|MadSci Network: Engineering|
Anonymous, I couldn't tell you who invented bulletproof vests exactly, but I can tell you that the art of armory has been a continuous one from thousands of years to the present day. You know that various metals have been used to form the breastplate in armor. ie..bronze, iron, steel, kevlar and even ceramics. However, bulletproof vests in particular have not been well documented. There have been attempts of the past several hundred years to make an unobtrusive, concealed form of protection for men who needed ot avoid death by gunshot. The U.S. government issued leather vests with steel plates to soldiers in WW1 and made animproved version for the Internal Revenue Service in 1921. These were heavy and only provided protection where the steel plate covered the body, which was a limited portion of the torso. During WW2, the U.S. Army developed and issued a jacket made of thin layers of plastic and steel mesh designed to stop the slower moving projectiles of Anti-Aircraft weapons. This was called a "flak-vest" As plastics became more complex and capable of more uses, the bulletproof vest became a viable defense to high-velocity handguns. The first modern bulletproof vests were developed in the sixties and were used by policemen and ordinance disposal units. By the seventies the vests were small enough to be worn under clothes and still be effective. Today they are very comfortable in comparison. their composition is almost entirely plastic (Kevlar) but many models still include a steel plate over the heart and lungs area. It is called a Trauma Plate. It should be noted that modern kevlar vests, while effective against 99% of handgun and shotgun projectiles, are still unable to stop high-velocity rifle rounds. A round moving faster than around 2,000 fps will still perforate a bulletproof vest. There are rumors that pointed steel rounds and fmj rounds coated with Teflon will penetrate vests, but I am unaware of any definitive studies on this. I hope I have been of use to you in this subject.
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