Instructables

how do you make body armor?

how do you make ballistics Armour plates similar to plates used in the military for personal home protection. Is there a material I can purchase over the counter that would be light weight and have similar ballistics protection?

Body armor is not illegal to own, buy or posses only illegal if yiu use for illegal purposes. I would try steel and or silk. If you can make hardened steel in small dragon skin ish domed plates and then cover it in silk (they say 34 layers will stop a bullet but I would use a lot more) that might work. You could also look into ceramics. Either way, wear a vest underneath it like we did when in the military. First armor used by u s was ballistic cordura to protect from shrapmetal. Like the silk you would use, it is tightly woven. I've heard something on goat milk but if I were u, I would start safely shooting things and see what happens. A phone book will stop certain rounds, layers seems to be the key. The Marine Corps Security Forces stopped using slugs in 2002 or something due to too many slugs bouncing off windsheilds when hit at an angle. Maybe plexiglass would work? The N fluids might be good also. I would start w steel and silk myself or go buy some if you though it was illegal. Bulletproof me dot com has decent prices, us palm has some nice and inexpensive plate carriers that come w plates for under 400. They are not stand alone. Body armor can seem extremely heavy the when you first start wearing it. Are you in decent shape or are you used to backpacking?
Please refrain from giving legal advice; especially when you do not know what you are talking about. As a lawyer and an academic (LL.B, BCS, ME, MS, J.D.) and having spent most of my life learning I would even feel uncomfortable giving my 'professional opinion' on such topics, especially given that you can be held liable even for a random quip on a blog or forum these days.

The fact of the matter is that body armor IS considered an illegal and prohibited WEAPON, yes, weapon in many countries and states. Where I live possession of body armor is the same as possessing a machine gun or handgun (both of which carry a 15-20 year maximum custodial sentence which is almost as high as that of premeditated murder), and there are many other nations where anti-gun nuts outnumber gun nuts. Well, to clarify, there are less than 100,000 gun owners in Australia (where I live) and there are at least threefold that of batshit insane meddling middle aged mums and nanny staters who cite US crime statistics and ignore that countries like Canada or ... well, ALL of Europe have more guns than people and gun crime is unheard of and entirely ignore the fact there were 3 gun crimes per year in Australia for the last century which starkly increased when legal guns were confiscated off legitimate owners (because criminals will NEVER surrender their guns, they're not stupid, and gun crime is rarely if ever committed by legal gun owners (besides suicides which are still counted as 'gun crime' idiotically, which made up most of AU's gun crime where old farmers with terminal cancer or what not decided instead of suffering incredibly to pop themselves in the barn)) just as in the UK when they outlawed pistols gun crime spiked.

So never underestimate the stupidity of nanny staters and people who feel that they have every right to tell you how you can and cannot live your life. These cancerous folk are everywhere, and will do anything to restrict your ownership of anything fun. In Australia fireworks are illegal, porn is illegal, high powered cars are illegal, some motorcycle imports are illegal, basically if it's fun or awesome it's illegal and the nation revolves around special licenses and fines (what I term 'surprise tax' in a nation which is already the highest taxed in the world).

Please remember that telling people what is and isn't legal should be left to legal professionals, and even then it varies from place to place so you cannot definitively say X is legal and Y isn't. I mean everything is illegal somewhere; if not in nanny states like Australia think of sharia governed nations (although I'm sure the religious nuts would LOVE to see Australia a sharia ruled nation at some point) where checking out a good looking bin liner covered woman's ankles is a crime.
Kezryk1 year ago
The ballistic plate the military uses are made by subjecting boron, I think. to high pressure and Heat. However, they are only good for about one hit from a snipers rifle.
ultimachris4 years ago
It's not bullet proof, but I use it at home incase of tool malfunction, exploding drill bits, etc.. Take some cotton upper garments, sew 2-3 layers of silk on them and glue 5cm X 5cm squares of plexi glass onto the silk right next to eachother, until you cover all the area you want protected. Next, take some tightly woven silk sheet, and wrap about 5-10 layers over the plexiglass. Wrap in leather and sew to prevent fraying. The more times you add layers of plexi and silk, the more resistant it becomes. This stuff saved me from an exploded 0.9 mm drill bit to the heart. A shard lodged in the plexi-glass about 0.2 cm from my chest. =)
Ok, just a concept, but could your idea be used in creating seperated plates? I had the idea when I read your comment that, with a bit of shaving and shaping, the plexiglass plating could be shaped to be more form fitting. I ask because I was originally thinking of creating a batman costume for Halloween, but then I started thinking of how it could actually be protective as well, in light of the Colorado shooting last month. It seems like your design, attached to a kevlar and nomex body suit, could provide a decent ammoun of protection, with everything from paintball to preventing injuries on a motorcycle. Just some thoughts.
im making this currently, best options would be expensive but if you want to be a tank like batman make boron carbide plates, if you send me a message I can get back to you with some prototype applications and about what youre gonna end up paying for D30 shock absorbing panels, boron amorphous powder to make the panels, Kevlar, and anything else you may need
Your "armor" sounds a great deal like the old Mongolian armor, they used silk to keep arrows from killing them... should they get hit they could pull the silk and the arrow would come cleanly out ^.^
wezmac1 year ago
uhmwpe, ultra high molecular weight polyethylene is supposedly more than 8 times harder than carbon steel and much lighter, you could get several 5mm thick sheets and layer them together until its a about an inch thick but make sure you alternate how the grain runs as this will make the bullet change direction more as it passes through the layers. wear this in a plate carrier over a Kevlar vest, just in case. The real uhmwpe ballistic plates are made of multiple very thin layers, but thicker plates 'might' work, no guaranties though (the thin fabric is harder to get hold of). I have seen normal inch thick HDPE stop some handgun bullets but UHMWPE is much harder so should work better. not good in very hot climates however as it has a fairly low melting point, probably why the army don't use it in the Middle East. Carbon fibre isn't ideal as although it has a high tensile strength it's probably not that good at stopping bullets.
ardvark1 year ago
Why is every body so hung up on silk man made single filament thread has been around for yonks you would be just as well putting your grannies opaques on
ardvark1 year ago
Evan the military haven't got the perfect solution yet a gold bullet from a magnum at point blank can penetrate a tanks Armour same with depleted uranium
But for a basic DIY home protection I would think carbon Kevlar laminate with a silicon backing should be enough 28 layers of DuPont Kevlar in the 706 style weave if you can get your hands on it 11 layers of carbon twill one top and one bottom then evenly distribute epoxy resin with poly/cotton or alu thickening agent and silicon molding resin for backing material Remember if the penetration doesn't kill you the blunt force will so about two inch thick and a vacuum molding system for your laminate to get a even consolidation important note about twill rotate the warp/weft first 90 degrees then 45 and so on
Try using some non newtonian fluids
mix 1part polyethylene-glycol to 5 parts silica powder.
Then permeate pure ethanol on woven kevlar. Then glue on silica powder with culking silicon. Then evaporate the armor in an oven at 100'c. Then cover it in silk.
It should even stop a .44 magnum
Could you elaborate more on te step by step? Why glue the powder on I thought it would be mixed with the polyethelene glycol.
Strelok-1 year ago
To make extremely advanced armor capable of turning someone into a walking tank at the cost of a LOT of money, you will need several thin layers of silicon carbide, AR-500 steel, and depleted uranium armor alloy. Place all of these into this layers, sandwich them together extremely tight and use the strongest resin/glue you can possibly find to attach them, use a glue meant for military use if you can. But assuming you don't have access to the depleted uranium, the AR-500 steel and silicon carbide along with possibly any other armor you want to throw into the mix should be fine. For far less advanced non-composite armor, a simple 1/4th sheet of AR-500 steel will easily stop hundreds of rifle rounds, which is why they use it for targets.
I've been kicking around the idea of attempting to create some form of homemade body armor capable of defeating a .308 caliber round, seeing as if it can defeat that it can defeat just about anything else. My idea is to take the same principle as the dragonskin of overlapping plates but to decrease the surface area of the plates immensely. In doing so making it incredibly difficult to have direct contact with a single plate, decreasing the chance of shattering the plate by dispersing the force over a larger area. As well as making it more flexible and easier to conform I plan on creating a full coverage system covering every inch of the torso, with this tiny plates, and on top of that adding up to 25 layers of heavy kevlar on BOTH sides of the plates providing the best protection available I believe. Please let me have some feedback on what you think of this idea, as I am a young man and I don't know nearly as much as a lot of you all and would love some feedback.
so much derp in this thread
I'm going to go ahead and assume you are thinking about "rifle plates". These are different from kevlar in that kevlar bulletproof vests are made to stop most handgun rounds but NOT rifle rounds. These will stop anything from .22lr and .380ACP to everything up to and including .357 SIG and .44 Magnum (depending on grade of vest). While vests are made that are designed to stop rifle rounds, they are prohibitively expensive. If you want rifle protection, 3/4" hardened steel plates will stop steel core 7.62x39, the round used in many AK pattern rifles such as AK-47s and SKSs. (AK-74s shoot 5.45x39, which can be stopped by 3/8" steel). It will also stop normal .223 and 5.56, the standard rounds AR pattern rifles fire, such as M-16s, AR-15s, and M-4s.
most pistol rounds will be stopped by 3/8" mild steel plates, but will deform with higher powered rounds. 1/4" is far more durable.
TL;DR
3/4" hardened steel plate for most common rifle rounds
1/4" mild steel for pistol rounds
rant
Kevlar, not "kevaler". I SEROIUSLY doubt chain maille would do anything to protect against firearms. It's called a SAPI plate for "Small Arms Protective Insert" and you can buy them on amazon.com, quit pretending you're in the military. 8mm and .308 are two entirely different rounds, there is no such thing as a "8mm .308". Kevlar vests work because the kevlar is in many layers of very tightly woven kevlar. My backpack is kevlar, but it won't stop a bullet, be wary of kevlar that isn't tightly woven/layered thick. The same principle applies to the "lets wear a bunch of silk shirts" idea. This worked for Capone-era gangsters because 1. They layered many high quality (tightly woven) shirts made of silk, a strong fiber and 2. Cops in that era usually had revolvers chambered in .38spl, which is a low powered round by today's standards. Most cops and gangmembers today carry 9mm, 40, and .45, which would tear through the silk shirts (with the possible exception of .45).
The .45 has more inertia than the 9 mm. As long as it is not hollow point it will penetrate better. You are completely right about the silk being ineffective.
ilpug2 years ago
Ok, Here is my straight answer: You will be unable to make ballistic armor.

The materials are expensive and regulated, not to mention need special tools to work with.

I am in the design process for an armor suit that will be for close combat. This means hand-to hand, falls, slashing attacks, and maybe rock or baton attacks. Merely designing a light armor suit is pretty impossible. What I am saying is, if it is hard to make a fully realized suit to protect you from an unarmed person punching you, forget ballistic armor.

Also, for even having ballistic armor, or even fake ballistic armor, you will probably be arrested, or searched, or any number of other forms of legal asskicking.

Ballistic armor is impossible to make effectively in a home environment.

Even if you can stop the bullet, you will probably suffer internal bleeding, broken bones, or general pain and disorientation. That is with a small bullet, too. Large bullets will just ignore the armor. The best protection I can advise is to stay out of situations where you might get shot at.

tinker2343 years ago
well a carbon fiber plate covered in kevaler and a layer of chain maial and some d3o would make the best armor however my idea is to have ballistic foam in a fullsuit then have stratily placed carbon fiber plates covered in a tiatum coat with goralla glass on the helmet whew ok so yeah it would be time cousming hey if you wanted it quck peprakua is a good start
Carbon fiber has an extremely poor shear modulus, making it one of the worst materials for armor.
The Jamalam5 years ago
carbon fibre or thick foam may be good for this
carbon fiber has a very poor shear modulus and thus is one of the worst materials for armor. Carbon fiber historical works great in the vertical direction but you can shear it with your finger nail in the horizontal or "X" axis of the fiber and composite.
lutziepv085 years ago
Well assuming your not committing a crime.. you can't easily get the Kevlar needed. so what i would do is find Titanium sheets. and build off the "dragon skin" body armor idea. adjust the thinkness to the bullet round and them cut them into disks or squares and overlap them. your problem would be having them secure but still maintain mobility.. i guess just Velcro or house them in some kind of fabric or plastic.. but again, thats not really something i'd feel comfortable having on while getting shot at.. i sincerely hope its just for aesthetics
The impact of the bullet is so great (about 24,000 ft. lbs) of pressure that the dragon skin adhesive would fail and the disks would fall to the bottom of the vest, creating gaps in protection, I would not recommend attempting this design as it takes a very elastomeric materials to support the disks and the adhesive is not readily available on the open market.
perhaps using a lock-tight adhesive or 2-part epoxy would suffice?
phalanx4475 years ago
I don't mean to just outright rain on your parade, but this is a very tall order that you might not want to make.

The bullet proof vest is not what does a majority of the footwork in stopping a bullet. It is the sappy plate, which is a very heavy ceramic.

Beside what everybody is saying here, you must also remember that it does not work like the movies where you shake it off, pull aside your clothes, and reveal a vest- the vest stops the penetration, NOT the force. Even if it stops your bullet, you will still feel like someone has taken a Louisville slugger to your chest a couple of times. Even while the dragon skin armor boasts that it can stop a grenade's fragments, the concussion will still make your insides resemble the contents of a jelly jar. It's basic ballistics, and even more basic physics.

Just a word of advice- looking for this stuff openly, regardless of your intent, sends up red flags that important people in suits keep tabs on. People aren't meant to have these sort of things. Even when I was issued my flak jacket, they didn't give me sappy plates to make it bulletproof, the only time we get those is on deployment, where they will be needed, rather than here, where the only things they would be used for is generally bad.

If they don't trust members of the military to have everyday access to them, they certainly will be taking measures to make sure that nobody else has them.
You are correct about the SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) doing most of the work, and with the right combination of vest either ICW (in conjunction with) or SA (Stand Alone) plate you typically only receive about 18 to 21 mm of deformation, which will be more like getting hit with a sling shot and a marble at point blank range. The concern is not the force alone, typically most people suffer broken ribs during the impact from the BFS (Back face deformation) that punctures a lung or the heart.

In most states it is not illegal to posses plates or a vest as a civilian, it is however illegal if you are a felon to posses them, or in the commission of a crime. The penalty for both is not worth the risk of having them!!!
For the record he did ask about the plate not the vest.
I am in full agreement with you on that note... the only way I know of to stop the impact is to create several layers that rather "zig-zag" so that the energy is lost before it has the chance to do SERIOUS damage... forgive my curiosity, but I don't suppose you are a marine?
jlarsen772 years ago
Is anyone truly interested in building armor? soft or hard? I have been building armor for the Dept. of Defense for 14 years, anything from body armor, heavy combat vehicle, structural and maritime armor. Although the common rounds you are all discussing have easy defeat mechanisms you have to be cautious of the hardness of the steel you are using, target a 450 to 550 hardness otherwise your fracture toughness will cause the plate to shatter like glass. as far as kevlar goes for the vest, use 28 layers of dupont kevlar in the 706 style weave and you have a level IIIA vest that will stop 44 mag at point blank with a deformation less that 44 mm which is the maximum standard for certification. It is still going to hurt like hell though.
kyismaster3 years ago
You might as well just buy a vest and stick either your own ceramic plate under it (( custom hand made, highly un-recommended )) or plexi glass layers under the vest.
=SMART=5 years ago
Get a metal dustbin, cut the bottom off, cut arm holes and your sorted !
I don't think that would be thick enough. Maybe if you stacked 10 dust bins on top of each other and did the same thing...
not thick enough, too unmaneuverable, heavy, and does nothing to stop shock.
I saw on a globe trekker episode (ecuador I think) that you go there and there is a guy that sells body armor that looks like regular clothing. he even tested it in front of the camera. his son put on a jacket, he pulled an 8mm .308 off his wall and shot him. he said it hurt a lot but it stopped the bullet.

way to treat your son, lol.

mwm3415 years ago
Wondering about something like a kevlar/chainmail/kevlar sandwich to make (relatively )lightweight body armor., if used with a kevlar/nomex garment underneath.
Or... just layer soft materials such as silk, quite strong if you read the history of body Armor on Weaponology.
Deathcapt5 years ago
Something like multiple layers of kevlar, then sew pockets into it, and insert ceramic ballistics plates or heavy gage steel plates. Basically your plates stops sharp things, and the kevlar absorbs the impact without breaking. You can order kevlar on ebay, it's kinda expensive if you're looking for a toy, but if you're worried about protection it's not that bad. You can also try Sailing stores, some sails are made out of kevlar. So you might be able to get scraps cheap, and then piece them together. Plexiglas is relatively inexpensive aswell, but you need to lay on the layers. Test out the materials you're using aswell, If you really need it, It's better to waste a couple yards of the stuff shooting it @ the range than testing it out in action.
Wasagi5 years ago
I would say steel, but that'd be really bad..... Actually, there are Italian Clothing companies that make bulletproof vests out of layered silk. If you get enough high quality silk, you can layer it together, and produce a bullet resistant material, but please don't use this for illegal purposes...
PKTraceur5 years ago
Aluminium-Tianium blend?
jtobako5 years ago
Easy answer is NO. Class III (and better) ballistic armor is restricted for a reason-and while you might not BE the reason, your way of thinking IS. Why not Google it and find out how to make it?
it'll be really heavy but get a (really strong) overcoat, and stitch some pockets on the inside. they should overlap. then slot a 1/2 inch thick steel sheet in each pocket. -it should be a loose fit. titainium is much more expensive, but also a lot stronger. -so you can use thinner sheets, which means that you might actually be able to wear your armour...