For centuries, body armor has been used by the military as well as civilian forces of nations to protect the body from being hit by bullets. Whether anticipated or unexpected, bullet shots can simply pierce though clothing and human skin, with no defense left for the sufferer. Armor protects the body by either absorbing the bullet and not allowing it to come in contact with the skin, or reducing the effect of the shot considerably.
In the early ages, warriors used animal skin to make body armor and these acted as protective shields in times of war. With the advent of civilization, wooden shields came into existence, followed by shields composed of metal. The era of knights, during the middle ages, witnessed the emergence of suits of armor mainly in Europe. Their mention in medieval and renaissance literature have created large pools of knowledge as well as helped much of academia envisage the code of conduct prevalent through the period. It was during this time that heavier armor came into use. With the shields becoming larger and helmets more superior, the charm of armors grew into a fantastical representation of the paraphernalia.
Further east, more specifically in Japan, fine silken material was used in the medieval period. This was perhaps the first known occurrence of soft body armor. Among the American military circles, however, such armor came into existence almost in the late nineteenth century. The disadvantage of armor composed of such material was, certainly, the low level of protection. While they could shield the body against bullets of smaller velocity, stronger ammunition still proved to be a threat. There was another reason for the gradual discontinuation of silken armor, and that was the cost factor. Expensive to cater to larger portions of their army, the militia eventually had to reduce the use of silken armor for the body.
More recent in the gamut of body armor is the lightweight type made of fibers. New generation military, police, paramedical and Special Forces use armor made of fabric that is light in weight, but more powerful than its metallic predecessors. Nowadays, a durable and flexible fabric that is composed of synthetic fiber is most commonly used for developing armor. What makes it long lasting is its level of resistance to heat and other materials. Not only are armors made of strong material, but they are also more comfortable. They even provide better protection against bulletproof backpack, sharp edges and pointed weapons.
There are several materials in which body armor is manufactured today such as Dragon Skin, Spectra, Twaron, GoldFlex, Dyneema and Zylon. The features of almost all these are similar, though the materials and the output vary in cost. In fact, the biggest disadvantage of armors made of all these materials is the price factor. Another material that is sometimes used is Ceramics, which is extremely resistant and durable. Whichever be the material, the user must ensure the armor is appropriate for the conditions they have to face.