Body Armor?


I don’t know if this is the right place for this, but it seems right.

One of the biggest threats to us, post-collapse or now, is other human beings. Avoiding them and not picking fights are always the best strategies, but some people will just want to kill you. I’m personally scared shitless of Blackwater, USA. Violence will likely become more of a threat as resources become scarce and civilized folk become desperate. So, let’s cover our asses.

I became extremely interested in the idea of natural fiber based armor when I heard a brief description of the Incas’ armor, which was apparently made of cordage. Most of their engineering was done with cordage, so apparently they excelled at using it. When the Spanish came to conquer them, they were amazed at the effectiveness of the armor that the natives they recruited were using. It was just as effective as their steel armor, but weighed half as much. They quickly switched. From the sound if it, they made a complex weave of stiff fibers, which probably dispersed the force of a blow over a wider area (which is primarily what modern kevlar and other armors aim to do).

I was also given a link from a survivalist friend to, which is a website maintained by a British firearms rights activist and gun designer. In addition to the many complex weapon plans on the site, there are plans for the “Poor Man’s Bullet Proof Vest”. The plans involve using felt, which is a fabric made up of very tight, complexly interlocked animal fibers like wool or fur (usually wool). To treat it so that it becomes body armor worthy, one would cut it into the desired shape, and spread silicone based caulk onto it with a putty knife so that the stuff works its way into the fibers. This would be done on both sides. Adding white quartz sand to the caulk is recommended to add strength. The armor is supposed to be quite effective at stopping most bullets, as well as indirect attacks from sharp weapons and the lucky direct one.

I’ve been thinking that pine pitch mixed with charcoal would like work in a similiar manner to the caulk, provided that it is boiled and cooled five or six times to increase the strength of it. I’m also toying with the idea of treating some felt yarn in this manner, and trying to knit myself a piece of armor, hopefully achieving something similar to the Incan armor in regards to efficiently dispersing force. Maybe a thin layer of flat felt on top of a knitted layer would be effective.

Thoughts? Suggestions to improve?


I just started building shields with a friend of mine. We’re using innertubes and bicycle wheels and then making a weaving pattern with the tubes. We started making them after getting beaten up a couple of days ago by the popo. Our goal is not to make something bulletproof just something that can take a serious beating without getting too heavy. We’re expirimenting with several different designs right now we’re working on two of them. Theres a book on making shields floating around on the interwebs and you can google it using: “shieldbook” and you will find it. No “serious” armour in here, nothing that will stop a bullet but the best defense against a bullet is to not be in its flight path in the first place. Im curious to what kinds of armour we can come up with here though, i think woven-like patterns can really come a far way to protecting you, but relying on armor alone to defend oneself is it seems a flawed way of approaching conflict. We need different tactics to stay out of harms way it seems.

I just started building shields with a friend of mine. We're using innertubes and bicycle wheels and then making a weaving pattern with the tubes.

That sounds pretty nifty. Perhaps covering one of those shields with woven felt treated the way I described would be effective.

We started making them after getting beaten up a couple of days ago by the popo.

Ouch, sorry to hear that.

...but the best defense against a bullet is to not be in its flight path in the first place.... ...but relying on armor alone to defend oneself is it seems a flawed way of approaching conflict...

Right on.


my thoughts are as follows: if you want serious and effective body armor, research that made with the most efficient modern technology, and purchase it.

alternatively you can get a used vietnam kevlar vest for pretty cheap at an army surplus store.

you need to remember something, the incas were not facing m16s with 5.56 mm or aks with 7.62…the spanish were using blackpowder guns that fired large round balls…the modern bullet is cartridge driven and thin and penetrating

this shit will shred any form of fiber you fasten together. i wish it wasn’t true, but, the only way to combat this modern technology is with other modern technology. i don’t even know if an armored vest can stop a 7.62. cops are scared to death because it shoots right through their patrol car doors.

if we wind up in an apocalypse scenario, the first things you mentioned will be the most effective, namely: avoiding hostile parties.

beyond that, get yourself a good night vision set up and a modular equiped ar15 with a decent rail system, and you will be fine. if you are fighting civilians you will have an edge. if you are fighting someone with military grade equipment, well, that might be a problem.

lets hope it doesn’t reach that point and if it does we are all prepared


Actually, the modern body armor being used just about everywhere is fiber based, generally a sort of fiberglass/plastic fiber that forms complex networks (hmm, sounds familiar). The felt combined with the compound was designed to mimic the force dispersal technology involved in kevlar armor. Supposedly it has been tested and shown to be as effective, though I’ll believe that more when I test it myself with a 9mm shell.


as i said, modern bullets will shred any fiber ‘you’ fasten together. the key word being ‘you’, as in, ‘person in garage with amateur tools’.

i am all for the spirit of diy body armor, and you may be onto something if you are talking about stopping rubber bullets or batons, but, i still stand 100% by the notion that unfortunately an ak47 will tear through anything you make from scratch fiber at 20 yards.

i’d love to see otherwise though! and dude if you perfect it, i would be first in line to trade you something or purchase some.


Well then, I accept the challenge to make such a durable armor. I’ll get back with the results probably this summer.


CoOOOLlllll ;D


Our shields are like done. Bicycle wheels, foam, innertubes, tape. But im tottally stuck on how to make some good handles. I want to make shields that are easy to make, not costly as in: they have to be able to be made by people without money, just spare parts and thrash. They dont need to be super-durable but easy to repair. I hope to only really need to use them once every half-year or less, so they just need to take one beating and then some patching up. Can i post pics on this forum? is there a certain etiquette i need to be aware of? because maybe its easier if i just post some pics tomorrow because my english prevents me from giving you all a good description. cheers!


sweet dude!

good luck with the armor


Yeah Justin, I’m in the “buy it” boat as well unfortunately. You can get kevlar vests for 1 to 2 hundred bucks, adding ceramic plates is effing expensive but will stop most rifles, but only one time per plate.
I’ve been making a bit of leather armor, mostly for asthetic reasons though. there are a few key spots that are easy to protect from knives and the like without much added bulk. Neck, wrists and hands, thighs… it can be light enough, and quiet, but man it gets fucking hot! I have a pair of chaps that I riveted washers to. I placed them between the chaps and another layer of leather over the top of em, passed the rivet through all the layers. Heavy, but quiet, and easy.

I've been making a bit of leather armor, mostly for asthetic reasons though.

Sounds like great stuff! You wouldn’t happen to have any patterns, would you?


Testing Testing Testing. This is something you need to be hella Empirical about. IF you think you’ve put together something that might stop a bullet, you take it down to a firing range, put it over a milk jug full of water, and shoot it. Develop a methodology. Look into how they test professional armor and try to duplicate that as much as possible. Whatever you make must be rigorously tested so you know just how good it is.


I cannot emphasize this enough. Every tool you are going to bet your life on must be perfect.


Ai just found this great book called Ancient Inventions by Peter James and Nick Thorpe. Here’s a quote from it:
“The Aztecs of Mexico made… use of thick cotton clothing as armor. Their army fighting the Spanish conquistadores wore quilted, tight fitting suits of layerd cotton about two fingers in thickness. The Aztecs had themselves learned the technique from the mayans to the south, who, invaded by a Mexican army with powerful bows and arrows in the tenth century, had invented a kind of armor by soaking their quilted cotton tunics in salt brine.”

It also talks about a layered paper armor developed by the Chinese, but unfortunatly, says that it was abandoned because crossbows could pierce it. (though it did give good protection from regular bows)


I’m thinking of a titanium “shield”. Basically because with no design it can protect the body and the head, it can be dropped when one wants to run fast, one can hide behind it and do what one can do on a flat surface!


interesting side note- in Europe, metal armor also went the way of the dodo via crossbow. many folk think guns drove metal armor out of use, but many armorour’s put a small dent in their products with a firearm in order to “proof” it’s effectiveness.


As someone that has used body armor made of kevlar, mixed kevlar and ceramic, ballistic plastic and silica sand, and titanium ceramic the repair of these objects after taking damage is problematic at best.
A kevlar vest saved my life from a HE grenade blast but was shreddded so badly that it was not repairable. A kevlar and ceramic vest stopped a single AK47 round from getting to my flesh but it cracked the ceramic and distorted the kevlar to such an extent that the vest was no longer usable.
The titanium vest was so heavy that it made prolonged wear very uncomfortable and difficult to manuever with ease. The balistic plastic and silica sand vest was also very heavy to wear and while effective at stopping smaller rounds it was destroyed easily by the smallest tear in the canvas that allowed the sand to leak out.
All told the kevlar worked the best with least discomfort and loss of manueverablity.


Another idea that might work for some aplications: Bamboo. shrug just a thought.


Woven bamboo might be good as one layer in a multi-layer setup. A lot of what I keep reading about successful armors seems to indicate that force dispersal is often achieved by having both a hard or thick layer, and a layer that helps spread the force out so it doesn’t focus on one area.


I’ve learned more about principles of armor since I first brought this up.

Soft bullet resistant armor can be made simply by layering fiberglass fabric, such as that used in repairing boats. It just takes more layers than kevlar. Layering tightly knit natural fabrics would probably do the same, since I know many layers of silk can stop lots of projectiles. It’d just be bulky. Apparently some firearms manufacturers test the penetration of the weapon by shooting at thick piles of denim.

Although controversial, one of the most effective military body armors being used right now is functionally very similar to medieval scale armor. It’s called Dragon Skin, and is made from ceramic/Titanium composite disks that are overlapped in order to make a scale pattern, and then kevlar or similar material is wrapped around each one and also some just on top. The “scales”, when hit, stop even rifle rounds, and instead of the disks fracturing the force is dispersed over several surrounding disks. The bullet is kept from flying around by the layers of fiberglass. Videos of this armor show it being peppered with armor piercing rounds and continuing to work.

I intend to make some light improvised versions using fiberglass fabric, and fiberglass mats treated with fiberglass resin to make the disks. I’m thinking I’ll rivet the disk scales to a backing of the fabric, then attach (maybe by glue?) a strip of fiberglass fabric behind each row of scales, then attach 5 or so layers of the fiberglass on top of the whole thing again.

Using these principles we could probably come up with something really effective using natural materials, too. Tight knits of wool felt in thin layers might work well when many layers are put together. Adding some hard scales in between could increase that a lot. Like I said before, I’m interested in treating felt with tree resins. Lots to consider.