Personal armor, which is also referred to as body armor, tactical body armor, and full body armor, is whole-body protective clothing. It has been constructed to absorb and/or deflect penetrating, bludgeoning, and slashing attacks.
Historically, body armor was utilized to protect military personnel, though today, it’s used in the police force (riot police and tactical units), by bodyguards, private security guards, and even by private citizens.
There are a couple of types of body armors:
- Regular non-plated (soft body armor) – used by those groups / personnel mentioned above with exception to military personnel
- Hard plate reinforced – used by police tactical units, combat soldiers, and hostage rescue teams
The First Military Body Armor
The first military body armor, and indeed, the first armor, was used in Ancient China, though not much is known about it. As far back as 1500 B.C., during the Mycenaean Era, chainmail was used in Greece, though it was believed to have been invented by the Celts of Eastern Europe. In China, in pre-Qin dynastic times, body armor was made from rhinoceros. This was then adopted by the Japanese, and made famous on account of the samurai warriors.
Modern Body Armor
Modern-day body armor consists of Aramid bulletproof vests usually type IIIA, sometimes with the addition of ceramic, metal and Polyethylene plates for added protection from rifle rounds. Tightly-woven layers of fabric or metallic components can provide soft armor further resistance.
Soldiers use ceramic or metal plates in their bullet resistant vests, which is known to offer protection from rifle rounds. Tightly woven fiber and metallic components layers can give soft armor resistance to attacks from knives.
Fibers Used in Body Armor
Kevlar is the main component for most bullet resistant vests and face masks. U.S. military forces use the PASGT helmet and vest which relies on Kevlar as the main constituent. Kevlar is also used in civilian applications such as motorcycle clothing and in the logging industry. Another fiber that is relatively commonly found in body armor is Dyneema. This product offers a particularly high strength to weight ratio, is very lightweight, and has a characteristic for high energy absorption.
Components of Full Body Armor
The purpose of the shield, which is held in the hand or on the arm, is to intercept attacks either by way of shielding off an attacker or stopping projectiles. They can also be used in a more offensive strategy for bludgeoning. Modern-day shields are used by the military and police units that specialize in hostage rescue, anti-terrorist action, and siege-breaching.
Most militaries today use helmets made from Kevlar and another ballistic material known as Aramid. These offer superior bullet and fragmentation deterrence. The two most commonly used models of ballistic helmet are the MICH and the PASGT.
Ballistic face masks are generally also made from Aramid or metal bullet-resistant material.
Soft body armor as bullet proof vests are manufactured using numerous layers of laminated or woven fibers. They can be used as a form of concealable body armor given their flexibility, and are suited to protecting the wearer from projectiles delivered from small caliber handguns as well as shotguns. They also offer protection against small explosives fragments such as hand grenades.
Bomb disposal personal wear bomb suits that come with extra layers of padding. However, in general, soldiers sacrifice limb protection in favor of mobility.