Although blast-induced traumatic brain injury (bTBI) is well recognized for its significance in the military population, the unique mechanisms of primary bTBI remain undefined. Animate models of primary bTBI are critical for determining these potentially unique mechanisms, but the biomechanical characteristics of many bTBI models are poorly understood. In this study, we examine some common shock tube configurations used to study blast-induced brain injury in the laboratory and define the optimal configuration to minimize the effect of torso overpressure and blast-induced head accelerations. Pressure transducers indicated that a customized animal holder successfully reduced peak torso overpressures to safe levels across all tested configurations. However, high speed video imaging acquired during the blast showed significant head accelerations occurred when animals were oriented perpendicular to the shock tube axis. These findings of complex head motions during blast are similar to previous reports [Goldstein et al., 2012, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Blast-Exposed Military Veterans and a Blast Neurotrauma Mouse Model,” Sci. Transl. Med., 4(134), 134ra160; Sundaramurthy et al., 2012, “Blast-Induced Biomechanical Loading of the Rat: An Experimental and Anatomically Accurate Computational Blast Injury Model,” J. Neurotrauma, 29(13), pp. 2352–2364; Svetlov et al., 2010, “Morphologic and Biochemical Characterization of Brain Injury in a Model of Controlled Blast Overpressure Exposure,” J. Trauma, 69(4), pp. 795–804]. Under the same blast input conditions, minimizing head acceleration led to a corresponding elimination of righting time deficits. However, we could still achieve righting time deficits under minimal acceleration conditions by significantly increasing the peak blast overpressure. Together, these data show the importance of characterizing the effect of blast overpressure on head kinematics, with the goal of producing models focused on understanding the effects of blast overpressure on the brain without the complicating factor of superimposed head accelerations.