ArmorWorks, manufacturer of multiple armor systems ranging from personal body armor including SAPI plates for soldiers to vehicle armor and even armored aircraft cabins and cockpits has prototyped a new armored undershirt that looks more like a T-shirt than something that can stop a bullet. They’re calling it Ultra-Concealable Body Armor (UCBA).
The UCBA is an extremely lightweight undershirt that’s designed to be discreet and worn under normal clothing.
The prototype was on display at this year’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) trade show. According to BlueSheepdog, “The prototype model on the expo floor was impressive. The armor seemed very thin and flexible. It was contained in a neoprene-like material that was something akin to a compression shirt. There were panels in the front and the back of the carrier, yet neither was obvious under the outer shirt.”
From the photos, it also looks like they’re considering adding smaller side inserts to protect people if they’re shot in the flanks. The UCBA is rated as Level II body armor by Nation Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards, meaning it can withstand bullets fired from handguns, up to and including some .357 Magnum loads. In addition to being able to stop most handgun rounds, the UCBA is spike- and knife-resistant.
This body armor isn’t designed for military applications, but rather law enforcement, particularly undercover law enforcement. But it could just as well serve civilians, politicians, and dignitaries who are at risk of being shot or stabbed. With a UCBA you can wear anything that isn’t low-cut and pass yourself off as unarmored.
Right now it is just a prototype and it will remain a prototype for some time, and we don’t know what they will sell for when they do become available. ArmorWorks does not know when they will be bringing these armored undershirts to market on account of their wildly successful Protective Undergarments, or PUGZ, which offer ballistic protection for your groin. ArmorWorks has recently been awarded a $9 million contract to provide the Marines with PUGZ, and this is in addition to their other contracts with the military armoring Humvee seats and aircraft cockpits.
The UCBA is a step in the right direction when it comes to covert body armor. Other methods work well, like bulletproof coats and jackets, but don’t offer the same kind of flexibility as underclothes. If and when this does go into production, we hope to see a UCBA cut for women, as well.
The question becomes, if priced reasonably, would you wear body armor, presuming you’re not in law enforcement? Could body armor someday be as normalized as concealed-carry?