The K3 Gas Mask is SanCheong's newest respirator as of 2013 and the successor to the K2 Military Gas Mask. It is the standard gas mask of the South Korean Forces, the Philippine National Police (PNP) SWAT team, Thailand Police (Bangkok) and other law enforcement agencies across Asia. It uses NATO 40mm filters.
Being one of Asia's modern gas masks, the K3 has recently (as of 2014) been sighted across political hotspots in Asia and the riots in Thailand have so far been the biggest showing of the K3 as used by the Riot police. The PNP have also begun to extensively train with this mask and the NBC filter canisters provided allow for effective use even against nerve agents and all other sorts of chemical warfare agents.
The adoption of the K3 is huge leap forward for the PNP. Previously using older masks like the M17 and Drager Panorama, mounting requirements on compatibility with drinking devices, ambidextrous use and communications equipment compatibility have prompted the government to finally obtain for issue, a more modern respirator.
Design and FunctionsEdit
Presenting improvements in comfort, communications equipment inter-compatibility and even an improvement in materials and construction, the K3 Gas Mask is a huge leap forward from the K2 Military Mask. What makes the K3 special and competitive to the newer masks such as the M50, are the communications ports and the exhale valve at the front. The K3 has a communications jack at the front and this connects to an interior jack on the lower part of the inner mask which can accept a microphone permitting the user to use electronic communications equipment without the voice emitter distorting the user's voice (which would be the case for an external microphone). The mask's voice emitter also acts as the exhale valve which is the vertical grill at the front. Additionally, the mask features a drinking tube with a tilt lever on the exterior of the mask so the inner drinking tube can be moved up or down using this lever which prevents it from distracting the user by hitting their lips when drinking is not being performed (unlike the MCU-2/P, which has this problem). The K3 has a voice emitter that is very similar to that of the new US M50 mask. It is unclear if they both acquired these from the same source.
The K3's lenses are slightly curved and are very clear which allows for a wide field of view despite having two lenses rather than a one-piece visor. It is unclear if the lenses are made from acrylic, polyamide or polycarbonate. The mask's facepiece is made of a black rubber although it is unknown if it is made from silicone, hycar or butyl.
As far as user comfort is concerned, the mask is remarkably comfortable. Although comfort is difficult to quantify and is mostly subjective, the author finds the mask very quick and easy to fit and is more comfortable than a MCU-2/P. The inner mask and cheek seals skim the face very well and quickly form a seal compared to other medium-sized masks.
PNP's K3 Gas Mask kit comes with a bag, a sealed K3 mask and a filter. There are no drinking bottles or special caps.
With a filter expiry date of 7 years, the K3 canister has arguably, a longer shelf life than most gas mask filters. This makes the filter a good choice for long term stockpiling. Although the K3 has a microphone port, and a drinking tube, these accessories are not present in this particular PNP kit. It is possible that certain kit combinations of the mask have all these accessories present but due to the rarity of this mask (being new) and the few organizations using it, this has yet to be seen.