The guys at Girls n’ Guns are testing different materials with the hopes of making DIY body armor. In the video below they test paper and ceramic tile combinations …
What materials do you think would work well?
Obviously you could always go the Ned Kelly route and strap a steel plate to your chest with sufficient backing material to stop spall (steel particles) from shredding your skin and organs if the plate is hit. The problem with this is you have a big heavy steel plate tied to your chest weighing you down and restricting your movement.
The problem with most non fiber solutions to body armor is that they have to absorb the energy of the bullet which is concentrated in the relatively small frontal surface-area of modern ammunition. Kelver ,and related technologies, work by trapping the spinning bullet in the fibers that make up the material. This spreads the energy across the vest and is enough to stop low powered pistol projectiles and slow down rifle bullets enough so they can be stopped with ceramic or steel plates that would otherwise be a lot thicker and heavier if there was no kevlar.