Ballistic nylon

Diving watch on a four-ring NATO strap made of ballistic nylon fabric, differentiated by its additional strap as opposed to a Zulu's one-piece design.[1]
Flak jackets were originally made out of ballistic nylon in World War II to protect airmen from shrapnel

Ballistic nylon is a thick, tough, nylon fabric with several uses. Ballistic nylon was developed by the DuPont corporation as a material for flak jackets to be worn by World War II airmen. The term ballistic nylon originates in the fabric's intended function, protecting its wearers from flying debris and fragmentation caused by bullet and artillery-shell impacts.


The original specification for ballistic nylon was an 18 ounce nylon fabric made from 1050 denier high tenacity nylon yarn in a 2×2 basketweave. Today the term is often used to refer to any nylon fabric that is made with a "ballistic weave", typically a 2×2 or 2×3 basketweave. It can be woven from nylon yarns of various denier such as 840 denier and 1680 denier.


Ballistic nylon was originally developed by the Dupont corporation for flak jackets for World War II airmen. The name of this nylon speaks to its origin; its intent was to protect the airmen from flying debris and fragmentation caused by bullet and artillery-shell impacts. The nylon type was not effective against most pistol and rifle bullets, let alone the heavy 20 mm and 30 mm autocannons Axis powers were often armed with. Thus ballistic nylon was replaced by Kevlar and other more bullet-resistant fabrics.

Modern uses

Although ballistic nylon was originally created and used in flak jackets, its durability and cutting resistance have made it useful for non-combat applications. It can be found in backpacks, luggage, belts and straps, motorcycle jackets, watch bands, and knife sheaths. It can also be used for structural purposes, such as on skin-on-frame kayaks.

Ballistic nylon is used in chainsaw protective chaps covering the fronts of the chainsaw operator's legs. Such chaps are usually made with an outer layer of a tough smooth fabric like nylon or other synthetic fiber, with four plies of ballistic nylon inside. When the moving chainsaw chain contacts the chaps and tears the external layer, the inner plies shred. The strength of the ballistic nylon fiber will generally stop the moving chain quickly by causing the drive clutch to slip. As a result, the operator is relatively or completely uninjured by the chain.

Due to its difficulty in dyeing, most products that use ballistic nylon will be found in black or other dark colors.

See also


Media files used on this page

Jute nahtlos.png
Author/Creator: SoylentGreen, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hessian Fabric made seamless. It will serve to create a normal map in Blender.
Batik Indonesia.jpg
Author/Creator: MartijnL, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 nl
Batik cloth purchased in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
MacLachlan hunting tartan (D. W. Stewart).svg
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
A representation of the Maclachlan hunting tartan. This tartan is the oldest tartan to bear the name MacLachlan. This tartan is referred to as the Old MacLachlan, MacLachlan, and Hunting MacLachlan. This sett was first published in Old & Rare Scottish Tartans by D. W. Stewart in 1893.
Thread count: Y6, W4, Bk32, G32, Y6, W4, R48.
Sources: MacLachlan Clan Tartan WR1710 MacLachlan Hunting Tartan
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: Cc-by-sa-3.0
4-ring NATO style watchstrap.JPG
Author/Creator: Francis Flinch, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Diving watch on a 4-ring Zulu style strap made of ballistic nylon fabric, derived from the UK MOD's "Nato" strap design. These ballistic nylon fabric straps slide under the watch case through both springbars and are used to minimize the chance of losing the watch due to a springbar failure.