The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the governing body of the federal government responsible for regulating ballistic protection. All armor worn by law enforcement officers (LEOs) and members of the military is thoroughly tested, regulated, and classified into specific ballistic standards. The NIJ operates a testing certification program, called the Compliance Testing Program (CTP). This program is the official standard that nearly all nations west of Russia use as their guide for ballistic protection.
The NIJ and CTP are coming out with new regulations (NIJ Standard-0101.07) that are more inclusive and updated to the latest and most commonly encountered ammunition when compared to the current NIJ Standard-0101.06. This blog will focus on the biggest changes to the old standards and regulations regarding ballistic protection.
According to the NIJ, the current standard doesn’t include updated testing methods, especially for female body armor. The current standards fail to include the current threat levels from the enhanced ballistics of today’s technology. The improvement in higher caliber ballistics needs to be taken into account when forming the most accurate standards for what our officers, security professionals, and soldiers face in 2020 and beyond.
For a Complete Understanding of the NIJ Standard-0101.06, read our blog, “National Institute of Justice (NIJ) What it Does and Why it Matters”.
Why Would The NIJ Want Assistance For Their New Regulations?
One of the problems with writing federal regulations for consumer products is there are sometimes differences between federal organizations in how they word their regulations. There are also differences between federal and state laws that can further jumble up the understanding of regs. In order to streamline the language used around ballistic-resistant armor, our government decided to bring all relevant organizations into one room.
As difficult as this could have been, it was made easier by enlisting the American Society of Testing and Materials International (ASTM). They were able to bring all federal, state, and local organizations together to form a committee to share and discuss all pertinent information.
WHO IS THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF TESTING AND MATERIALS INTERNATIONAL (ASTM)?
ASTM International is a non-profit voluntary organization that develops standards in steel, petroleum, medical devices, consumer products, nanotechnology, additive manufacturing, and many more.
ASTM has an incredible reputation for objectivity and creating a platform for the world to share and gather information benefiting everyone. With over 140 nations around the world, ASTM provides the platform for everyone to work together to research, set standards, and publish all relevant information for the world to see.
WHY IS ASTM INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANT TO THE NIJ?
The U.S. Army, NIJ, and NIST currently have different standards for ballistic protection and body armor. In order to reduce the confusion of following different standards, the federal government chose to work with ASTM.
Working together, these organizations established the ASTM’s E54 Committee on Homeland Security Applications to set the new standard. The NIJ Standard-0101.07 is based on the collaboration of the E54 committee, which meets twice a year to create a harmonized set of standards.
WHAT ARE THE ASTM STANDARDS ADDED TO THE NIJ STANDARD-0101.07?
ASTM has created 8 standardized testing methods, practices, and specifications that will be added to the new NIJ standard for ballistic protection. According to the NIJ, the inclusion of the ASTM allows for the “opportunity to harmonize laboratory test procedures and practices for both law enforcement and military ballistic-resistant armor and other ballistic-resistant equipment while allowing those end-user communities ultimate control over product specifications, such as the specific threats against which their equipment must protect”.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
At times, it seems the government writes articles to ensure nobody can read or understand them. The goal of the new standards is to bring all the research for ballistic-resistant armor & equipment into one more-easily understood document.
For example, if every researcher of ballistic-resistant armor wrote their own regulations, it would all have different wording and nomenclature. The new regulations ensure there will be no more confusion when it comes to the standardization of ballistic-resistant armor.
What is ASTM E3004-15e1?
Standard Specification for Preparation and Verification of Clay Blocks Used in Ballistic-resistance Testing of Torso Body Armor
ROMA Plastilina No. 1® clay is now being used as the backing material for ballistic-resistant body armor. ROMA Plastilina No. 1® is the backing material used for all clay backing in ballistic armor which captures the backface deformation reading after ballistic impact (in other words, how far into the operator’s body will the bullet push before the plate stops the projectile). Since this material isn’t listed in the old standard the ASTM E54 Committee has established a concrete testing procedure to ensure uniformity in the market.
What is ASTM E3005-15?
Standard Terminology for Body Armor and Related Items.
Similar to everything involving the ASTM, the goal of this is to standardize the terminology used in reference to ballistic-resistant armor. This standard ensures that all terms regarding the protection against ballistic threats, stabbing, fragmentation, blunt impact, or a combination of threats are uniform across all federal agencies.
What is ASTM E3062-15e1?
Also known as the Standard Specification for Ballistic Test Range Configuration for Small Arms and Fragmentation Testing of Ballistic-resistant Items.
This standard is about the indoor ballistic test range requirements for small arms and fragmentation testing. The specific items listed under this standard are soft body armor, hard armor plates, body armor accessories, shields, and helmets.
With all items tested, they’re rated based on range geometry and conditions, test equipment, instrumentation, and measurement procedures. As the ASTM E54 Committee states, “The purpose is to specify critical test range parameters in order to achieve consistency and repeatability among test ranges.” The important part to take from this is establishing repeatability in testing procedures. This ensures every piece of armor is tested under the same specifications and environmental conditions.
What is ASTM E3068-17?
The Standard Test Method for Contact Measurement of Backface Deformation in Clay Backing During Body Armor Testing
ASTM E3068-17 is meant to describe the test methods for backface deformation (BFD) in clay backing. This standard was developed to ensure there wouldn’t be any inconsistencies between different laboratories.
What is ASTM E3078-17?
Standard Practice for Conditioning of Hard Armor Test Items
This standard is meant to test all environmental conditions you’ll face, such as heat, humidity, cold, dusty, dirty, drops, and bullet impact. If you want to learn more about conditioning armor, read our blog “Level III vs Level IIA Body Armor | The Biggest Differences and Which One You Should Buy”.
What is ASTM E3086-17?
Standard Practice for Creating Appliques (build-up of clay) for Use in Testing of Nonplanar Soft Body Armor Designed for Females.
This standard is meant for testing how the clay will perform as it’s shaped to the curvature of a woman. This standard sets in stone how it should be tested in order to ensure consistency amongst labs. One thing to keep in mind is that as of today, no company has developed hard armor (meaning rifle protection) plate inserts specifically designed for women and breast curvature. However, ShotStop® provides the lightest plates at more sizes (including small and X-small) than any other company in the world, meaning it’s currently the superior product for women in need of hard plates.
* As the demand for Female Body Armor increases, ShotStop® is beginning to research ways to provide our female soldiers and LEOs with hard body armor meant for their bodies. We will be putting more information about this in the near future. So, stay tuned! Women in law enforcement and active duty military seeking more comfortable protection from high powered rifles is an issue that must be addressed and ShotStop is excited to make it a reality.
What is ASTM E3107-17a?
Standard Test Method for Resistance to Penetration and Backface Deformation for Ballistic-resistant Torso Body Armor and Shoot Packs
This ASTM standard is about creating a testing method that is repeatable for all companies claiming to prevent penetration and BFD for their body armor. This new standardized testing method is designed to test soft body armor, hard plate inserts, In-Conjunction With (ICW) armor, and shoot packs mounted on a clay block as the back.
What is ASTM WK52176?
Standard Test Method for Collection of Vx Ballistic Limit Data for Ballistic-resistant Torso Body Armor and Shoot Packs
This Final ASTM standard is meant to unify all procedures used to collect ballistic limit data. All companies that provide ballistic-resistant body armor and shoot packs with a clay backing are going to be required to follow this standard. However, this standard doesn’t specify the performance criteria for the ballistic test.
The new NIJ Standard-0101.07 includes all of the ASTM standards above and the new and improved ballistic test threats. The new test threat standards have been placed into their own standalone document that changes the way ballistics are viewed by the public. For example, there has been much confusion over the years about the Level II vs Level IIIA.
The new standards are based on the “minimum performance requirement for equipment intended to protect U.S. law enforcement against handgun and rifle ammunition”. The whole purpose behind the change is to prevent inconsistencies amongst labs and manufacturing companies. This will allow the NIST and CTP to test a larger variety of ballistic-resistant equipment (e.g. BallisticBoard®).
*The new NIJ Standard-0101.07 is in the final draft stages, so it’s not official yet. However, there is no indication that the nomenclature will change for the final publication. The full ballistics industry eagerly awaits the final release of the new standard.
What is the New Nomenclature for Ballistic Threats?
The new NIJ standards removed the Level/Type armor classifications and replaced them with handgun and rifle (NIJ HG1, NIJ HG 2, NIJ Rifle RF1, NIJ RF2, NIJ RF3). The new nomenclature makes it easier for everyone to distinguish between armor designed for rifle caliber protection and handgun protection.
WHAT IS NIJ HG1?
NIJ HG1 is the same standard as Level/Type II body armor, designed to protect against 9mm luger FMJ round nose bullets at 124 grain. The velocity of the bullet has to be less than 1,305 ft/s (398 m/s) for the NIJ HG1 to protect you.
NIJ HG1 will also protect you against .357 Mag jacketed soft point (JSP) 158-grain bullet. The velocity must be no greater than 1,430 ft/s (436 m/s).
WHAT IS NIJ HG2?
NIJ HG2 fits the same standard as NIJ Level IIIA, which protects against 9mm Luger FMJ RN at 124 GR. RG2 will stop a faster-moving bullet than RG1 by more than 1,000 ft/s (1,470ft/s).
The largest caliber bullet that it will stop is a .44 Mag Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) at 158 GR if it’s no more than 1,430 ft/s.
WHAT IS NIJ RF1?
Rifle 1 is the same as Level III with the capability of stopping a 7.62x51mm M80 Ball NATO FMJ spire boat tail (BT) at 149 GR. The velocity must not be more than 2,780 ft/s (847 m/s) for the armor to be rated at RF1.
RF1 will also stop a 7.62x39mm test round at 120.5 GR with a speed of 2,380 ft/s (725 m/s). Finally, RF1 ballistic armor will protect against a 5.56mm M193 BT at 56 GR with an extraordinarily fast bullet of 3,250 ft/s (725 (m/s). RF1 will protect the armor wearer from an AK 47 and AR-style rifle with ease.
WHAT IS NIJ RF2?
In the old standards, there were only 2 levels that were meant to stop rifle caliber bullets. However, in the new standards—developed within the E54 Committee—
There are 3 separate standards that are meant for rifle caliber bullets. The RF2 is the same as RF1, except it includes the 5.56mm M855 BT bullet weighing 61 GR and traveling at a speed of 3,115 ft/s (950 m/s). The M855 BT is also known as an armor-piercing bullet designed to go through steel. You’ll notice the green-tip on the M855 BT.
WHAT IS NIJ RF3?
The RF3 title is level IV armor capable of stopping pretty much every bullet fired from a hand-held rifle currently in production. It’s officially designed to stop a 30-06 M2 Armor Piercing (AP) FMJ spire point weighing up to 165.7 GR and traveling at 2,880 ft/s (878 m/s). RF3 is the armor soldiers wear in combat zones or police SWAT teams might wear during mobilization to ensure the odds of defeating any ammunition that they may come up against.
According to the F.B.I., more than 92% of all felonious deaths of LEO’s were due to firearms. As we’ve mentioned before our top priority is helping to protect the men and women protecting our communities and our nation from those wanting to do harm. It’s proven that you’re more likely to survive if you have body armor.
For example, the F.B.I has found that LEO’s who wear body armor has a 76% greater chance at survival versus those who don’t wear the armor. It’s the job of the NIJ to ensure that body armor sold for LEO’s is strictly regulated for quality and consistency.
That's why NIJ continues to research and develop new standards that reflect the climate of today’s technology. With the help of ASTM, these new standards of testing are going to be more uniform, ensuring significantly improved quality control.
The new nomenclature for ballistic threats is designed to make it easier for everyone to understand the difference between armor designed for handguns and rifle rounds. If you have any questions about how we can help with your ballistic needs, please contact ShotStop® at firstname.lastname@example.org