US20130133130A1 - Low visibility body armor - Google Patents

Low visibility body armor Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130133130A1
US20130133130A1 US13306039 US201113306039A US2013133130A1 US 20130133130 A1 US20130133130 A1 US 20130133130A1 US 13306039 US13306039 US 13306039 US 201113306039 A US201113306039 A US 201113306039A US 2013133130 A1 US2013133130 A1 US 2013133130A1
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
vest
retention
ballistic
armored vest
ballistic insert
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US13306039
Inventor
Caleb Clark Crye
Matthew Aaron Johnson
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LineWeight LLC
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LineWeight LLC
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Filing date
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41HARMOUR; ARMOURED TURRETS; ARMOURED OR ARMED VEHICLES; MEANS OF ATTACK OR DEFENCE, e.g. CAMOUFLAGE, IN GENERAL
    • F41H1/00Personal protection gear
    • F41H1/02Armoured or projectile- or missile-resistant garments; Composite protection fabrics

Abstract

A concealable armored vest is provided. The armored vest can include a ballistic insert and a contoured member that overlies the ballistic insert to obscure the outline of the ballistic insert from view. The foam insert can include tapered end portions that flatten as they extend laterally outward of the ballistic insert. The armored vest can also include a downwardly extending retention panel having a retention member to limit vertical movement of the vest. The retention panel can be tucked into a lower body garment, and the retention member can be oversized to inhibit the sliding retraction of the retention panel from the lower body garment. The retention member can include a longitudinal foam element generally parallel to the waistline and generally coextensive with the lowermost portion of the retention panel.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to armored vests, and more particularly to concealable armored vests worn under the wearer's outer garments.
  • Armored vests are items of personal body armor that slow or stop the movement of high velocity projectiles. These vests are commonly formed from a woven nylon shell including a combination of pliable ballistic panels and rigid ballistic plates. The pliable ballistic panels include woven or laminated high-tensile strength fibers to protect the wearer against small caliber rounds and some forms of shrapnel and fragmentation. The rigid ballistic plates include ceramic or metal plates to provide an added degree of protection against high velocity rifle rounds and stab wounds.
  • In many instances, an armored vest is sized to be worn beneath an outer garment to conceal the vest from view. However, the armored vest can become visible through the wearer's outer garments when the vest shifts from the desired position on the wearer, particularly as a result of bending, twisting and entering and exiting vehicles. While various shirt tails have been added in an attempt to retain the armored vest in the desired position on the wearer, these shirt tails tend to slide upwardly out of the wearer's lower body garment. In addition, the outline of the ballistic plate is in many instances visible through both the outer nylon shell and the wearer's outer garments.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • A concealable armored vest is provided. The concealable armored vest includes a ballistic insert and a contoured member adjacent the ballistic insert to visually obscure the outline of the ballistic insert. The concealable armored vest further includes a downwardly extending retention panel having a retention member limiting vertical movement of the vest while being free from attachment to a lower garment.
  • In one embodiment, the contoured member includes an intermediate portion extending between left and right end portions. The intermediate portion can be coextensive with the ballistic insert strike surface or the ballistic insert rear surface, and the left and right end portions can angle rearwardly toward the wearer to conceal the periphery of the ballistic insert from view. The left and right end portions can each define a tapered cross-section that gradually reduces in thickness as the end portions extend outwardly.
  • In another embodiment, the armored vest includes a front portion having first and second spaced apart panels to define a pocket for a ballistic insert. The contoured member can be interposed between the ballistic insert and the first panel, and can include first and second end portions that flatten as they extend outwardly from the ballistic insert. The pocket can define first and second transition regions outwardly of the ballistic insert that define a gradual reduction in pocket depth.
  • In still another embodiment, the armored vest can include first and second retention panels extending downwardly from the armored vest. The retention panels can each include a retention member to limit vertical movement of the armored vest when worn by a user. The retention panel can be adapted to be tucked into a lower body garment, and the retention member can be oversized to inhibit the sliding retraction of the retention panel from the lower body garment. The retention member can include a longitudinal foam element generally parallel to the waistline and generally coextensive with the lowermost portion of the retention panel.
  • Embodiments of the invention can therefore provide an improved armored vest that maintains a continuous, unbroken outer surface while also remaining in the proper position on the wearer. The improved armored vest can remain concealed under lighter garments by obscuring the outline of one or more ballistic inserts. In addition, the improved armored vest can remain concealed by remaining in close alignment with the wearer's torso after a wide range of upper body movements.
  • These and other advantages and features of the invention will be more fully understood and appreciated by reference to the description of the current embodiments and the drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an armored vest in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a side view of the armored vest of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 is a partially exploded view of a contoured member and a ballistic insert according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the contoured member and the ballistic insert of FIG. 3.
  • FIG. 5 is a horizontal cross-section of the contoured member and ballistic insert of FIG. 4 taken along line A-A in FIG. 4 while positioned within a vest pocket.
  • FIG. 6 is a horizontal cross-section of a first alternative contoured member.
  • FIG. 7 is a horizontal cross-section of a second alternative contoured member.
  • FIG. 8 is a horizontal cross-section of a third alternative contoured member.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT EMBODIMENTS
  • The current embodiments relate to a concealable armored vest. In some embodiments, the armored vest includes a downwardly extending retention panel having a retention member to limit vertical movement of the vest while being free from attachment to a lower garment. In other embodiments, the armored vest includes a contoured member adjacent a ballistic insert to obscure the outline of the ballistic insert from view.
  • More specifically, and with reference to FIGS. 1-8, a concealable armored vest is generally designated 10. The armored vest 10 includes a front protective portion 12 for overlying the chest region of the wearer, a back protective portion 14 positioned rearwardly of the front portion 12 for overlying the back region of the wearer, and left and right shoulder straps 16, 18. The left and right shoulder straps 16, 18 extend over respective left and right shoulders of the wearer for attachment to the front protective portion 12. The shoulder straps 16, 18 and the front and rear protective portions 12, 14 cooperatively define a neck opening 20 and left and right arm openings 22, 24 for the wearer. As also shown in FIGS. 1-2, the front and back protective portions 12, 14 include overlapping side panels 26, 28 to releasably secure the front protective portion 12 to the back protective portion 14 about the wearer's abdomen. At least one of the overlapping panels 26, 28 can include hook and loop fasteners to secure the panels together at or above the wearer's hip. In some embodiments, the wearer can adjust the shoulder straps 16, 18, and thus the size of the armholes, to maintain the bottom edge 30 of the protective vest 10 at or above the wearer's belt.
  • The concealable armored vest 10 can include relatively soft or pliant body armor, including for example a non-woven ballistic resistant material, such as SPECTRA® ballistic resistant material by Honeywell of Colonial Heights, Va., or a woven ballistic resistant material, such as KEVLAR® ballistic resistant material by DuPont of Wilmington, Del. For added comfort, the front and back protective portions 12, 14 can include a lining material adjacent the wearer. The pliant body armor can be supplemented with one or more ballistic inserts 50 including, but not limited to, a soft ballistic insert, such as SPECTRA® or KEVLAR® ballistic inserts, or a rigid ballistic insert formed of ceramic or metal. The ballistic insert 50 can include chamfered corner regions 34 and can be curved about a vertical axis 36 to approximate the torso contour of the wearer. The ballistic insert 50 can be secured to the vest 10 in one or more exterior pockets 38 to permit the wearer to add or remove the ballistic insert 50 as desired. For example, one or more ballistic inserts 50 may be inserted in the front protective portion 12 through a horizontal opening 40. Alternatively, the opening 40 may instead be positioned along a peripheral region of the front portion 12 to conceal the opening 40 from view. Additional ballistic inserts may be inserted in corresponding pockets on other portions of the vest 10, including for example the back protective portion 14.
  • As the armored vest 10 is worn, the vest 10 will normally shift relative to the wearer to afford the wearer a range of motion. When the wearer returns to an upright position from a bending position or an upward reaching motion, for example, the armored vest 10 can sit higher on the torso, leaving the wearer's abdomen exposed to possible injury while also promoting the appearance of the vest 10 through the wearer's outerwear. In order to restrain upward movement of the armored vest 10 relative to the wearer's waist, the vest 10 can include first and second retention panels 42, 44 extending downwardly from respective front and back protective portions 12, 14. The retention panels 42, 44 can be sewn to the lower edge 30 of the front and back protective portions 12, 14, and can each include a retention member 46 being free from attachment to a lower body garment. The retention panels 42, 44 can be formed of an elastic fabric which can be tucked into a lower body garment. While shown as including a single panel, one or both of the retention panels 42, 44 can include a split shirt-tail configuration, in which two or more panels extend downwardly from the front protective portion 12 and/or the back protective portion 14. The retention panels 42, 44 can be sized to extend to just below the wearer's belt, or can extend further into the wearer's lower body garment as desired.
  • As noted above, the retention panels 42, 44 include a retention member 46 being generally free from attachment to the lower body garment. The retention member 46 can include a lightweight flexible foam element being generally coextensive with the lowermost portion of the corresponding retention panel 42, 44. The retention member 46 can be secured to the respective retention panel 42, 44 according to any suitable method. In some embodiments the retention member 46 can be glued to the respective retention panel 42, 44, while in other embodiments the retention member 46 can be sewed to the respective retention panel 42, 44. The retention member 46 can include a front-to-back thickness that is dimensioned to impede movement of the retention member 46 between the wearer's belt and the wearer's waist. As the wearer flexes about the waist, the retention member 46 can remain loosely anchored in the lower body garment in elastic communication with the front and back protective portions 12, 14. As the wearer returns to an upright posture, the elastic retention members 42, 44 tend to return the vest 10 into close registration with the wearer's torso. The retention panels 42, 44 can therefore assist in retaining the proper protective positions of the ballistic insert 50. The front and back retention panels 42, 44 can be tucked into the pants, or other lower body garment, when the vest is worn in an attempt to keep the vest in position. When the wearer assumes a position of stretching forward or rearward, the retention panels 42, 44 similarly extend upward, but tend to pull the vest bottom edge 30 to the position nearest the waistline. The elastic retention panels 42, 44 therefore permit the vest 10 to move away from the waist with the body movements of the wearer, while also returning the vest 10 to the desired position with respect to the wearer's waist.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 3-8, the ballistic insert 50 can define a generally uniform thickness that terminates in a periphery 52. The ballistic insert 50 can be received with the aforementioned pocket 38, being generally sandwiched between spaced apart layers 54, 56 formed of high tensile strength nylon, for example. The ballistic insert 50 can overlie the above mentioned pliant body armor, which is generally disposed rearward of the pocket 38 and the ballistic insert 50. To at least partially conceal or obscure the outline of the ballistic insert periphery 52 from view through the forward layer 54, the armored vest 10 can include a contoured member 60, for example a foam element(s) as shown in FIGS. 3-7 or a curved stiffener as shown in FIG. 8. The ballistic insert 50 and the contoured member 60 can interlock or interfit with each other, forming a single impact-resistant unit 70 sized to be snugly received within the pocket 38.
  • As optionally shown in FIGS. 5-6, the contoured member 60 can include a foam panel defining an intermediate portion 62 and at least one end portion 64 outward of the intermediate portion 62. The intermediate portion 62 can define a generally uniform thickness less than the thickness of the ballistic insert 50. In addition, the intermediate portion 62 can include a continuous, unbroken outer surface being generally coextensive with the ballistic insert strike face 58 as shown in FIG. 5, or being generally coextensive with the ballistic insert rear surface 68 as shown in FIG. 6. Each end portion 64 can transition from the thickness of the intermediate portion 62 to a maximum thickness before declining in thickness toward its lateral edge 66. In addition, each end portion 64 can angle rearwardly (or forwardly if worn on the back protective panel 14) from the forward nylon layer 54 to the rearward nylon layer 56 to at least partially obscure the ballistic insert periphery 52 from view. The combined impact resistant unit 70 can therefore include a tapered end portion 72 for each facet of the ballistic insert 50. Each tapered end portion 72 can extend laterally outward of the ballistic insert 50 while also transitioning rearwardly from the forward nylon layer 54 to the rearward nylon layer 56. Each tapered end portion 72 can terminate in general alignment with a plane defined by the rear-facing surface 68 of the ballistic insert 50. In this aspect, the impact resistant unit 70 occupies the space formed by the first and second spaced apart nylon layers 54, 56—including regions of reduced pocket depth laterally outward of the ballistic insert 50—to provide a continuous, unbroken outer surface immediately rearward of the forwardmost nylon layer 54. Optionally, the foam end portions 64 extend a distance of at least twenty percent of the side-to-side width of the ballistic insert 50, while in other embodiments the end portions 64 extend outward to a greater or lesser extent.
  • While left and right peripheral portions of the ballistic insert 50 are shown as being obscured by the contoured member 60, it should be noted that the contoured member 60 can extend entirely around the ballistic insert periphery to obscure or conceal substantially the entire outline of the ballistic insert 50 from view. The contoured member 60 can be formed of a low-density closed cellular foam, for example polyurethane foam, and the contoured member 60 and the ballistic insert 50 can be bonded to each other or held in position by the nylon shell pocket 38. The contoured member 60 can in some embodiments be free of an intermediate portion 62, and can include spaced apart end portions 64 as generally illustrated in FIG. 7. In this configuration, each end portion 64 can transition from a first thickness approximately equal to the ballistic insert thickness to a second thickness less than a first thickness. More specifically, each end portion 64 can generally flatten as it extends laterally outward of the ballistic insert 50 to conceal the periphery of the ballistic insert 52 from view. In addition, each end portion 64 can angle rearwardly from the forward nylon layer 54 to the rearward nylon layer 56 and at least partially occupy the portion of the pocket 38 laterally outward of the ballistic insert 50.
  • While described above as being formed of a foam material, the contoured member 60 can alternatively be formed from a low-density plastic or other generally rigid material. As shown in FIG. 8 for example, the contoured member 60 includes a curved stiffener 80 formed of a one piece low-density plastic and extending laterally outward of the ballistic insert 50. The curved stiffener 80 is bowed rearwardly about a vertical axis while also optionally terminating at the rearward nylon layer 56. In addition, the curved stiffener 80 can include a uniform thickness as shown in FIG. 8, while in other embodiments the curved stiffener 80 includes a varying cross-sectional width as it extends laterally outward. The curved stiffener 80 is shown as being positioned within the pocket 38, generally bearing against the ballistic insert strike face 58, while in other embodiments the curved stiffener 80 is spaced apart from the strike face 58, optionally forming a non-removable part of the pocket 38 or vest 10. In the illustrated embodiment the curved stiffener 80 is formed of a one piece low-density plastic, while in other embodiments the curved stiffener 80 includes a multi-component construction. The curved stiffener 80 can optionally be utilized in combination with the foam insert(s) of FIGS. 3-7, or can be used separately as shown in FIG. 8. Though described above as including a single impact resistant unit 70, the vest 10 may include multiple impact resistant units 70 at various locations on the vest 10. In addition, while the armored vest 10 is generally described as being concealable, the armored vest 10 may also be worn on the outside of a wearer's clothing if desired.
  • The above descriptions are those of the current embodiments of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined in the appended claims, which are to be interpreted in accordance with the principles of patent law including the doctrine of equivalents. Any reference to elements in the singular, for example, using the articles “a,” “an,” “the,” or “said,” is not to be construed as limiting the element to the singular.

Claims (25)

  1. 1. An armored vest comprising:
    front and back protective portions defining a neck opening;
    a retention panel extending downwardly from one of the front and back portions;
    a ballistic insert supported by one of the front and back protective portions, the ballistic insert defining a strike face terminating in a lateral periphery; and
    a contoured member adjacent the ballistic insert and transitioning rearwardly from the strike face to at least partially obscure the ballistic insert periphery from view.
  2. 2. The armored vest of claim 1 wherein the retention panel includes an elastic material.
  3. 3. The armored vest of claim 1 wherein the retention panel includes a retention member to limit vertical movement of the vest while being free from attachment to a lower garment.
  4. 4. The armored vest of claim 3 wherein the retention member includes a longitudinal foam element extending generally parallel to a wearer's waist.
  5. 5. The armored vest of claim 1 wherein the contoured member includes a curved stiffener extending laterally outward of the ballistic insert.
  6. 6. The armored vest of claim 1 wherein one of the front and back protective portions includes first and second spaced apart panels defining a pocket to supportably receive the ballistic insert and the contoured member.
  7. 7. The armored vest of claim 6 wherein the pocket defines first and second transition regions outward of the ballistic insert, the first and second transition regions defining a gradual reduction in pocket depth.
  8. 8. The armored vest of claim 7 wherein the contoured member at least partially occupies the first and second transition regions and flattens as it extends laterally outward.
  9. 9. An armored vest comprising:
    front and back portions, at least one of the front and back portions including a ballistic material capable of impeding the penetration of a foreign object; and
    a retention panel extending downwardly from one of the front and back portions, the retention panel including a retention member limiting vertical movement of the vest when worn by a user while being free from attachment to a lower garment.
  10. 10. The armored vest of claim 9 wherein the retention member includes a longitudinal foam element extending generally parallel to a wearer's waist.
  11. 11. The armored vest of claim 9 wherein the retention member is generally coextensive with the lowermost portion of the retention panel.
  12. 12. The armored vest of claim 9 wherein the retention panel includes an elastic material.
  13. 13. The armored vest of claim 9 wherein the retention panel is a first retention panel extending downwardly from the front portion, the armored vest further comprising a second retention panel extending downwardly from the back portion.
  14. 14. The armored vest of claim 9 wherein the ballistic material includes at least one of a pliant ballistic insert and a rigid ballistic insert.
  15. 15. An impact resistant unit for an armored vest comprising:
    a ballistic insert defining a strike face terminating in a lateral periphery; and
    a contoured member adjacent the ballistic insert, the contoured member transitioning rearwardly relative to the strike face to at least partially obscure the lateral periphery from view.
  16. 16. The impact resistant unit of claim 15 wherein the contoured member includes a curved stiffener extending laterally outward of the ballistic insert periphery.
  17. 17. The impact resistant unit of claim 15 wherein the contoured member defines a substantially continuous and unbroken outer surface.
  18. 18. The impact resistant unit of claim 15 wherein the lateral periphery defines a first thickness and the contoured member includes a tapered end portion extending laterally outward of the ballistic insert periphery and transitioning to a second thickness less than the first thickness.
  19. 19. The impact resistant unit of claim 18 wherein the ballistic insert defines a rear face spaced apart from the strike face and the tapered end portion is curved rearwardly to substantially align with the ballistic insert rear face.
  20. 20. The impact resistant unit of claim 19 wherein the contoured insert includes an intermediate portion generally conforming to the ballistic insert rear face.
  21. 21. An armored vest comprising:
    front and back portions, at least one of the front and back portions including a ballistic material capable of impeding the penetration of a foreign object; and
    an elastic retention panel extending downwardly from one of the front and back portions to limiting vertical movement of the vest when worn by a user.
  22. 22. The armored vest of claim 21 wherein the elastic retention panel includes a retention member to limit vertical movement of the vest while being free from attachment to a lower garment.
  23. 23. The armored vest of claim 22 wherein the retention member includes a longitudinal foam element extending generally parallel to a wearer's waist.
  24. 24. The armored vest of claim 22 wherein the retention member is generally coextensive with the lowermost portion of the elastic retention panel.
  25. 25. The armored vest of claim 21 wherein the elastic retention panel is a first elastic retention panel extending downwardly from the front portion, the armored vest further comprising a second elastic retention panel extending downwardly from the back portion.
US13306039 2011-11-29 2011-11-29 Low visibility body armor Abandoned US20130133130A1 (en)

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Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2015108888A3 (en) * 2014-01-14 2015-09-11 Spangenthal Adam Vision restricting apparatus for sports training
US20160106163A1 (en) * 2014-10-16 2016-04-21 Propper International Concealable body armor system
EP3032211A1 (en) * 2014-12-10 2016-06-15 Protecop Industries Shielding plate

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US3891996A (en) * 1974-07-29 1975-07-01 Burlington Industries Inc Ballistic vest
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Cited By (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2015108888A3 (en) * 2014-01-14 2015-09-11 Spangenthal Adam Vision restricting apparatus for sports training
US20160106163A1 (en) * 2014-10-16 2016-04-21 Propper International Concealable body armor system
EP3032211A1 (en) * 2014-12-10 2016-06-15 Protecop Industries Shielding plate
FR3030031A1 (en) * 2014-12-10 2016-06-17 Protecop Ind armor plate

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