Armor permutations (Halo 3)

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For other uses, see armor permutations.
A player using a mix of armor sets in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Armor permutations in Halo 3 allow players to customize their Spartan and Elite player model with a variety of armor pieces available to players. The feature is an improvement of Halo 2's player customization feature, and the first in the series to allow players to change the physical model of their character beyond species and colour selection.


Halo 3[edit]

Artwork by Isaac Hannaford revealing the existence of Recon, long before the armor was officially announced.

Halo 3 features a number of armor selections for both Spartan and Elite player characters, unlocked primarily by accomplishing feats within the campaign, Matchmaking and earning achievements. The system was initially unveiled in the July 2007 issue of GamePro, featuring a handful of images of the EVA and CQB armor sets alongside the standard Mark VI, though was noted by Bungie to not be the full set of armor available in game.[1] Bungie later officially announced the inclusion of Elite armor variants[2], and on Bungie Day 2007 officially unveiled the CQB and EVA permutations' visuals and lore. A piece of art illustrated by Isaac Hannaford released at the same time additionally revealed the existence of the Recon armor, though the armor was not specifically called out by Bungie or given any attention until later.[3][4]

In total, there are 17 armor sets included in Halo 3, 12 of which for the SPARTAN-II character model and 5 for the Elite character model. These armor permutations are organized into three categories: Helmet, Chest and Shoulder. Certain armor permutations can only be unlocked by completing the game on certain difficulties, accumulating certain Gamerscore, or by obtaining certain multiplayer-specific achievements. Some, such as Recon or the exclusive Bungie Armor, have more esoteric unlock requirements, and can only be granted under certain conditions. Additionally, some Spartan armor sets only contain a helmet piece or chest piece, with no other associated armor selections.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection[edit]

For the Halo 3 multiplayer component of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, all armor - including Recon and Bungie - was unlocked for all players for use by default. Between the game's launch in 2014 and the launch of Halo 3 on PC in 2020, armor customization was limited to full sets with no mix-and-match customization, due to the difficulties of running multiple engines in the menu component. In this launch rendition, the armor sets were displayed in the menu as static renders, with the armors using full armor sets or - in the case of armors with no associated armor for chest, helmet or shoulder elements - Mark VI to supplement missing elements. As such, using a helmet such as Mark V or ODST required the usage of all Mark VI for everything else. Using the Katana chest, however, would use Hayabusa for all other armor elements. Additionally and for the first time, The Master Chief Collection allowed players to use the Bungie Armor (now renamed "Flaming Head"), and would display the characteristic flames and EOD chest as it did in the original game, though with enforced Mark VI shoulders and helmet.

Following the launch of Halo 3 on PC and start of Season 2: Spark, this system was updated to display Halo 3 character models in Unreal Engine 4, with full customization in-game as it was at the launch of Halo 3. In this change, the Bungie Armor chest was renamed "Legacy", and the Security armour set was given a chest armour piece; in launch Halo 3, equipping the Security helmet additionally outfitted the chest with a small antenna. Following the Season 2 update, the antenna is now considered a separate chest, and can be used regardless of helmet.

With the launch of Season 3: Recon, Halo 3 customisation was updated with the inclusion of skins for application on a player's weapon and several new visor colour options for use with all helmets. The full list of Halo 3 skins can be viewed here.

Halo 3 unlock requirements[edit]

Note: The below unlock requirements only apply to the original Halo 3 game on Xbox 360 or via Xbox One backward compatibility. In The Master Chief Collection, all armor is unlocked by default for all players - including the Bungie armor.


Spartan armor
Armor Helmet Chest Shoulders
HTMCC H3 MarkVI Menu Render.png
Mark VI
Unlocked by default Unlocked by default Unlocked by default
HTMCC H3 CQB Menu Render.png
Unlocked by default Unlocked by default Unlocked by default
HTMCC H3 EVA Menu Render.png
Complete the entire Halo 3 campaign on Normal difficulty or higher (Campaign Complete: Normal) Beat Tsavo Highway on Normal difficulty or higher (The Road) Beat The Ark on Normal difficulty or higher (Refuge)
HTMCC H3 EOD Menu Render.png
Complete the entire Halo 3 campaign on Legendary difficulty (Campaign Complete: Legendary) Beat Tsavo Highway on Legendary difficulty Beat The Ark on Legendary difficulty
HTMCC H3 Hayabusa Menu Render.png
Collect all 13 skulls Collect 5 skulls Collect 9 skulls
HTMCC H3 Scout Menu Render.png
Unlock the Used Car Salesman achievement Unlock the Too Close to the Sun achievement Unlock the Mongoose Mowdown achievement
HTMCC H3 Recon Menu Render.png
HTMCC H3 Security Menu Render.png
Get 1,000 Gamerscore N/A Get 750 Gamerscore
HTMCC H3 ODST Menu Render.png
Reach the rank of Private in multiplayer (Spartan Graduate) N/A
HTMCC H3 MarkV Menu Render.png
Mark V
Achieve 12 XP in multiplayer (UNSC Spartan) N/A
HTMCC H3 Rogue Menu Render.png
Reach the rank of Lieutenant in multiplayer (Spartan Officer) N/A
HTMCC H3 Katana Menu Render.png
N/A Earn 49 achievements or earn 1,000 Gamerscore N/A
HTMCC H3 Bungie Menu Render.png
Bungie Armor ("Flaming head")
N/A Be an employee of Bungie Studios N/A


Elite armor
Armor Helmet Chest Shoulders
HTMCC H3 Combat Menu Render.png
Combat harness
Unlocked by default Unlocked by default Unlocked by default
HTMCC H3 Assault Menu Render.png
Assault harness
Unlocked by default Unlocked by default Unlocked by default
HTMCC H3 Flight Menu Render.png
Flight harness
Complete the entire Halo 3 campaign on Heroic difficulty or higher (Campaign Complete: Heroic) Beat Tsavo Highway on Heroic difficulty or higher Beat The Ark on Heroic difficulty or higher
HTMCC H3 Ascetic Menu Render.png
Ascetic harness
Unlock the Steppin' Razor achievement Unlock the Up Close and Personal achievement Unlock the Overkill achievement
HTMCC H3 Commando Menu Render.png
Commando harness
Unlock the Overkill achievement Unlock the Triple Kill achievement



  • In reusing tooltips from Halo: Reach's appearance menu, the updated customization menu for Halo 3 in Halo: The Master Chief Collection now erroneously states the choice between a Spartan and Elite player model is only applicable to appropriate, species-specific gametypes, despite the option being available regardless of gametype.
    • Additionally, when hovering over the menu element to change Elite armor permutations, the game erroneously states the option is to change Spartan armor.


  • In Halo 3, the neck of an Elite (regardless what armor permutation used) is completely immune to any form of damage except for a shot from an overcharged Plasma Pistol. In addition, the projectile will simply pass through the neck, as though the neck wasn't there, without a blood spatter. This is because both Elites and Spartans have similar models.
  • Many people speculate that hitboxes of the Spartans and Elites are shared but this is not true. While Bungie has officially commented on the hitboxes, they regard the size of the hitbox not the arrangement. Hitboxes are an unseen registry mechanic, which fall into the player models. They determine whether or not something has collided with the player. If an Elite is facing profile (sideways), and a shot is fired underneath the head (to where a Spartan's chest would be), the game will not register a hit. The head "hitbox" is forward more on Elites than it is Spartans.


Concept art[edit]