1. What are they made out of?
Modern bulletproof vests are predominantly made out of dozens of layers of tightly woven material, predominantly Kevlar. The layers are sealed together into a vest-shaped sheet to protect the wearer’s organs. Some vests allow for metal plates, which provide extra protection.
When a bullet or piece of shrapnel hits the vest, the impact is dispersed by the many layers of fibers in the vest. The wearer may still suffer bruising to the ribs, and internal bruising from the impact.
3. Is it really bulletproof?
“Bulletproof” is actually a misnomer: the bulletproof vest is technically only bullet resistant. A bulletproof vest, AKA personal armor protects against bullets, primarily, as well as shrapnel from firearms. They protect against small caliber hand guns and rifles, but not large caliber rifles.
4. Who can have them?
In the U.S., a convicted felon cannot own or wear a ballistic vest, except under some circumstances in Kentucky. Otherwise, anyone can buy them.
They’re pricey — unless you’re a serviceman or servicewoman. Generally, prices range from around $200 on the low end, to over $2,000 if you’re really getting serious.
6. How long have they been around?
Since the fifth century A.D., different warring cultures have made body armor. This includes the Ancient Greeks, Persians, Chinese and Norse using everything from sheet metal to terracotta, bone and plant fibers. But, the first soft ballistic vest, as we know them, surfaced in the 1840s in Ireland.