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What materials are bulletproof vests made of?

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Indian manufacturer MKU Vest

Ballistic fabric

Ballistic fabric is a cloth based on aramid fibers.

THIS IS INTERESTING : such material is often called Kevlar, which is not entirely true. In fact, Kevlar is only one of the brands under which ballistic fabric is produced.

It is lightweight, flexible and durable. True, its strength is usually enough to stop pistol bullets or buckshot.

Ballistic fabric, as a rule, is used to make body armor of the 2nd and occasionally 3rd class. But they turn out compact, light and almost do not constrain movements. Great for discreet wearing.

Often, similar elements from aramid fabric are placed under other types of armor plates to catch fragments, in case of penetration
Often, similar elements from aramid fabric are placed under other types of armor plates to catch fragments, in case of penetration

High Modulus Polyethylene

In terms of protective characteristics, polyethylene armor is similar to aramid. This material is used to make armor elements of 2-3 protection classes.

Unlike ballistic fabric, high-modulus polyethylene is not flexible and does not withstand temperature extremes. But it does not lose its protective properties if wet.


Metals and Alloys

Here, mainly three materials are used: steel, aluminum and titanium.

Steel is heavy but cheap. Aluminum and titanium are much lighter, but also more expensive.

In practice, a bulletproof vest from 2 to 6a protection class can be made from any of these materials. The only question is the thickness and, as a consequence, the mass of the armored element. In fact, they are used to create plates from grade 4 and above.



Perhaps one of the most interesting materials used to create armor today.

In terms of weight / protection, ceramic armor outperforms the above metals. At the same time, it costs more, and also has low survivability – if, when a bullet enters a metal plate, its protective properties decrease, then in the case of ceramics they are completely lost.


Therefore, bulletproof vests with ceramic elements, as a rule, use a lot of small plates so that getting into one of them does not disable the entire bulletproof vest.

In addition, ceramic armor elements do not bend when hit, which protects a person from armor injuries.

Combined Armor

There is also the so-called multilayer or combined armor. It uses several layers of any of the above materials. Protective characteristics depend on the materials used, the quantity and thickness of the layers.

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