A FORMER Royal Navy weapons officer is spearheading Scotland’s newest export success story – body armour.
Sam Sarkar’s foreign clients include Los Angeles Police Department and the Saudi royal family, to whom he provides body armour that can be worn unobtrusively under their robes.
The 34-year-old started to make his own life-saving garments after he was shocked by the shoddy quality of many bullet-proof vests.
Sam bought himself a sewing machine on Ebay and learned how to stitch body armour together properly so it can stop a .44 Magnum round fired from five metres.
Now he employs 13 people at a factory in Glasgow and travels the world, selling his products at arms fairs while wearing a kilt.
The firm, Sarkar Defence Solutions, makes anti-shrapnel “bomb blankets”, helmets, shields and sets of full body armour for mine disposal experts at its premises on Hillington Industrial Estate.
Sam left the Royal Navy in 2006 after he was diagnosed with a mild heart condition and decided to make a new career selling on other manufacturers’ body armour.
But he was not impressed by the quality of many of the items he was selling from India and China, doubting they would save lives.
Sam, who moved to Scotland from India at the age of 16, said: “They had lots of flaws.
“The stitching wasn’t right. They weren’t ergonomic. Some of these vests wouldn’t stop a bullet as advertised.
“I just couldn’t sleep at night, I thought this is something some poor guy is going to have to wear.”
Sam, whose military career involved pursuing drug traffickers in the Caribbean, attended sewing classes so he could design his own kit.
He was able to pull in customers from all over the world after he and his team attended arms trades wearing kilts to show off their gear.
Each product has “Made with pride in Scotland” written on it.
Sam said: “We do strive for perfection in everything we do. That’s what keeps us going.”
Some of his more unusual orders include an “ultra covert” vest for the Saudi royal family.
This is designed to be comfortable in the searing heat of the desert, coloured white to blend in with robes, and has a moisture absorbing inner lining.
But it can still stop a powerful handgun round fired a close range.
Sarkar Defence Solutions has also specially designed a vest for anti-piracy operations.
The ballistic floatation vest can be used as a floatation device as as well as protection from bullets and shrapnel.
Other clients include the Los Angeles Police Department and the US Army.
The American army ordered 40 de-mining suits from the company when one of their other contractors failed, and they only had two weeks to produce them.
“There were a few sleepless nights but we got there in the end, ” Mr Sarkar said.