When it comes to body armor, two features always seem to be at odds: protection and weight. In general, the higher degree of protection, the greater the weight of the armor. Safariland announced a new line of soft body armor that the company claims provides the thinnest and lightest NIJ Level II protection available.
Called the Hardwire 49, or just Hardwire, the new panels weigh only 0.49 pounds per square foot. This is substantially less than the most comfortable soft armor I could purchase when I started my law enforcement career in the 90’s.
The Hardwire panels are made with Dyneema – a synthetic fiber – that is tightly woven and pressed under some 25,000,000 pounds of force at a specific temperature. This process is said to create a panel that more efficiently disperses a bullet’s energy thereby reducing the bullet’s penetrating ability. Since the bullet is not able to penetrate as deeply into the material, fewer layers are needed resulting in a thinner and lighter body armor panel.
Safariland has not announced any pricing information or when these ballistic vests might be available for purchase.
This line complements the company’s earlier release of the Hardwire 68, which is said to be the lightest Level IIIA body armor available at just 0.68 pounds per square foot.