The earliest known reference to Bulletproof Vests in the US patent office dates back to 1919.
However it isn’t until 1931 that a Washington DC newspaper mentions the use of “bullet proof vests” by law enforcement. Indications at this time point to a very heavy and bulky early form of body armor.
In World War 2 “Flak Jackets” appeared on the battlefield. This is really the first time that we hear of nylon fabrics being used as ballistic protection. However, these early jackets were cumbersome, heavy and issued to very few troops. Unfortunately these early materials were not good at stopping bullets fired from pistols or rifles but were designed to protect from shrapnel fragments.
In the 1960s we really start to hear more about body armor aka bulletproof vests being introduced to law enforcement officers around the country. Still heavy and bulky, these early police vests were being used by SWAT teams and would be used at dangerous calls.
It wasn’t until DuPont came out with Kevlar in the 1970s that the idea of strong ballistic fabrics, applied in layers, could produce a vest that had the potential to be worn all day. However, many police officers resented the restrictive feel and weight of the early vests and police departments were suffering sticker shock at the cost per officer of over $1500 per vest.
Fortunately the last decade has produced revolutionary new materials, refinements in the existing concepts and improvements for both wear-ability and cost. Today’s ballistic materials are lightweight and easily concealed.
With the ever increasing dangers we face in our society it has even been acceptable for civilians to own body armor aka bulletproof vests to keep for their own defense. Whether faced with riots, looting or dangerous jobs more and more civilians are looking to own the same protective equipment as that used by the police and military.