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#1
Old 02-08-2006, 07:02 PM
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Is chainmail bulletproof?

Or, to be more exact, how much protection would a fellow in full Arthurian armor have vs. firearms?
#2
Old 02-08-2006, 07:05 PM
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Considering that even full plate wasn't long bow (or crossbow)-proof (the development of the long bow and crossbow were the main reasons the age of knights-in-armor as heavy shock troops ended), they'd probably not do a whole lot against firearms.
#3
Old 02-08-2006, 07:07 PM
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Probably not much. Wasn't one of the reasons early firearms became widespread on the battlefield despite all of their drawbacks was that any infantry peasant given one could take down a fully-armored knight?
#4
Old 02-08-2006, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
During World War I, mail was evaluated as a material for bullet proof vests, but results were unsatisfactory as the rings would fragment and further aggravate the damage.
From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainmail
#5
Old 02-08-2006, 07:11 PM
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Not at all.

Plate (suit of armor) armor might protect against very small calibers, such as a .22LR, fired from a long range, but no more than that.
#6
Old 02-08-2006, 09:01 PM
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Hmmmmm. We should send this in to Myth Busters.
Not really a myth, but that experiment would be very cool.
#7
Old 02-08-2006, 09:06 PM
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I make chain mail; usually silver but sometimes other materials. Keep in mind that chainmail is nothing but a bunch of little metal rings. Unless the metal that makes up those rings is bullet proof--and therefore probably pretty dang difficult to make little rings out of--then the mail isn't gonna be either.
#8
Old 02-08-2006, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
I make chain mail; usually silver but sometimes other materials. Keep in mind that chainmail is nothing but a bunch of little metal rings. Unless the metal that makes up those rings is bullet proof--and therefore probably pretty dang difficult to make little rings out of--then the mail isn't gonna be either.
would you be willing to provide me with some samples of mail to shoot at? I can settle this once and for all.
#9
Old 02-08-2006, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
I make chain mail; usually silver but sometimes other materials. Keep in mind that chainmail is nothing but a bunch of little metal rings. Unless the metal that makes up those rings is bullet proof--and therefore probably pretty dang difficult to make little rings out of--then the mail isn't gonna be either.
Is it butted mail or riveted? I've made the butted variety, a whack with a stick would send links flying. Butted links are fine if the armor is just for looks but riveted mail would be more representative of what was used for armor and far, far stronger. I believe there are a few SCA participants on the boards, I'm sure one of them will be around before long.
#10
Old 02-08-2006, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Love Rhombus
Or, to be more exact, how much protection would a fellow in full Arthurian armor have vs. firearms?
High quality steel wire was not available in the days of yeomen/yore so armorers had to settle for iron. You can still buy 'binding' wire that can be made into chain mail.

BTW there is no such thing as "chainmail."

FYI
mail Pronunciation Key (ml) n.
1. Flexible armor composed of small overlapping metal rings, loops of chain, or scales.
2. The protective covering of certain animals, as the shell of a turtle.
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#11
Old 02-09-2006, 01:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spingears
BTW there is no such thing as "chainmail."
Really? That's odd; I could've sworn there was. My mistake.
#12
Old 02-09-2006, 03:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
Considering that even full plate wasn't long bow (or crossbow)-proof (the development of the long bow and crossbow were the main reasons the age of knights-in-armor as heavy shock troops ended), they'd probably not do a whole lot against firearms.
Actually armour continued to evolve partly to counter improved missle weapons. Full plate reached its technical peak around the 16th century, well after the English longbow ( for example ) had passed its period of dominance. Early firearms in particular had lowish muzzle velocities and good quality plate could apparently often stop the shot. Armour lost the arms race in the long run, but it took awhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland Orzabal
The argument over terminology is a think the result of 'chain mail' not being a contemporary historical descriptor. The term came into use late, well after such armour was no longer common.

- Tamerlane
#13
Old 02-09-2006, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane
The argument over terminology is a think the result of 'chain mail' not being a contemporary historical descriptor. The term came into use late, well after such armour was no longer common.
I did realize this; while I'm not trying to create a prescriptivism debate, the term exists and everyone involved is well aware of what is meant by its use. I despise faux-intellectual oneupmanship, especially when its basis is something completely irrelevant to the point being discussed, and while I let it slide for those who correct spelling/grammatical errors lest I spend all my time making posts such as this, in this particular case the snide correction is simply wrong. There is such a thing as "chainmail", regardless of when the term came into existence. That, coupled with my ever-burning hatred for the smiley, is what led me to post what I did.

Nevertheless, thanks for the clarification.
#14
Old 02-09-2006, 04:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Jaguar
...I believe there are a few SCA participants on the boards, I'm sure one of them will be around before long.
SCA guy here.
I know at least half a dozen knitters, only one ever claimed to have done the test. He was using Whiting & Davis #5 (.021” stainless steel wire, welded ring) sheet stock instead of doing it from scratch.
He claimed to have fired a .38 at said mail, I did not witness the test.
The mail had a dent approximately the size I would have expected.

A hanging sheet of mail is not going to react the same way a worn mail shirt would. It can move and deform, in doing so it will absorb energy that would otherwise be available to damage the links.
To do the test properly I'd want a full shirt of mail, and a full sized backing of ballistic gelatin or clay.

IMHO, Is chainmail bulletproof?
Small caliber/low velocity, maybe.
Anything else, have a look at this The Box O' Truth #16 - Level IIIA Armor
.

CMC
#15
Old 02-09-2006, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
Considering that even full plate wasn't long bow (or crossbow)-proof (the development of the long bow and crossbow were the main reasons the age of knights-in-armor as heavy shock troops ended), they'd probably not do a whole lot against firearms.
A documentary on TV here in the UK showed that at the Battle of Agincourt at least, English longbows might not have been able to penetrate the armour of the French knights. What stopped them IIRC was muddy ground and the inability of horse skin to withstand arrows.
#16
Old 02-09-2006, 08:46 AM
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During the Napoleonic Wars there was still armored cavalry, generally a breast and back plate that covered the torso and an iron helmet of some sort with a fancy crest. . It is the same sort of armor that is still worn by the ceremonial units of the British Horse Guards. It was effective in protecting a soldier against edged weapons and musket fire at some range. It did not do much good against close range musketry or artillery fire at any range.

At the Museum of the French Army in Paris there is a breast plate worn by a named soldier who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo. There is a raged hole punched through it just about dead center. The hole is about the same diameter as a beer can – surely caused by a six or nine pound cannon ball.
#17
Old 02-09-2006, 09:06 AM
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Darnit, I was going to come in here and talk about the Napoleonic Wars too....suffice it to say that they were the last major conflict in which classically-armored units could turn the tide of battle. The last nail in their coffin was the rifle, which had the speed and the range to defeat any armored close combat unit.

IIRC, though, the French did have chain epaulettes for some standard bearers, but those were to protect it in the close combat that inevitably surrounded a standard, rather than from bullets.
#18
Old 02-09-2006, 09:14 AM
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Hijack: Is a kevlar vest arrowproof?
#19
Old 02-09-2006, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deevee
Hijack: Is a kevlar vest arrowproof?
No cite handy, but I have heard several times that it is not. Apparently the point of an arrow is sharp enough and hard enough that most Kevlar body armor will not stop it sufficiently. Bullets are softer and tend to spread out, dissapating their energy over a greater distance. Think of an arrowhead as an armor piercing round with signifigantly less energy, but still hard enough to penetrate.
#20
Old 02-09-2006, 10:00 AM
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Heh, I was going to hijack into that sort of area myself.

My question was going to be: what sort of anti-close combat and anti-bullet protection would a plate or chain armor over Kevlar or similar armor provide? Would the Kevlar act as additional padding against slow weapons? Would the armor provide more anti-bullet protection (for instance, by deflecting the bullet's angle?)
#21
Old 02-09-2006, 10:15 AM
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Oh, feel free to hijack. That's another question I had floating in my head that I'd love the answer to also.
#22
Old 02-09-2006, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamerlane
Armour lost the arms race in the long run, but it took awhile.
It was down, but its back, baby!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Epimetheus
No cite handy, but I have heard several times that it is not. Apparently the point of an arrow is sharp enough and hard enough that most Kevlar body armor will not stop it sufficiently. Bullets are softer and tend to spread out, dissapating their energy over a greater distance. Think of an arrowhead as an armor piercing round with signifigantly less energy, but still hard enough to penetrate.
From what I've heard, Kevlar is pretty damned hard to tear, making it very useful against knives and arrows, but I don't currently have a cite. I doubt that an arrow would go through a Kevlar vest with ceramic plates.
#23
Old 02-09-2006, 10:38 AM
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Best protection by far is to be standing behind the opponent when the shooting starts.

YMMV
#24
Old 02-09-2006, 10:40 AM
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I have made butted mail using 5/16" spring steel lock washers; a machinist who sold me the rings tested a sample on a press and said that based just on the strength of the material, it was probably bullet proof. However, although the bullet wouldn't have penetrated the mail, the force of the blow would have driven the mail an inch or two into the body, which would still sting like the dickens and, depending on where you got hit, still prove fatal.

Oh, another SCA guy here. forgot to mention that.

Tests with chainmail hung over a pig carcass and struck with a sword showed that, again, the mail held, but would get driven into the target by the force of the blow. Riveted mail fared better than butted mail. For more information on this, you can search around at The Armour Archive; like planes on treadmills, this has been discussed there in great detail.

I also have a picture of an SCA armourer who made a full Maximilian breast plate, took it into his back yard, put it up on a post, and fired a black powder revolver at it from 10 feet away.

There's a hole through it, just above and to the right of his belly button. He left it there as an object lesson in why they stopped wearing the stuff.
#25
Old 02-09-2006, 12:09 PM
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Ancedotal story: A man who was at my grandfathers house many years ago had been a medic in Vietnam. He told a tale (unsubstantiated, but it was a cool story) about a (squad? platoon?) he was with who got in a firefight with some VC.

When the shooting stopped and the VC were all dead of fled, they swept the trees and such for bodies, and found a few. One of them appeared to have been a leader of some sort, and also appeared to have been wearing a maile shirt.

The rounds that struck him also pulled lengths of maile through the wounds, which were through and through, effectively stitching the VC.

As I've said, no proof, but it made for an interesting tale.

Also, former SCA guy here, and there is no way a heavy shirt would stop a modern bullet. Numerous layers might (big might!) manage to stop a large ball from an Arquebus or large bore match/flint lock, but that's a Might Big If and the target would pretty much be immobile from the weight, imo.
#26
Old 02-09-2006, 12:09 PM
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Kevlar will stop a slashing knife attack, but isn't likely to stop a stabbing attack, ceramic plates, if they're in the right place at the right time will.
If you look at the "Box O' Truth" site I linked to, particularly the shotgun damage, you can see how fibrous the Kevlar is.
An icepick or even worse a bodkin head arrow would most likely not be stopped.
kidchameleon's right it is hard to tear or cut, but unless the Kevlar is laminated to a substrate the fibers will spread apart.

Kevlar would probably make for a good gambeson (a padded jacket, worn under most armor types) Ludovic.

One important thing to remember about plate, usually it gets heat treated!
First an annealing to relieve stresses in the metal from shaping (the shaping itself will work-harden the metal too), then an actual heat treat to harden and temper.

Thanks Ethilrist, great site!

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#27
Old 02-09-2006, 01:46 PM
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Apparently DuPont's new Kevlar is treated as crowmanyclouds meantions to make it a better defense against stabbing weapons.

Warning, that's a PDF.
#28
Old 02-09-2006, 03:14 PM
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So is anyone willing to provide me with some samples of their armor to test at the range?
#29
Old 02-09-2006, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethilrist
(snip)However, although the bullet wouldn't have penetrated the mail, the force of the blow would have driven the mail an inch or two into the body, which would still sting like the dickens and, depending on where you got hit, still prove fatal.

(snip)

Tests with chainmail hung over a pig carcass and struck with a sword showed that, again, the mail held, but would get driven into the target by the force of the blow. Riveted mail fared better than butted mail.
It was my understanding that chain mail was worn over some sort of padded jacket or a heavy ox leather undergarment just because of this problem. The mail would turn a sharp blade but would not protect from blunt trauma. The padding under the mail shirt served to soften the blow.

As far as plate armor went, in its last days of general use during the time of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War, the stuff was “proofed by taking a shot at it from pretty close range with a big old .75 cal horse pistol. If the ball went through and bounced around inside the item was rejected. It the plate merely dented it was safe to use.

Remember that until the development of military rifles in the late 18th Century an armored soldier wasn’t going to run into anything more potent than a musket or pistol ball which probably didn’t have a muzzle velocity of much more than 800 ft/sec and was not effective at more than 100 yard range. A German Jagger rifle, or a British Baker Rifle or a Pennsylvania or Kentucky rifle had a significantly higher muzzle velocity, maybe as much as 1500 ft/sec, and was effective out to close to 300 yards. That isn’t much compared to the 2300 ft/sec produced by a 30/06 cartridge but it is a considerably bigger thump than the impact of a smooth bore musket or pistol.
#30
Old 02-09-2006, 11:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalGabe
So is anyone willing to provide me with some samples of their armor to test at the range?
You might as well ask someone who builds boats in a bottle to give you one to shoot to bits.
#31
Old 02-10-2006, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spavined Gelding
Remember that until the development of military rifles in the late 18th Century an armored soldier wasn’t going to run into anything more potent than a musket or pistol ball which probably didn’t have a muzzle velocity of much more than 800 ft/sec and was not effective at more than 100 yard range. A German Jagger rifle, or a British Baker Rifle or a Pennsylvania or Kentucky rifle had a significantly higher muzzle velocity, maybe as much as 1500 ft/sec, and was effective out to close to 300 yards. That isn’t much compared to the 2300 ft/sec produced by a 30/06 cartridge but it is a considerably bigger thump than the impact of a smooth bore musket or pistol.
Also worth pointing out that a Pennsylvania Rifle (don't know about a Baker or a Jagger) fired a projectile that was of a narrower calibre than the Brown Bess musket, so not only did it have a higher velocity, but it was gonna put it's force into a smaller surface area when it hit you, thus giving it even more penetrating power against armor.

It's also worth mentioning that Kevlar is basically modern-day chainmail. Only instead of linking iron rings together, we have a multi-layered synthetic weave which works in basically the same way. Also, some modern tanks drape chains around their vulnerable areas to combat against shaped-charge anti-tank weapons which are designed to hit the armor and then discharge a highly focused blast. This way the anti-tank round hits the chain, detonates, and the shaped charge is "out of focus" and thus doesn't apply it's payload effectively against the tank's armor. Thus, everything that is old is new again.
#32
Old 02-10-2006, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmanyclouds
SCA guy here.

IMHO, Is chainmail bulletproof?
Small caliber/low velocity, maybe.
He's generally right. Good Chain, with a good set of padding or tough leather under it, will stop low penetration stuff. Maybe buckshot at some longish range, maybe those special low penetration rounds they issue to Skymarshals & such. But large caliber but low velocity has less penetraion than small caliber. Thus, a .223 is much better at going through armor than a .45.

A real solid breastplate will stop rounds- they had some in WWI and even WWI that would- but they weighed to much to move in. In WWI, they were used for snipers & machine-gunners, in WWII they were used for wing gunners on B-17's.

However, all the above could stop shrapnel- or make it worse, I guess.
Today, in modern combat- if you had some titanium mail- or welded stainless of fine links- I'd wear it over nothing (there's other stuff other than high powered rifle bullets out there, you know). In fact, titanium could be fairly effective.

Good brigantine could be effective- if the plates were thick enough*- and so could a breastplate of modern alloys.

* in fact, some flack jackets are basicly brigantine.
#33
Old 02-10-2006, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristan
Also, former SCA guy here, and there is no way a heavy shirt would stop a modern bullet. Numerous layers might (big might!) manage to stop a large ball from an Arquebus or large bore match/flint lock, but that's a Might Big If and the target would pretty much be immobile from the weight, imo.
Oh, good point. I found a website for a guy that made a full suit of mail (coif, hauberk down to the wrists & knees, mail pants. The full suit weighed 120 pounds.

He decided not to try and fight in it.
#34
Old 02-10-2006, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethilrist
Oh, good point. I found a website for a guy that made a full suit of mail (coif, hauberk down to the wrists & knees, mail pants. The full suit weighed 120 pounds.

He decided not to try and fight in it.
arg. I meant, he made a full suit from the same type of washers I used. People who make mail to fight in in the SCA use larger rings, so a shirt only weighs 20-30 pounds. Some people wear rivetted titanium (mostly just for show), and those weigh 5-10 pounds.
#35
Old 02-10-2006, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deevee
You might as well ask someone who builds boats in a bottle to give you one to shoot to bits.
Well, if they've got one to spare...
#36
Old 02-10-2006, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethilrist
arg. I meant, he made a full suit from the same type of washers I used. People who make mail to fight in in the SCA use larger rings, so a shirt only weighs 20-30 pounds. Some people wear rivetted titanium (mostly just for show), and those weigh 5-10 pounds.
Hmm, I'd love to get a set of riveted Titanium. Any websites for this? eBay?
#37
Old 02-10-2006, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland Orzabal
BTW there is no such thing as "chainmail" Really? That's odd; I could've sworn there was. My mistake.
Once upon a time "chainmail" was
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#38
Old 02-10-2006, 10:28 PM
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In Soviet Russia, mail chains you.
#39
Old 02-11-2006, 03:59 AM
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In trying to find some links to modern mail based body armor, I found this, CAPS body armor by the company that made the airbags for Mars: Pathfinder, Spirit & Opportunity.
#40
Old 02-11-2006, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland Orzabal
...my ever-burning hatred for the smiley...
You too, eh? I post on five or six message boards, and I utterly despise that smiley in all its various incarnations. I believe there is no need for an "I'm a smug, holier-than-thou git" smiley.
#41
Old 02-11-2006, 07:22 AM
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Have to agree with TLD. The rolleyes smilie is annoying, and just smart-alecky. At times used deliberately to incite conflict -- and it succeeds. I'm glad this is now the only place I come across it.

Chainmail, mail -- as long as we know what we're talking about. That's what matters.
#42
Old 02-14-2006, 01:49 PM
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I've actually got a Plackard just sitting around.

I have no idea how much it would cost to ship, but I'm interested.

CynicalGabe, drop me an e-mail (Critical pedestrian (no spacing) at_sign Yahoo dot com. If you can provide picture, or even better a website a'la Box of Truth, I'm down to provide the armor.

It's styled after a 13th Centry German Plackard..... the strapping and hinges are all screwed up though.
#43
Old 02-23-2016, 06:49 PM
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I was reading about how ceramic armor just breaks up bullets and a backing material catches them.

does anyone think putting a really hard steel chain mail in front of a kevlar backing might be stronger than just kevlar?
#44
Old 02-23-2016, 07:04 PM
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Possibly, but I suspect ceramic plates would still.provide a weight advantage.
#45
Old 02-23-2016, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deevee View Post
Hijack: Is a kevlar vest arrowproof?
Nope, standard vest aren't knife proof. From what I understand, vest generally work better with larger caliber bullets as the larger surface area of the bullet tends to spread the impact. A small pointed bullet stands a better chance of passing through Kenmar.
#46
Old 02-23-2016, 07:39 PM
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Ned Kelley's home-made armour was effective against the guns of the day. He survived at least five shots to the head and twelve to the torso.
#47
Old 02-23-2016, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by obbn View Post
Nope, standard vest aren't knife proof. From what I understand, vest generally work better with larger caliber bullets as the larger surface area of the bullet tends to spread the impact. A small pointed bullet stands a better chance of passing through Kenmar.
Also worth noting that many narrower pointed bullets also happen to be high velocity rifle rounds (long cartridge full of powder pushing behind a narrow, long bullet), as opposed to low velocity pistol rounds (short and fat, with less propellant behind it).

It's the difference between getting hit by a VW Beetle doing 15MPH and a Kawasaki Ninja doing 90MPH.
#48
Old 02-23-2016, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Considering that even full plate wasn't long bow (or crossbow)-proof (the development of the long bow and crossbow were the main reasons the age of knights-in-armor as heavy shock troops ended), they'd probably not do a whole lot against firearms.
Real tempered plate armor from Milan was long bow-proof outside of 40 meters (which is practically a kill zone for a mounted knight.) Look up the battle of Vernuil.

Chain mail can stand up to the long-bow outside of 150 meters. Just don't come inside 100.
#49
Old 02-23-2016, 11:30 PM
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You wouldn't want to get shot wearing chain mail if it just breaks the links. I've heard you'll have very bad luck if you break the chain.
#50
Old 02-24-2016, 01:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowmanyclouds View Post
To do the test properly I'd want a full shirt of mail, and a full sized backing of ballistic gelatin or clay.
You'd also want a gambeson under the mail.
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