The Task of the Bulletproof Vest
The bulletproof vest, also referred to as a bullet-resistant vest or a ballistic vest, is worn around the torso. It helps absorb impact from explosions where shrapnel is involved and projectiles are fired from a firearm.
The vests are manufactured using multiple layers of laminated or woven fibers, thereby offering protection to the wearer from shotgun and small-caliber handgun pro-jectiles, as well as fragments from different types of explosives.
Additional protection can also be afforded in the form of metal/ceramic and Polyethylene plates that are inserted into the vest. This then is capable of providing protection against heavier duty projectiles, such as rounds from a rifle. Keep in mind however, that no amount of body armor is going to afford you enough protection if some dude is aiming an RPG at you.
Soft bullet proof vests are commonly worn by security guards, police forces, body-guards, and personnel who may be at some risk of being shot such as national leaders. Reinforced vests with hard armor plates that are inserted are generally worn by police tactical units, combat soldiers, and hostage rescue teams. Extra-heavy armor reinforced vests are used by bomb disposal units.
History of the Bulletproof Vest
The first known bullet proof vest was manufactured in 1538 by Filippo Negroli, an armorer in Milan, Italy, upon being commissioned by Francesco Maria Della Rovere, the Duke of Urbino.
Della Rovere felt this to be a necessity due to the number of attempts already made on his life.
Relatively simplistic ballistic armor which is reminiscent of the capabilities of a bullet-proof vest was occasionally made by criminals. Back in the 1880s, the Kelly Gang, led by Ned Kelly, manufactured bulletproof armor from plough blades. Yes, you read that right – plough blades.
The armor weighed as much as 44 kg which made it ‘somewhat’ unwieldy to utilize in a gunfight. Nevertheless, it was very effective at deflecting gun shots from the police, as you’d likely expect, though eventually the gang disregarded it as being effective since it lacked protection for the lower legs and hands.
The first massproduced form of the bulletproof vest was made by Wilkinson Sword, a British company which is now recognized for their production of shavers. Perhaps you can see the similarity? In 1943 it came to light that most aircraft personnel involved in WWII were killed, not on account of bullets but rather because of low velocity fragments.
Jackets were developed from nylon fabric; they were fully capable of stopping shrapnel and flak, but not bullets from enemy aircraft.
Since 2004, a new full body armor has been under development for U.S. Special Operations Command. The technology is known as TALOS, and it’s expected to be widely used to offer bullet proofing necessities in the near future.
The Workings of a Bulletproof Vest
Using a bullet from a handgun as an example, when a bullet is fired at bulletproofed materials, it is caught within a ‘web’ of fibers that absorb and disperse the energy from the impact. The bullet becomes deformed, which is termed as a ‘mushroom’.
Any additional energy is then absorbed by the successive layers within the vest until the bullet is stopped. Should ceramic plating be used within the vest, the plates shatter at the area where the projectile strikes. This disperses the projectiles energy and the bullet is stopped.
For obvious reasons, ceramic plates have a limited lifetime and they become unusable after being struck a certain number of times.
The Best Bulletproof Vest
In essence, as technological insights progress and improve, the best bullet proof vest is still to come. Researchers as recently as late 2014 began to study and test graphene as a preferred material that could be used in body armor.
Made from carbon, graphene is the strongest, thinnest, as well as the most conductive material in existence on the planet. Graphene’s tensile strength is 200 times greater than steel, while it has been proven to be 10 times more capable of dissipating energy than steel.
Those who don graphene-enabled bullet proofing will be considered the new super hero in society. Nevertheless, for now, the best bulletproof vest really depends on what purpose it is to serve.
With respect to the best protection for very high-risk scenarios, the highest blunt trauma protection rated soft bulletproof vest is the NIJ III-A.
It is wise to keep in mind that although NIJ II level of protection is relatively similar in respect to level III-A in terms of stopping penetration. However, it does not offer the same amount of protection from blunt trauma impact.
Nevertheless, NIJ II affords a better overall balance than level III-A in terms of cost, comfort, and also conceal-ability. Level II-A is no longer in favor and is only available as a special order item.
Where to Buy a Bulletproof Vest?
There are many places where you can buy a bullet proof vest – too many places to list here.
If you are looking to buy, there are a number of criteria to keep in mind.
Decide upon either a hard vest or a soft vest.
Hard vests (hard body armor) offer extra protection and can stop shotgun slugs as well as rifle bullets and require armor plates. On the other hand, though soft vests (soft body armor) do not offer the same level of protection, they are more easily concealed under exterior clothing, more comfortable and convenient to wear, and offer more convenience.
Become familiar with different levels of protection.
There are different levels of protection available, starting at the thinnest – level II-A – and working up to the heaviest – levels III and IV which incorporate armor plating.
Try before you buy.
Ensure the vest fits well prior to making a purchase. You can only successfully ac-complish this by trying the vest on, or at the very least, making sure the measure-ments are precise enough to fit your requirements. Poorly fitting clothing makes for a very uncomfortable experience.
Consider any add-ons.
A bulletproof vest protects the front and rear of the torso alone. If you need further protection – sides, neck, shoulders, groin – you’ll need to invest further in add-ons.
Think about your budget.
Added layers within a bulletproof vest equate to added protection, but this also means added expense. Some dealers do sell used police vests so if your budget is tight, this may be an option for you.