New NIJ Standards for Level IIIA and Level III | Understanding NIJ HG & RF Standards

New NIJ Standards for Level IIIA and Level III | Understanding NIJ HG & RF Standards

A lot has been said about the NIJ standards for ballistic protection, but not as much on the newest standards.

We don’t have any insight into when those standards will become official, but we’re already ensuring ShotStop® body armor is tested to the newest standards.

NIJ ShotStop Ballistic Testing Results for Level IV Body Armor

Our goal today is to help our readers and potential customers understand the differences between NIJ Handgun II(HG2), Rifle 1(RF1), and Rifle 2 (RF2) standards for armor. 

At first it seems more confusing than NIJ Level IIIA, and Level III, but the new NIJ 0101.07 Standards are meant to simplify the categorization of ballistic protection.

ShotStop Level IV Body Armor

However, I think that anytime you learn something new it will take time to fully grasp the totality of the information.

If you haven’t read our blog, NIJ Standard-0101.06 Versus NIJ Standard-0101.07 | What's the Difference?

NIJ Level IIIA Vs. NIJ HG2

The biggest difference between the new and old standards is clarity. The whole objective of the government, according to the NIJ, is to provide universal standards for LEOs to protect their lives during duty. 

Instead of reading 4 Different bullet standards with varying calibers, weights, and bullet designs, the NIJ created 2 threats for the HG2 threat standard. 

ShotStop Level II Body Armor

We also applaud the NIJ for clarifying the names of each standard by the type of gun it’s meant to defend.

A Level IIIA and Level III body armor plate are drastically different in capabilities and versatility, but have almost identical names. By changing the NIJ Level IIIA to Handgun 2, LEO and civilians alike start off with more clarity


NIJ Level IIIA

NIJ HG2

Test-Threat Ammo

1. .357 SIG FMJ FN 125 gr (1,470 ft/s) 


2. .44 Mag Semi Jacketed HP (SJHP) 

    240 gr (1,430 ft/s)


3. .44 Mag SJHP (1,340 ft/s) 


4. .357 SIG FMJ FN 125 gr (1410 ft/s)



1. 9mm Luger FMJ RN 124 gr (1,470 ft/s) 


2. .44 Mag JHP 240 gr (1,430 ft/s)








A way to look at the difference between the HG1 and HG2, is the HG2 will stop the same bullet at more than 1,000 ft/s faster. Essentially, no officer should ever consider wearing HG1 body armor when there is 9mm ammo that can defeat it. 

NIJ Level III Vs. NIJ RF1

Sometimes less is more, but much of the time a detailed explanation of a standard is necessary.

NIJ Level/Type III body armor only tests 1 specific bullet (7.62x51mm NATO M80) because of the resources and time available the NIJ has for testing. 

It’s important to understand that the NIJ has to be incredibly meticulous during their testing procedures.

ShotStop Level III Body Armor for Police

This level of focus and skill allow companies like Shostop® to say with validity that our body armor will stop the threats it’s NIJ-Listed for. 

NIJ RF1 tests two more threats than the Level III standard and clarifies the type of M80 used for testing (spire point boat tail).This is important because there can be SJ 7.62mm, and 5.56mm bullets on the streets that may or may not defeat an NIJ-Listed Level III armor plate.


NIJ Level III/ICW Level III

NIJ RF1

Test-Threat Ammo

1. 7.62 mm FMJ steel jacketed (SJ) 147 gr (2780 ft/s)



1. 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ SJ spire point boat tail (BT) 149 gr (2,780 ft/s)


2. 7.62x39mm surrogate test round 120.5 gr (2,380 ft/s)



3. 5.56mm M193 BT 56 gr (3,250 ft/s)


What is a Spitzer Bullet (Spire Point)?

The NIJ would not have accidently added the words Spire Point Boat-Tail (SPBT) to the M80 bullet if it wasn’t important to do so.

An SPBT Bullet is the alternative name to the Spitzer Bullet, created just a few years before WW1 in Germany. 

The NIJ added the SPBT bullet because they know it matters what type of tip the bullet has, in regards to ballistics. 

For example, Spitzer is the German name for pointed-tip and it was immediately found to greatly improve the ballistics versus an M80 with a soft-point tip. 

The addition of the boat-tail design reduces drag as the bullet flies through the air, creating better accuracy at longer ranges.

This means the amount of energy with a boat-tail bullet is much greater upon impact than a flat base bullet.  

NIJ Level III Vs. NIJ RF2

According to the NIJ, the difference between the 0101.06 (Level III)  and the new 0101.07 standard (RF2) is the testing of the M855/SS109 BT bullet

If you consider the caliber of the M855 (5.56x45mm) and M193, it makes perfect sense that they would stay in the same testing group.

Both bullets have the same size case and diameter, but the M855 has a steel-penetrating tip and is meant for warfare. 

NIJ Level III/ICW Level III

NIJ RF2

Test-Threat Ammo

1. 7.62 mm FMJ steel jacketed (SJ) 147 gr (2780 ft/s)



1. 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ SJ spire point boat tail (BT) 149 gr (2,780 ft/s)


2. 7.62x39mm surrogate test round 120.5 gr (2,380 ft/s)


3. 5.56mm M193 BT 56 gr (3,250 ft/s)


4. 5.56mm M855 BT 61.8 gr (3,250 ft/s)

Why Did the NIJ Specify the M855 for Testing?

As more civilians get a hold of steel-penetrating bullets, LEOs need the confidence that their armor is going to stop an M855/A1 (green-tip) bullet.

The NIJ previously stated its purpose is to provide assistance to our LEOs and military personnel.

ShotStop Level IV Body Armor

The clarification of adding both 5.56mm bullets to the same class (RF2), gives LEOs confidence that if they buy a RF2 NIJ-Listed body armor they will be protected against steel-penetrating bullets (M855) from an AR-15 or AR-Pistol. 

What is the Difference Between Level III+ and RF1 & RF2?

The NIJ Level III body armor standard, they only test for 1 type of bullet. Level III+ body armor accounts for the Special Threats of the 7.62x39mm and the 5.56mm M193 bullet. 

NIJ RF1

NIJ Level III+

NIJ RF2

Test-Threat Ammo

1. 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ SJ SPBT 149 gr (2,780 ft/s)


2. 7.62x39mm surrogate test round 120.5 gr (2,380 ft/s)


3. 5.56mm M193 BT 56 gr (3,250 ft/s)

1. 7.62 mm FMJ steel jacketed (SJ) 147 gr (2780 ft/s)


2. 7.62x39mm surrogate test round 120.5 gr (2,380 ft/s)


3. 5.56mm M193 BT 55 gr (3,250 ft/s)

1. 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ SJ SPBT 149 gr (2,780 ft/s)


2. 7.62x39mm surrogate test round 120.5 gr (2,380 ft/s)


3. 5.56mm M193 BT 56 gr (3,250 ft/s)


4. 5.56mm M855 BT 61.8 gr (3,250 ft/s)

 

Both the RF1 & RF2 standard protect against the 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ SJ SPBT 149 gr (2,780 ft/s). 

NIJ Level III+ includes 2/3 test-threats of the RF1 standard and 1/2 test-threats of the RF2 standard. 

As of right now the only way to get specialized Green-Tip armor is with the Duritium® GT2 body armor. 

What is the Duritium® Level III GT2 Plate?

Many police officers have asked us about providing a body armor plate insert that is specifically designed to defeat green-tip ammo.

The result is known as our Duritium® GT2, which is a multi-curve plate in both SAPI or Shooter’s Cut styles. 

 

The GT2 plate is specifically designed for LEOs to defeat the potential of “cop-killer” bullets that are unregistered, but accessible to criminals if they want them.

The GT2 is not a Level III plate, but it will defeat multiple strikes from an armor-piercing 5.56mm (M855, M855A1)

NIJ Ballistic Testing Results for GT2 Body Armor

Since there is no NIJ-Listing for Level III M855 bullets, this armor isn’t NIJ-Listed. However, the NIJ-Listed NTS-Chesapeake Testing Laboratory has independently tested our GT2 armor against an unprecedented 3-shots from a M855A1 bullet.

As you can see, our  Duritium® GT2 body armor defeated all 3 shots and stayed within regulations for backface deformation (BFD). 

NIJ Level IV Vs. NIJ RF3 Body Armor

Level IV body armor is being replaced with NIJ RF3 in the newest standards. The best thing about the transition with Level 4 is there are no changes in capabilities and ballistic resistance.

Level IV and RF3 both are NIJ-Listed to stop a 30-06 bullet with a backface deformation (BFD) lower than 39mm. 

Why Choose ShotStop®?

I know I may say it a lot throughout our blogs, but we truly believe in our company motto of, ``We Protect the Protectors”.

With no fault of the NIJ, there are many different bullets that will defeat NIJ-Listed Level 3 body armor. 

Our GT2 plate is only 3.8 lbs per plate and an astonishing 0.6” thick for a lightweight plate with the lowest profile of any of our stand-alone Duritium® plates. 

For those officers looking for a way to stop an M855 bullet without having to wear Level 4 armor, the GT2 is your best and only choice. 

ShotStop® Warranty

When you consider buying a product that is going to cost hundreds of dollars and potentially save your life, it’s important to get the most out of it.

ShotStop® provides the longest warranty for both Level III and Level IV body armor.

ShotStop Level IV Body Armor

We offer an industry leading 15-year warranty on all Level III plates, which is at least 3X the average warranty for our competitors.

Level IV body armor across the industry is known to have the shortest warranties of all armor types/levels.

The average warranty for a Level IV body armor plate is 3-5 years. ShotStop® offers a 10 year warranty on both of our Level IV plates. 


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