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Paintball mask in airsoft

2022-02-08

How Annex MI-3 mask is built?

When describing the construction of a paintball mask, you should start with its most important physical feature which is its size. The mask covers the entire face and extends up to the ears. It has a wide elastic adjustable strap on the back to keep it firm on ones head. On the underside, it has a narrower strap, which is an additional protection against accidentally pulling the face shield up. In the front we can see a large visor and below it many small vent holes. There is a detachable visor above the glass, which in my case was removed immediately. Inside, we can find some sponges, whose task is to ensure comfort in key places that come into contact with the face. There are also some ventilation holes directly above the visor. In my opinion, such a mask covers the whole face and ears well. In my case, these body parts are completely hidden and my body build is absolutely average. The MI-3 mask is not the top product of this line and you can see that it uses different materials than, for example, the popular MI-7 one this does not mean it’s badly made.

paintball mask
paintball mask on the side
paintball mask at the back

Another important feature of the mask is that the lenses are somehow distant from the face. They are definitely much further than in traditional goggles or glasses. This reduces the evaporation. My experience shows that the moisture that settles on the glasses does not so much settle the steam as it condenses immediately. This is not entirely desirable as it also restricts our visibility, but on the other hand this effect is not that big comparing to steamed lenses Overall, the mask offers good ventilation. Certainly, it is not comparable to moving without face cover, but after a dozen or so intense rounds in the CQB arenas, I can confirm that it is not a problem for me to be too hot in this mask.

The materials used to build the mask are mostly plastic. A fairly thin and flexible material was used to build the main part of the mask. The glass appears to be made of a hard material that gives a positive impression. The strap that holds our mask in place is also noteworthy. It is quite wide and soft, yet quite strong and fulfils its function well. The mask is mostly solid black (there is also a TAN version). The glass in the set is colourless.

What is good about such a mask?

It seems to be no coincidence that so many people use paintball masks in airsoft. This is especially visible at competitions abroad, where short-distance games are popular, in arenas or halls. The rounds played in such places are dynamic. They often require players to sprint through some part of the map. This is not the same as long walks in the woods on milsim. Here, speed and precision count. The full-face mask is a bull's eye here. The fact that we have so many sensitive parts of the body covered improves our psychological attitude to the game to a large extent. Thanks to this, we are simply less afraid of being shot, which means that we can adopt a slightly more aggressive attitude in the field. This, overall, can improve our effectiveness.

Another thing that convinced me to a large extent to be interested in the subject of painball masks was the attempt to find a good place to mount a sports cam. I try to record my airsoft games so that I can analyse my behaviour later. And in case something funny was recorded that we can later remember with colleagues. Thanks to the Valken mask, I can set the camera right above the visor, which makes it very easy to set a good position of the camera so that the recorded field of view matches to what I see myself. Another feature is the fact that the webcam mounted in this way does not fly sideways on a long arm or other mounting device, which reduces the shaking of the recorded image while running. As a result, my recordings are simply better and more of them are suitable for later analysis.

paintball equipment
ASG mask

I'd also like to come back to the topic of pairing. I don't usually have much problems with steaming in traditional glasses or goggles. Even so, I felt a positive change after switching to using the full-face mask. The multitude of vents and the distance of the mask visor from the face skin have a very positive effect in the form of reduced evaporation. If someone has a problem with limiting this adverse effect, he could try this type of face protection. It is possible that this would improve the situation.

Is this for everyone?

Without a doubt, I am positive about using paintball masks in airsoft. It is one piece of equipment, the benefits of which are difficult to assess before you start using them. However, it should not be forgotten that they also have their limitations. In my opinion, one of the most important negative features of such a solution is the necessity to remove the mask every time we need to drink or eat something. As the mask covers our mouths, we must lift it completely to use them. By doing this, we reveal our entire face and, what's worse - eyes. This should only be done in safe places, and preferably only for a short while. This severely limits our ability to frequently replenish calories and liquids during airsoft games and puts us in potential danger. For this reason, I always have spare safety glasses in my pocket when using such a mask and when I want to take a sip of water between rounds, I put them on quickly in exchange for the mask.

Another disadvantage of this type of mask is the fact that it makes it difficult to aim for the shot. When we have a low mounted scope or a red-dot, it may turn out that tracking the target point with our eyes will be a real challenge, because the part of the mask responsible for protecting our mouth and nose will interfere with it. A partial solution to this problem is the fact that the mask in this place is made of a rather flexible material that can be pressed, for example, on the replica's stock while aiming. However, this is only a partial solution of this problem and even with a traditional mesh stalker mask it is easier for me to aim.

You must remember about the limitations of a paintball mask as a method of protection. On the one hand, we have a lot of ventilation, but on the other hand, we put a piece of plastic cover on our face. Despite the good airflow, we will sometimes have to remove the mask to drink or eat something. Moreover, precise aiming will be difficult. These factors make it difficult for me to recommend such a mask to people looking for protection for hours long skirmishes. I think that it will not work for typical forest games and its place is rather in halls or arenas, where quick CQB rounds are involved.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning of the text - I initially approached the purchase of the mask with caution. I wasn't sure if it would suit my style of play. However, the observation of more and more players leaning towards this solution convinced me to try. The psychological aspect of covering most of my face has a positive effect on my attitude to the game. By reducing the fear of a painful shot at sensitive areas on the face it made me more willing to engage in firefighting. In addition, the favourable location of the webcam for recording my games helped me eliminate many weeks of thinking about how to improve the quality of the game footage. It is also worth adding that this mask supports my positive opinion about Valken brand. This is another protective element with this logo that I use.

A paintball mask, however, is not a perfect solution and should not be treated as something that will make traditional glasses a thing of the past. First of all, one should remember about a factor that I did not pay much attention to in this text, and which still influences the purchasing decisions of airsoft players. This type of mask may not visually match the styling we choose, if it exists. For me, this is not an argument because I am not playing reenactor, but it is worth respecting the attitude of some players to this topic. In addition, as I mentioned in the text, the mask has several practical limitations, so it cannot be treated as a substitute for the good old stalker and decent glasses.

Author: Boreq

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