PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM BALLISTIC AND BLADE THREATS
“AS FAR AS WE HAVE HISTORICAL RECORDS, THERE IS EVIDENCE OF PEOPLE TRYING TO USE ARMOR.”
One of the more ridiculous aspects of post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows is how individuals are often suited up in bulky athletic armor and equipment, including hockey/ football shoulder pads and motocross chest protectors. Not only would this type of “armor” do little to protect the wearer in a combat situation, it would likely be cumbersome and uncomfortable, too. What is meant to look “cool” on the screen would actually serve little purpose in any real-world scenario.
The first thing to understand is that armor has been used for millennia in various forms, and today, military planners still struggle with providing armor that offers adequate protection while being comfortable.
“As far as we have historical records, there is evidence of people trying to use armor,” said Dr. Gregory S. Aldrete, professor of history and humanistic studies at the University of Wisconsin-green Bay.
“It has been a natural concept to have protection from sharp objects.”
Through the centuries, armor has evolved, and man has used various metals, including copper, bronze, iron, steel and even titanium, while materials ranging from bone to hide have long been used, as well. There has constantly been a tradeoff in terms of weight and protection. Armor should be strong enough to defeat the weapons of the day while being light enough to provide maneuverability on the battlefield.
Plate armor remained in use until World War I, but it was mainly relegated as an anachronistic element of the cavalry. In fact, the cuirass, a piece of armor consisting of breastplate and backplate fastened together, is still used as part of the ceremonial uniform of Great Britain’s Household Cavalry, as well as by other ceremonial units. However, with the introduction of firearms, breast plates gradually were seen to have lost their effectiveness in battle.
Below: A vest produced at the factory of Colombian businessman Miguel Caballero. The company is now also working on a line of bullet- and stab-proof wear for children that is intended for sale in the United States.
Right: A full cavalry helmet and a cuirass are still parts of the ceremonial uniform of the British Household Cavalry, but the breast plate would do little to stop a modern bullet! (Photo: Peter Suciu)
Left: This soldier wears the Improved Outer Tactical Vest with a groin protector in Iraq in February 2008. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. William Greer, U.S. Air Force)
Employees give the finishing touches to vests and other armoured clothing at the factory of Colombian businessman Miguel Caballero on the outskirts of Bogotá.
Above: A U.S. Marine Corps corporal shows the E-SAPI plate that successfully stopped a bullet in combat when he was hit. (Photo: Lance Corporal Erik Villagran, U.S. Marine Corps)