Title:
Body Armor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A body armor system has a side-entry vest with armored front and back panels connected at the sides by flexible side closure and fit adjusting panels. The back panel forms a gusseted, bellowing pocket for carrying a liquid-containing hydration pouch. Vulnerable deltoid locations exposed between arm opening edges of the front and back panels and shoulder and upper arm protectors have shield-like deltoid protectors that are affixed to the vest at the arm opening but are not connected to the shoulder and upper arm protector so as to afford relatively free arm movement. The flexible side closure and fit adjusting panels connect to the rear panel with Velcro strips on interior and exterior edge surfaces trapped between Velcro-bearing tabs formed on the edge of the back panel. Large Velcro patches on the interior front end of the flexible panel mate with a Velcro patch on the exterior of the front panel.



Inventors:
Roux, Phillip D. (Peoria, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/990862
Publication Date:
08/27/2009
Filing Date:
08/22/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/2.5, 2/16, 2/247
International Classes:
A41D13/05; A41D13/08; A41D27/20; F41H1/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
COLLINS, ANDREW WARREN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEISS & MOY, P.C. (PHOENIX, AZ, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A body armor system including: (a) a vest having: (i) an armored front panel; (ii) an armored back panel; (iii) arm openings defined between the armored front and back panels; (b) a pair of armored shoulder and upper arm protectors for connection to the vest at the arm openings; and (c) a pair of deltoid protection devices for connection at the arm openings, each having: (i) a front armored deltoid protector adapted to close and protect a wearer at a gap between the armored front panel and the upper arm and shoulder protector at each arm opening; and (ii) a back armored deltoid protector adapted to close and protect a wearer at a gap between the armored back panel and the shoulder and upper arm protector at each arm opening.

2. The body armor system according to claim 1, further comprising: (d) a hydration pouch pocket affixed to the armored back panel having: (i) an opening to expose the closure of a flexible liquid container located in a hydration pouch in the pocket; and (ii) gusseted sides and a gusseted bottom of the pocket permitting expansion of the pocket upon filling a contained flexible liquid container pouch situated therein.

3. The body armor system according to claim 2, further comprising: (e) a pair of side closures having: (i) a flexible side closure panel for location at side openings between the front and back armored panels at each side of the vest; (ii) the flexible side closure panel having at or proximate one of its front and rear edges a hook or loop patch of hook and loop fastening material; and (iii) the flexible side closure panel at or proximate the remaining of its front and rear edges, two hook or loop strips of the hook and loop fastening material secured on opposite faces of the flexible side closure panel generally parallel to the front or rear edge; (f) a mating hook or loop patch on one of the front and rear armored panels at or adjacent each side opening for mating with the hook or loop patch on the flexible side closure panel; and (g) a pair of tabs on the other of the front and rear armored panels at or adjacent each side opening and having facing hook or loop strips for receiving between them in mating relation the hook or loop strips secured on opposite faces of the flexible side closure panel.

4. The body armor system according to claim 1, further comprising an adjustable shoulder strap subsystem for suspending the armored front and back panels from a wearer's shoulders including at each vest shoulder location a front shoulder strap secured to the armored front panel, and a back shoulder strap secured to the armored back panel, connecting provisions on the front and back shoulder straps providing interconnection between the front and back shoulder straps at a plurality of combined lengths of the interconnected front and back shoulder straps affording fit adjustment of the vest.

5. The body armor system according to claim 4, wherein at least one of the front and back shoulder straps has hook and loop connector patches on opposite surfaces and in use is trapped between opposing, mating hook and loop patches on a pair of facing straps secured to an adjoining one of the armored front and back panels.

6. The body armor system according to claim 4, wherein the connecting provisions on the front and back shoulder straps include a ring carried by a first of the front and back shoulder straps sized and positioned to have inserted through it the second of the front and back shoulder straps, and mating connectors on the second of the front and back shoulder straps to connect a folded-back end of the second of the front and back shoulder straps to itself at a chosen one of several locations affording a choice of the plurality of combined lengths of the front and back shoulder straps for fit adjustment.

7. The body armor system according to claim 6, wherein the mating connectors on the second of the front and back shoulder straps are a plurality of mating snap pairs permitting the snap-fastening of the folded back end of the second of the front and back shoulder straps at a choice of several lengths.

8. The body armor system according to claim 6, further comprising an upper arm and shoulder protector support strap extending from the top of that protector, mating connectors on the upper arm and shoulder protector support strap and on surfaces of at least one of the first and second front and back shoulder straps facing upward at the location of the shoulder protector support strap.

9. The body armor system according to claim 8, wherein the mating connectors on surfaces of the at least one of the first and second front and back shoulder straps facing upward are connectors on the upward facing surface of the folded back end and on an upward facing surface capable of being exposed when the folded back end is folded back sufficiently to cover only a part of the upward facing underlying surface.

10. The body armor system according to claim 9, wherein the mating connectors on surfaces upper arm and shoulder protector support strap and at least one of the first and second front and back shoulder straps are mating hook and loop connector patches.

11. The body armor system according to claim 1, wherein the front deltoid protector of each deltoid protection device is connected to the back deltoid protector of that device by at least one flexible connector located to extend across a wearer's upper arm or shoulder.

12. The body armor system according to claim 1, wherein each deltoid protector carries means for connecting the protector to the vest proximate an arm opening.

13. The body armor system according to claim 12, wherein the means for connecting carried by each deltoid protector is a hook or loop patch of a hook and loop fastening material and wherein the vest carries mating hook or loop patches proximate the arm openings for mating with the hook or loop patches of the deltoid protectors.

14. The body armor system according to claim 12, wherein each deltoid protector is free of attachment to any shoulder and upper arm protector.

15. The body armor system according to claim 2, wherein the back panel carries a flap that hangs over the opening of the pocket.

16. The body armor system according to claim 15, wherein the back panel and flap carry accessory fastening means on exterior surfaces thereof.

17. The body armor system according to claim 16, wherein mating hook and loop fastener areas on an inside surface of the flap and an outside surface of the pocket fasten the flap against the pocket.

18. The body armor system according to claim 3, wherein each flexible side closure panel has a pull affixed thereto at or near its front edge.

19. The body armor system according to claim 18, wherein the pull is a ring.

20. A deltoid protector for use in a body armor system of the kind having a vest front armored panel, a vest back armored panel, arm openings and a pair of upper arm and shoulder protectors for location on a wearer's upper arms and shoulders at the arm openings, the deltoid protector comprising: (a) a front armored deltoid protector; (b) a back armored deltoid protector; (c) the front armored deltoid protector shaped to cover the location on a wearer between a front edge of an arm opening and the shoulder and upper arm protector; and (d) the back armored deltoid protector shaped to cover the location on a wearer between a back edge of an arm opening and the shoulder and upper arm protector.

21. The deltoid protector according to claim 20, further comprising front deltoid protector connecting means for attaching the front deltoid protector to the vest front panel at or near the front edge of the arm opening, and back deltoid protector connecting means for attaching the back deltoid protector to the vest back panel at or near the back edge of the arm opening.

22. The deltoid protector according to claim 21, wherein the front and rear deltoid protectors are free of movement-restricting connection to the shoulder and upper arm protector.

23. The deltoid protector according to claim 21, wherein the front and back deltoid protectors are interconnected by at least one flexible connector sufficiently long to reach across a wearer's arm or shoulder.

24. A closure and vest-fitting member for a side entry armored vest of the kind having a front armored panel, a back armored panel and side openings between the front and back armored panels on each side of the vest; the closure and vest-fitting member comprising a flexible side closure panel having a front edge, a rear edge and top and bottom edges, the panel having a length in the front to rear direction sufficient to span the vest side opening when the vest is worn, a hook and loop fastener patch on an interior side of the closure member at or proximate one of the front and rear edges for mating with a hook and loop fastener patch on an adjacent one of the front and back armored panels, and a pair of hook and loop strips substantially parallel to and at or proximate the other of the front and rear edges of the closure panel for capture between and mating with hook and loop areas on tabs along the adjacent remaining one of the front and rear armored panels.

25. The closure and vest-fitting member according to claim 24, wherein the hook and loop fastener patch on the closure and vest-fitting panel is at or adjacent the front edge of that panel for mating with a hook and loop fastener patch on the front armored panel, and the closure panel further comprising a pull at the front edge thereof.

26. The closure and vest-fitting member according to claim 25, wherein the pull is a ring.

27. In an armored vest of the kind including an armored front panel and an armored back panel, the improvement comprising: (a) a hydration pouch pocket having an opening for exposing a closure for filling a contained hydration liquid pouch, and gusseted sides and bottom allowing the pocket to bellow outward when containing a pouch filled with liquid and to lie flat against the armored back panel when empty; (b) a flap attached to the armored back panel above the pocket and sufficiently long to hang down over and covering the opening; and (c) interacting fasteners on the armored back panel exterior back surface and an interior surface of the flap to secure the flap in place close to the exterior back surface.

28. A body armor system including: (a) a vest having: (i) an armored front panel; (ii) an armored back panel; and (iii) an adjustable shoulder strap subsystem for suspending the armored front and back panels from a wearer's shoulders including at each vest shoulder location: (A) a front shoulder strap secured to the armored front panel; (B) a back shoulder strap secured to the armored back panel; and (C) connecting provisions on the front and back shoulder straps providing interconnection between the front and back shoulder straps at a plurality of combined lengths of the interconnected front and back shoulder straps affording fit adjustment of the vest.

29. The body armor system according to claim 28, further comprising: (iv) a pair of side closures having: (A) a flexible side closure panel for location at side openings between the front and back armored panels at each side of the vest; (B) the flexible side closure panel having at or proximate one of its front and rear edges a hook or loop patch of hook and loop fastening material; and (C) the flexible side closure panel at or proximate the remaining of its front and rear edges, two hook or loop strips of the hook and loop fastening material secured on opposite faces of the flexible side closure panel generally parallel to the front or rear edge; (v) a mating hook or loop patch on one of the front and rear armored panels at or adjacent each side opening for mating with the hook or loop patch on the flexible side closure panel; and (vi) a pair of tabs on the other of the front and rear armored panels at or adjacent each side opening and having facing hook or loop strips for receiving between them in mating relation the hook or loop strips secured on opposite faces of the flexible side closure panel.

30. The body armor system according to claim 28, wherein at least one of the front and back shoulder straps has hook and loop connector patches on opposite surfaces and in use is trapped between opposing, mating hook and loop patches on a pair of facing straps secured to an adjoining one of the armored front and back panels.

31. The body armor system according to claim 29, wherein the connecting provisions on the front and back shoulder straps include a ring carried by a first of the front and back shoulder straps sized and positioned to have inserted through it the second of the front and back shoulder straps, and mating connectors on the second of the front and back shoulder straps to connect a folded-back end of the second of the front and back shoulder straps to itself at a chosen one of several locations affording a choice of the plurality of combined lengths of the front and back shoulder straps for fit adjustment.

32. The body armor system according to claim 31, wherein the mating connectors on the second of the front and back shoulder straps are a plurality of mating snap pairs permitting the snap-fastening of the folded back end of the second of the front and back shoulder straps at a choice of several lengths.

33. The body armor system according to claim 31, further comprising an upper arm and shoulder protector support strap extending from the top of that protector, mating connectors on the upper arm and shoulder protector support strap and on surfaces of at least one of the first and second front and back shoulder straps facing upward at the location of the shoulder protector support strap.

34. The body armor system according to claim 33, wherein the mating connectors on surfaces of the at least one of the first and second front and back shoulder straps facing upward are connectors on the upward facing surface of the folded back end, and on an upward facing surface capable of being exposed when the folded back end is folded back sufficiently to cover only a part of the upward facing underlying surface is secured further of the mating connectors.

35. The body armor system according to claim 34, wherein the mating connectors on surfaces upper arm and shoulder protector support strap and on the upward facing surfaces are mating hook and loop connector patches.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from the provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/710,530 filed Aug. 22, 2005 in the name of Phillip D. Roux entitled “Body Armor,” incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to body armor and more particularly to a system of interfitting and adjustable body armor parts.

BACKGROUND

In the past body armor such as protective vests has often had areas of vulnerability where the wearer was unprotected. These areas could include the upper arms, the shoulders, the deltoids and the sides in the case of a side entry vest.

Further, past armored vests did not adapt well or easily to wearers of various size. Often an agency's change of personnel required the purchase of additional body armor to fit newly hired replacements. Body armor was often difficult to put on and remove, requiring too much time to do so. If a side entry armored vest did not fit well because the wearer had gained weight or was wearing additional clothing under the vest, the sides could fail to come together and completely cover the wearer's sides.

Mobility is a concern in the design of protective clothing systems. It is an object to provide body armor that detracts as little as possible from the wearer's ability to move naturally.

In the past, a vest was combined with a hydration pouch, the vest was not adapted to conform readily to the pouch as the pouch expanded when filled and contracted when emptied. Moreover, prior vests were not well equipped to carry and permit fast and easy filling of a hydration pouch. If the water pouch did not lie flat on the wearer's back the outer cover would not be well adapted for carrying an additional pack or other attached equipment. If the hydration pack was not flat against the wearer's back, its center of gravity could be too far offset causing the wearer to be less balanced than should be the case.

SUMMARY

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention a body armor system is provided that includes a protective vest cooperating with other armor elements protecting body locations unprotected by the vest. In particular embodiments the other armor elements may include protectors for the deltoids, where protectors for the upper arms and the shoulders do not meet the vest arm opening edges.

With known upper arm and shoulder protectors the new deltoid protectors are located on the vest wearer at a location of vulnerability. Slightly concave armor plates fit over the upper arm and extend to the shoulder to meet the vest's arm hole openings. Straps are affixed to the covering of the plates and extend up over the shoulder of the vest where they attach by Velcro for vertical positioning. A horizontal strap wraps around the wearer's arm at or just below the bicep. That strap is connected at one end to the covering of the concave plate and is secured, again by Velcro, to the plate at its distal end. Two deltoid protectors cover the arm forward and rearward of the upper arm and shoulder protectors. These attach at the vest's arm openings. A pair of straps extends from one deltoid protector to the other across the upper arm under the upper arm and shoulder protector. Because the upper arm and shoulder protector and the deltoid protectors are not interconnected where they come together, good mobility is afforded to the wearer in the areas of the upper arm and shoulder.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention an armored vest is a side entry vest with adjustable side closures readily adapted to fit varying sizes and body types of wearers. More particularly an exemplary embodiment of the vest of this invention uses a Velcro-equipped panel. Along one edge of a side opening, Velcro regions on the opposite faces of the panel are captured under mating Velcro-equipped tabs secured to the vest. The panel extends away from the tabs, across the side opening to a location where another Velcro-covered region on the panel inside surface engages mating Velcro on the side of the vest. The side entry and manner of closing the side openings makes the vest fast and easy to put on and take off. The Velcro closure permits variation in waist size among wearers and even larger size variations can be accommodated by choosing among various sizes of the Velcro-equipped side closure panels.

Additional fit adjustment is provided in shoulder straps that suspend the front and back armored panels of the vest. There, multiple connectors permit front and back shoulder straps to be connected so that their combined length best fits the wearer. Also a strong but adjustable connection where one of the straps is attached to the armored panel is provided by Velcro fastener patches on both surfaces of the shoulder strap. These mate with opposing Velcro fastening patches on tabs that are secured to the armored panel and that receive the Velcro-bearing strap between them.

In another aspect of an exemplary embodiment of an armor vest of the invention a pocket is provided on the back of the vest to receive a refillable hydration pouch. A closure flap is sewn to the back of the vest above the pocket and hangs down to cover the hydration pouch quick release cap which is otherwise exposed at an upper opening into the pocket. The closure flap has a Velcro strip at or near its bottom cooperating with a Velcro strip on the outer wall of the pocket to keep the pocket closed. Along its sides and bottom the hydration pouch pocket is gusseted or bellowed. This permits the pocket to expand and contract as the pouch is filled and emptied. The gusseting permits the outer wall of the pocket to lie relatively flat rather than taking on the shape of an over-stuffed envelope. The closure flap and outer pocket wall form the back of the vest and are constructed so as to be load-bearing, able to provide support for affixed items, packs, etc. The flatness of the back improves the vest's ability to carry a pack or tool without undue wobble. In addition the hydration pouch has its center of gravity close to the wearer's back. An attached pack or other equipment is also closer to the wearer's back rather than hanging off a hump formed by a filled pouch that is not well accommodated. The wearer's balance is less likely to be disturbed.

The above and further features and advantages of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment taken in consideration with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a body armor system in accordance with the present invention showing the front and side of a vest, with shoulder and deltoid protectors in place;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevation view of the body armor system of FIG. 1 and shows a hydration pouch in place in a pocket on the back of the vest;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary illustration of a portion of the pocket on the back of the vest as shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the armor system of FIGS. 1 and 2 and shows the front and right side of the vest opened;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view of the armor system of FIGS. 1 and 2 and shows a side closure system and size adjuster at a side opening of the vest;

FIG. 6 is a further perspective view of the armor system of FIGS. 1 and 2 and shows the side closure system and size adjuster of FIG. 5 closing the right side opening of the vest;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of a removable insert forming a part of the side closure system and size adjuster of FIGS. 5 and 6;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view of an adjustable suspension system for the vest of FIGS. 1-7;

FIG. 9 is a further enlarged fragmentary plan view of the suspension system of FIG. 8 disassembled;

FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view of the assembled suspension system of FIGS. 8 and 9 in place on a wearer;

FIG. 11 is a fragmentary perspective view of the body armor system of FIGS. 1 and 2 and shows an upper arm and shoulder protector and a front deltoid protector in place;

FIG. 12 is a further fragmentary perspective view of the system of FIGS. 1 and 2 and shows the upper arm and back deltoid protector in place; and

FIG. 13 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view of front and back deltoid protectors and interconnecting straps in the system of FIGS. 1 and 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Armor System

Referring to FIG. 1, a body armor system 20 includes a vest 22, upper arm and shoulder protectors 24, deltoid protectors 26, a neck protector 28 and a groin protector 30. The vest 22 has an armored front panel 31 and an armored back panel 32 shown in FIG. 2. Typically these panels are ceramic or other projectile resistant sheets covered in cloth as is known in the art. The back 32 of the vest, FIG. 2, has a pocket 34 for a hydration pouch 36. Portions 38 of the pouch 36 can be seen in an opening 40 into the pocket 34. A quick release closure 42 threads into a mouth of the pouch and is exposed at the opening 40 for fast filling of the pouch. Sewn to the back of the vest 20, along its upper edge, a flap 44 lifts to expose the closure 42 as shown. The flap carries a Velcro (hook or loop) strip 46 along its lower edge for fastening to a mating Velcro (hook or loop) strip 48 secured to the back of the vest. Like the exterior of the vest front panel 31, the back panel 32 and the flap 44 are load bearing. They are fitted with known Molle-style mesh fastening areas 50 or equivalent fastening means such as a known snap/grid fastening system. Thus equipped, the vest can support accessories such as a pack, tool or other equipment.

Returning to FIG. 1, there can be seen a tube 52 and a mouthpiece 54. As is conventional, the tube 52 communicates between the interior of the hydration pouch 36 and the mouthpiece to provide hydrating water or other liquid to the vest's wearer. Referring to FIG. 3, the pocket 34 secured to the back of the vest 22 has sides 56 and a bottom 58 formed with gussets that give the pocket the ability to bellow outward and inward. The pocket expands upon filling the pouch 36 with water 60 or other liquid and contracts as the liquid is used. The pouch 36 is typically a commercially available flexible plastic container. The bellowed pocket 34 allows a back panel 59 and the flap 44 of the pocket to lie relatively flat even when the pouch is filled. The pouch falls relatively evenly across the area of the pocket, so the center of gravity of the filled pouch is as close as possible to the wearer's back. A pack or other equipment can be supported on the back panel 59 and/or flap 44 outer surface relatively flat against the surface. This helps reduce wobble and brings the weight of the pack or other item closer to the wearer's back for better stability of the wearer.

Side Closure System

Turning to FIGS. 4-7, the vest 22 opens at side openings 62 on each side of the vest, one of which is best seen in FIG. 4. The vest includes an adjustable, removable, side closure system and vest sizer generally indicated by the numeral 64. The side closure/sizing system is designed to allow the user fast entry and exit from the vest. In addition, the side closure systems also allow the user or agency to replace a side closure panel or insert 66 for different sizes depending on the size of the user. This saves an agency from having to order new vests every time they experience a change of personnel.

The side closure system and vest sizer 64 includes the removable insert 66, a flexible side closure panel best seen in FIGS. 6 and 7. A rearward edge strip 67 of the insert 66 carries on opposite sides Velcro strips 68 and 70 as shown in FIG. 7. These are captured at the rear edge of the side opening 62 between a pair of Velcro bearing tabs 72 and 74 best seen in FIGS. 5 and 7. Forward, an inward facing Velcro patch 76 (FIG. 6) on the insert 66 mates with a Velcro patch 78 affixed to the front of the vest 22 adjacent the side opening 62 (FIG. 4).

It will be appreciated that the Velcro attachment of the insert 68, particularly at the relatively wide patches 76 and 78 permit size adjustment at the waist of the wearer. Greater size adjustment is afforded by the provision of inserts 66 that are longer or shorter in the rear to front direction.

A D-ring 80 or equivalent pull secured to the front edge of each insert 66 provides an index point for the user to grab for easy access to the side closure and vest sizing system 64 as illustrated in FIG. 5.

Suspension System

Shown in FIGS. 8-10, an adjustable suspension subsystem generally designated 90 provides an adjustable shoulder connection at each shoulder location. This affords a further opportunity to adjust the armor system to the wearer. Only the right shoulder connection is shown in FIGS. 8-10. It will be understood that a left shoulder connection is substantially the mirror image of the right shoulder connection shown. A shoulder strap 92 has a ring 94 secured to it. The strap 92 has Velcro 96 and 97 on its opposite surfaces (FIG. 9). On the front of the vest 22, at each of the shoulders a pair of tabs 98 and 100 extend upward. Secured to opposing surfaces of the tabs 98 and 100 are Velcro patches 102 and 104. These engage the Velcro 96 and 97 on the shoulder strap 92, attaching the strap to the vest. One or both of the tabs 98 and 100 extend beneath the fabric surface of the front panel 31 of the vest 22 and are connected to multi-sheet ballistic armoring 106 of the vest as is known in the art. Similarly, the back panel 32 of the vest 22 has a shoulder strap 108 that extends beneath the fabric outer shell to connect to and support the ballistic armoring within. The connections of the strap to the armoring can be like that illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 5,373,582 of Dragone et al. issued Dec. 20, 1994. The strap 108 carries a pair of snaps 110 and 111 that can snap into a pair of mating snaps 112 and 113. The vest 22 is assembled by inserting each strap 108 through one of the D-rings 94 and then snapping together one or both of the pair of interfitting snaps in any one of three possible positions as best fits the wearer. In other words, the snaps 110 and 111 can be snapped together with the snaps 112 and 113, the snap 110 can be snapped together with the snap 113, or the snap 111 can be snapped together with the snap 112. The depth to which the front shoulder strap 92 is inserted between the two tabs 98 and 100 affords additional adjustability of fit. The adjustable strap connection at the shoulder can be used with suspension arrangements other than those in which the straps that attach to the front and back armored panels are attached to ballistic armoring within the fabric covering. For example, the adjustability will benefit armored vests of the kind in which the shoulder strips are sewn or otherwise attached to the outer fabric covering or “carrier” that contains the armoring. Other fastening means may be employed in place of the snaps 110-113 if desired. For example Velcro can be used for this purpose as well.

Adjustability of the shoulder of the vest 22 is afforded by the ability to use any of three strap positions available from the snaps 110-113 and by adjusting the depth to which the suspension strap 92 extends between the tabs 98 and 100. The adjustability of the vest 22 at the shoulder and the waist means that the vest can fit a large number of wearers of various sizes and statures. Properly assembled the shoulder area of the vest 22 appears as shown in FIG. 10.

Shoulder and Upper Arm Protection

In the area of the shoulder and upper arm the system 20 has the armored upper arm and shoulder protector 26 shown in FIGS. 11 and 12. A strap 116 is sewn or otherwise attached at a front edge of the protector to reach around the wearer's arm to a Velcro area 118. Velcro (not shown) on the inside face of the strap 116 at its further end 120 secures the protector 26 to the wearer's upper arm. Again the Velcro connection affords adjustability.

At the upper end of the protector 26 a strap 122 extends upward along the wearer's shoulder giving the protector 26 vertical support. Velcro on the under surface of the strap 122 (not shown) engages a Velcro patch 124 or 126 (FIG. 10) on either the vest shoulder area or the outside surface of the strap 108, depending whether or not the strap 108 adjustment covers or leaves uncovered the patch 124.

Deltoid Protection

As seen in FIG. 5 an area of vulnerability 127 exists between the vest 22 and the upper arm and shoulder protector 26 at the location of the arm opening of the vest 22. On each side of the vest 22 front and back armored deltoid protectors 128 and 130 greatly reduce this vulnerability as seen in FIGS. 11 and 12.

Each pair of the shield-like deltoid protectors 128 and 130 is connected together by a pair of straps 132 and 134 (FIG. 13). The front deltoid protector 128 attaches by Velcro to the interior of the front of the vest 22 along the vest's arm opening where loop Velcro 136 is secured to mate with hook Velcro 137 along the edge of the protector on its outward facing surface. The straps 132 and 134 extend back across the wearer's upper arm at the deltoid muscle to the rear deltoid protector 130. The rear deltoid protector 130 is attached to the back of the vest 22 by Velcro at the arm opening similarly to the described attachment of the front deltoid at the vest front. Each front deltoid protector 128 may have sewn or otherwise secured a fabric covered foam or other rubber-like inner roll forming a ridge 139 (FIG. 10) that helps to locate the butt of a weapon correctly for firing.

It should be noted that where the upper arm and shoulder protector 26 meets the deltoid protectors there are no fixed connections such as Velcro or snaps. The shoulder and deltoid protectors are free to slide relative to one another. This affords the wearer improved freedom of movement in the shoulder and upper arm.

It should also be noted that, as in the case of the Velcro 136, loop Velcro is preferably employed where it faces the wearer's body as it is not as abrasive as the mating hook Velcro. A preferred Velcro hook and loop fastening material used throughout the body armor system 20 is Rip and Grip brand commercially available.

Although preferred embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that further modifications, alterations and additions to the invention embodiments disclosed may be made without departure from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.