LEVELS OF NIJ PROTECTION IN NIJ. NIJ.06 STANDARD VS. 07
There are several personal considerations you need to make while choosing body armor. These include the area you have prepared for, the kind of protection you desire, whether you choose overt or covert protection, and how much weight and mobility you feel comfortable carrying.
WHO DEVELOPS BODY ARMOR BALLISTIC STANDARDS?
The National Institute of Justice, which assigns protection levels ranging from level IIA to level IV, determines the ballistic body armor ratings in the US. Each level is heavier than the one before it, but it gives protection against larger bullets. Like how the prices rise as the protection levels do, so do the levels of protection. This is a truth that you and your wallet must deal with. However, it may vary depending on the sort of cloth from which you have your vest manufactured.
The NIJ has issued a new set of standards that will progressively be implemented in the market since the NIJ.06 standards, which were established in 2008, are growing dated. Since many people are unaware of the new NIJ.07 standards, we will discuss them in-depth today as well as the differences between the previous NIJ.06 standard, which is still in use, and the new NIJ.07 standards.
Currently, ballistic armor is categorized as follows by the NIJ0101.06 standard, which is used in the market:
- Level IIA Body Armor,
- Level II Body Armor,
- Level IIIA Body Armor,
- Level III Body Armor,
- Level III+ Body Armor
- Level IV Body Armor.
The body armor industry has evolved recently, and companies like AR500 armor have created new degrees of protection that are not yet standardized. Special Threat is the name of this unique protection level, which is also known as NIJ 3+ or NIJ III+. This will be covered later.
WHAT IS THE NIJ?
The National Institute of Justice in the US regulates body armor ratings and standards (NIJ). The National Institute of Justice is a research, development, and evaluation organization emphasizing expanding technology for criminal justice applications. It strives to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of judicial, forensic, and correctional systems. The NIJ does criminology and criminal justice research as well.
The NIJ is the regulatory agency in charge of establishing and upholding standards for body armor as well as many other types of protective and communication gear used by police enforcement.
Every company, including Safe Life Defense and AR500 Armor, which manufactures or intends to market body armor in the US, has decided to abide by the NIJ requirements. To demonstrate that their products exceed these criteria, several body armor manufacturers establish their own stringent quality control methods and inspections. Always seek body armor that has received NIJ certification. It indicates that this body armor has undergone conditioning to simulate the wear and tear experienced when wearing it for work or in the line of duty, in addition to being tested in ambient circumstances.
HOW COME BODY ARMOR STANDARDS MATTER?
This is crucial because it guarantees that the body armor, we purchase will indeed dissuade the dangers for which it was made. Additionally, it spares customers from following each brand’s ranking system. Body armor requirements are crucial because they guarantee that buyers will get value for their money when purchasing a vest.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) conducts independent tests of body armor to ensure that it performs as promised in stopping gunshots. Since each manufacturer and brand has its own standards, independent testing is necessary to level the playing field. Customers may compare the top sellers’ side by side, therefore, independent of brand.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, NIJ, has created a Compliance Testing Program (NIJ CTP) to test whether body armor on the market complies with the highest requirements.
Products that the National Institute of Justice CTP examines are subjected to independent laboratory testing. In addition to meeting strict requirements from the National Institute of Justice, these labs are accredited by NIST to comply with ISO and IEC standards for objectivity and not to have any conflicts of interest relating to manufacturers or suppliers who may use their lab's services when submitting products for evaluation during certification testing procedures.
Backpacks, blankets, and briefcases are additional ballistic goods that have never been tested or certified by the NIJ CTP. Any claims made by product producers claiming their goods have been certified and tested by this lab are untrue.
Since they exclusively concentrate on bulletproof vests and shields, the National Institute for Justice Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CTP) does not evaluate any backpack material for ballistics purposes. This indicates that any claims of conformity with both standards are fraudulent advertising strategies used to increase safety equipment sales beyond what was required.
Three thousand police officers' lives have been spared by the soft ballistic armor often employed by law enforcement over the previous three decades. Law enforcement and prison officials must have body armor as a vital element of safety gear for their own protection.
NIJ STANDARD 0101.06: BODY ARMOR LEVELS OF PROTECTION
Body armor is divided into five tiers based on the sorts of bullets it can stop per the presently used NIJ 0101.06 standards. Level IIA, Level II, Level IIIA, Level III, and Level IV make up the categories:
- Level IIA body armor
- Level II body armor
- Level IIIA body armor
- Level III body armor
- Level IV body armor
Below is a more thorough explanation of these security tiers.
SOFT BODY ARMOR AT LEVEL II AND IIA NIJ
A bulletproof vest must meet the NIJ level IIA minimum criteria. Soft armor that is simple to hide often falls under Level IIA. Despite not being very well-liked, it does make for decent hidden armor that can withstand some pistol bullets. NIJ level IIA offers no protection against rifle ammunition.
LEVEL IIA BODY ARMOR WILL STOP WHAT ROUNDS?
ACCORDING TO NIJ STANDARDS, level IIA body armor will stop a full metal jacket.
A.40 Smith & Wesson complete metal jacket and a 9mm round. Additionally, it will stop smaller bullets like—22 LR and.380 auto.
LEVEL II BODY ARMOR WILL STOP WHAT ROUNDS?
In addition to being soft and flexible, NIJ Level II armor is also a little heavier than level IIA. As a result, it provides a better level of security. The NIJ guidelines state that level II body armor inserts will stop quicker than 9mm bullets and a.357 magnum.
Even if Level II still has a use in the world, there is not a price difference between it and IIIA which makes choosing Level II the better option whenever both are available.
Level IIIA is the most common soft body armor. It protects against all common pistol bullets and is inexpensive, lightweight, and pleasant to wear.
WHAT CALIBERS CAN LEVEL IIIA BODY ARMOR STOP?
The NIJ guidelines state that level IIIA soft body armor can stop shotgun slugs and handgun shots up to a.44 magnum.
HOW COME LEVEL IIIA BODY ARMOR IS USED BY POLICE OFFICERS?
This is the amount of protection that a police officer might do. Because it offers them the protection, they require without being overly hefty; level IIIA armor is typically used by police personnel. For home defense, Level IIIA is suitable. Additionally, police officers work extremely demanding shifts that require them to monitor the streets. Hard armor plates can be particularly taxing to wear while on duty and make officers move more slowly. Level IIIA body armor is therefore suited for them. However, as they are more likely to encounter attackers armed with rifles, specialized SWAT troops have heavy armor plates.
Statistics show that the most typical crimes that a police officer may encounter include handguns and shotguns. Police crimes usually require support when guns are involved. Therefore, they rarely need rifle armor, and if they do, they can always special call-in forces as a backup if they find themselves in a scenario where they would be fired with rifles. Therefore, level IIIA body armor is typically sufficient. Please take notice, however, that while choosing body armor for a patrol or operation, one should carefully consider the specific conditions and hazards they may encounter.
NIJLEVEL III BODY ARMOR RIFLE PLATES
Soft armor is no longer effective in stopping rifle shots; instead, you must upgrade to a hard armor plate that can withstand that force. The starting point for rifle bullet protection is Level III, which prevents all pistol-caliber shots.
LEVEL III BODY ARMOR WILL STOP WHAT ROUNDS?
UNDER NIJ STANDARDS, level III body armor plates can stop a.308 caliber bullet. Additionally, they may be lightweight depending on the material they are constructed of. Since Level III body armor blocks most intermediate rifle bullets, including AR-15 rounds (.223/5.56), AKM rounds (7.62/5.45), and larger 308s, it is also likely the most often used form of body armor.
LEVEL III BODY ARMOR IS MADE OF WHAT MATERIALS?
Steel, ceramic, and polyethylene are acceptable materials for level three armor plates. Despite their lengthy lifespan.
Ceramic & Steel armor plates are recommended. Ceramic plates provide good protection, but if they fall awkwardly or are struck by something, they are readily broken and lose their integrity. However, they are not as delicate as many people think, and nowadays, most ceramic armor plates have a PE coating, making them quite robust and dependable.
Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene, which is far lighter than ceramic or steel plates, has recently been used to fully make level III armor plates. These plates are more pricey but also incredibly comfortable and light.
WHAT IS THE DEMAND FOR LEVEL III BODY ARMOR?
Level III plates are far less expensive than level IV armor. They are the most common body armor worn by special law enforcement groups and military personnel for this additional purpose. They also provide an elevated level of protection while remaining very portable and light.
Because of this, many individuals believe that level III body armor plates are far better than level IV and unique level III+ armor.
Although the NIJ has not formally certified level III+ as a standard, some steel armor producers have lately begun to produce it. Level III+ and level III are quite similar. However, level III+ is more powerful and can stop a broader range of bullets.
LEVEL III+ BODY ARMOR STOPS WHAT KIND OF ROUNDS?
Level III+ protects against armor-piercing 5.56 bullets, renowned for being the kryptonite of body armor and stopping everything that level III body armor prevents. These green tip AR-15 rounds are rapid and have a steel penetrator. The M855 rounds or green tips are other names for these armor-piercing bullets.
This level of body armor will also stop AKM rounds and Full metal jackets .308 rounds. However, it cannot stop .308 black tip AP rounds.
LEVEL III+ BODY ARMOR PLATES: HOW ARE THEY MADE?
High-strength steel and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene are combined to create these plates. The polyethylene can capture the shards as the steel work together to disintegrate the incoming round.
ARE OUR BODY ARMOR PLATES OF LEVEL III+ FAVORABLE?
Despite being stronger than level III, these heavy armor plates are not as frequently employed since AP rounds may be pricey and hard to come by. It is improbable that green tip 5.56 bullets will be fired toward law enforcement or civilian targets.
LEVEL IV HARD BODY ARMOR PLATES
The maximum level of protection is provided by level IV body armor, the heaviest and most expensive type of body armor. It is located at the summit of the pyramid. Although it has certain uses in the military, troops often employ level III body armor plates since they are significantly lighter. A Level III plate can also block common bullets like 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm, and 7.62x51mm that soldiers are expected to encounter in most battles.
WHAT WILL A LEVEL IV BODY ARMOR PLATE STOP?
Every intermediate pistol round, intermediate rifle round, and several standard sniper rounds will be stopped by a level IV hard armor plate. A level IV body armor plate can stop up to a 30.06 armor-piercing bullet under NIJ standards.
Compared to a.308 Winchester, the 30.06 is a much larger caliber. The original M1 Garand rifles fired this round. Also stopping is level IV armor—M2 machine gun rounds of caliber 30.
WHAT COMPOSITION DO LEVEL IV ARMOR PLATES HAVE?
Level IV ballistic armor plates are substantial since they often comprise steel or composite materials. Although it is said that Level IV armor plates can survive a.30-06 rifle bullet, the manufacturer and model will determine if they can.
"Composite" is another name for level IV body armor. These names relate to the fact that PE backing, which in this instance serves as a material responsible for absorbing the impact energy, is typically paired with strike face ceramic.
The front first layer of ceramic tiles will mushroom-shape the bullet and absorb the first impact energy, while the polyethylene backing can disperse the energy of a strike. As a material for the strike face layer, ceramics of several sorts can be employed, including:
- Oxide of aluminum
- Carbide Silicon
- Carbide of boron
Ace Link Armor makes ceramic armor plates, and they are quite light. Compared to identical steel plates, the level IV armor for Ace Links weighs just 6 pounds, which is doable given the amount of protection it offers.
NIJ STANDARD 0101.07: SIZES FOR BODY ARMOR VESTS AND PLATES
No, the new NIJ Standard 0101.07 will have the same sizes for heavy armor plates and bulletproof vests as NIJ Standard 0101.06. Bulletproof vests are scaled similarly to regular clothing. However, plate carriers for hard armor plates are measured according to the plates they suit. This makes the sizing a little challenging to grasp.
NIJ.07 STANDARD VERSUS NIJ.06 STANDARD CHANGES
The NIJ Standard-0101.06 for Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor has been the industry standard since 2008. However, the upcoming NIJ Standard 0101.07 will offer many new adjustments and enhancements to how we produce and assess body armor.
It introduces new testing procedures and performance standards that body armor must achieve to function at various degrees of ballistic resistance. Compared to the former NIJ.06 standard, you may claim that the new NIJ Standard 0101.07 is stricter and more meticulous. As an illustration, Conditioned armor panels must be fired at the same bullet velocity as non-conditioned armor.
Additionally, the new standards have modified the previous notations to describe several body armor types. To prevent misunderstandings between law enforcement officers and those who wear body armor, they have been updated to be more logical.
Ballistic protective armor was classified as level IIA, level II, level IIIA, level III, and level IV under the previous standards. While level III and IV hard armor plates were certified to stop rifle shots, level II and IIIA requirements for soft body armor were rated to stop pistol ammunition. This notation does not provide any specific information about the armor, making it difficult for a novice to select the appropriate type of armor.
Body armor is divided into five different protection levels in the new 0101.07 Standard.
The HG designation has been used with the degree of protection for armor that stops handgun bullets. For instance, level II and level III standards for body armor will be replaced by HG1 and HG2 standards. With the new NIJ standards, the level IIA classification has been eliminated.
Similarly, the new RF notation is used for rifle protection, ballistic body armor, and the level of protection. An illustration. The RF1 and RF3 standards will replace the level III and IV NIJ standards. Because intermediate rifle rounds are becoming increasingly common, the national institute of justice has developed a new intermediate standard called RF2.
THE HANDGUN THREAT LEVEL UNDER NIJ STANDARD 0101.07:
The Level IIA armor was certified against low-velocity handgun rounds like the 9mm FMJ RN.40 S&W FMJ is no longer recognized by the current criteria.
NIJ HG1: SOFT ARMOR
The same rounds the previous level II armor was tested with are used to test level II armor, now known as NIJ HG1. These are the.357 Mag. JSP and 9mm FMJ RN rounds. The HG1 soft armor inserts can stop up to a.356 magnum bullet, just like the level II body armor now in use.
SOFT ARMOR NIJ HG2
The new name for level IIIA soft body armor is NIJ HG2. Previously,357 SIG FMJ Flat Nose rounds were used to test armor panels rated for level IIIA; however, with the new HG2 level, faster 9mm FMJ Round Nose rounds will be used.
Most handgun rounds up to a.44 magnum, which is a large pistol bullet, will be able to pass through the new NIJ HG2 level soft armor. Only the exceedingly rare and powerful.50 AE (desert eagle round) and.500 magnum pistol rounds will pass through it.
The National Institute of Justice now mandates that body armor be evaluated with projectiles of the same velocity, whether conditioned or not. This endeavor will put pressure on body armor producers to provide goods that work better even under challenging conditions.
RIFLE THREAT LEVEL: NIJ STANDARD 0101.07
There have been many innovations in rifle caliber hard armor, even if there have not been many improvements made to the handgun threat level armor in the new NIJ Standard 0101.07. A further danger level has been implemented along with modified rifle caliber body armor testing rounds.
Rifle threat levels were previously referred to as level III and level IV in the NIJ Standard 0101.06, with level II being able to stop up to 7.6251 complete metal jacket bullets and level IV being able to stop 30.06 AP (Armor-piercing) rounds.
The revised NIJ Standard 0101.07 has changed the names of these levels to RF1 and RF3.
BODY ARMOR PLATES OF NIJ RF1 LEVEL:
Numerous rounds, including 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ steel jacketed spire point boat tail rounds, 7.62x39mm surrogate test 120.5 grain rounds, and various 5.56mm BT 56 grain rounds, will be used to test RF1 level armor.
BODY ARMOR PLATES OF NIJ RF3 LEVEL:
Conversely, 30.06 M2 Armor Piercing (AP) FMJ spire point AP 165.7 grain rounds will be used to test RF3 level armor.
It will be equally effective at blocking bullets as Level IV body armor.
BODY ARMOR PLATES OF NIJ RF2 LEVEL:
The RF2 level armor will also be introduced to bridge the gap between these two standards. A fast-moving, steel-core 556 bullets may penetrate certain level III body armor. Speed is the key to defeating armor. As a result, the level RF2 is created to stop these shots and is tested with 5.56mm M855 rounds, AK rounds (7.6239), and FMJ 308s.
Some body armor producers, notably ar500 armor, have referred to this as level III+ or level III++ armor for the past few years.
PROTOCOLS OF THE NIJ FOR FEMALE BODY ARMOR
These days, women play an essential role in both our military services and law enforcement organizations, and over the past ten years, female gun owners have grown in popularity. As a result, there has been a noticeable surge of female body armor on the market, and there is now no established norm. Establishing standards and research guidelines for female body armor is therefore urgently needed.
Women's vests would provide the same protection as men. Regardless of the organization, they work for; female police officers can continue wearing their current vests until they are finished (state, federal, or city).
Designing and creating female body armor is challenging for two reasons:
- The physical differences between men and women (shape of the breast),
- The vest's material's flexibility and stretchability.
According to prior research by NIJ, several standard tests must be used to guarantee safety and efficacy while shielding an officer from a ballistic danger while enabling movement for everyday tasks like sitting, bending, or lying down. These include testing for waist size, weight range, and durability. Since most manufacturers test their vests on lightweight male models, the waist size test is not something eligible applicants can easily verify. Female body armor differs not just in size but also in how well it fits. As a result, it is inappropriate to compare a female police officer to a male officer in terms of whether a vest provides more excellent protection.
By resolving these problems, female officers can wear their current vests or buy new ones without making modifications like removing or replacing ballistic panels.
Special test procedures for female body armor have been created with the new NIJ Standard 0101.07. Manufacturers will need to do extra testing with rounds close to the bust cups to guarantee that body armor made for female users gives the same amount of ballistic protection in that area as armor made for males.
WHAT DATE IS THE NIJ STANDARD 0101.07 SET FOR INTRODUCTION?
After the National Institute of Justice's FIT (Follow-up Inspection and Testing) program was launched in 2012, efforts to establish a new standard for body armor began. Body armor specialists, test lab personnel, practitioners, and representatives from the NIJ, their CTP, and other pertinent organizations organized a special technical committee. It was anticipated that the NIJ Standard-0101.07 would be released in 2017 and implemented quickly.
However, it did not pan out, but now that the new standards have been established, you may anticipate that by the first quarter of 2022, they will replace freshly manufactured body armor.
Body armor is crucial for first responders, law enforcement, and the military. Additionally, citizens can purchase body armor to defend themselves from harmful situations like house invasions.
We must thus be familiar with body armor, including its many sorts and degrees. Furthermore, the new NIJ standards have created further uncertainty, especially for those new to utilizing body armor, as if deciphering ballistic armor classifications were not already challenging enough.
So, in this comprehensive piece, we covered all there is to know about body armor and the modifications that the new NIJ Standard-0101.07 will bring. We hope that you enjoyed reading and learned something from the content.