The Development of Body Armour

When most people think of body armour, they generally think of modern ‘flak’ jackets worn by armed police in gun sieges and combat soldiers in Afghanistan. However, personal armour is far from a modern idea.

Historical armour
Indeed, body armour has been around in one form or another since modern human beings first started competing for territory and waging war with each other. In fact, every fighting force from the Ancient Romans to the Spanish Conquistadors utilised armour to protect their warriors and prevail over their enemies.

However, by the 16th century, the nature of war had changed and traditional metal armour was simply not capable of withstanding the projectiles that gunpowder-based weapons like cannons, and eventually rifles, could fire.

In fact, it would take another 450 years for humans to come up with a personal armour device that could resist bullets and be worn as a comfortable clothing item.

Modern armour
Unlike traditional armour, modern body armour clothing is made from advanced woven fibres that can be sewn into vests and other garments. As well as being able to provide the same degree of robustness as the iron suits worn by Roman Legionnaires and Spanish Conquistadors, modern body armour clothing can also deflect bullets of various calibres. This is because the armour material is able to push out on an incoming bullet with the same force (or very nearly the same force) with which the bullet pushes in; therefore the armour is able to remain intact.

Modern personal armour solutions are available in either soft or hard forms. Hard armour provides individuals with greater protection although it is generally quite cumbersome to wear. Soft armour is more lightweight and therefore it is not able to provide the same degree of protective strength as hard armour.

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