This blog is intended to give our law enforcement and department of corrections clients the most up-to-date information on stab-resistant armor. We’ve discussed in great detail the newest regulations of the NIJ for Ballistic standards in previous blogs. However, we’ve yet to explain in detail the regulations and standards of stab-resistant armor.
What is NIJ Standard–0115.00?
The NIJ Standard–0115.00 is known as “Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor,” created by the Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). To be an inclusive standard both nationally and internationally, the Police Scientific Development Branch (PSDB) in the United Kingdom (UK) has contributed to the testing of stab-resistant armor as well.
What is the Purpose of NIJ Standard–0115.00?
The purpose of this standard is to establish an international regulation for law enforcement (LEO) and corrections officers. Similar to the ballistic threat standards described in NIJ Standard-0101.06, the stab-resistant standard guides officers to improve their overall safety on the job.
This standard specifies the minimum requirements for body armor to be resistant to attack by either an edged blade or pointed “spike” blade. The NIJ Standard–0115.00 is the first and only standard ever produced to regulate stab-resistant armor.
It’s the responsibility of body armor manufacturers to use these standards to ensure their clients are protected. At ShotStop®, we take this seriously and work every day to exceed all standards put forth by the government.
WHAT ARE THE CLASSIFICATIONS OF STAB-RESISTANT BODY ARMOR?
There are two distinct PROTECTION CLASSES all three PROTECTION LEVELS are based upon. These two classes are called the “Edged Blade” and “Spike” class. Inside these classes, the three threat-levels are “Level 1 Stab-Resistant Armor”, “Level 2 Stab-Resistant Armor”, and “Level 3 Stab-Resistant Armor.”
What is the Edged Blade Class?
The edge blade class is specifically intended to deal with threats from commercially machined edged knife blades. Think of Benchmade or Gerber knives that are made with exceptionally high-quality metals, sharpened with absolute precision.
The NIJ also refers to this class as “the street” class because these weapons can be bought off the street at any department store across the country. These weapons constitute the most common weapons found outside of the Department of Corrections.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR POLICE TO WEAR STAB-RESISTANT ARMOR?
Some police believe that wearing stab-resistant armor isn’t as crucial for them as prison officers. In some regard, they’re right in that corrections officers are more likely to get slashed or stabbed because prisoners don’t have access to firearms. However, stab-resistant armor can protect police from getting stabbed with a dirty needle or getting slashed by an assailant during an arrest.
According to the F.B.I, 11% (618) of all murders in the United States are from edged blade weapons. That doesn’t include the 18% (49,645) Americans that were assaulted with edged blade weapons in 2019. These numbers are not meant to scare anybody, rather give you an indication of how likely a police officer is to come into contact with edged blades in the line of duty.
What is the Spike Class?
The spike class refers to weapons normally found in prisons and detention facilities. Think of an ice-pick, sharpened piece of plastic, metal wire with a sharpened edge, etc. These weapons are all made of lower quality materials and without precision machinery. However, it doesn’t mean they are not dangerous. Corrections officers need to be wary of these makeshift weapons every day when they put on their uniforms.
WHAT IS THE ANGLE OF INCIDENCE & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW?
The angle of incidence is the angle of the weapon when it strikes the point of impact. In short, it’s the angle at which the blade hits your body. As you can imagine, the angle at which someone strikes you is important for many reasons.
For example, if you’re stuck straight on with no angle, the potential of penetration is increased. When testing stab-resistant armor, it’s essential to test how much the angle plays into the level of protection for the officer. The NIJ has done the leg work and ensured that all three levels of armor are tested at multiple angles before certification.
WHAT IS LEVEL 1 STAB-RESISTANT ARMOR?
Level 1 stab-resistant armor is the lightest and most flexible of the three levels of protection. It’s designed to be worn under your clothes and is the most common type of body armor worn by corrections officers. It offers the least amount of protection of any level but is usually the most comfortable and covert class of armor.
Since this level of armor is only designed to stop threats with less than 17.7 ft-lbs of force, it’s not recommended to wear in federal prisons or low-security detention centers. If you want to learn more about each level of stab-resistant armor, read our blog, “National Institute of Justice (NIJ) | What it Does and Why it matters.”
WHAT IS LEVEL 2 STAB-RESISTANT ARMOR?
Level 2 stab-resistant armor can withstand a stab force up to 24.3 ft-lbs of force. Level 2 armor is heavier than level 1 and can be worn either under your uniform or over your uniform. Level 2 stab-resistant armor will protect you against the majority of all stab attempts. However, the strongest of men will be able to penetrate enough to break the skin.
Level 2 stab-resistant armor is the most common armor worn by corrections officers in federal prisons and maximum security prisons housing the most violent criminals. It’s not as comfortable or flexible as level 1 but provides enough versatility to function at a high level.
WHAT IS LEVEL 3 STAB-RESISTANT ARMOR?
Level 3 stab-resistant armor is the highest level of stab-resistant protection that a company can offer you. It will protect you against the strongest slashes and stabs that humans can muster. This armor usually is as heavy as level 3 ballistic armor and must be worn outside of your uniform.
This is the armor that corrections officers wear when they’re breaking up big fights, riots, or dealing with uncooperative and combative inmates. This armor is relatively heavy and not as flexible as either level 1 or 2.
How Do I Know if the Armor is Certified by the NIJ?
As trivial as this sounds, it’s incredibly important to consider the legitimacy of your body armor. The NIJ knows that there may be companies that try to take advantage of the system and not follow the rules of certification. We pride ourselves in not only meeting the federal standards but exceeding all known standards for body armor.
You’ll know if your body armor is legit if it has the following:
Name, logo, or other identification of the manufacturer. All pertinent contact information for the manufacturer, including the address and telephone number, must be present on the label of the armor.
A colored shape containing a number in the upper right corner of the label. If the armor is in the “Edged Blade” protection class, the shape must be a solid blue square of 1.0 inch. If your armor is in the “Spike” protection class, the shape must be a solid green equilateral triangle of 1.0 inch in height. The number inside each shape must be white in color and 1.2 inches in height. The number must relate to the protection level of the armor.
Date of manufacture
Date of Issue (fill out once you receive the armor)
Model designation (Male, Female)
Strike face or wear face
Warning if the armor is not intended to be ballistic-resistant
If there is more than one panel for the stab-resistant vest, the main stab-resistant insert information panel must have a warning describing how many inserts are required to meet the stated protection level.
Each armor label must have the following declaration in regards to testing, “The Manufacturer certifies that this model of armor has been tested through NLECTC and has been found to comply with NIJ Standard–0115.00 for the (insert appropriate class designation) PROTECTION CLASS at PROTECTION LEVEL (insert appropriate level designation).”
WHAT IF I’M ISSUED BODY ARMOR WITHOUT THE LABEL DESCRIBED ABOVE?
Unfortunately, if your armor doesn’t have this label or is missing any of the 13 requirements, it’s not certified armor. We’d never recommend any officer wear a set of body armor without this label.
There is always a chance that you could be wearing body armor that is untested and will not stop the threats you’re expecting it to stop. There is no need to risk your life on potentially uncertified armor.
Stab-resistant body armor standards are set by the NIJ and meant to guide LEOs as to which armor is best for them. Within the two specified classes, you’ll find all three levels of stab-resistance standards.
We can’t tell LEOs what armor is best because we don’t know every officers’ threat-level. However, if you’ve read this blog and follow the guidelines put forth by the NIJ, you’ll have the best chance to survive an attack by a knife or spike. If you have any questions and want to speak with us about your concerns or which armor to choose, we’d love to hear from you.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll assist in outfitting your organization with the lightest, most durable armor on the planet!