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How is Bulletproof Clothing Made

Once an item reserved for frontline responders, military, and law enforcement, today’s evolving threat landscape has shifted the tide, with bulletproof clothing now readily available to be used by the general public.

Domestic terrorism, mass shootings, violent attacks, smash-and-grab thefts, and more are all on the rise, bringing greater awareness regarding the need for enhanced personal protection, including discreet bulletproof clothing.

Today, bulletproof clothing has gone mainstream, and along with this increase, in popularity has come to a multitude of questions from the general public as to how bulletproof clothing is made.

In this guide, we take you through the entire process of making bulletproof clothing, from sourcing materials to manufacturing. By the time you’re done, you’ll have gained a much clearer picture of how clothing items like a bulletproof hoodie are made to protect you and the ones you care about most.

man wearing bulletproof hoodie outdoors

Making Bulletproof Clothing: How It’s Done

It All Starts with Raw Materials

The quality of raw materials used in the production of bulletproof clothing is critical. These materials form the building blocks from which each garment is made, and the resulting protection offered by the final product.

Generally speaking, most bulletproof clothing consists of layered, specially engineered plastics and intricately woven fibers to provide protection. These layers may be comprised of bulletproof or similar materials sewn together using bulletproof or other types of ballistic threading. In other cases, nonwoven shields, such as Spectra Shield, can be coated and bonded with various resins and layered between polyethylene film sheets

Bulletproof clothing, such as this bulletproof flight jacket may also integrate soft or hard armor panels for added protection. In most cases, bulletproof clothing is made either without panels or with soft panels for added mobility and improved discretion without sacrificing protection.

For clothing utilizing soft panels/armor, the fabric shell of the clothing is outfitted with inner liners and pockets where soft armor inserts and plates can be inserted and removed for protection and cleaning/maintenance.


Common Fibers and/or Filament Used

Utilizing a liquid chemical blend, this fiber is made by spinning a solid thread to form a lightweight and highly durable ballistic material.

Dyneema – a polyurethane-based fiber produced by spinning a specialized gel to result in unmatched softness and incredible strength. 

The Manufacturing Process to Make Bulletproof Clothing 

Yarn Production 

Large spools of specialized fibers are woven into fibers, yarn, or cords that can be used to stitch or patch bulletproof fabric together.

Sheet Materials / Panel Cloth 

Each woven fiber produced is further woven into sheets of material that will form the basis of the bulletproof clothing fabric. These sheets can be made or cut to form and shaped to make various pieces of clothing or accessories, from T-shirts and pants to hoodies and even bulletproof suit jackets.

Ballistic fabric is typically made in bulk, on rolls of around 300 – 600 feet (similar to the look, length, and feel of traditional textile fabric).

man wearing bulletproof suit jacket

The Production of Bulletproof

The polymer used in the production of bulletproof is lab-made using a chemical process known as polymerization. Polymerization combines several molecules into longer molecular chains. The result of this process is poly-para-phenylene terephthalamide, a crystalline liquid comprised of rod-shaped polymers that can be spun and then hardened in a cooling bath. After spun into a bulletproof yarn, the synthetically produced fiber can be woven similarly to traditional fabric to produce sheets of bulletproof cloth or sheets used for bulletproof clothing.

Cutting the Cloth Panels to Fit

Large rolls of bulletproof or other bulletproof cloth are sent to bulletproof clothing manufacturers for processing. Once the fabric is rolled out onto a designated cutting table, the fabric is cut into more manageable lengths (often up to 30 yards long). These sheets may be layered to add additional levels of protection based on production specs for each product. 

Each woven sheet is then placed over the others to form the most optimal layering for protection. Some manufacturers use the assistance of computer tomography and graphics systems to analyze weave patterns and layering to maximize the effectiveness of each piece.

Industrial machines equipped with cutting wheels then cut around each sheet in the desired shape to form panels that are placed in precise stacks. This is often done in stacks to ensure each part of the clothing is made to spec and to ensure consistency between production runs.

Common Panels for Cutting Include:

  • Front
  • Back 
  • Sides

Stitching and/or Sewing the Panels of Bulletproof Fabric Together 

Clothing made from bulletproof or other fabric materials is box or quilt-stitched. Quilt-stitching is more labor-intensive and generally results in a stiff panel of highly protective fabric that is ideal for vulnerable areas and is more resistant to shifting on the body. Box stitching, by contrast, allows for greater mobility and comfort.

The Cover

The now stitched-together layers of ballistic fabric are now placed into a protective cover or envelope. This covering is heat-sealed to further protect the ballistic fabric from damage due to moisture or UV light.

The Carrier

For those items of bulletproof clothing made to incorporate a ballistic panel, each piece of clothing will be outfitted with a type of pocket to house each panel. These inside pockets are located on the inner lining of the clothing for improved discretion, with each carrier or pocket designed to keep ballistic panels snug and in the proper position.

Quality Control When Making Bulletproof Clothing 

Quality control when making bulletproof clothing is imperative. Each piece of clothing undergoes extensive in-lab and field testing to ensure each item meets or exceeds standardized levels of protection from ballistic threats. Unlike normal clothing, bulletproof clothes undergo testing as required by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to meet various standards of protection.

Protective wear is classified numerically from the lowest to the highest degree of protection, ranging from I, II-A, II, III-A, III, to I. Each rating refers to a standardized level of protection against specific types of bullets and velocities. Once the clothing passes inspection and testing, the manufacturer issues a model number for that certification and is then able to make replicas of that particular item of clothing with a high degree of consistency and reliability.

Making Bulletproof Clothing: Final Thoughts

Bulletproof clothing is a modern advancement of traditional body armor and bulletproof vests. Today, demand driven by an increasingly dangerous threat landscape in society has spurred the development of protective clothing that is discreet and effective in protection against ballistic threats.
A lot goes into making bulletproof clothing, from sourcing high-quality raw materials to engineered ballistic fabrics and threading. We hope that this guide offered you valuable insight into the process of how bulletproof clothing is made, and what makes your protective clothing so unique.

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