…there’s the ones I’m wearing that are P100 plus Organic Vapor Relief.

Which basically means it blocks some smelly stuff.

There’s also other form factors such as the 7093B P100 filters which are encased in plastic so they protect from water and wetness.

3M Respirator with Particulate Filter 7093B P100
3M Respirator with Particulate Filter 7093B P100

I’d recommend the 3M 7093 for prepping since you don’t know your situation. But the other ones are good for regular work when you know you won’t get wet.

I have a big stash of the half face respirators to protect against big wildfires and disease outbreaks.

But you’ve still got your eyes and ears to take care of…

3M Respirator Plus Goggles
3M Respirator Plus Goggles

That why I combo it with some simple goggles that give me a nice seal.

And also some ear plugs. If you’re a shooter those foamy things are all you need. But we also have a guide for the Best Electronic Ear Protection too.

3. Russian Surplus Gas Mask

Ok…this is an example of what NOT to get.

Russian Surplus Gas Mask
Russian Surplus Gas Mask

Unless you’re doing some kind of cosplay…just don’t.

Russian surplus gas masks use a different filter threading so you probably can’t use new Western filters.

But that’s not the worst part.

They also can contain asbestos. And are usually liquidated once they expire. You never know how they were stored…etc.

Russian Gas Mask Filter Bottom
Russian Gas Mask Filter Bottom, Yum!

I put it on without the filter and it definitely was super uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

Sort of Wearing the Russian Surplus Mask
Sort of Wearing the Russian Surplus Mask

I had to take out my contacts and clean them since something in the mask got in my eye.

So even if you are buying for fun…make sure to clean it out. Comes with a nice fabric bag though!

4. Israeli NATO Surplus Gas Mask

Now we’re getting into real “gas mask” territory.

Israeli Gas Mask with Filter
Israeli Gas Mask with Filter

These Israeli gas masks are popular with the prepping crowd since they are still affordable.

Plus they offer NBC protection…which stands for:

  • Nuclear
  • Biological
  • Chemical

They sometimes come with a fresh-ish filter (this one is expired at 2008). And can take regular Western 40mm ones.

Israeli Gas Mask Filter Expiration
Israeli Gas Mask Filter Expiration

And surprisingly…decently comfortable despite the appearance. However, I did experience some fogging after a few minutes.

Wearing the Israeli Gas Mask
Wearing the Israeli Gas Mask

Visibility is also not bad with the two eye holes.

My recommendation if you want to go super budget with a full faced gas mask.

40
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Make sure to pick up some new gas mask filters while you’re at it though.

I’ll cover those combined with the next pick!

5. Mestel Full Face SGE 150

This is my primary pick for most potential users.

Mestel Full Face SGE 150 Gas Mask with New Filter
Mestel Full Face SGE 150 Gas Mask with New Filter

The Mestel SGE 150 gas mask gives you NBC protection and the ability to use regular 40mm filters.

Mestel is an Italian company of diving masks so it’s essentially a modified mask to fit NATO filters.

It has a huge field of view and is pretty comfy!

No fogging up. Guessing their background has some advantages.

Wearing the Mestel SGE 150
Wearing the Mestel SGE 150

Check out the inside…simple but to the point.

Inside the Mestel SGE 150 Gas Mask
Inside the Mestel SGE 150 Gas Mask

As for gas mask filters…I like the Mestel version for general preparedness.

38
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

These are made for NATO, are NBC rated, and last up to 5 years.

*Update*: Amazon is taking off gas masks and filters so sometimes the Mestel is gone. If it is I’d take a look at Mira down in the next pick. Or see the search for CBRN Filter.

It’s possible to go through 1-3 filters a day…so prep accordingly!

Those combo-ed with the Mestel SGE 150 are my favorite general prepping gas mask.

EDITOR'S PICK NBC MASK
112
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on the Mestel?

Readers' Ratings

4.88/5 (108)

Your Rating?

Now…ready to go down the rabbit hole?

6. MIRA Safety CM-6M

MIRA makes gas masks, safety equipment, and tactical gear in Texas…used by the US DoD and plenty of other countries.

MIRA Safety CM-6M Gas Mask
MIRA Safety CM-6M Gas Mask

Kind of looks the same as the Mestel right?

Nopes.

The CM-6M is rated for CBRN which is NBC with a little extra Radiation protection snuck in.

But doesn’t the “N” already stand for “Nuclear?”

Yes…NBC masks can protect against traditional nuclear fallout from nukes. But now the extra “R” protects against dirty bomb isotope fallout.

Pew Pew Tactical Shooting with MIRA Safety Gas Masks
Pew Pew Tactical Shooting with MIRA Safety Gas Masks

It does that with different materials…in this case…butyl rubber which is much more resistant to fallout, chemical warefare agents, and toxic industrial chemicals.

It’s also very comfy and you get the choice of attaching the filter on either side depending on your rifle hand dominance.

However, the CM-6M was more designed for a full field of view rather than rifle shooting.

Inside the MIRA CM-6M
Inside the MIRA CM-6M

I found I had to tilt my rifle a little to get a good view through my optic. With un-magnified optics it will be a little easier.

Plus you might get thirsty right…but can’t remove your mask?

The mask comes with a drinking straw!

MIRA CM-6M Drinking Straw
MIRA CM-6M Drinking Straw

Which attaches nicely to the canteen.

Attaching MIRA Drinking Straw
Attaching MIRA Drinking Straw

As for filters…you can run the Mestels. Or better yet…check out MIRA’s very own.

MIRA Safety CBRN Filter
MIRA Safety CBRN Filter

They can be stored for up to 20 years instead of 5 years. Which probably turns out to be a better deal if you aren’t likely to use them.

EDITOR'S PICK FILTER
80
at Mira Safety

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

As for the CM-6M…they might be the best choice for you if you value extreme protection from almost everything out there…and want a comfy large field of view.

220
at Mira Safety

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. MIRA Safety CM-7M

Need something made for shooting?

Wearing the MIRA CM-7M
Wearing the MIRA CM-7M

The CM-7M might fit the bill.

Also ambidextrous in filter attachment. The main change that makes shooting easier is the depression at the cheek.

Unfortunately it means you have to switch to the bug-eye design…but field of view was still very adequate.

It also comes with the drinking straw attachment although in a different area.

CM-7M Drinking Straw
CM-7M Drinking Straw

Check out the inside…

MIRA Safety CM-7M Gas Mask
MIRA Safety CM-7M Gas Mask

And for these…I’d recommend sticking with the MIRA filters.

EDITOR'S PICK FILTER
80
at Mira Safety

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now…we wanted to do some sort of test.

Amazingly, Amazon sells some Pepper Spray Grenades.

Now don’t get too excited…it was a little underwhelming…

Less grenade…and more upward spray.

But the two MIRAs passed with flying colors. And yes…the pepper spray was in the air and got all over our Tyvek suits.

I found out the hard way when I touched my eyes and lips afterwards.

For when you need CBRN protection AND the ability to more easily shoot a rifle…check out the CM-7M.

230
at Mira Safety

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What About Beards & Kids?

A little update for questions in the comment section…

What if you have a beard?

It’s just not going to have that airtight seal you want.

John Headshot
John Headshot

John, our resident social media guy/beard man, wore the CM-7M in our pepper spray grenade test and came out unscathed.

But that’s not the same as something more pervasive or harmful.

Your best bet would to shave…or go with a hood.

280
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Or a budget pick would be a disposable fire hood…

49
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

How about for children?

The above Firemask will fit children as young as 3. Otherwise there’s also a child version of the Mestel.

118
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Hopefully this helped in you choosing the best respiratory protection for your intended use.

Best Gas Masks
Best Gas Masks

If you’re doing a general prep bag…or want to be 99.97% protected from general contaminants…get the 3M P100 Disposable Respirators.

10
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’d like a little more protection in a re-usable format…get the 3M Half Face Respirator.

20
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Combined with the 7093 P100 filters with smell reduction.

24
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re gas masking on a budget…

40
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

But be sure to pop in a new filter!

38
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And if you need all the bells and whistles of protection (and shooting ability)…check out MIRA.

230
at Mira Safety

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Combo-ed with their 20-year shelf-life filter.

EDITOR'S PICK FILTER
80
at Mira Safety

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Need other prepping help? We have our Essential SHTF Gear List and Best Water Storage Methods & Containers.

16 Leave a Reply

  • Christi

    What if you wear prescription glasses and are unable to wear contacts???

    4 days ago
    • Joesmo

      In a pinch you can put petroleum jelly around the seal or just over the area the glasses frames break the seal, wont work with thick frame glasses (just have to take them off), and wont work with all fire fighting masks. Worked with Navy OBA masks and Tactical gas masks, not perfectly with EAB masks but it helped.

      47 minutes ago
    • Steve F.

      Nice article. I realize this is for a SHTF situation, but any respirator manufacturer will not guarantee and performance or fit factor if you are using a cartridge other than the ones that they manufacture, even with NIOSH approvals on all components. Most full-face APRs (Air Purifying Respirators) have a "Spectacle kit", or frame for lenses that will mount inside the mask, so all you need is a set of your prescription lenses made to fit the style and size of the internal frame. When you don the mask, the lenses will be in front of your eyes like a pair of glasses, but with no temples from typical glasses frames to disturb the necessary seal to assure proper function of the mask. Also, if donning a mask, ALWAYS to a positive and negative pressure fit check on the mask to make sure you have a proper fit and no leaks! There are also many other manufacturers of masks, one-half and full-face respirators, and hoods that have their own sizes of masks to consider or talk to any local safety equipment supplier about, as each manufacturer may have slightly different sizing on their products, and the BEST respirator is one that you understand and have had training on, fits properly, provides a proper seal, has the correct cartridge for the potential hazard, and is comfortable to the wearer. I speak from experience as I was an active haz-mat responder for a Fortune 100 company for over 30 years, and a health and safety professional who had to fit test and train dozens of industrial firefighters, emergency responders, and employees working with hazardous chemicals on respiratory protection.

      3 days ago
  • William

    Thank you very much for the article. its much appreciated.

    4 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Glad you liked it!

      4 months ago
      • John

        The Russian mask you tested is quite old. Maybe you should find something new? What they are producing now. All the devices are brand new. And Russian mask is more than 30 years I suppose

        2 months ago
  • straycat_74

    I bought a russian GP-7V out of poland a long time ago, and some new old stock nato NBC filters off of ebay. the GP-7V has the protection of your more expensive masks, drinking straw that fits nato NBC canteens, and shooting ability (because russians), but it DOES tend to fog a bit (because russians). would love to see how you guys rate it, but it's way better than your "what not to buy" mask, nearly as good as your top two masks for anti-fogging, and you can shoot with it so there is that...

    8 months ago
  • Notalima

    Get out of here, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

    8 months ago
  • 8mmMauser

    What if you have a full ZZ top beard?

    8 months ago
    • Joesmo

      forced air masks no problem, straight filter masks are hard to keep a seal as it is even without a beard or anything else crossing seal line. the only thing i can see working is a full body chem suit with lots of tape. We use to run tactical drills with gas masks where they used aerated pigment dyes, and make you breath through the mask while simunition CQC ops and at the end you would take the mask off and see that everyone died (if your face or nostrils were purple you were considered exposed) if you want a beard then have a beard, if you want to be safer shave it, but if you want to be realistic then doesnt really matter either way, and depends more on your luck, constitution, and exposure amounts. The only truly safe protection is a whole body suit, filter masks tend to be only half measure and as alot of military people know filter masks are there to make people feel better. If you dont believe that buy a 3m carbon filter mask, a gallon of low voc paint, and air quality test strips put three outside of the mask and put three inside and paint a room, while the mask takes out alot, your air is still exposed as are you.

      14 minutes ago
    • Steve F.

      I have seen individuals with a full beard obtain a reasonable seal for the respirator after coating their entire face and beard with Vaseline. That is NOT accepted procedure under ANY standards, but under the circumstances, it might work. As noted, shave it and get trained on it. then you'll get the right seal. Hoods might OK, but they are usually used with an airline (air supplied respirator) or as a PAPR (powered air purifying respirator hood) with a battery pack and fan pulling air through the filters worn on your belt in back or behind your head, which are powered by a rechargeable battery. Facial hair usually will not affect a respirator seal as long as it is trimmed and is not present anyplace where the seal of the respirator meets the wearer's face. That's why a fit test is always critical when putting one on, and being able to recognize when the cartridge is saturated or full to recommended capacity and needs to be changed. Always consider your cartridge change schedule based on your potential or actual exposure. Just fyi.

      3 days ago
    • Eric Hung

      Texas Smoke got it right! I added a section for bearded folks and children. You can shave it off...or go with hood-type protection.

      8 months ago
    • DAVID

      YEA,,,What if you have a full ZZ top beard?

      8 months ago
      • TomC

        It's simple. If you really NEED the mask and you have a beard you die. The only alternative for protection with a beard is a full protective suit with forced air.

        8 months ago
        • Joesmo

          for protection a filter mask is a half measure, forced air system is adequate, and adding a full suit is even better, but the best solution is get away from the contaminated area, or ventilate the area with forced air. As far as long term environment exposure problems, filter masks are useless, might as well skip the mask and either die quicker or get lucky and be one of the few immune to whatever the contaminant may be

          1 second ago
    • Texas Smoke

      8mmMauser, hopefully you will never really "need" a mask since they ALL need to make contact with your skin to get a proper seal to work. My secondary MOS while in the Army was 54 E, NBC Specialist. I spent more time in a mask than most other soldiers and can tell you with all confidence that a clean shaven face beats a day or two of an unshaven face. I have literally spent multiple days, and nights, in a row in an M-17 mask while training. I even had to sleep in it a couple times. Sad thing is that I now sport a pretty full goatee and hope to GOD that I never really need a mask for personal protection.

      8 months ago
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