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Overview of Ballistic vests / bullet proof vests

Posted on June 22, 2009 - Filed Under Ballistic Helmet |

Ballistic vests use layers of very strong fiber to “catch” and deform a bullet and spread its force over a larger portion of the vest fiber. A deformable handgun bullet mushrooms into a dished plate on impact with a well designed textile vest. The vest absorbs the energy from the deforming bullet, bringing it to a stop before it can penetrate the overall matrix. Some layers may be penetrated but as the bullet deforms, the energy is absorbed by a larger and larger fiber area.
While a vest can prevent bullet penetration, the vest and wearer still absorb the bullet’s energy. Even without penetration, modern pistol bullets contain enough energy to cause blunt force trauma under the impact point. Vests’ specifications include both penetration resistance requirements and limits on the amount of impact energy that is delivered to the body.
Vests designed for bullets offer little protection against blows from sharp implements, such as knives, arrows or ice picks, or from bullets manufactured of non-deformable materials i.e. steel core instead of lead. The force of the impact of these objects is concentrated in a relatively small area, allowing them to puncture the fiber layers of most bullet-resistant fabrics.
Textile vests may be augmented with metal (steel or titanium), ceramic or polyethylene
plates that provide extra protection to vital areas. These hard armor plates have proven effective against all handgun bullets and a range of rifles. These upgraded ballistic vests have become standard in military use, as soft body armor vests are ineffective against military rifle rounds. Corrections officers and other law enforcement officers often wear vests which are designed specifically against bladed weapons and sharp objects. These vests may incorporate coated and laminated para-aramid textiles or metallic components.


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