The bulletproof vest. Want pepperoni on that?

Bulletproof vests weren’t invented by the army, or even the police. They’re the result of a brainwave by a beleaguered pizza delivery man in 1969. Meet the average Joe who saved lives with a single bright idea.

It was July 21, 1969, the night after Apollo 11 headed for the moon, and Richard Davis, a former marine turned pizza shop owner, was held up while making a delivery in a rough part of Detroit. His attackers had guns but so did he and, in the shootout that followed, he wounded two of them and was hit twice himself.

The event set him thinking about a way to give people, particularly police officers who found themselves in the same situation, a second chance. With a roll of nylon and the straps from his car’s seat belts he set about creating his first design for body armour that could be concealed beneath clothes.

Once he was certain that his vest worked, he toured police departments giving live demonstrations, shooting himself in the chest to prove the technology worked. In August 1974, he patented his second soft body armour design using Kevlar, which is 230% stronger than the nylon he originally used.

Second Chance Body Armour, as he called his company, went on to become a $50m business. Subsequently it faced bankruptcy after introducing a new type of vest. Using zylon, it proved to be far less effective than the kevlar that came before it.

In 2005, Second Chance was bought up by Armor Holdings. It was eventually folded into a new company called Safariland, when Armor was in turn was purchased by British arms conglomerate, BAE.

Despite his later travails, by saving hundreds of lives with an idea that sprang from that hijacked pizza delivery, Richard Davis remains a heroic inventor. See him demonstrating his vests by taking a bullet in the video below. And after you’ve watched it, ask yourself: Who invented the mechanical pencil?

The End
  • 277dd986

    Ballistic vests have been around for over 100 years. It’s a cute story though.

    • James Holland

      Can you share a link to an earlier one? Would love to see it.

  • Chris Soap Purdy

    Really? So you mean to tell me that the body armor that was worn by German troops during WWI WASN’T actually a ballistic vest? Also, what about Dr. Gregory Emery Goodfellow who tried making them out of silk? They HAVE been around for over 100 years, anybody who does any ACTUAL research on the subject would know this.

    • Gunsmoke_666

      He made the first concealed modern vests. The were previously made from metal and plates.

  • Chris Soap Purdy

    The guy who founded SCBA made the first ALL-KEVLAR vest, but not the first ballistic vest.

  • Dario Alvarez

    SO he was a Marine, not a “pizza guy”. I guess that doesn’t make a good headline though…

    • Marine

      that idiot i know he was trying to make a point but risking your life for a video? thats crazy i think

  • katie

    By the way the first sentence states it wasn’t made by an army man or a policeman but it was made by a marine….rofl

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