Modern Body Armour Was Invented By A Pizza Delivery Guy Who Was Tired Of Being Shot At

by : Emily Brown on : 10 Nov 2020 10:35
Modern Body Armour Was Invented By A Pizza Delivery Guy Who Was Tired Of Being Shot AtSmithsonian Channel/YouTube/Pexels

‘Hi, yeah, can I get a large pepperoni pizza, a large meat feast, and a bulletproof vest to be delivered please?’

It’s not a question you’d expect to hear, but it kind of makes sense when you learn that modern body armour was invented by a pizza delivery guy.


We usually picture pizza delivery drivers to be dressed it pretty normal attire – maybe a branded shirt and matching cap if they’re in an American film. It would be surprising to see them in protective gear, but pizzeria owner Richard Davis found that armour would have come in handy when he was threatened with guns on more than one occasion.

Learn about Davis’ solution below:

Davis opened a pizzeria in Detroit after serving in the US Marine Corps, and one night he was called to an address through a back alley, where he ended up being held up at gunpoint.


Weeks later another order came in for the same address, but knowing that the same men were likely behind the call he came prepared with a .22 revolver hidden under the pizzas. When Davis arrived the robbers attempted the same stunt, and a gunfight broke out.

The pizzeria owner suffered one shot to the back of the leg while another grazed his temple. He fired four shots back and left two of his attackers wounded. In the weeks he spent recovering, his pizzeria was burnt to the ground.

Man who invented modern body armourSmithsonian Channel/YouTube

Davis had just $70 to his name but was determined to move forwards after having learned from his experiences.


Protective gear has been around for generations, but obviously chainmail and metal helmets aren’t quite so common any more.

Metal plates made a comeback with the rise of rifles, and during World War II Col. Malcolm C. Grow of the British Army used nylon and manganese steel plates to create the flak vest.

This style was used until the Vietnam War, but in the early 1970s Davis managed to create a more effective vest following a breakthrough with the new, lightweight, super-strong synthetic fabric, Kevlar. The material is five times stronger than steel and more flexible, so Davis fashioned it into a vest using ballistic nylon.

Davis shoots himself in chest to prove vest worksSmithsonian Channel/YouTube

He dubbed the creation the ‘Second Chance’ vest and made it with the intention of giving it to police. He had little success in selling the product at first, but won police over after putting on a demonstration in which he donned the vest and shot himself in the torso.

Throughout testing, Davis shot himself a total of 190 times – proving the vest to be more than effective.

His pitch was so impressive that the vest later became standard uniform for police across the US, and variations on his original design are still used by troops today.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Army, Detroit, Now, Police, Shooting


Smithsonian Channel/YouTube
  1. Smithsonian Channel/YouTube

    This Inventor Shot Himself to Market His Invention