In my world, high velocity projectile weapons have become obsolete due to a shield/forcefield that can nullify and deflect projectiles traveling at, or above supersonic speed (EDIT: Firearms are defunct, and obsolete. As such Sub-sonic ammunition for Firearms does not exist). As a result they have adopted martial weapons akin to those of medieval ages and have donned armour to protect against melee and ranged (Bow, Crossbow) aggressors.

The question is what materials and composition would lightweight (such as Textile) and heavy armour (Such as plate and leather) be made from?

  • The armour would have to protect against slashing, stabbing/piercing, and blunt force trauma (Light armour able to protect enough to have moderate injuries, and plate enough to be able to have no to minor injuries)
  • It would not have to protect against supersonic projectiles or energy weapons (EDIT: Subsonic ammunition used by firearms is defunct and
    does not play a role in armour materials and compososition)
  • Complex materials can be used due to synthesisation (Machine that can synthesise materials), but complex processes cannot be used due to lack of infrastructure (Must be able to be made, worked, and repaired by hand like that of an armour-smith)
  • Materials that can be used cannot be mythical/fictional, and must exist in this current day as at least a working prototype.
  • Armour must not exceed 50kg (110 lbs)
  • Armour would be used in everyday use and must be able to be repaired in a short amount of time (maximum of 5 days labour @ 8 hours a day)
  • Abundant and easily obtainable materials would be preferred to keep costs down
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    $\begingroup$ Much of our modern bullet-proof knife-proof gear would work fine in this scenario. I'm not sure how much of it would be eliminated by your "lack of infrastructure" constraint. At least some of it is woven, but I'm under the impression at least some of it pretty much requires machine weaving to get it as tight as is needed for its job. $\endgroup$
    – Ed Grimm
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ You need a better reason than a force field. If something stopped supersonic bullets, they switch to subsonic rounds. You can buy these off the shelf right now. Nobody is going to buy a sword. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:38
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    $\begingroup$ Are you the same user who posted this worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/138934/30492 few hours ago? If so, consider merging the two accounts, it's easier for you to track all your content and reputation $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Feb 12, 2019 at 6:40
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    $\begingroup$ @LucasA. Gunpowder consists of 3 common ingredients, 2 of which (Carbon and Sulphur) are literally among the 5 most common materials on the planet. Grind them up, mix them together (optionally with water or alcohol to dampen them), then force it through a sieve and let it dry. Lead casting to produce bullets is easier than forging chainmail. Any "large settlement" could easily produce their own gunpowder and ammo with the right ingredients - even if only for old-fashioned flintlocks and the like. $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2019 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ Not to be a stick in the mud, but subsonic rifle loads exist and would quickly become popular in your world. It's difficult creating a "crossbow in the times of guns" story because people are very good at finding creative ways of using "boom!" to kill people. Herbert did it in Dune by making the forcfield almost impervious to the thrust of a knife, making all projectile weapons useless against them. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 12, 2019 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


Take a look at most armours from across the ages that had to deal with just that sort of weaponry. I'd say anything from late medieval up to more or less modern day.

That covers Ring Mail, Chain Mail, Leather Jerkins, Curasses, Plate (including chest, upper, and full), no armour, riot armour (such as used by police), and kevlar/ceramic armour as used in modern anti-gun armour.

So materials:

  • no armour: well thats easy. Swashbucklers, pirates, and naval men at arms would prefer this option, as armour is a quick way to drown.
  • Jerkins (and similar): Leather, padding such as cloth, and perhaps light metal work (studs and rings).
  • Chain/Ring mail: Metal working, as by any local forge. Factories could mass produce it simply. Bronze, iron, steel, or harder metals suitable.
  • Plate: Metal Working, as by any local forge. Usually custom made to fit the particular soldier, and easily repairable. Could be mass produced with common standard sizes, but would lose some protection due to ill-fit. Bronze, iron, steel, or harder metals suitable.
  • Riot/Kevlar/Ceramic: Plastic/Ceramic + Fabric. No choice but to manufacture via factory. Fortunately mass producible and modular.

The particular warrior/soldier would face a trade off with each armour class. Obviously the better protection as afforded by Plate and Full Body Kevlar/Ceramic is offset by their relative weight. Full Plate in steel comes in around 25kg if well worked.

Similarly each armour class protects against only a subset of the possible weapons out there.

  • $\begingroup$ And what materials would you use? Steel is antiquated and surely we have better alloys to use. $\endgroup$
    – Lucas A.
    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:50
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    $\begingroup$ Against what exactly? Steel is plenty strong against your average barbarian invader standing 6+ft who grew up lifting heavy sacks of grain everyday from when they were 6 till when they decided to go a pillaging with a sword. Perhaps a few well funded knights, who live near specialised factories, might be equipped with the rarer and harder to work titanium, or advanced alloys. The most dangerous weapons in the subsonic world are still bullets and crossbow bolts neither of which are terribly inconvenienced by armour. Kevlar/Ceramic can shrug off a few at best, but requires a deep supply chain. $\endgroup$
    – Kain0_0
    Feb 12, 2019 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ @LucasA. Modern steels are still up there - Mangalloy is especially resistant to any cutting - and is much easier to work with or repair than Titanium, which needs to be handled in an inert atmosphere (argon or helium) because it is so reactive. (Titanium even reacts with nitrogen) A Titanium sword could cut Mangalloy - but only in slow scrapes, and it would require far more force than just swinging a sword could generate. $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2019 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ @LucasA. "Could modern alloys cut through steel though?" At armor thicknesses, not sitting at a workbench with metal working tools? Not a chance. You can puncture it with extreme forces like mace, war hammer, bullet, or bow or crossbow with very heavy draws. But "cut" it with a weapon, during combat, no way, unless the weapon is a lightsaber, or the armor wearer is unconscious and the weapon is a hacksaw or cutting torch. Modern allows don't increase armor strength or weapon effectiveness. They improve things like weight and flexibility for the same level of offense or defense. $\endgroup$
    – Harthag
    Feb 12, 2019 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ Yes the padding is critical, there is no point bouncing the weapon off the armour if the force can still penetrate and damage our rather soft and squishy bodies. Infact most bullet damage has nothing to do with the bullet itself but the shockwave that travels through the body essentially tearing and liquefying it. Modern foams, and structural compositions like bubble wrap can provide similar or better protection here against swords/maces/etc. With modern meta-materials it might even be possible for the armour to deform in response to a blow, and reshape itself while on the battle field. $\endgroup$
    – Kain0_0
    Feb 13, 2019 at 3:13

Splitting hairs - I'm assuming you are looking to protect a professional soldier and not a random attack by a street thug looking to steal enough money for his next fix. It makes a difference. IF you are looking to stop say an assassin you can design body armor to act like a vehicle air bag in a traffic accident that inflates at point of contact for blunt force and be made of light weight composite of ceramic / Kevlar mesh to stop higher velocity projectiles. May leave wearer with a nasty bruise but alive and works in the split seconds needed before help arrives. Its trashed after one use unless its modular but it would have to be sent back to factory or dealer for repair. This would require the user (who could afford such equipment) to keep spares (plural) so as to never be without protection. Ideal customer - diplomat. As for a professional soldier -can't think of anything modern that can stand up to repeat punishment and act like a Timex. The best he or she can hope for is that the supply chain of whatever outfit they work for will have the necessary repair/replacement parts. Failing that its revert back to more rudimentary armor as mentioned by others.


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