Canadian Forces Military Police Branch

Body Armor

Brief Background

Personal body armor is often referred to in the press to as a "bullet proof vest". This is a misconception as (with a few exceptions) body armor is not bulletproof. While standard vests may stop some handgun rounds, body armor is primarily intended to protect against shell fragments and splinters. There is a vast difference between domestic police body armor and body armor intended for combat. For details of Canadian Military Police soft body armor, see MP Occupational Patrol Dress.
Body Armor was in very limited issue in the Canadian Army in the 1970s and 80s and first saw wide use in the first Gulf War and later in Somalia and Bosnia. On the first deployment to Afghanistan Canadian soldiers wore various patterns of body armor scraped together from Canadian sources as well as American patterns. At least one example of British Combat Body Armour Lightweight Mark 1 with a Canadian military "D" Disposal mark has been noted, however that example may date from the first Gulf War or was an example acquired for trials. Current Canadian Body Armor is now more or less standardised and is produced in Cadpat TW and AR versions.

M1952 and M69 Ballistic Vests

DND Photo
Colonel Clay Beattie, Canadian Contingent Commander and an unidentified Corporal of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, Cyprus 1974. Colonel Beattie is wearing an M1952 vest, evident by the lack of collar. The Corporal appears to be wearing an M69 vest.

The M1952 vest was developed by the American military during the Korean War. The vest consists of 12 layers of ballistic nylon in a nylon cover and weighs approximately 8 - 9 lbs depending on size. The vest is fitted with epaulettes and has a concealed frontal zipper covered by a flap. There are lace-up adjustments on each side of the vest. The vest has two patch cargo pockets, inside the left pocket is a pen holder. A thin strip of webbing is stitched above each pocket, these were intended as grenade carriers. The M69 Ballistic vest was developed in the 1960s and was an upgraded version of the M1952 vest. It was similar to the M1952 vest but had a 3/4 roll collar consisting of 3 - 6 layers of ballistic nylon. Epaulettes were omitted on the M69 vest. Early pattern vests have the flap secured by 5 snap fasteners, on later pattern jackets, the flap is secured with velcro. The M1952 and M69 vests provided a good measure of protection against lower velocity fragments, shrapnel and splinters. Canada purchased a quantity of M1952 and M69 vests in the early 1970s, these were a limited standard issue for Peacekeeping operations until about 1990. They are now obsolete and Canadian stocks were sold as surplus.

Front view of the M1952 vest.

Detail of the front zipper closure.

Front view of the M69 vest. Note the fabric grenade loops are used as a nametag.

Back view.

Typical vest label

British Combat Body Armour Lightweight Mark 1

A Canadian sourced example of British Combat Body Armour Lightweight Mark 1 with a Canadian military "D" Disposal mark. It is likely this example dates from the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) circa 1991-93. A quantity of British Desert DPM camouflage uniforms were acquired and worn by Canadians taking part in that mission. No images or records of this pattern being worn by Canadians in Afghanistan have as yet come to light.

Front view of the vest. Front opening, secured by a velcro strip, with side adjustment straps.

Back view of the vest.

Body Armour label. Note the Canadian military "D" disposal mark.

Body Armor Fragmentation Protective Vest Style

In the early 1990s several patterns of body armor were trialled by the Canadian Forces. These included at least two domestic patterns and the American PASGT (Personal Armor System for Ground Troops). A pattern known as "Body Armor Fragmentation Protective Vest Style" was adopted about 1994 and put into production. Several slightly different versions of this vest were worn operationally until the early 2000s.

The vest consists of non removable ballistic panels covered by a nylon shell. Front opening, secured by a full length velcro strip. Two patch pockets are each capable of carrying (with difficulty) two rifle magazines. If secured, the button closure on the front pockets made it difficult to extract the magazines quickly.

Rear view.

Vest label.

Personal Body Armor (Arid)

DND Photo
DND publicity photo of a soldier wearing the Personal Body Armor over the Arid Cadpat uniform. Note the protective collar and shoulder pads. This vest is manufactured by Pacific Safety Products as the Model 4100.

The current pattern of protective vest. Note that the shoulder pads and collar are missing in the illustrated example. The ballistic panels are removable and there is provision for ceramic plates in the front and back. The solid front style with side adjustments for sizing is superior to the previous patterns of front opening vests.

Back view of the vest. Note the exterior pocket for the ceramic plate and the snaps for the shoulder pads.

Typical carrier label.

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