The Different Types of Body Armor/Ballistic Vests and their Positive and Negative Sides

There are many reasons that someone will need to wear body armor or ballistic vests and for that reason there are just as many different types that are made of different fabrics or metals. Every type of protective equipment and the stuff that it is made of has its own advantages, as well as disadvantages. By keeping these characteristics in mind when shopping for the right body protection is crucial when it comes to making the right decision that may make a life or death difference.

The most standard fabric used for making bulletproof vests is woven Kevlar. This is a synthetic fiber that made its appearance as a body armor material in the 1970s. The advantage of Kevlar is that it is sturdy and tensile, which makes it an effective protector against projectiles. Another asset is that it is not as susceptible to heat as other materials and thus the integrity of the armor is longer lasting. There are two negative aspects of Kevlar as a body armor material. The one is that the cost of production is high and therefore it is more expensive. The other negative side is more serious, because if Kevlar vests are hit with high velocity bullets or larger pieces of shrapnel or similar projectiles, then the energy resulting from the impact may endanger the person wearing it.

Kevlar is not the only fiber that is used for soft body armor and many more are emerging on the market now. There is, for example, Dragon Skin, Dyneema, GoldFlex and Zylon. All have characteristics similar to Kevlar, but they cost more. The one exception is in the case of Zylon where there is one negative feature and that is that it degrades quickly and leaves the wearer vulnerable. Promising lightweight fibers that are much stronger than its weigh equivalent of steel are Biosteel which is made of spider silk, The only backside to any of these materials is that they are not yet readily available and the production processes is still being refined.

Ceramics is another material used to make body armor / ballistic vests. In this case the ceramic actually used is called alumina. This is a very resistant and robust material that has become a standard for body armor plate inserts. It also has a high melting point and that gives it a long life. On the other side, though, it is only obtained through a mulit-phase process and the steps also determine just how strong the alumina will be. There are not many manufacturers of alumina, either.

Metal plates are also used for protection in hard body armor. Although they can successfully ward off bullets or stabbings, they are also extremely heavy. This can substantially slow the wearer of the vest down. One good thing about the metals plates is that they are durable and last a long time if not hit since it is not affected by heat, or moisture and the structure does not weaken over time.

Choosing the right kind of body armor is easier to do if you understand the materials used to make it and with the advantages and disadvantages of each are. You may be able to save some money, but more importantly you will be able to pick out a reliable, long lasting and life saving piece of protective gear.

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