How did we take an ordinary suit and make it bulletproof?
We didn't! The bespoke tailoring and material engineering in this project took many months, and we built every element of the suit from scratch to make sure it could take a bullet (or 10) for us.
The John Wick franchise is known for many things, but gunplay is definitely one of them - and John Wick's bulletproof suit is critical in keeping the hero going round after round (literally and figuratively).
For this project, we brought in a professional tailor and frequently visited the local gun range with our material prototypes to test over 100 combinations of bulletproof materials. We even worked with our friends at Thought Emporium to create a novel reactive fluid that we thought would be a good potential bulletproof candidate, but it didn't make the cut. Literally hundreds of hours of testing went into this project.
We immensely appreciate help from our friends at the gun range and Lionsgate Films (the studio behind John Wick!) for stepping in at the last minute to give us an extra boost and stamp of approval. The project itself was NOT funded/sponsored, but we did work together to promote the video.
Suit Construction and Materials
The suit offers real-life possibilities for bulletproofing a garment that can be worn more or less as a regular garment, albeit stiffer and heavier than a non-armored equivalent sui. The final product featured 16 layers of composite materials at a thickness of just 3.4 mm nominally. Keep in mind, a layer of shirt fabric is usually 0.35mm at the thickest, although certain off-the-shelf suits do feature multiple layers of different materials depending on the garment.
The suit is designed to provide protection according to NIJ Level II and IIIA standards, capable of withstanding rounds such as 357 Magnum, 45 ACP FM, 9mm FM, and even 12ga 1 oz rifled slugs. The construction of the suit involved meticulous attention to detail, ensuring both functionality and aesthetic appeal -- and we can't emphasize enough just how many versions of material we had to test to get things just right.
The Hacksmith team conducted demonstrations to showcase the bullet resistance of the suit. The suit was tested against a variety of firearms, including handguns and a submachine gun, highlighting its ability to withstand ballistic impact. Shooting multiple rounds in various locations also helps differentiate this garment from other bulletproof armor designs which may be much more severely damaged by "first impact" and therefore lose effectiveness for all subsequent impacts. Our suit continued to hold up for multiple rounds, as long as they were at least a small distance apart (which would accurately simulate gunfire in a combat scenario, where rounds are very unlikely to be tightly clustered).
Project Cost and Feasibility
The prototype Kevlar suit reportedly cost a little under $100,000 to produce, emphasizing the investment and dedication required for such an ambitious project. While the real-life suits may not possess the magic physics-defying powers of Mr. Wick's suit, they represent a significant step in bringing the concept of a very-well armored and very well-tailored bullet-resistant suit to reality, challenging the conventional limitations of "bulletproof armor". We also recognize the achievements of other companies in this area of development, and encourage anyone seeking a real bulletproof suit to seek them out - as our variant is not for sale.
...unless you're Keanu Reeves. In which case, feel free to say hello. We'd be honored to make you one.
John Wick is a hero plucked from what is at least "approximately" reality in his movie franchise. That's why we love this suit - it's just at the edge of what's possible with existing technology, and while it might hurt A LOT, we do think this suit could save your life in a pinch!