Football helmets and facemasks can be an expensive investment, so it's vital to your health, and to your wallet, that you buy the correct fitting helmet, and similarly fitting facemask for that helmet.
It's important to know that the major football manufacturers, Schutt and Riddell, design their facemasks to only fit their specific helmets. This means, that if you buy a Schutt football helmet, you're going to need a Schutt facemask. The same goes for Riddell. If you get a Riddell 360 helmet, only Riddell 360 facemasks will fit on the shell.
Some facemasks, like the newer and more advanced 360, Schutt ION 4D, and Vengeance facemasks are designed specifically for their respective helmets, and will NOT fit any other shell.
Other facemasks will fit a variety of shells. Below is a short list of popular helmets, and the facemasks they will fit:
A facemask's bar configuration determines its performance, protection, and appropriate position on the field.
For instance, a facemask with a lot of cross bars higher across the eyes is going to protect the player, but it's also going to obscure visibility. That probably wouldn't help a quarterback or wide receiver too much, who rely on their wide field of view to get the job done.
On the other hand, a more open bar configuration would allow for great visibility, but wouldn't protect the mouth and eyes from hands and fingers. Lineman would be in a lot of trouble if they wore them, and had the other line's hands in their face.
The facemask, then, has to balance protection and performance. The more closed your bar configuration, the less visibility you have, but the more your face is protected. So to determine which facemask is right for your position, it's a matter of finding the bar configuration that gives you exactly the protection and visibility you need.
See below for a list of each facemask configuration, and their suggested positions.
Choosing a football helmet facemask can be a confusing venture. Most of them look the same, and all the acronyms can get outright maddening. But thankfully, we're here to clear up all of that confusion.
Below, you'll find a list of each facemask bar configuration, its related acronym, an explanation of what it means, and a list of the positions they're designed for:
Facemasks are typically made with one of three types of metal, carbon steel, stainless steel, or titanium. These metals determine the facemask’s durability, weight, performance, and ultimately, price.
Carbon Steel Facemasks $: The industry standard. They’re the heaviest facemasks, and relatively inexpensive, which makes them great for beginners and youth players.
Stainless Steel Facemasks $$ : Noticeably lighter than carbon steel, but are also slightly more expensive. That drop in weight will give more advanced players an edge, and improve speed, so we recommend them for more serious youth and high school players, as well as the casual adult player.
Titanium facemasks $$$: Far and away the lightest and strongest facemask in the game, titanium gives players a notable on-field advantage, keeping them faster, more agile, and better conditioned for long games. Titanium is actually 60% lighter than your traditional carbon steel facemask, and much stronger than steel. It’s also the most expensive facemask in the game, meant for college players, NFL pros, and maybe some high school players with their sights set on the pros.
Modern, advanced facemasks designed for next-generation helmets offer improved performance and protection for the serious youth, high school, college, or pro football player. From innovative facemask designs to the latest in flexible metals, modern facemasks work to absorb more impact force while keeping you lightweight and fast on the field.
Energy Wedge Faceguard
Found exclusively on the Schutt ION 4D, the unique energy wedge system directly integrates the facemask into the helmet using innovative rubber sleeves and a port system on the helmet shell. The facemask inserts into the helmet shell, turning into a shock absorber of sorts, absorbing 15% more impact energy from direct frontal impacts, than traditional facemasks. The facemask itself is also stronger, and the design allows for a wider field of view, for improved vision on the field.
Developed by Riddell, and found on advanced helmets like the Revolution Speed and 360, lightweight facemasks deliver the strength of a traditional steel facemask, with a 14% reduction in weight, for improved mobility, agility, and speed. These facemasks offer the strength of steel, and the lightweight performance of a titanium facemask, at less than half the cost!
Found in both Schutt and Riddell next-generations facemasks, developed uniquely for the Schutt Vengeance and Riddell 360, flexible facemasks offer incredible protection, with a slight amount of flex in the metal. This flex absorbs more impact energy, preventing this force from hitting the face and head.