A bulletproof vest is an armor that is used to protect a person by reducing and preventing the body from being hit with a bullet or explosive substances. It is worn on the torso. There are different types of the west. The soft vest is made with layers of laminated and woven fibers that can protect the user from small-caliber bullets of handguns mostly and some small fragments fired from hand grenades.
There is a ballistic plate which is inserted in the vest. Mostly ceramic and metal plates are used with the soft vest, which provides extra protection even against rifle rounds. The tight woven fiber can protect against stab attacks from knives and other types of close weapons. These soft vests are commonly used by private citizens at risk, or mainly by police forces, and bodyguards. The hard-plated vests are worn by special tactical units and military personnel.
Body armor can be combined with some other protective items like a combat helmet also. The bulletproof vest which the military and police officers use mostly includes shoulder and other side protective components too. One of the most massive armor is worn by the bomb disposal squad, which covers their whole body from head to toe.
Now one thing is that the vest, which is mainly designed for bullet protection, will offer less protection from sharp blows like knife attacks or some bullets too, which have been manufactured using hard materials like a steel core. This is because these sharp substances offer a powerful impact, which is concentrated in a small area, which gives them the ability to push through the fiber layers of the bulletproof vest. The opposite is in the case of the stab vest. They provide better protection from sharp objects, but they are less effective in protecting against bullets.
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- History of the vest
- Rifle and Explosive resistant:
- Bulletproof vest working principle:
- How much is a bulletproof vest?
- How to make a bulletproof vest?
- How does a bulletproof vest work?
- Who invented the bulletproof vest?
- Can a bulletproof vest stop more than one bullet?
- How long do bulletproof vests last?
- How do they test bulletproof vests?
- What is the best way to put on a bulletproof vest?
- How to clean a bulletproof vest?
- What should I not do with a bulletproof vest?
- Does it hurt when you are shot wearing a bulletproof vest?
- Are civilians allowed to wear body armor in the USA?
- What is the best material for bulletproof vests?
History of the vest
The vest was first invented by Stephanie Kwolek in the early 1960s. They are made using poly-para phenylene teraphtalamide, which is also known by the name Kevlar.
The vest of spandex and nylon was invented, and now was the time for the durable and robust fibres. These synthetic fibres were made using the large molecule repeating polymer chain. For example, Nylon polymer is made using hexamethylenediamine along with adipic acid. The Kevlar was made using para-phenylenediamine molecules, which are used as dyes and also used in antioxidants.
The bulletproof vest is now made using the polyethylene fibers, which is a very famous plastic polymer. We see it in our daily lives as toys, grocery bags, bins, and much more. These fibers are woven in different layers, which form the guts of the vest that make it a lot cheaper as well as sturdy as compared to the old Kevlar.
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Rifle and Explosive resistant:
The armor protecting against rifle bullets is of three types, a steel plate with a protective coating, a ceramic plate system, and a hard sturdy fiber system. There are different types of ceramic materials used, among which boron carbide, aluminum oxide, and silicon carbide are the most widely used. The fibers in the soft textile and these systems are the same. But to enhance protection for the rifle system, the high-weight polyethylene gives a high laminated pressure with a Kraton matrix is the most commonly used system.
The use of ceramic plates to enhance the protection of the vest makes it super heavy as these vests become 6-9 times heavy as compared to the standard vest. Now besides its superb protection, weight is the real challenge faced by the user. The toughness is due to the highly sturdy and durable materials from which the vest is manufactured. The sturdiness of the ceramic plates helps to prevent the bullet from penetrating the vest, and its tensile strength will prevent tensile failure.
Now when it comes to the bomb disposal squad, they wear unique heavy armors that are specifically designed to withstand the effect of explosions. They are provided with a full head covering helmet, which covers their face and heavy protection for the torso, and the limbs are also essential. There is backside protection to protect the spine of the person in case the wearer gets blasted away from the explosion. There are limited visibility and mobility due to which working in this suit is quite difficult. This armor is less effective in protecting against bullets as compared to the protection it offers against the explosives. The bomb disposal squad mostly tries to diffuse the bomb through remote methods using robots etc. Coming in direct touch with the bomb is extremely dangerous and done in extreme situations.
Bulletproof vest working principle:
The working principle of a bulletproof vest is quite simple. As soon as the bullet strikes the armor, it gets caught in a robust web of fibers. These fibers will absorb and then disperse the energy of the bullet, which has been transmitted in the vest. This will deform the bullet. Much energy will be absorbed through each layer, which is in the bulletproof vest until and unless the bullet is stopped.
The ceramic plates will shatter themselves where the bullet strikes and disperse its energy. But this means has not proved to be so useful, and this method becomes useless after a few particular hits to the vest.
The bulletproof vest has come a long way since it was first manufactured. Many advancements have been made to ensure the safety and security of the wearer. Much better materials are now used which enhance the quality of the vest and make it reliable. Not only military and police officers but many local citizens also use it for their security. No doubt, the bulletproof vest is one of the prestigious inventions.
How much is a bulletproof vest?
Bulletproof vests are life-saving objects. Since its creation in 1987, bulletproof vests have saved over 3000 officers’ lives, not counting the times it has saved civilians’ lives. To save lives, a bulletproof vest has to be of a certain standard. The level 1 protection vest can range from $100 to $200. The level 2 protection bulletproof vests can cost anywhere from $300 to $400. The price tag goes up as you go up in protection level. The very basic type of bulletproof vests that can only stop a handgun from afar is around $50 to $100 on the amazon market.
How to make a bulletproof vest?
Bulletproof vests are very expensive to make. The key ingredient in a bulletproof vest is Kevlar. Kevlar cloth runs about $40 a yard. To make a full vest, you need several yards according to your size and several layers according to the protection level you want. Not to mention that Kevlar cloth is tough to sew, and you’ll need to sew pockets and straps to keep the bulletproof vest in place.
You can also use Zylon as a Kevlar replacement. Zylon has stronger strength but degrades over time. Many people use steel plates under Kevlar layers, but that is not as effective as Kevlar as it does not provide the same level of protection Kevlar does. To absorb the momentum and inertia of the bullet, some bulletproof vests have a shock-absorbing material like foam underside the vest. The Kevlar stops the bullet from entering, and the foam prevents the momentum of the bullet from transferring to the body.
How does a bulletproof vest work?
Bulletproof vests are typically made from Kevlar or Zylon cloth. Kevlar and Zylon both possess excellent penetration resistance and can absorb the heat dissipated from the bullet impact. That is why steel or iron plates aren’t used because they melt at lower temperatures and cannot handle the heat. The answer to how a bulletproof vest works are in the principles of physics.
When the bullet impacts the bulletproof vest, the non-penetrative material like Kevlar or Zylon stops the bullet from entering the body. But the momentum and inertia from the bullet have to go somewhere. That is why some bulletproof vest has foam underside the jackets. As for the jackets that don’t have foam or any other shock-absorbent material, the momentum is transferred to the body due to which the body can suffer from bruises, purple skin, and even broken ribs.
Who invented the bulletproof vest?
The earliest evidence of a bulletproof vest can be found in 1938 when Francesco Rovere commissioned Filippo Negroli to create a bulletproof vest. In 1561 the jacket was tested by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian The Second. There are reports of bulletproof vests being used during the English Civil War. The vests used at that time consisted of three layers. The outer layer absorbs the bullet’s energy and the inner layer stops penetration, much like the modern bulletproof vest.
The first example of commercially sold bulletproof vests can be found in the 1840s produced in Dublin, Ireland. In the 1860s, a new type of bulletproof vest was created by Joseon in Korea, where he used ten cotton layers to stop bullets. They were used when the US Navy attacked Ganghwa Island in 1871. Gangs and criminals also created such types of vests in the 1880s. In 1914 a new kind of bulletproof vest was created using silk fabric. These bulletproof vests could stop slow rounds from black powder handguns and cost around $800.
During the first world war, body armor was used in various contexts. In the second world war, bulletproof vests made out of manganese steel plates were used. These vests didn’t restrict mobility and were reasonably comfortable to wear. The modern vests that we see today were the result of the research of Stephanie Kwolek, who discovered Kevlar, which was used in 1975 by Richard A. Armellino to sell Kevlar vests called the K-15. The modern variants of the bulletproof vests were made in the 1980s and since then have come a long way in terms of comfort, durability, and protection.
Can a bulletproof vest stop more than one bullet?
Bulletproof vests are generally made from Kevlar. Kevlar is durable and very efficient at dissipating momentum and heat transferred by the bullet. The modern bulletproof vest can stop more than one bullet at a time. However, the vest cannot withstand more than three rounds of bullets without needing repairs.
The impact force from the bullets hitting the vest alone can be fatal to the wearer and can cause permanent damage and even break the skin. But that generally depends on the protection level that your bulletproof vest has. Level four can stop many rounds of bullets fired at them consecutively and not cause permanent damage to the wearer.
How long do bulletproof vests last?
The life expectancy of a bulletproof vest usually depends on the amount of usage. It is generally advised to check the vest for cracks and holes after every year if you are not shot. If you are shot, it is recommended to immediately take the jacket for repairs. The life expectancy of a Kevlar vest is about five to seven years at most.
After that, the efficiency of the vest is significantly reduced, and you should change it or take it to replace the Kevlar. A general rule of thumb is whenever great movement is done wearing the vest (like doing an obstacle course), you should check the Kevlar for cracks and seams.
How do they test bulletproof vests?
There are different procedures for testing a bulletproof vest. Some companies hit the vest with a penetrative tip many times to check its functionality of the vest. Others use gunfire to ensure effectiveness. A standardized test puts the buyer at peace of mind that they are buying the best product.
Usually, the testing is done by placing the bulletproof vest in front of a panel, usually made of clay or asbestos. The bulletproof vest is then shot six times at six different spots at an angle perpendicular to the jacket. The perpendicular angle ensures that the maximum force is applied to the jacket. The vest is required to protect against all six shots, and if it does, it is declared to be functional and ready for sale.
What is the best way to put on a bulletproof vest?
For maximum effectiveness, bulletproof vests should be close and tight around the body. All the best bulletproof vests have straps and Velcro to keep the vest tight and in place. A loose bulletproof vest is very ineffective and can cause a lot of discomfort.
There have been cases where the vest, instead of protecting the wearer, damaged him. Later it was found that the main cause of this incident was that the wearer was wearing a bulletproof vest that was loose and above his size, and therefore the vest was loose and not securely in place, which caused the damage. Because of this, some people recommend buying a bulletproof vest a little smaller than your size to make it fit more snugly. Of course, this can cause discomfort and affect the mobility of the person.
The recommended way to wear a bulletproof vest is to keep it tight and snug by securing all the straps and tightening all the Velcro. The end of the vest should be where your navel is. To increase comfort, you can take the Kevlar panels out from the vest and roll them three to four-time horizontally and vertically. This advice is only for the ballistics panels, aka Kevlar panels, not the whole vest as it will crease the vest.
How to clean a bulletproof vest?
Cleaning a bulletproof vest is a very integral part you want the vest to be effective and prolong its life. Vests get very dirty with use, and many people ignore that. This results in the vest breaking and cracking after just a few uses. The first thing that everyone should do immediately after buying a vest is to read the manufacturer’s instructions that come along with it.
Every major bulletproof vest manufacturer includes detailed instructions on how to take care of the vest so that it may last five to seven years. Another tip is never to get the vest soaking wet. That means that the vest is not machine washable. You can wash the carrier vest but not the actual Kevlar stuff on the inside. You can clean the Kevlar casing by using a wet cloth and gently rubbing on the surface. Don’t use fabric softeners or laundry soap as it will damage the vest.
What should I not do with a bulletproof vest?
Maintaining a bulletproof vest is not that hard. Regular cleaning and checking for cracks and creases will add years to your bulletproof vest. However, their certain things that you should never do when doing maintenance on your vest. Never get your whole vest soaking wet. This includes wearing the vest in the rain, jumping in a pool wearing the vest, and even machine washing the vest.
That doesn’t mean that you can never wash the vest. You can clean the carrier vest by removing the Kevlar pads and then gently rubbing the vest with soap water. Don’t use detergents or laundry soaps as the chemicals in these can damage the ballistic material. Never take your bulletproof vest as a toy. You should always keep it straightened on a hanger in the closet and only use it when need to. No need to wear the vest everywhere you go as that can significantly decrease the lifespan of the vest.
Does it hurt when you are shot wearing a bulletproof vest?
A bulletproof vest is not a magical object. It operates on the laws of physics. The bulletproof vests are designed to stop the penetration of the bullet. For this purpose, strong penetration-resistant material is used. Generally, that material is Kevlar and Zylon. Though in the past, silk, cotton, and steel plates have also been used. Kevlar stops the bullet from entering your body, but it still has to deal with the force dealt by the impact of the bullet.
Some bulletproof vests have sponge or foam on the underside of the vest to absorb some of the blow, but even then, most of the shock has to be passed on to the body. That is why a person can get bruises, purple skin, and also broken ribs from the blow. People even get knocked out by the force of the bullet. Many experts describe the force as like being hit by a hammer or a mallet in the ribs, though the experience may vary from person to person.
Are civilians allowed to wear body armor in the USA?
Civilians are legally allowed to buy body armor in all of the states of the USA. The are many civilians who may feel like they work in a hostile environment; therefore, it is perfectly acceptable for them to wear body armor and a bulletproof vest.
However, the place you work in may have different rules about that. If that is the case, then that is the firm’s own rules, not the rules imposed upon them by the law.
What is the best material for bulletproof vests?
The best bulletproof vest material is impenetrable and shock-absorbent. In the past, silk and cotton were used in high amounts and layers to stop projectiles and bullets from black powder handguns, which were very slow. Today in the modern age, materials like Kevlar and Zylon are used mainly because of their lightweight and shock-absorbent properties.
Zylon is much more resistant than Kevlar, but it degrades over time. So, therefore, Kevlar is the better choice in the long run. Many more materials are in the testing phase for using in bulletproof vests, and maybe soon, we will see a better material than Kevlar. But right now, only two materials have sufficient properties to make use of in bulletproof vests.
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