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the early instances of bulletproof vest

Posted on April 14, 2009 - Filed Under Body Armor |

In 1879, the early instances of bulletproof vest was used when a gang of Australian outlaws made armor from scrap metal.

The bulletproof vest covered their torsos, upper arms, and upper legs, and was worn with a helmet. The home-made suits had a mass of 44 kg (96 lbs), making the gang clumsy and unwieldy during a police raid at Glenrowan in 1880.Its use proved futile as the suit lacked protection for the legs.

During the early 1880s, Dr. George Emery Goodfellow of Arizona began investigating silk vests resembling medieval gambesons, which used 18 to 30 layers of cloth to protect the wearers from arrow penetration. Dr. Goodfellow’s interest in silk bulletproof vests arose after he learned about several cases where silk fabric slowed the impact of bullets in the bodies of people who were shot.


Casimir Zeglen of Chicago used Goodfellow’s findings to develop a bulletproof vest made of silk fabric at the end of the 1800s, which could stop the relatively slow rounds from black powder handguns.

The vests cost $800 USD each in 1914, a small fortune at the time. On 28 June 1914, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was wearing a silk bulletproof vest when he was attacked by a gun-wielding assassin.


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