We know the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is discussed a lot in our blog, but there is so much knowledge that impacts our business. This blog will help you understand the correlation between the NIJ Compliance Testing Program (CTP) and the Compliant Products List (CPL) for the NIJ 0101.06 standard.
We’ve discussed in many other blogs the importance of being certified (NIJ-Listed), but we haven’t gone into detail about the actual CPL. With dozens of companies claiming to be transparent and honest about their armor, we’ve found that many are very misleading. This blog will help you determine which companies are selling NIJ-Listed armor and which are not.
If you’re interested in learning more about the NIJ and CTP, read our blog, “NIJ Guide to Body Armor.”
What is the CPL?
The Compliant Products List is a list of all the ballistic protection companies in the world that have put their products through the rigorous testing process according to the NIJ and deemed ‘compliant’. Many people in the body armor market call this ‘certified’ although the NIJ does not have a certification program and they request that armor manufacturers and sellers do not use the word ‘certified’. NIJ would prefer the question to be ‘Is this body armor NIJ Listed’ rather than ‘Is this body armor NIJ certified’.
In short, the CPL provides buyers with the information needed before they buy armor. If a company is properly tested by a 3rd party accredited ballistics lab including all conditioning against an M2 AP (7.62x 63 black tip) round, and it performs to the current standard requirements, then they would be listed under the CPL for compliance with Level 4 body armor standards.
The CPL should always be used to double-check a company’s claim for compliance before you buy armor for your police department or LEO organization. Being certified with the NIJ is not an easy thing to do for a company. That’s why many companies don’t bother with the red tape and exorbitant amount of money it costs to get a piece of armor certified. Instead, they will use verbal judo to talk around the issue.
HOW DOES A COMPANY’S ARMOR BECOME NIJ LISTED?
Here at ShotStop®, we believe in full transparency because body armor is too important to our local and national heroes to hide key details. For a company to be listed by the NIJ, they have to follow precise guidelines. There are 5 guidelines to pay attention to and follow, which are listed below.
Manufacturers have to submit an application package for each piece of armor that they want listed.
The Manufacturers must agree to 3 “confidence-building” measures.
A. There has to be an established warranty period for each piece of armor tested. The average industry warranty for ballistic protection is 5 years (ShotStop® is 15 years!)
B.The manufacturer must sign an agreement with the NIJ to allow for follow-up testing of their products. This is important because new information is always coming out as technology continually advances forward. ShotStop® is always welcome to any kind of testing because we are confident in our products. We never stop researching and improving our products because we know how important it is.
C. Manufacturers must agree to a specific way of labeling listed models. On review of the application, the NIJ CTP assigns a test identification number. This is a tedious process, but it’s imperative to establish uniformity in our industry.
Once a package is submitted, and the 3 guidelines are adhered to, a company then sends the armor to one of the approved independent laboratories for testing. The NIJ makes this very clear and easy to understand. If a company uses one of these NIJ-approved labs, they have proved their claims and should be trusted.
Once an independent lab conducts the test on the armor sample, they send their results to the NIJ CTP for final approval.
If the NIJ gives the final approval, the company will receive a letter confirming its legitimacy. ShotStop® provides all approval letters for our armor because we care about the great reputation that we’ve earned.
WHAT IS FIT?
The Follow-up Inspection and Testing (FIT) program is designed to give customers more confidence in knowing that the armor tested by the NIJ is the armor that they’re wearing. The FIT program is run by The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System’s National Center (NLECTC-National).
According to the NLECTC-National, the purpose of the FIT program “ ...Is to ensure that recently produced examples of listed armors continue to meet the requirements of NIJ Standard-0101.06.”
The NLECTC-National ensures that each armor sample tested goes through 2 phases of testing.
They document the design of the armor and test up to 28 samples provided by the manufacturer. Phase 1 is conducted to verify that the sample meets the NIJ Ballistic standards.
Once the armor is verified to be NIJ compliant, the product will be added to the CPL and given one final test. Phase 2 is conducted to ensure manufacturers are producing newer body armor in accordance with previous samples that have passed phase 1. In phase 2, the independent inspectors examine the armor for any deviations from the originally-approved armor. This is how the NIJ ensures that companies are honest and are not cutting corners.
WHO IS SUBJECT TO FIT TESTING?
The NIJ has the right and responsibility to conduct surprise FIT inspections at the manufacturer’s location to ensure their process is in compliance with the NIJ Ballistic Standards. If a company hasn’t been tested within 10 months after their certification, they become subject to an inspection. There are now over 200 companies and a dozen countries that have taken part in FIT testing.
WHY IS FIT IMPORTANT?
The FIT program wasn’t created to make things worse for ballistic protection companies. It was created to help the men and women who put their lives on the line when they go to work. By re-testing previously approved products, the NIJ can rest easy knowing that the manufacturing process is honest, transparent and ensures ballistics integrity in all listed products over time.
In the past, there have been companies that will send products to the NIJ to get tested and turn around and use subpar material when they actually produce the product for consumers. This allows them to save money by cutting corners. However, this is incredibly dangerous for our police and soldiers who need safe gear to wear. The FIT program ensures that this will never happen again if a company wants to remain on the CPL.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE CPL?
Reading the CPL can be confusing sometimes when you’re trying to determine if a specific product complies. Oftentimes, we see companies try to bundle non-complaint armor with complaint armor. For example, if a company is on the CPL for a Level III plate, they will share that report and apply it to non-compliant products. Fortunately, the CPL is updated frequently, and there is no getting around the list.
Listed Company: The listed company is simply the brand name that appears above the table and is found on the label. For example, you can find all of our armor under ShotStop® Ballistics, LLC.
Contact Information: This is the contact information provided by the company. You can use this contact info to get any questions answered before you buy a set of armor.
Threat Level: The threat level is incredibly important and is listed on the CPL’s left-hand side.
Model Designation: The Model Designation is the name or alphanumeric code that a company uses to uniquely identify a particular model. Ensuring you have the correct model number before you buy is important because it can be difficult to distinguish the differences between models on a site if they look the same.
Gender: As of now, there is no standardization with male, female, or gender-neutral. However, most men wear flat panels because our chests are not as curvy as women. Women typically need to wear multi-curve or curved panels to accommodate their bust size. All hard armor is tested by the NIJ as gender-neutral at this time.
Opening: Any armor that has a front opening with an overlap in the chest area must be tested separately to ensure this opening meets the standards of the NIJ.
Size Range: The sizes of armor are entirely dependent on the offerings of each company. The size ranges must be clearly stated in the box with anything from C1-C5. C1 is the smallest size tested by the NIJ, and C5 is the largest size. If no size is listed, try looking at the company website for sizing.
Warranty: Every company must place a manufacturer warranty on their products, and it will be listed on the right side of CPL, next to “Model Status.”
CPL Comment/Model Status: The NIJ has the right to display the approved armor’s certification status. You’ll see this as Active, Inactive, Suspended, under review, or pending.
Why Choose ShotStop®?
ShotStop® offers the best warranty in the business with a 15-year warranty on all armor, except the Level 4 plates (10 years). You can look all day and night, but you won’t find a better warranty than what we have at ShotStop®.
Educating the public about certifications and standardizations is something we take pride in because we don’t just meet those standards; we blow them away. I doubt you’ll see this detail of a blog about how to become certified by other companies because not everyone is as transparent as we are.
ShotStop® is an open book when it comes to the NIJ because we know our products are the best on the market. Why would we want to hide our product when we are so incredibly proud of our service?
Buying a ShotStop® armor plate will put you at ease because we provide all of our ballistic testing and our NIJ compliance letters right on our website for the world to see. You don’t have to worry about ShotStop® twisting words to make it seem like we’re compliant. We don’t expect anyone to just take our word as fact, but the NIJ is independent, and we exceed all ballistic testing standards that they provide.
We just received confirmation that due to the late notice of our promo, we’re extending the deal until March 31st. You will be eligible for a 15% discount and all you have to do is enter the code: Protect2021.
If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.