How does ballistic body armor work?
Body armor plates and tactical body armor is the very definition of technology and science colliding. Using the very best materials for the most hazardous of situations, these complex pieces of wearable equipment are often the only thing standing in-between a person and certain death when out on the field. Able to stop bullets and stave away fire, each new version of ballistic body armor has been more advanced than the last. How can general safety and wearability be possible with such heavy and durable equipment? Let’s take a look.
The basic function of ballistic body armor and related equipment is to prevent or drastically reduce damage to the wearer. Anything less needs to be thrown out and immediately replaced with an updated model to keep in close conjunction with safety regulations. Military personnel, law enforcement and bodyguards are just a few of the professions that require steady access to high-quality tactical gear. Without steady access to this equipment grievous injury would be much more commonplace.
History has seen different types of armor emerge, evolve and expand. Perhaps the most iconic version of old-fashioned armor is that of European knights, iconic for their elaborate gilding and shiny coatings. While these were certainly able to defend against heavy blows, they were far from comfortable and took a great amount of strength and durability to wear for extended periods of time. Modern ballistic body armor needs to not just be tough, but flexible and light enough to keep the wearer from overexerting themselves doing simple tasks.
It’s estimated armored vests have saved the lives of over 3,000 law enforcement officers over the past three decades alone. One of the most dangerous events that can happen to an officer is to be shot in the chest or stomach, both extremely sensitive locations for the high concentration of delicate organs. The chance of dying from a gunshot wound to the torso has been found to be three times higher for officers that do not wear armored vests compared to those that do. Body armor levels are defined for their ability to stop bullets, turn away knives and remain hardy under pressure.
The requirements for high quality bulletproof body armor, as well as extended wearing, has changed over the years. Around 20% of the officers who died from a gunshot wound to the torso while wearing body armor had died because their equipment wasn’t up to the task. This can mean it was either poorly maintained or was of a level far too low for the ammunition on hand. A 2013 survey provided by the Bureau Of Justice Statistics found nearly 70% of departments requiring officers to wear vests at all times.
The most common material used in ballistic body armor is Kevlar, a material that can be applied to vests, masks and even tires. In fact, there are many mundane and everyday objects that use Kevlar in order to reduce damage and encourage a seamless transition between intention and result. This substance is both hard and flexible, able to stop an incredible amount of energy while absorbing it for maximum effect. With many decades to its name and no shortage of incredible advances, the ability of modern body armor is only going to get better from here.