Before wearing “masks” was cool and going out in public without one was considered rebellious, there were plenty of professions that required protecting one’s lungs from the operating environment. While mask wearing used to suggest catastrophic disasters like nuclear fallout, or chemical warfare, things like mold, lead, and more every-day hazards have long persisted as mankind remains breathing. Just as some are interested in tactical theater, so others choose to take their training and development seriously, and where both meet might be respirators. Recent short films like SCP: Overlord or full features such as Tenet have used tactical masks as both a plot point, and a narrative tool, and for years there has been a challenge regarding wearing a mask: how are you supposed to shoulder a rifle with something attached to your face? The O2 Tactical TR2 answers the question of the tactical mask problem.
Above: Don’t be mistaken, these two are not the same.
On a scale of a strip of cloth to full MOPP 4, the O2 Tactical TR2 fits solidly in the middle. It provides protection against airborne agents, but isn’t meant for situations involving biochemical warfare. However comparing this kind of respirator is not quite an apples-to-oranges situation, but limes-to-lemons. Though they look similar, only one should go in curry.
With all this talk of masks, one might imagine it a conspiracy against beards. Typically Respirators don’t play well with facial hair, a deal breaker against those who prefer maintaining a 5-week shadow of “operator scruff.” The O2 Tactical TR2, however, doesn’t suffer the same way. Fitting over and around the mouth and nose, with the bottom of the seal resting between the front of the chin and the bottom lip, it doesn’t require a clean shaven face to work.
Securing to the face via a 2-strap system: one behind the neck and another across the crown, the O2 Tactical TR2 integrates with ear and eye protection. Worn in conjunction with a Ballistic Helmet, Night Vision, and Peltor Comtac 3’s must be a deliberate choice, as the order of putting on the gear doesn’t happen quickly, and must follow a certain order. Mask First, everything else after. Once set and adjusted, the respirator maintains consistent but not uncomfortable pressure even when keeping that head on a swivel.
The mask remains secure even through dynamic movement, and setting the proper tension takes only a few tries to become natural. Once this is done, it’s design begins to shine. When shouldering a rifle, the mask may bump up against the stock, moreso with a loose cheek weld, but it doesn’t impede the shooter from a normal shooting posture. The combination of right-handed shooter, Law Tactical Folding Stock Adapter, and a fully collapsed stock created the closest thing a possible problem, as the front of the respirator would occasionally hit the adapter hinge. Though it should be known that we were deliberately looking for ways to create issues when shooting with the mask on.
Quality of Life
For many, the quest for less gas blown back while shooting suppressed is their holy grail, for others, it’s a fact of life they’ve learned to deal with. The O2 Tactical TR2 respirator mitigated any gas from being breathed in through either the nose or mouth, effectively reducing the stinging sensation of shooting a short barreled DI gun. A single mag dump no longer left the eyes watering, but it didn’t completely negate all discomfort.
Filtering out 99% of particles greater than 0.3 microns, the mask adds noticeable drag when drawing in a breath, but not nearly as much as a common painter’s respirator, or a true gas mask. Taking the mask to the gym, the reduced air flow affected aerobic performance by about 10% on a rowing machine, and the lack of oxygen could be felt when chaining exercises together. Over time, the effect increased, so that in the end even the bench press suffered.
Above: Without a Law Tactical Folder, shouldering a rifle pushes the TR2 out of the way without “breaking the seal.”
Concerned that the filter might freeze over in cold environments, we put on full kit, with an O2 Tactical TR2, and ran 200 meter laps in the snow taking shots between each full rotation. The Mask itself didn’t make the run any more fun, but never froze over in over an hour of use in roughly 20 degree Fahrenheit conditions. The inside of the make gathered condensation, but it never froze in such a way that blocked airflow. While the mask didn’t freeze, the run felt much more difficult than
The O2 Tactical TR2 doesn’t protect someone from mustard gas, but it will defend against long term dangers. It’s meant to be worn often, specifically in environments that don’t warrant a full suit but still have airborne hazards such as mold, lead, or dust. It takes one look at shooting a suppressed rifle indoors to reconsider the effects of lead poisoning, and recognize the long-term value of a respirator. With replaceable filters, and an easy to clean design, the TR2 meets this challenge face-first, pun intended.
Loud and Clear
Giving it an edge, the O2 Tactical TR2 respirator has an optional mic kit that integrates with Peltor Com Tac series. The sound quality itself being surprisingly good, communications both transmitting and receiving are thus muffled. This creates a situationally dependent advantage, and could be very useful with more surreptitious tactical entries, where the wearer is concerned about the air quality and remaining unheard when communicating with their team.
Taken into consideration the type of mission set a unit is tasked with, or the amount of shooting a competitor does indoors during winter months, both of these scenarios make sense as something to augment an already full suite of gear. Even if one is merely LARP-ing in their basement, this will help with that cardio they hate so much. Both true operators and their mimics stand to benefit from these respirators, but it’s certainly situational. Thankfully, both shooting and generally wearing the O2 Tactical TR2 are both comfortable.
Combining a beard-accepting fitment, both durable and lightweight construction, and it’s longevity, this respirator tackles a specific challenge with finesse, protecting the wearer without inhibiting them from using a firearm. For those seriously concerned with reducing lead levels, this mask accomplishes the task with finesse.
More on Masks and Respirators
- Masks and Respirators for COVID-19.
- Gas Masks 101.
- What If We Are Hit By Another Pandemic? Planning Ahead.
- Vaporwear: Gas Mask Buyer’s Guide.