By Anthony McGrath
When the subject is body armor, you can’t avoid the topic of Kevlar. This synthetic fiber has completely changed the way of development of body armor, once it appeared on the market. Kevlar is incredibly lightweight, while five times stronger and harder than steel. It doesn’t corrode or rust, while effectively absorbing vibration. Kevlar is expensive, though, due to the work with concentrated sulfuric acid that’s used in its production. Only a few online websites such as www.safeguardclothing.com offer soft Kevlar panels in their armor to the public nowadays . . .
But be warned: when exposed to ultraviolet rays in sunlight, Kevlar breaks down. Other factors that negatively affect Kevlar include bleaching, dry cleaning, and repeated washing. In order to protect Kevlar from these issues, its layers in bullet proof body armor are coated in fabric to prevent exposure to moisture and sunlight.
There are three common grades for Kevlar: standard Kevlar, Kevlar 29, and Kevlar 49. The first grade of is usually used in tires, another great example of Kevlar’s strength. Kevlar 29 is employed in body armor, asbestos replacements, brake linings, and industrial cables. Kevlar 49 is usually used in such applications as plastic consolidations for bicycles, airplanes, and boat hulls.
Bullet-Proof Kevlar Body Armor
The majority of police officers in North America and Great Britain in front-line law enforcement are now wearing bullet proof body armor. Nevertheless, as the name indicates, bullet-proof armor doesn’t protect from injuries from blades and edged weapons that police officers can face as well (ice picks, arrows, knives, etc.). Since the force from these weapons striking is concentrated on a very small surface, edged and pointed weapons are able to penetrate many Kevlar layers and this may cause serious injuries and even death. There are, however, specially-designed armors that protect from edged weapon attacks and they’re frequently worn by jailers and prison guards.
Bullet-proof Kevlar body armor supplies protection from the majority of low and medium velocity pistol rounds, but not high-velocity rifle calibers. Hard body armor that uses a metal or ceramic plate inserted into the front pocket of a carrier vest essentially increases the protection provided by a body armor set.
These metal and ceramic trauma plates are smaller than the vest’s front panel and are usually surrounded by a few Kevlar layers, which don’t allow projectile pieces ricochet from the trauma plate after collision. The extra protection is helpful in avoiding injuries to the ribs, lungs, and heart, which can occur from blunt force trauma (a kind of injury caused by the sudden bullet force that hits the vest, but not actually penetrates it). Blunt force trauma may result in bad bruising, cracked or fractured ribs, or even lethal outcome.
Body armor that have higher protection levels usually have heavier trauma plates and supplementary layers of Kevlar, but these types of hard body armor are bulky, heavy, and rigid. They aren’t really practical for routine employment by patrol officers in uniform. Members of tactical forces usually wear these kinds of body armor over short terms, when they need to deal with high-risk cases that involve the use of rifles.
Anthony is online marketing director for Safeguard Clothing.