Care and Maintenance
Hard objects of any kind should never be worn behind the ballistic panels of the body armour, also known as a bulletproof vest. Jewellery, crucifixes, pens, underwire bras or styles with metal or hard plastic fasteners in the front can become secondary projectiles when struck by a bullet, causing serious damage. There is not much point in the body armour stopping a bullet, only to have the crucifix or other object behind the impact area puncture a lung or embed itself in your chest cavity.
Body armour is constructed of ballistic and other materials. Owing to the many styles of body armour it is difficult to provide a complete care and maintenance guide.
Following is a general guideline for the care of all types of armour.
Care and Maintenance:
All body armour, regardless of style, should be stored flat, and not thrown in the back or boot of your car or left in the bottom of the wardrobe. Laying it flat when not in use helps to ensure there are no sets or wrinkles in the ballistic materials which may cause damage to the fibres. Tactical armour that has a hard plate in the front or rear should be stored with the plate/s removed. It should never be stored while it is damp from washing or perspiration as this can cause mould to grow.
There are different materials used in covers and carriers for vests and the manufacturers washing instructions where available should be followed. Some of the removable carriers, made from polycotton can be gentle machine washed or hand washed. Carriers made from 100% nylon or cordura should be hand sponged, using mild detergents and warm water. The cover of the ballistic package, usually made of waterproof nylon, should only be hand sponged using mild detergents and warm water. The ballistic package should never be immersed in water.
After being cleaned, the ballistic package should be laid flat to dry in a well ventilated, shady place. It should not be hung on the clothes line or laid out in the sunlight to dry, as UV rays will cause some types of ballistic packages to deteriorate, however this is not the case with 100% Dyneema®.
Body armour should be visually inspected for damage or excessive wear, every time it is worn. Never wear body armour that is damaged in anyway. If damaged you should immediately contact the manufacturer or representative to discuss repair options.
Hints and Tips:
Wearing and concealability:
Always visually inspect the body armour for any damage to the cover/carrier that may affect the ballistic performance, other damage may not allow the body armour to be worn correctly. Do not wear if damaged in any way.
Contact designated authority.
Ensure the body armour fits correctly. Always wear a 100% cotton T-shirt or one of the special moisture wicking garments under the body armour. Do not over tighten the straps. Wear clothes at least one size larger which reduces detection. Wear darker colours and or patterns to break up the outline. Choose a lighter colour for the body armour carrier/cover, preferably not white. Have another person check for body armour visibility during normal posture and positions. Do not fidget or pull at body armour, this will make it very obvious. Adjust your mindset and the body armour will become a part of you.
Allow air circulation, do not over tighten. Special T-Shirts or moisture wicking garments are expensive but greatly improve comfort. Air yourself if the opportunity arises, even for a few minutes. A small amount of Isocol rubbing alcohol can assist on a long shift. Your mindset will also assist. There are cool vest solutions that can be combined with your body armour to keep you more comfortable.
Clean as soon as possible after wearing. Most mild liquid detergents are satisfactory. Warm water only. Do not immerse the body armour in water. Sponge all the surfaces of the body armour. The worst areas may require light scrubbing for which a soft bristle brush is recommended. Sponge off with clean water. Dry with a soft cloth or Chamois. Air dry in a shaded area, not in direct sunlight. When totally dry, store flat in carrier.
Are the result of bacteria build-up. Wash yourself before wearing body armour. Follow cleaning procedures. Commercial 'odour neutralising' products are available. If the body armour becomes 'odour' impregnated contact the manufacturer to have the cover/carrier replaced.
The progressions made in technology in the area of synthetic fibres have led to many advances in the field of ballistic body armour. With the development of super strong fibres, manufacturers have woven fabrics so strong they are able to withstand the impact of a ballistic projectile at tremendous speeds. Since the advent of modern, soft body armour in the 1970's, these ballistic fabrics have become stronger, enabling manufacturers to produce lighter, more flexible body armour.
The two major fibres used in body armour are Aramid and Polyethylene. Kevlar®, Twaron® and Technor® are all aramids whereas Dyneema® and Spectr® are part of the polyethylene group. Furthermore, these fibres can be offered in a variety of woven or non-woven formats.
The fibres used in the manufacture of these fabrics are so tough, that when hit by a projectile, they cause the projectile to deform and flatten out. They also dissipate the impact energy away from the strike area, spreading it over a larger surface and helping to reduce the trauma.
Ballistic body armour works better on quick deforming projectiles than on harder non deforming ones. When a high expansion projectile, like a hollow point, hits body armour, it flattens out quickly and comes in contact with a larger number of fibres, spreading the impact energy over a greater area and allowing for better dissipation of that energy. Projectiles that do not expand, i.e. steel cored, penetrate the fibres and lose little of their energy. Projectiles of this nature are classified as Armour Piercing.
Soft body armour is designed to help protect the wearer from handguns, not rifles or sharp pointed implements like syringes or daggers. However, as the fibres used in body armour are hard to cut, they will offer the wearer some protection from a slashing attack by a sharp object. The excellent energy dissipation properties of these fibres can also help to reduce the impact energy and trauma of a blow from a blunt object and in fact, many more lives are saved by body armour during vehicle accidents than by firearm incidents.