Types of ballistic fabrics
Specialty Fabrics Review | July 2008
Compiled by Juli Case
What is a ballistic fabric?
Ballistic has two different meanings when it comes to fabric. First, it can mean the type of material used for soft body armor. These materials are usually woven with high-strength fibers, such as a para-aramid, a high-performance polyethylene (HPPE) or high-modulus polyethylene. Those types of ballistic fabrics have a very specific end use, however. Lower-tech ballistic fabrics are those that are traditionally used in soft-sided luggage and backpacks. Often made of nylon, ballistic fabric is a basket-woven material, with a 2 x 2 weave. It’s commonly made of 1050 denier nylon, but can be made in lighter fabrics, such as a 840 denier. The heavier ballistic nylon is sometimes referred to as a ‘senior’ ballistic, while the lighter is a ‘junior’ ballistic. While nylon is the fiber most used in these constructions, we’ve recently heard references to a ballistic polyester. Pack cloth, also usually made of nylon, is a similar material, but is typically plain woven and lighter weight (400 or 420 denier). Many thanks to Top Value Fabrics for their assistance on answering this question: