In many industries throughout history, one invention or innovation can be given credit for ‘changing the game’. The Internet is a perfect example–it made some businesses newly viable and destroyed the business models of other industries. The invention of the fax machine made immediate document delivery viable, and a few years later their business met with the disruptive power of the Internet.
Bulletproof vests and body armor have a similar experience as the exponential improvement in synthetic fabrics and fibers during the early 1970’s changed the entire dynamic of the industry. It made available lightweight vests that are comfortable and effective. The ballistic protection industry would experience transformation from a supplier of ‘niche products’ to one supplying law enforcement, military personnel and a variety of other professions with an essential component of their equipment.
THE USE OF ADVANCED FIBERS IN BALLISTIC PROTECTION:
Throughout history, humans tried to use hard materials to provide protection from weapons. The first attempts at bulletproof vest design used a similar concept. The key breakthrough was the invention of Kevlar by Dupont. Bullet proof vests made of Kevlar for the first time in the late 1970’s. In the 1980s, the US and West German military began use of Kevlar-based vests.
Throughout history, humans have sought protection from weapon attacks based on a similar principle–employing materials hard enough to prevent damage. Cavemen used thick fur to protect against club strikes. Medieval knights used forged metal armor to negate attacks from edged weapons. This defensive strategy would remain essentially unchanged well into the 20th century. The initial development and refinement of bullet protection would attempt to do the same thing.
The ballistic defense paradigm would change completely in the 1960’s when DuPont scientists invented a synthetic material known as Kevlar. Lightweight and strong, it quickly proved revolutionary in industries as diverse as tire manufacturing and building musical instruments.
In the late 1970’s, Kevlar would find use for the first time in ballistic protection equipment. The US and West German military began the use of Kevlar vests in the 1980’s. Over the past 35 years, synthetic fibers have continued to improve and in the process ‘soft body armor’ became ubiquitous in law enforcement agencies and military forces all over the world.
HOW KEVLAR WORKS FOR BALLISTIC PROTECTION:
- Kevlar works to stop a bullet by disrupting its trajectory, deforming it structurally and dissipating its energy
- This is a radical departure from the historically prevalent use of hard materials
- There are different grades of Kevlar fabric for use in specific industries and applications
- The most common NIJ protection levels in law enforcement vests are NIJ Level II A, Level II, or Level III A
One question you’ll never see in a Kevlar vest review ‘are they safe?’ To explain why a lightweight fabric approximately 1/2 inch thick can stop bullets, it helps to understand the fundamental theory behind Kevlar.
Kevlar made it possible to produce body armor that would eliminate the ‘downsides’ of the hard vest–immobility and discomfort among the most enduring. At the same time, it made a complete break from the ‘materials hard enough to prevent damage’ approach.
Instead, Kevlar takes a more sophisticated approach. When a bullet strikes a soft vest, the Kevlar fabric dissipates much of its energy. At the same time, some of the energy will redirect back into the bullet itself, which causes it to flatten like a pancake further reducing its velocity. This analogy may be a very simplistic explanation of a very complex set of theoretical concepts, but it does provide a quick understanding of how fabric stops a bullet.
There are different grades of Kevlar fabric for use in specific applications. There are also different levels of a Kevlar vest determining it’s ‘stopping power’. The Kevlar grades most often used for ballistic protection are Kevlar K129, AP and 2KM. These variants have superior tensile strength that enhances the fabric’s inherent effectiveness.
The different levels of protection a Kevlar vest provides are measured using standards from the National Institute of Justice and known by the acronym ‘NIJ Standards’. The most common NIJ protection levels of vests in use by law enforcement are NIJ Level II A, Level II, or Level III A.
BUYING A KEVLAR VEST ONLINE:
- Law enforcement or military personnel can buy body armor online in any state
- Civilians must be 18 or older without a record of felony convictions
- The state of Connecticut prohibits civilians from ordering online
BulletProofMe.com is one of the best places online to buy ballistic protection gear
So where is the best place online to buy a Kevlar vest? Law enforcement or military personnel can buy body armor online in every US state. Civilians are also able to utilize online ordering in every state except Connecticut that requires ‘face to face sales’.
In addition, civilians must be able to buy bulletproof vests under Federal law that exempts convicted felons and minors (under age 18).
If you’re looking to buy a bullet proof vest online, it’s hard to beat BulletProofME.com. They are extremely knowledgable experts in every aspect of ballistic protection equipment.
BulletProofME.com also gets rave reviews from customers due to their competitive pricing, fast and efficient delivery and top notch customer service. Most importantly, they are attentive to every detail in the process of selecting, fitting and buying a bulletproof vest.