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Gas! Gas! Gas!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Who has experience with the MCU-2/P gas mask? I am very familiar with MSA's Millennium and know there shouldn't be too big a difference, but there must be some characteristics that set it apart, in either a positive or negative sense. My thinking is: I was so impressed with the Millennium that I figured a cheaper (but hopefully, not inferior) MCU was the way to go.

I recently purchased (ordered) two MCU-2/P masks and am -impatiently- waiting on their arrival. I have read about the permeability issues with them, so I made sure to get some that have the butyl rubber 'second skins' included (they are somewhat difficult to find).

Everyone who has had to spend any considerable amount of time in a gas mask (especially when your life depended on it) inevitably develops a kind of intimate relationship with their mask... it is from that perspective that I would like your reviews, stories and/or advice.

I'll be sure to write up a review of my own, once mine arrive and I've had some time to get familiarized with them.
 

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I used the MCU series for about 20 years including 15 years of instructing their use and maintenance to USAF personnel. I have worn them while putting people through the CS chamber, while I went through the CDTF 3 times (once @ Ft. McClellan & twice @ Ft. Leonard Wood), radiological training (real radioactive particles) at Kirtland AFB, a year in Korea and two years in Turkey.

Overall it's a pretty good mask and better with the 2nd skin. I found it a lot more comfortable than the M17A2, but that is not hard to do. Obviously, there is a lot better visibility with the MCU.

The type that allows for a microphone to plug into the outside of the front voicemitter has been removed from service due to separation (called disbonding) of the gray silicone rubber from the outlet valve assembly. Masks made after 2003 (give or take) should not be susceptible to this problem. For the record, I knew of a guy who wore a mask in the CDTF that was disbonding and he was ok after being exposed to sarin for a few hours. I cut open a disbonded mask when I was stationed in Korea and found over 1/4" of mask material that was still adhered to the outlet valve assembly while only a few millimeters had actually separated. But once they begin disbonding, they will continue that process.

Many of the guys I knew would take off the hard outsert to allow a better firing position with their M16. The problem is they would scratch the hell out of the soft lens. Once it’s scratched, the mask is to be condemned according to the tech order. Also, if you have the inserts, they cannot be stored in the mask. The rubber from the inserts will discolor the lens. Overtime the lens will yellow. Usual procedure was to replace the mask when the lens was yellowed it made difficulty to see correct colors, i.e., you look at something blue but it appears green.

The MCU allows the user to wear the canister on the left or right side. If you change sides, you have to replace the gasket under the side voicemitter. Example: you need to move the canister to the left side of the mask. Remove the retaining ring, side voicemitter and gasket from the left side of the mask. Remove the canister from the right side of the mask. Before inserting the voicemitter on the right side you MUST replace the side voicemitter gasket. The T.O. mandates this.

IIRC, the only real difference between the Millennium and MCU masks are the material they are made from. The Millennium is made from byutal(?) rubber and the MCU is made from polycarbonate silicone.

Over the years I saw very few things break on the mask. Some extra parts you might want to get for your mask are in no particular order:

Head harness
Outserts
Canisters (less than 5 years old)

Sorry this rambles, but lots of things are popping in my head about this mask. If/when you have questions, please ask!
 

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Gas! Gas! Gas!
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So, I finally received the two MCU-2/P's that I ordered. I have to say I am really impressed with them. This mask is half the weight of the M40 and has a far better field of view... it doesn't have that claustrophobic feel at all. It is the same as the MSA Millennium, except -as you said- the material is different. The 'second skin' is a nice touch, but it seems to want to lift off the top of the mask, above the lens... there just isn't that much holding it in place.

Both masks are dated 2004 and neither is the MCU-2A/P with the mic attachment you mentioned. I disassembled them both and cleaned them very thoroughly... no issues except a very small tear on the exhalation valve cover, where it connects to the fastener at the top of the assembly. The lenses are clear and free of scratches... no yellowing at all... outserts are good, too. I do want to get the tinted outserts as well.

I am really happy with the fit... they seal tightly and you hardly notice you're wearing a gas mask. Next step is to try shooting with the MCU on (I will surely leave the outsert in place). Any idea where I can find spare parts for them?
 

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I am very happy to hear you got some current masks in good condition. Concerning your spare parts, my first suggestion was going to be approvedgasmasks.com but they don't list the parts you mention. Perhaps a call might be in order? I looked elsewhere on line and through my books and I cannot find a civilian source for those parts. Sorry.
 

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Gas! Gas! Gas!
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am very happy to hear you got some current masks in good condition. Concerning your spare parts, my first suggestion was going to be approvedgasmasks.com but they don't list the parts you mention. Perhaps a call might be in order? I looked elsewhere on line and through my books and I cannot find a civilian source for those parts. Sorry.
I believe the parts (valves, gaskets, seats, etc.) are the same used in the Millennium... in a side by side comparison, I can't tell the difference. Very easy to get Millennium parts.
 

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Gas! Gas! Gas!
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am finding that the MCU-2/P (and Millennium) fits a wider range of people than other mask styles. They fit my children (11 & 12yrs) and my girl, whereas the Scott/Micronel/SafetyTech, etc. M'95 and ILC/MSA M40 in the same size do not fit nearly as well. Also, in terms of comfort (physical and psychological), they are much better... having the wide field of view helps those who are not used to wearing a mask acclimate faster... and being much lighter than other designs also helps.

Not to mention, you can get away with a far smaller mask carrier for the MCU... less bulk on top of all the other equipment one might carry.

I still really like the M40 a lot... very comfortable for one who was trained with the M17 series masks and they seem to be built like tanks. The lack of bulk and weight of the MCU almost unnerves me. Heavier tools and equipment just give me a better feeling of security... it's a personal preference.

In any case, I would highly recommend the MCU for those who are not used to wearing masks, or for children. My family went through the bunch of different mask designes and all appreciated the MCU over others.
 

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Which bag? No way I'm carrying all this stuff, that's why I turned my F150 into a bugout truck.
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Not to sound wrong, (I hate it when people jump on people for minor issues), but there was a thread I posted to about a month ago regarding this exact topic. I mentioned that I have used them before in the Navy 'Now Set MOPP Level 4 throughout the ship) but that's all. I am not a Damage Controlman and knowledgeable on anything except carrying, using, and donning.

There was however, an ex- Air Force Security Force that seemed to be extremely knowledgeable in all things MCU-2P he made a great post.

He knew things and how to maintain them that I had never even heard of.
 

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Pre 2003?

Hi all.
I just recently obtained a MCU-2/P mask. It is used, so the first thing I did was download the users manual from the MSA website for cleaning and maintinance instructions. The manual is a must have for any owner/user, and for the sake of self presservation it should be completely understood as well. The manual is free for download as a PDF file. Just some info I wanted to throw out there for anyone who doesn't have the manual.

I recieved the mask from a friend who is in charge of the Army supply and maintenance at a national guard base. The MCU-2/P is not is not issued to the Army (it's primarily Air Force) so it somehow got mixed up in their inventory. Anyways, long story/short. I trust that the mask was properly maintained and cared for. I would just like to be ABSOLUTELY posative that there are no defects or damages to the mask. I disassmbled every thing and found that the thin diaphrams need replacing, and the lens needs cleaning (its yellow or fogged). The owners manual explains that this fogging is due to wax discoloration. This wax is a mold release agent used in the production of the mask. The mold release allows the part (lens) to be removed from the mold without any adhesion or damage to the part/mold. I have a background in the production of plastics and composites, so the reasoning seems legitimate to me. Also, if the part is not uv treated the sun can also cause discoloration. Thats why old surf boards turn yellow. The owners manual explains how to clean the lens in detail.

The main reason for my post is in response to the post made by Chili. Particularly about the problem with dis bonding and the communications connector. Since I recieved my mask used I'm not sure what year it was made. Is there a way to find that information via part number or what not? If it is pre 2003, how can I be sure there is no disbonding? If I do find that there is any disbonding this mask is goin straight in the trash.
Thanks in advance for responses. Questions and comments are encouraged!
 

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We used the MCU-2/P in the USAF when I was on active duty. I have worn the mask in MOPP 4 conditions for 6+ hours straight. Its not fun. The mask WILL agitate your skin around the outer face seal. I have only ever worn it in very hot temperatures so I am sure that played a factor. Its pretty lightweight and easy to put on in a hurry though.

You do know to put the mask on after fitting it to your face and CHECK the seal right? Cover the hole on the filter and breathe in forcefully. If you have a good seal, the lens will cave in slightly. Release your hand from the filter and the lens will correct itself. Shake your head from side to side vigorously and up/down as well. Repeat the seal test. Congrats, you now have, barring any leaks you discover on the test, a fully functional and effective mask.
Are you able to have the mask professionally fitted to you? Im not sure where you can get this done, but this is the best way to get the appropriate fitting to your face.
Oh and one more thing. DO NOT loosen the top straps on the head harness. When you take your mask off, loosen the BOTTOM straps only. If you mess with the top straps, your FIT will be wrong and the mask will be rendered useless. Here is some training material I found on the net that covers EVERYTHING about this mask and its use:

http://www.keesler.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-070305-109.pdf
It served me well, Im sure it will do the same for you. I wouldnt ever recommend shooting without the cover over the lens. If you scratch the actual mask lens itself, you open yourself up over time to a failure in the mask. You definitely want to get yourself a hood if you dont have one...they should be pretty easy to find.
 

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The main reason for my post is in response to the post made by Chili. Particularly about the problem with dis bonding and the communications connector. Since I recieved my mask used I'm not sure what year it was made. Is there a way to find that information via part number or what not? If it is pre 2003, how can I be sure there is no disbonding? If I do find that there is any disbonding this mask is goin straight in the trash.
Thanks in advance for responses. Questions and comments are encouraged!
Disbonding........That has been a known issue for a very long time. Truth be told, I am not sure why it is an issue. There is over a 1/4" if rubber around the outlet valve assembly. WhenI was stationed in Korea we had many masks that were dis bonding by mere millimeters and we had to demil them. SUch a waste. Before one of my trips through the CDTF, a friend of mine discovered his mask was disbonded. CDTF staff told him not to worry about it. He is still fine almost 10 years later.

I have attached some photos of the medalian depicting the date on a mask. This particular mask was made by MSA in 1991. The next photo has the lot number (many mistake this for a serial number) in purple ink. The blue "3-03" is when I testd that mask on a TDA-99 mask leak test machine. The last photo is from one of my CBRN classes I used to teach.

Check with your National Guard buddy about the diaphrams parts (aka inlet disk valves). You should be able to use the same part from an M40 mask.
 

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I aquired one during one of my deployments from the Navy. I liked it a lot. Better field of view than my issue m something or other.

Never used it in the field though, as I would have been drawn and quartered by an officer corps that loves maniacal uniformity no matter how detrimental it is.

Found this, though.
 

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Thanks for the pics Chili! Mine is the same year... I did notice about a cm of disbonding in the same area. The two parts don't look completly separated from eachother, but the process has started. Would it be safe to attempt to seal and reinforce the outlet valve myself? I was thinking of using marine grade adhesive sealant: http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/...ECIE20S4K7000000_nid=GSHQ68LPDHbeQH8HT14PGTgl

Where can I get access to a TDA-99?

Heres the link to the owners manual:
http://media.msanet.com/NA/USA/DomesticPreparedness/GasMasksAPR/MillenniumCBA/MillenniumManualR4.pdf
 

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I have two, I can not find replacement parts; check valves, sunshade, ect. Any body know if the Millennium parts are the same for sure or which Mod ?
Also heard that the M17A2 decon wipes issued will eat at the mask ?
 

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I spent oh five or so years in one, annual training, field protective posture, that kind of stuff. No live environments other than CS, always worked pretty well. Better observations and peripherals then the M40. Overall good mask.
 

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Thanks for the pics Chili! Mine is the same year... I did notice about a cm of disbonding in the same area. The two parts don't look completly separated from eachother, but the process has started. Would it be safe to attempt to seal and reinforce the outlet valve myself? I was thinking of using marine grade adhesive sealant: http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/...ECIE20S4K7000000_nid=GSHQ68LPDHbeQH8HT14PGTgl

Where can I get access to a TDA-99?

Heres the link to the owners manual:
http://media.msanet.com/NA/USA/DomesticPreparedness/GasMasksAPR/MillenniumCBA/MillenniumManualR4.pdf
You are welcome. I probably have more somewhere. The USAF tried to repair the disbonding masks but it did not work out too well and the repairs did not hold. I might be wrong, but IIRC, the repairs failed because it had something to do with the polycarbonate silicone used in the mask.

You can try to fix it, but it might be a wasted effort. As long as you get a seal with a new filter, you should be fine against CS, CN, radioactive particles, farts, bad breath, etc. But there are no guarantees in life.

If you are able, I would try to get a Millennium mask. They are made of byutal rubber and when paired with a 3M N95 filter you get NIOSH ratings against the majority of the evil stuff out there.

The TDA-99 is now called the JSMLT (Joint Service Mask Leak Test). I saw no difference between the two. I'm sure there is a difference because our gov't would never lie to us :rolleyes: Anyhoo....I am not sure where you can get access to one. Most companys that use APR (air purifing respirators) send their masks out for testing or just buy new masks when one goes bad. It can be expensive to have masks tested.

I have two, I can not find replacement parts; check valves, sunshade, ect. Any body know if the Millennium parts are the same for sure or which Mod ?
Also heard that the M17A2 decon wipes issued will eat at the mask ?
Try Lab Safety Supply, MSA or approvedgasmasks.com Most of the Millennium parts will fit the MCU mask.

I am not familiar with the phrase "M17A2 decon wipes". Perhaps you are referring to the M258A1 decon wipes? They were contained a plastic case (great for protecting your smokes in the field). An M28A1 kit had 3 packets with a "1" and 3 packets with a "2". To decon you used packet a "1" and "2" together. They were caustic if left on the skin for "extended" periods. I tried to find a copy of an M258A1 tech order, but that search was futile. Sorry!
 
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