Title:
EMERGENCY RELEASE CABLE SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In one aspect, a ballistic resistant garment includes a front component having a front outer shell a rear component having a rear outer shell, each outer shell including a pair of shoulder extensions. Each front shoulder extension includes a first half of a releasable connector and each rear shoulder extension includes a second half of the releasable connector. A release cable is positioned on the front component. In a first position the release cable maintains engagement between the first half of the releasable connector and the second half of the releasable connector to connect the pair of front shoulder extensions with the pair of rear shoulder extensions to form a neck opening. In a second position, the release cable disengage from the releasable connector to enable the pair of front shoulder extensions to disconnect from the pair of rear shoulder extensions.



Inventors:
Parks, Ardith D. (Valley, AL, US)
Wall, Andrew (Gainesville, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/741108
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
04/27/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
89/36.05, 2/102
International Classes:
F41H1/02; F41H5/013
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MUROMOTO JR, ROBERT H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & KNIGHT LLP (10 ST. JAMES AVENUE, BOSTON, MA, 02116-3889, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a front component including a front outer shell having a pair of front shoulder extensions, each front shoulder extension configured to form a hole through each front shoulder extension; a rear component including a rear outer shell having a pair of rear shoulder extensions, each rear shoulder extension comprising a loop configured to engage the hole through each front shoulder extension; and a release cable positioned on the front component and configured to move from a first position to a second position, the release cable configured in the first position to engage the loop on each rear shoulder extension and retain the loop on each rear shoulder extension in engagement with the hole through each front shoulder extension, thereby connecting the pair of front shoulder extensions with the pair of rear shoulder extensions to form a neck opening, the release cable configured to disengage from the loop on each rear shoulder extension when moved to the second position, enabling the loop on each rear shoulder extension to disengage from the hole through each front shoulder extension, thereby enabling the pair of front shoulder extensions to disconnect from the pair of rear shoulder extensions.

2. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein the hole through each front shoulder extension is formed in front shoulder extension tabs, one shoulder extension tab being attached to each front shoulder extension.

3. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 further comprising a grommet in each hole through each front shoulder extension.

4. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein the release cable further comprises a pull tab positioned approximately adjacent the neck opening.

5. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein the front outer shell further comprises a loop positioned on a lower portion of the front outer shell and the rear outer shell further comprises a side extension extending from a lower portion of the rear outer shell having a first half of a removable connector, and further comprising a release panel comprising a second half of the removable connector to engage the first half of the removable connector on the side extension, and configured to form a hole through the release panel to engage the loop positioned on the lower portion of the front outer shell; and the release cable configured in the first position to engage the loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell and retain the loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell in engagement with the hole through the release panel, thereby connecting the release panel with the lower portion of the front outer shell, the release cable configured to disengage from the loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell when moved to the second position, enabling the loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell to disengage from the hole through the release panel, thereby enabling the release panel to disconnect from the lower portion of the front outer shell.

6. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 3 further comprising: a second loop positioned on the lower portion of the front outer shell; a second side extension extending from the lower portion of the rear outer shell having a first half of the removable connector; a second release panel comprising a second half of the removable connector to engage the first half of the removable connector on the side extension and configured to form a hole through the second release panel to engage the second loop positioned on the lower portion of the front outer shell; and the release cable configured in the first position to engage the second loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell and retain the second loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell in engagement with the hole through the second release panel, thereby connecting the second release panel with the lower portion of the front outer shell, the release cable configured to disengage from the second loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell when moved to the second position, enabling the second loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell to disengage from the hole through the second release panel, thereby enabling the second release panel to disconnect from the lower portion of the front outer shell.

7. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 3 wherein the hole through the release panel is formed in a release panel tab attached to the release panel.

8. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 3 wherein the removable connector is selected from the group consisting of hook and loop, snaps, buttons, zippers and buckles.

9. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein each front shoulder extension further comprises an upper arm retention tab, and further comprising a pair of upper arm components, each upper arm component comprising: a web loop through which the upper arm retention tab is threaded; and a strap configured to be attached to a user's arm.

10. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein each loop is 550 parachute cord.

11. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 2 wherein each extension tab is a nylon web material.

12. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein the ballistic resistant garment is selected from the group consisting of a vest, a shirt and a jacket.

13. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a front component comprising a front outer shell having a pair of front shoulder extensions extending from an upper portion of the front outer shell, a pair of front shoulder extension tabs, each front shoulder extension tab configured to form a pair of holes therein, one front shoulder extension tab attached to each front shoulder extension, and a plurality of loops attached to a lower portion of the front outer shell; a pair of release panels, each release panel comprising a plurality of release panel extension tabs configured to form a hole therein attached along one edge of the release panel, the holes configured to engage the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell, and a removable connector; a rear component comprising a rear outer shell having a pair of rear shoulder extensions extending from an upper portion of the rear outer shell, a pair of rear shoulder extension tabs, each rear shoulder extension tab comprising a pair of loops attached thereto and configured to engage the holes in the front shoulder extension tabs, one rear shoulder extension tab attached to each rear shoulder extension, a pair of side extensions, each side extension extending from a lower portion of the rear outer shell and comprising a mating removable connector to engage the removable connector on one of the release panels; and a release cable positioned on the front component comprising a pull tab positioned approximately adjacent a neck opening and configured to move from a first position to a second position when the pull tab is pulled, the release cable configured in the first position to engage the pairs of loops on each rear shoulder extension tab and retain the loop on each rear shoulder extension tab in engagement with the pair of holes through each front shoulder extension tab, thereby connecting the pair of front shoulder extensions with the pair of rear shoulder extensions to form the neck opening, and to engage the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell and retain the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell in engagement with the holes in the plurality of release panel extension tabs, thereby connecting the release panels to the lower portion of the front outer shell, the release cable configured to disengage the pairs of loops on each rear shoulder extension tab when moved to the second position, enabling the loop on each rear shoulder extension tab to disengage from the pair of holes through each front shoulder extension tab, thereby enabling the pair of front shoulder extensions to disconnect from the pair of rear shoulder extensions, and to disengage the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell, enabling the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell to disengage from the holes in the plurality of release panel extension tabs, thereby enabling the release panels to disconnect from the lower portion of the front outer shell.

14. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 11 further comprising a grommet in each hole in the front shoulder extension tabs and the release panel extension tabs.

15. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 11 wherein each front shoulder extension tab is configured to form a plurality of holes therein, the plurality of holes configured to enable fit adjustments.

16. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 11 wherein the removable connector is selected from the group consisting of hook and loop, snaps, buttons, zippers and buckles.

17. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 11 wherein each front shoulder extension further comprises an upper arm retention tab, and further comprising a pair of upper arm components, each upper arm component comprising: a web loop through which the upper arm retention tab is threaded; and a strap configured to be attached to a user's arm.

18. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 11 wherein the ballistic resistant garment is selected from the group consisting of a vest, a shirt and a jacket.

19. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a first component including a first outer shell having a pair of first shoulder extensions, each first shoulder extension comprising a first half of a releasable connector; a second component including a second outer shell having a pair of second shoulder extensions, each second shoulder extension comprising a second half of the releasable connector to engage the first half of the releasable connector on each first shoulder extension; and a release cable positioned on the first component and configured to move from a first position to a second position, the release cable configured in the first position to maintain engagement between the first half of the releasable connector and the second half of the releasable connector, thereby connecting the pair of first shoulder extensions with the pair of second shoulder extensions to form a neck opening, the release cable configured to disengage from the releasable connector when moved to the second position, enabling the first half of the releasable connector and the second half of the releasable connector to disengage, thereby enabling the pair of first shoulder extensions to disconnect from the pair of second shoulder extensions.

20. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the first half of the releasable connector defines a passage and the second half of the releasable connector is a loop.

21. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the first half of the releasable connector is a loop and the second half of the releasable connector defines a passage.

22. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the first outer shell further comprises a first half of a lower releasable connector positioned on a lower portion of the first outer shell and the second outer shell further comprises a side extension extending from a lower portion of the second outer shell having a removable connector, and further comprising a release panel comprising a mating portion of the removable connector to engage the removable connector on the side extension, and a second half of the lower releasable connector to engage the first half of the lower releasable connector; and the release cable configured in the first position to maintain engagement between the first half of the lower releasable connector and the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby connecting the release panel with the lower portion of the first outer shell, the release cable configured to disengage from the lower releasable connector when moved to the second position, enabling the first half of the lower releasable connector to disengage from the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby enabling the release panel to disconnect from the lower portion of the first outer shell.

23. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 wherein the first half of the lower releasable connector defines a passage and the second half of the lower releasable connector is a loop.

24. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 wherein the first half of the lower releasable connector is a loop and the second half of the lower releasable connector defines a passage.

25. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the ballistic resistant garment is selected from the group consisting of a vest, a shirt and a jacket.

26. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the release cable further comprises a pull tab positioned approximately adjacent the neck opening.

27. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the first half of the releasable connector is attached to each first shoulder extension by a first shoulder extension tab and the second half of the releasable connector is attached to each second shoulder extension by a second shoulder extension tab.

28. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 25 wherein the first shoulder extension tabs and the second shoulder extension tabs comprise nylon webbing material.

29. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 further comprising a second release panel comprising a mating portion of the removable connector to engage the removable connector on the side extension, and a second half of the lower releasable connector to engage the first half of the lower releasable connector; and the release cable configured in the first position to maintain engagement between the first half of the lower releasable connector and the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby connecting the second release panel with the lower portion of the first outer shell, the release cable configured to disengage from the lower releasable connector when moved to the second position, enabling the first half of the lower releasable connector to disengage from the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby enabling the second release panel to disconnect from the lower portion of the first outer shell.

30. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the first half of the releasable connector defines a plurality of passages and the second half of the releasable connector is a plurality of loops.

31. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 17 wherein the first half of the releasable connector is a plurality of loops and the second half of the releasable connector defines a plurality of passages.

32. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 wherein the first component if a front component and the second component is a rear component.

33. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 wherein the first component is a rear component and the second component is a front component.

34. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 wherein the side extension extending from the lower portion of the second outer shell is a separate component from the second outer shell.

35. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 20 wherein the side extension and the release panel are a single component.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to ballistic resistant garments and more specifically to a ballistic resistant garment including an emergency release cable system.

BACKGROUND

Ballistic resistant garments are available to protect various parts of the body from various ballistic threats, such as bullets or shrapnel. Some ballistic resistant garments are made of “soft armor,” which is generally flexible. For example, ballistic resistant vests that are worn to protect a user's torso are usually made of soft body armor. Other garments are made of “hard armor,” which are generally stiff and inflexible. For example, helmets worn to protect a user's head are generally made of hard armor. However, some garments may employ a combination of soft and hard armor to increase protection for the user. Traditionally, ballistic resistant garments have been single component garments or multiple-component garments that are not easily separable.

Ballistic resistant garments are often used in high threat situations, such as firefights or riots, by military or police personnel. In these situations, a user of these ballistic resistant garments must be adequately covered and the ballistic resistant garments must fit properly for maximum protection. However, a situation may occur in which the ballistic resistant garment must be quickly and easily removed from the user. For example, mission equipment carried on the ballistic resistant garment may become entangled during emergency egress from a vehicle, building or other confined space. In addition, the weight of the ballistic resistant garment and mission equipment may prevent the user from surfacing in the event of inadvertent water submersion. Further, if an individual is injured, a first responder may need to gain immediate access to the upper torso for assessment and medical treatment.

Some ballistic resistant garments provide a release cable that enables the ballistic resistant garment to break apart into several removable components when the release cable is pulled or otherwise removed. The release cable may be connected to a quick release tab located towards the bottom of the garment, for example, adjacent the user's waist. However, these quick release tabs may not be easily accessible if, for example, the user also has equipment mounted to the front of the ballistic resistant garment. Also, locating the quick release tab near the user's waist increases the possibility of accidental pulling of the release cable. Further, the release cable is often very long. A long release cable may require the user to remove the entire release cable, or at least a length of release cable greater than a single arm extension, to enable the ballistic resistant garment to break apart and may require more pull force.

Further still, some ballistic resistant garments provide the various components of the ballistic resistant garment with long leads that extend a distance to a single release point or release area. These leads may have to be removed from the garment after the single release point, or release points in the release area, is disengaged. This may require more time to remove the vest, may cause the garment to become hung up on the user (e.g., the leads becoming entangled around the user), or may not fully disengage (e.g., the leads become entangled within the ballistic resistant garments).

SUMMARY

The present invention provides a ballistic resistant garment having an emergency release cable system that is readily accessible to a user or first responder and provides a relatively short pull distance to disengage the ballistic resistant garment from the user.

In general, in one aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment including a front component and a rear component. The front component includes a front outer shell having a pair of front shoulder extensions with holes through each. The rear component includes a rear outer shell having a pair of rear shoulder extensions with each having a loop configured to engage the hole through each front shoulder extension. A release cable is positioned on the front component and configured to move from a first position to a second position. In the first position, the release cable engages the loop on each rear shoulder extension and retains the loop in engagement with the hole through each front shoulder extension, thereby connecting the pair of front shoulder extensions with the pair of rear shoulder extensions to form a neck opening. In the second position, the release cable disengages from the loop on each rear shoulder extension, which disengages the loop from the hole through each front shoulder extension, thereby disconnecting the pair of front shoulder extensions from the pair of rear shoulder extensions.

In embodiments, the hole through each front shoulder extension is formed in front shoulder extension tabs, with one shoulder extension tab being attached to each front shoulder extension. In further embodiments, each hole also includes a grommet. In embodiments, the release cable also includes a pull tab positioned approximately adjacent to the neck opening.

In another embodiment, the front outer shell also includes a loop positioned on a lower portion of the front outer shell and the rear outer shell also includes a side extension extending from a lower portion of the rear outer shell. The side extension includes a first half of a removable connector. A release panel includes a second half of the removable connector to engage the first half of the removable connector on the side extension. The release panel also includes a hole to engage the loop positioned on the lower portion of the front outer shell. In the first position, the release cable engages the loop positioned on the lower portion of the outer shell to retain the loop in engagement with the hole through the release panel, thereby connecting the release panel to the lower portion of the front outer shell. In the second position, the release cable disengages from the loop, which enables the loop to disengage from the hole through the release panel, thereby disconnecting the release panel from the lower portion of the front outer shell.

In further embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment also includes a second loop positioned on the lower portion of the front outer shell and a second side extension extending from the lower portion of the rear outer shell and having a first half of the removable connector. A second release panel includes a second half of the removable connector to engage the first half of the removable connector on the second side extension, and includes a hole to engage the second loop. In the first position the release cable engages the second loop and retains the second loop in engagement with the hole through the second release panel, thereby connecting the second release panel to the front outer shell. In the second position, the release cable disengages from the second loop, enabling the second loop to disengage from the hole through the second release panel, thereby disconnecting the second release panel from the lower portion of the front outer shell.

In embodiments, the hole through the release panel is formed in a release panel tab attached to the release panel. In various embodiments, the removable connector may be hook and loop, snaps, buttons, zippers or buckles.

In other embodiments, each front shoulder extension also includes an upper arm retention tab to which a pair of upper arm components are attached. Each upper arm component includes a web loop through which the upper arm retention tab is threaded and a strap configured to be attached to a user's arm.

In various embodiments, each loop is 550 parachute cord and each extension tab is a nylon web material. The nylon web material may include plastic reinforcement to provide more strength and rigidity. In various embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment may be a vest, a shirt or a jacket.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment including a front component, a rear component, a pair of release panels and a release cable. The front component includes a front outer shell having a pair of front shoulder extensions extending from an upper portion of the front outer shell. Front shoulder extension tabs, each with a pair of holes formed therein, are attached to each front shoulder extension, and a plurality of loops are attached to a lower portion of the front outer shell. The release panels include a plurality of release panel extension tabs, with a hole formed in each, attached along one edge of each release panel, and a removable connector. The holes are configured to engage the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell. The rear component includes a rear outer shell having a pair of rear shoulder extensions extending from an upper portion of the rear outer shell. Rear shoulder extension tabs, each with a pair of loops attached thereto and configured to engage the holes in the front shoulder extension tabs, are attached to each rear shoulder extension. A pair of side extensions extend from a lower portion of the rear outer shell and include a mating removable connector to engage the removable connector on one of the release panels. The release cable is positioned on the front component and includes a pull tab positioned approximately adjacent a neck opening and is configured to move from a first position to a second position when the pull tab is pulled. In the first position, the release cable engages the pairs of loops on each rear shoulder extension tab and retains them in engagement with the pair of holes through each front shoulder extension tab, thereby connecting the pair of front shoulder extensions with the pair of rear shoulder extensions to form a neck opening. The release cable also engages the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell and retain them in engagement with the holes in the plurality of release panel extension tabs, thereby connecting the release panels to the lower portion of the front outer shell. In the second position, the release cable disengages the pairs of loops on each rear shoulder extension tab, disengaging the loops on each rear shoulder extension tab from the pair of holes through each front shoulder extension tab, thereby disconnecting the pair of front shoulder extensions from the pair of rear shoulder extensions. The release cable also disengages the plurality of loops attached to the lower portion of the front outer shell, disengaging the plurality of loops from the holes in the plurality of release panel extension tabs, thereby disconnecting the release panels from the lower portion of the front outer shell.

In embodiments, each hole in the front shoulder extension tabs and the release panel extension tabs includes a grommet. In other embodiments, each front shoulder extension tab includes a plurality of holes therein configured to enable fit adjustments. In further embodiments, the removable connector may be a hook and loop, snaps, buttons, zippers or buckles. In various embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment may be a vest, a shirt or a jacket.

In various embodiments, each front shoulder extension also includes an upper arm retention tab to which a pair of upper arm components are attached. Each upper arm component includes a web loop through which the upper arm retention tab is threaded and a strap configured to be attached to a user's arm.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment including a first component, a second component and a release cable. The first component includes a first outer shell having a pair of first shoulder extensions with a first half of a releasable connector on each first shoulder extension. The second component includes a second outer shell having a pair of second shoulder extensions with a second half of the releasable connector on each second shoulder extension to engage the first half of the releasable connector on each first shoulder extension. The release cable is positioned on the first component and configured to move from a first position to a second position. In the first position, the release cable maintains engagement between the first half of the releasable connector and the second half of the releasable connector, thereby connecting the pair of first shoulder extensions with the pair of second shoulder extensions to form a neck opening. In the second position, the release cable disengages from the releasable connector to disengage the first half of the releasable connector and the second half of the releasable connector, thereby disconnecting the pair of first shoulder extensions from the pair of second shoulder extensions.

In embodiments, the first half of the releasable connector is a passage and the second half of the releasable connector is a loop. In other embodiments, the first half of the releasable connector is a loop and the second half of the releasable connector is a passage.

In further embodiments, the first outer shell further includes a first half of a lower releasable connector positioned on a lower portion of the first outer shell and the second outer shell further includes a side extension extending from a lower portion of the second outer shell and has a removable connector. A release panel includes a mating portion of the removable connector to engage the removable connector on the side extension, and a second half of the lower releasable connector to engage the first half of the lower releasable connector. In the first position, the release cable maintains engagement between the first half of the lower releasable connector and the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby connecting the release panel to the lower portion of the first outer shell. In the second position, the release cable disengage from the lower releasable connector, disengaging the first half of the lower releasable connector from the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby disconnecting the release panel from the lower portion of the first outer shell.

In embodiments, the first half of the lower releasable connector is a passage and the second half of the lower releasable connector is a loop. In other embodiments, the first half of the lower releasable connector is a loop and the second half of the lower releasable connector is a passage.

In various embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment may be a vest, a shirt or a jacket. In embodiments, the release cable also includes a pull tab positioned approximately adjacent to the neck opening.

In embodiments, the first half of the releasable connector is attached to each first shoulder extension by a first shoulder extension tab and the second half of the releasable connector is attached to each second shoulder extension by a second shoulder extension tab. In various embodiments, the first shoulder extension tabs and the second shoulder extension tabs are made of nylon webbing material.

In further embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment further includes a second release panel having a mating portion of the removable connector to engage the removable connector on the side extension, and a second half of the lower releasable connector to engage the first half of the lower releasable connector. In a first position, the release cable maintains engagement between the first half of the lower releasable connector and the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby connecting the second release panel with the lower portion of the first outer shell. In the second position, the release cable disengages from the lower releasable connector, disengaging the first half of the lower releasable connector from the second half of the lower releasable connector, thereby disconnecting the second release panel from the lower portion of the first outer shell.

In embodiments, the first half of the releasable connector is a plurality of passages and the second half of the releasable connector is a plurality of loops. In other embodiments, the first half of the releasable connector is a plurality of loops and the second half of the releasable connector is a plurality of passages.

The invention can be implemented to realize one or more of the following advantages. The emergency release cable system provides a cable release tab located adjacent a user's throat or upper chest, which provides easy access to the user or a first responder providing assistance to the user, particularly if the user is in an armored vehicle. Further, a user can provide a greater pull distance when pulling the cable release tab from the area adjacent his throat.

The position of the cable release tab also diminishes the potential for accidental deployment of the cable release system. The user would most likely not carry any equipment adjacent his throat that might accidentally entangle and deploy the cable release system. Further, locating the cable release tab adjacent the user's throat diminishes the potential of accidental entanglement with external objects that may cause the cable release system to deploy.

The release points are distinct and located at the point at which the components disengage, or break away, which lessens the risk that the components will become entangled with the user. Also, locating the release points at the point at which the components break away provides better support at those points and prevents the components from separating under a load. The location of the release points and the configuration of the release cable enable the components to break away adjacent the user's waist before breaking away from the user's shoulders, which prevents the ballistic resistant garment from dropping around the user's lower torso or legs, which may inhibit movement and mobility. The location of the release points enables the components to separate and be removed in a confined space, thereby reducing the risk of user entanglement in components after their release.

Other features and advantages of the invention are apparent from the following description, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is front perspective view of an exemplary ballistic resistant vest.

FIG. 2 is rear perspective view of the ballistic resistant vest of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a shoulder area of the ballistic resistant vest of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a partial cut-away side view of the shoulder area of the ballistic resistant vest of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of a front component of the ballistic resistant vest of FIG.

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of an another exemplary ballistic vest.

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of the ballistic resistant vest of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is rear perspective view of another exemplary ballistic vest.

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of another exemplary ballistic vest.

Like reference numbers and designations in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an exemplary ballistic resistant vest 10 includes a front component 15 and a rear component 20. The front component 15, which is generally symmetrical, may include a front outer shell 16 with a pair of front shoulder extensions 30 extending from an upper portion 18 of the front outer shell 16. The rear component 20, which is generally symmetrical, may include a rear outer shell 21 with a pair of rear shoulder extensions 35 extending from an upper portion 23 of the rear outer shell 21, and a pair of side extensions 25 extending from a lower portion 25. The front and rear outer shells 16, 21 may include a pocket into which ballistic resistant material is placed (not shown). The ballistic material may include, for example, aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, poly(p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole) or polyester, or any combination thereof.

In use, the front shoulder extensions 30 overlay the rear shoulder extensions 35 to form a neck opening 80. Specifically, one front shoulder extension 30 overlays one rear shoulder extension 35, while the other front shoulder extension 30 overlays the other rear shoulder extension 35. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, each front shoulder extension 30 may include a front shoulder extension tab 50 with several eyelets 55. Preferably, the front shoulder extension tabs 50 are made of a nylon webbing for strength, and the eyelets 55 include grommets 60 to prevent the nylon webbing from fraying or breaking. The nylon web bing may include plastic reinforcement to provide more strength and rigidity. Each rear shoulder extension 35 may include a rear shoulder extension tab 65 with several loops 70 attached. Preferably, the rear shoulder extension tabs 65 are made of a nylon webbing and may also include plastic reinforcement to provide more strength and rigidity. The loops 70 may be cord material, such as 550 parachute cord, bar tacked to the nylon webbing for strength.

The loops 70 on the rear shoulder extension tab 65 are threaded through the eyelets 55 in the front shoulder extension tab 50 and held in place with a release cable 75 threaded through the loops 70. This configuration provides attachment between the front component 10 and the rear component 20 of the ballistic resistant vest 10 at a user's shoulders, while enabling overall fit adjustment to the ballistic resistant vest 10 and an emergency release, as described below. The front shoulder extension tab 50 may include multiple eyelets 55 spaced around the front shoulder extension tabs 50 in a square pattern to enable adjustment to the fit of the vest. For example, as shown, the front shoulder extension tab 50 may include four eyelets 55 in a square pattern spaced one inch on center from each other, while the rear shoulder extension tabs 65 may include two loops 70 spaced one inch on center from each other. If the loops 70 are threaded through the lower eyelets 55A, the front component 15 is one inch higher than the loops 70 being threaded through the upper eyelets 55B. This enables adjustment to the size of, for example, the neck opening 80 of the ballistic resistant vest 10.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 5, the front component 15 may include a pair of release panels 85. Each release panel 85 and each side extension 25 may include mating removable connectors 90A, 90B. Preferably, the mating removable connectors 90A, 90B are hook and loop connectors, such as Velcro®. The removable connectors 90A, 90B provide attachment between the side extensions 25 on the rear component 20 and the front component 15, while enabling overall fit adjustment to the ballistic resistant vest 10. The release panels 85 may each include release panel tabs 95 that include eyelets 100. Preferably, the release panel tabs 95 are made of a nylon webbing for strength, and the eyelets 100 may include grommets 105 to prevent the nylon webbing from fraying or breaking. The nylon web material may include plastic reinforcement to provide more strength and rigidity. Multiple loops 110 are attached to a lower portion 19 of the front component 15 and arranged in a vertical a row. The loops 110 may be a cord material, such as 550 parachute cord, bar tacked to the front component 15.

The loops 110 on the front component 15 are threaded through the eyelets 100 in the release panels 85 and held in place with the release cable 75 threaded through the loops 110. This configuration attaches the release panels 85 to the front component 15, and enables the side extensions 25 on the rear component 20 to attach to the front component 15 around a user's torso, while enabling overall fit adjustment to the ballistic resistant vest 10 and an emergency release as described below.

Referring to FIG. 5, the release cable 75 may include a pull tab 115 located approximately adjacent the neck opening 80 on the front component 15, and approximately adjacent a user's throat or upper chest when the ballistic resistant vest 10 is worn. The release cable 75 is positioned entirely on the front component 15, and may enter and run through pockets (not shown) in the front outer shell 16 by entering through various openings 40. Further, the various connection points may be protected by covers, such as for example a shoulder cover 45. Running the release cable 75 through pockets in the front outer shell 16 and covering the release points helps prevent accidental pulling of the release cable 75.

The release cable 75 includes free ends 120A, 120B. In an emergency, the user may pull the pull tab 115, which in turn pulls the release cable 75 and disengages the release cable 75 from the loops 70 at the shoulders extensions 30, 35 and the loops 110 at the release panels 85. Once the free ends 120A, 120B of the release cable 75 are disengaged from the loops 70, 110, the front shoulder extensions 30 will disengage from the rear shoulder extensions 35 and the release panels 85, and thus the side extensions 25 which are attached to the release panels 85, will disengage from the front component 15, enabling the ballistic resistant vest 10 to break away from the user. The weight of the front and rear components 15, 20, and any accessories attached to the components, will pull the components apart and away from the user. Preferably, the release cable 75 is configured to enable the front component 15 and rear component 20 to completely break away from the user by pulling the pull tab 115 between 8 to 16 inches, and more preferably between 8 to 10 inches. The pull force required to disengage the free ends 120A, 120B of the release cable 75 from the loops 70, 110 will depend on the weight of the ballistic resistant vest 10, including any load being carried on the ballistic resistant vest 10, as well as the interference fit between the release cable 75 and the loops 70, 110, which will increase with weight. Preferably, the pull force required is between 3 and 10 pounds, more preferably 3 to 5 pounds.

The length of the free ends 120A, 120B can be adjusted to adjust the distance a user must pull on the pull tab 115 before the ballistic resistant vest 10 breaks away. For example, the free ends 120A at the front shoulder extensions 30 may be a little longer than the free end 120B at the release panels 85, which will enable the release panels 85 and side extensions 25 to disengage before the shoulder extensions 30, 35 disengage.

Referring to FIGS. 1-3, the ballistic resistant vest 10 may also include upper arm components 125 to increase the coverage of a user's shoulders and upper arms. Each of the upper arm components 125 may include an upper arm outer shell 130 with a ballistic material (not shown) disposed therein. The upper arm outer shell 130 may include a web loop 135 through which an upper arm retention tab 140 threads. The upper arm retention tab 140 may be attached to the front component 15 at the front shoulder extensions 30. The upper arm component 125 is also attached to the user's upper arm by an adjustable strap 137. This configuration enables the upper arm component 125 to disengage from the front and rear components 15, 20 when the release cable 75 is used. For example, when the release cable 75 is pulled, the weight of the front component 15 will pull the upper arm retention tab 140 out of engagement from the web loop 135, enabling the front component 15 to break away from the user while the upper arm component 125 remains attached to the user. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, in an alternative embodiment, the release cable 275 may be disposed entirely on the rear component 220. In this embodiment, the previously described components of the ballistic resistant vest 10 would be reversed. For example, the release panels 285 would be positioned on the rear component 220 in the manner described above. The side extensions 225 may then extend from the front component 215 to the release panels 285 on the rear component 220. In this embodiment, pulling the release cable 275 will detach the release panels 285 and the side extensions 225 from the rear component 220. The release cable 275 would connect the front shoulder extensions 230 and rear shoulder extensions 235 as described above. The pull tab 215 would be located adjacent the neck opening 280 on the rear component 220, preferably on one of the rear shoulder extensions 235. An opening 290 may be provided on both rear shoulder extensions 235 to enable the user to configure the pull tab 215 on either rear shoulder extension 235. This enables the ballistic resistant vest 210 to be configured for either a left handed or right handed user.

It is to be understood that the foregoing description is intended to illustrate and not to limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the scope of the appended claims. Other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims. For example, while the side extensions 25, 225 have been described as integral to either the rear component 20 (FIGS. 1 and 2) or the front component 215 (FIGS. 6 and 7), the side extensions may be separate components or integral with the release panels. Referring to FIG. 8, in another embodiment, the side extensions 325 may be a separate component from the rear component 20. In this embodiment, the side extensions 325 attach to the release panels 85 and the front component 15 by mating to removable connectors 90A, 90B on the release panels 85 (as described above), and attach to the rear component 20 by mating to removable connectors 390A, 390B. Referring to FIG. 9, in still a further embodiment, the release panels 485 may be integral with the side extensions 425 (i.e., a single component) and attach to the front component 15 by release panel tabs 495 with their associated eyelets 400 and multiple loops 10 attached to the lower portion 19 of the front component 15, as described above.

Further, the front shoulder extension tabs 50 and the release panel tabs 95 have been described as nylon webbing, any suitable material may be used. Further, the front shoulder extension tabs 50 and the rear shoulder extension tabs 65 may be integral parts of the outer shells 16, 21. Further still, the eyelets 55 themselves may be integral parts of the front shoulder extensions 30 and the release panels 85, and the loops 70 may be integral parts of the rear shoulder extensions 35, eliminating the front shoulder extension tabs 50, the rear shoulder extension tabs 65 and the release panel tabs 95.

Also, while the loops 70, 110 have been described as 550 parachute cord, any suitable material may be used. Further still, while the loops 70, 110 have been described as being attached to the extension tabs by bar tacking, the loops 70, 110 may be attached to the extension tabs by any suitable means.

Further, any number of eyelets 55 may be used on the front shoulder extension tabs to provide more or less adjustability. For example, while four eyelets 55 were described, more eyelets 55 may be provided to increase the decree of adjustability. Also, the ballistic resistant garment 10 may be configured to enable the rear shoulder extensions 35 to overlay the front shoulder extensions 30. For example, while the eyelets 55 were described as being located on the front shoulder extensions while the loops 70 were described as being located on the rear shoulder extensions 35, the eyelets 55 and loops 70 may be reversed.

Further still, while the connections between the front component 15 and the rear component 20 have been described as loops 70, 110 pulled through eyelets 55, 100, the connection can be made by any suitable connectors that can be quickly disengaged when the release cable 75 is pulled. Further yet, while the removable connectors 90A, 90B have been described as hook and loop connectors, any suitable connector may be used. For example, snaps, buttons and buckles may be used.

Also, while three release panel tabs 95 are shown on each release panel 85, any number of release panel tabs may be used.

Further, while two release panels 85 have been described to release the side extensions 25, a single release panel 85 may be used to release only one of the side extensions 25. For example, one side extension 25 may be attached to the release panel 85 while the second side extension 25 may be attached to a removable connector 90B that is permanently attached to the front component 15. In such an embodiment, the ballistic resistant vest 10 may still break away from the user when the release cable 75 is pulled, separating the front shoulder extensions 30 from the rear shoulder extensions 35 and the side extension 25 from the front component 15, enabling the front component 15 to separate from the rear component 20 at the user's shoulders and waist.