How To Improve The Lifespan Of A Bulletproof Vest?
Most people are under the mistaken impression that so long as a bulletproof vest has not been damaged, that it has a long lifespan. However, the older the vest gets, the less protection that’s offered by it. Therefore, it’s extremely important you understand what affects the lifespan of a bulletproof vest to ensure you replace your when it’s absolutely necessary.
The majority of NIJ-certified body armor vests can maintain their ballistic capabilities for a minimum of five years. There are some Dyneema body armor vests that have a seven-year ballistic capability. When you’re ready to buy, the best thing you can do is some research into the different models.
What You Should Know To Extend The Lifespan Of Bulletproof Vests
There are one key thing that greatly affect the lifespan of bulletproof vests:
How well it’s taken care of and maintained
A vest that’s been cared for the right way will last much longer than one that’s been poorly or never been maintained. What do you need to be aware of?
Washing Your Vests
In order to lengthen the lifespan of body armor, you must make sure it’s cleaned regularly. Most vest carriers can be placed in the washer machine. But, before you do this, make sure this is possible and that you remove your ballistic panels before tossing your carrier in the washing machine.
Cleaning Your Ballistic Panels
All you need is a moist sponge and a drop of detergent to clean your ballistic panels. Do not immerse them in water and never try ironing them, even if you notice a crease. Taking an iron to the creases will never get them out due to all the layers of fiber. Furthermore, you do not want to risk melting or singing the fiber. Even an iron on low could burn a hole in the textile envelope covering the panel. This would allow moisture in, weakening the ballistic package. Do not iron your vest.
No Sunlight or Liquids
It’s imperative that the ballistic interior of the vest is not exposed to direct sunlight or liquids.
You need to make sure that your vest is properly stored, usually in a place that allows you to lay it completely flat. Too often, people opt to hang them up or place them in a drawer.
How Often The Vest Is Worn
Did you know that the amount of time you wear the vest can also affect its lifespan? If you wear it every day, the lifespan of the bulletproof vests diminishes. Thus, it will need replacing much sooner than a vest that’s been worn infrequently or is rarely needed.
How The Vest Is Worn
Another thing that can drastically reduce the lifespan of body armor is the way in which it’s worn. Moisture, heat and flexing can affect the panels and, in turn, affect the body armor’s lifespan.
A person’s weight will also affect the lifespan of bulletproof vests. If a person loses a significant amount of weight, it can place stress on the ballistic panels. These panels are designed to fit snuggly up against the body. If a person increases in weight, the vest could crease and the ballistic panels could become damaged.
Replacing A Damaged Carrier
A bulletproof vest carrier can also become damaged. Therefore, regular inspections of the carrier must also be done to make sure that they fit well. If you notice the straps are starting to stretch or the Velcro doesn’t work like it should, it may be high time to buy a replacement carrier. When the carrier is damaged, it decreases the lifespan of bulletproof vests and drastically reduces its protection level.
It’s imperative that your vest is fits properly and that adjustments are made so the armor works as it should. To ensure the lifespan of body armor, you must maintain it, properly store it and replace the carrier when called for. Do this, and the bulletproof vests will last for an extended period of time.
The moment you notice any wear and tear or damage on your vest, you need to replace it right away to ensure your safety.
Interesting reading .So if Armour is 8 years old can it be recycled into a new vest and waterproof cover ?
ie the groin ballistic
You cannot really recycle eight year old panels.
Normally soft armor panels are guaranteed to keep the ballistic properties around 5-10 years. After this period the manufacturer does not guarantee this anymore as the panels (slowly) start to loose their ballistic properties. Soft armor panels made from PE (Dyneema, Spectra) generally keep their properties longer than Aramid (Kevlar, Twaron) panels.
I have a Safariland vest that is almost 40 years old. Took the old panels to the range and Shot it with a 240 grain .44 Magnum. Shot it 3 times NONE went thru.
Congratulations. This is exactly what I believe. I have done this successfully also. They just simply want us to buy a new vest. Let’s not ignore the fact that any vest is better than no vest. It’s sad that people actually believe that plastic properly maintained will diminish in its value. It’s like saying Tupperware that sits in a dark cabinet will suddenly disintegrate. Depending on how you use it especially keeping it out of sunlight and heat of much higher than body temperature will maintain its properties quite well. They tell us that plastic bottles will live forever and ruin the environment but then they tell you your vest has no value after 5 years lol
I have a vest that I bought in 2005, and only wore it once,,, It has been in it’s original box, stored flat on a closet shelf for the last 17 years…. Is it any good yet.. Is it the wearing and flexing that wears them out?
It depends a bit from which ballistic material the soft armor panel has been made. With Aramid materials such as Kevlar the lifespan is generally shorter as the material is effected over time. With PE materials it could be that the panel still offers some protection.
The “shelf life” mantra is mainly a liability issue. Dozens of youtube channels regularly pop rounds into “outdated” vest and I’ve yet to see one fail from traditional ammo that the vest was rated for.
I have several body armor kits, and they are all rated for 20 years shelf life (added layers of spalling protection in the build process)
Even the backpac armor I have says 5 years but no way will I replace them at 5 since they are not duty gear worn on the body.