What’s Ballistic Nylon?

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Ballistic nylon was developed in the 1940s for military troops’ protection, but it was not bulletproof. It has been used in luggage, jackets, belts, watch bands, sports equipment, and kayaks.

Ballistic nylon is a material developed in the 1940s specifically for protection and abrasion resistance. Best known for being used in body armor for military troops, this thick synthetic fabric has been used in many applications over the years. It has been used in other types of protective jackets and for things like luggage, belts, and watch bands.

Protection for military personnel

This material was developed during World War II. The idea was to create an industrial strength nylon material that would provide protection for troops serving in combat areas. The task was taken on by DuPont, a chemical company in the United States, which tried different textures and formulas before finding a strong nylon that could be used to create the bulletproof vests worn by a number of US airmen beginning in 1942. The primary purpose of these tougher vests was to help deflect shrapnel and other types of flying debris resulting from gunfire and explosions of artillery shells in close proximity. Given the intended purpose of the nylon product, the material has been dubbed ballistic nylon, with emphasis placed on its ability to repel other materials.

The mark is missing

However, this material has not proved to be as resistant as hoped. Nylon was unable to protect the wearer from bullets fired from handguns or rifles. Subsequent products proved to be much more successful when it came to developing body armor and similar clothing that would protect the entire body.

Many other uses
However, ballistic nylon was a durable material and could be used for many other purposes. One of the first other uses found was as reinforcement for luggage inside a suitcase or steamer trunk. In addition to the added strength, the fabric was easier to clean than some of the other upholstery choices in use at the time. As soft cases became more popular, ballistic nylon proved to be a perfect fit for the shell and interior lining of these newer, lighter bags. Modern carry-on bags and gym bags are often made from this material.

Modern motorcycle jackets are also often made with it, as are many of the tool belts used by home handymen and professional construction workers. This form of nylon is also used in many types of sports equipment. For example, many kayaks are framed with ballistic nylon skin that is treated to resist water. The material has proven to hold up very well as a kayak skin and is quite affordable when it comes time to replace.

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