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Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives. Posted by
760a631d0dea2ae92cb6e9f7b157b927
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Entertainment
Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives.
Posted by
760a631d0dea2ae92cb6e9f7b157b927
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Utmost Confidence

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Where:
Washington, VA
When:
1923
Summary:
Surely there was a safer way to test this prototype bulletproof vest, but these guys get points for bravery: they took turns shooting each other point-blank to prove the effectiveness of this new invention.
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Utmost Confidence


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  Where:
Washington, VA

  When:
1923

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or read more about below

Inventors are some of the most tenacious people that you can find. When it comes to their creations, these people are always the first ones to put them to the test. Of course, a lot of these inventions aren’t exactly dangerous, like testing out a new design for a water bottle or a more comfortable chair. Then, there are the inventions like the bulletproof vest. Surely you could just hang one on a wall to test its integrity, but it wouldn’t quite emulate what it’s like for someone wearing one getting shot.

One man that was willing to put his own invention to the test was W.H. Murphy, who you see here getting shot by his assistant at a nearly point blank range. This is obviously incredibly risky, especially when you consider that people aren’t always the most accurate when it comes to shooting. Murphy had to put a lot of trust in this associate, who is also wearing one of the bulletproof vests in front of police officers that are surely interested in the new technology. Shooting each other to prove the vest’s integrity is a surefire (no pun intended) way of displaying that these would be valuable additions to any police force that puts themselves on the front lines.

While Murphy’s invention of the vest was a more modern one, the bulletproof vest overall is something that’s been around for hundreds of years. The first iteration of these types of vests date back to the 16th century, though it wasn’t quite effective. The 17th century showed some improvement on the design, as vests were being used in England’s Civil War. It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century, however, that bulletproof vests were being sold on a commercial basis.

Guns certainly weren’t as powerful back then as they are now, which meant that the vests didn’t have to be made with a lot of high grade materials to stop bullets. Instead, they were just layers upon layers of cotton back then. Eventually, soldiers were wearing a lot of metallic armor that could prevent the wearer from being penetrated by a bullet, but these medieval looking suits were incredibly heavy at nearly 100 pounds and left the limbs open for damage.

Looking for something more feasible for wear, more inventors came out with their designs for a vest that had the capability to stop a bullet. The beginning of the 20th century saw a wide range of designs that included vests like the one that you see from Murphy. The more modern vest went into wide use during World War I, but became more in demand afterward after a majority of the injuries that were suffered supposedly could’ve been prevented if every soldier that was shot was wearing a bulletproof vest.

During the time of people like W.H. Murphy, many of the people that had wanted to use bulletproof vests were criminals, especially in the United States with the mafia having a strong presence during the time of prohibition in between the World Wars. Vests like the one seen here were actually quite effective against most type of bullets, with smaller ones having almost no impact on the wearer. Because of that, law enforcement agencies began using much larger bullets, which made vests like this one more likely to fail.

When World War II broke out, the demand for commercially used bulletproof vests started to rise in demand once again. Many of the largest militaries in the world that participated in the war had their own designs that they were using. Despite being the deadliest war in human history, it could’ve been even worse had these vests not been used. More wars would then follow after World War Ii, with the amount of vests around the world continuing to rise.

This even happened on the homefront for many countries, especially when it came to law enforcement. Police departments across the United States were looking for a vest that could stop some very powerful bullets, especially as criminals started to get their hands on stronger guns that could do some serious damage. With that, the early 1970s brought on the greatest leap in bulletproof vest technology.

That development was created by Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist that had worked with the DuPont company for much of her life. She created a new brand of synthetic fibers that was known officially as poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide. However, it’s easier just to refer to it as its more common name: Kevlar. Upon its invention, Kevlar was being used in a lot of different ways, which included bulletproof armor. The new creation was very flexible despite its strength, which is five times stronger than steel.

Police agencies around the United States took note of just how beneficial Kevlar could be. Not only were the vests effective in preventing bullets from penetrating the wearer, but it was also very light and comfortable compared to anything else that had been invented up to that point in time. Because the armor had been so strong, many other protective items started to use Kevlar, including helmets, boots and more. It changed the way that law enforcement and the military approached safety equipment, with almost everyone in both of these avenues wearing some form of Kevlar.

There have been newer fabrics similar to Kevlar that have been developed in the years since, though Kevlar remains the standard. It will be interesting to see what the future brings, especially as the United States military develops what’s known as the tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS for short. This is a type of exoskeleton that is not only bulletproof, but is also weaponized. As of 2019, TALOS is still in development and testing, but could prove to be the first major leap in nearly 50 years.

It’s hard to believe just how far ballistics has come in the past century. No longer will you see men standing around shooting each other with vests on just to prove the structural integrity. There’s a lot of technology that goes into the safety of military and law enforcement, getting far away from the full body armor that can weigh down a person to point of exhaustion.