United States Patent 6,098,196
The present invention is in the field of body armor.
In recent years soft body armor has become almost universally standard equipment for police agencies and military personnel. Depending on the anticipated threat, the armor comes in different configurations and levels of protection.
Body armor configurations vary from the minimalist police designs, which are designed to be concealed under fairly standard clothing, with just enough protection to protect the vital organs; to military and bomb disposal armor which is much bulkier, designed to be worn over clothing, and usually provides much greater coverage of the body, often including full upper shoulder protection, neck protectors or collars, and detachable groin protectors.
The police-type "vests", in particular, lack protection for the uppermost chest, the neck and the lower face, very vulnerable areas of the body. One approach to solving this problem is to provide a mantle-type removable piece which the user slips on over his head to lie on top of the armor vest across the shoulders and upper chest, and to provide a standup collar around the neck. However, in many situations requiring the protection of the armor, the user does not have time to find and put on such detachable supplemental protection, if indeed he happens to be carrying one on his person (unlikely due to the weight) or have one stored nearby in a vehicle or building. And, wearing such full upper chest and neck-protecting armor in the periods between threat situations is heavy, hot, restricts movement, eliminates the ability to conceal the fact that armor is being worn, and covers a significant portion of the underlying uniform or clothing.
The present invention solves the foregoing problems with an integral, easily deployed and yet concealable body armor extension which can be moved quickly into position to protect the neck and face of the user. In general, the extension comprises a panel of armor material, preferably at least semi-rigid, which can be raised or extended from a storage position on the vest to a protective position where it acts as an extension of the vest to cover the uppermost chest, neck and lower face regions.
In a preferred form, the extendable body armor panel is stored on the vest in a pouch of the type commonly used to layer extra panels of armor over the chest to increase the ballistic rating of the vest. Various mechanical means of deployment can be used, including but not limited to pivot arrangements, sliding mechanisms, and folding construction.
These and other aspects of the invention will become apparent upon further reading of the specification and attached drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a common style of concealable body armor vest, incorporating an easily-deployed extender panel according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the vest of FIG. 1, with an alternate embodiment of the extender panel arrangement of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a side view of a pivoting mechanism for the extender panel; and
FIG. 4 is a front view of a vest, partially in section, illustrating another alternate deployment mechanism comprising a pull handle or lanyard and one or more telescoping slide panels.
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