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NIJ Certification

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR BODY ARMOR

The NIJ standard specifies what the minimum requirements are for body armor that have undergone their performance and testing protocols and rates the various types of available body armor according to the threat levels they offer protection against.

When body armor is undergoing testing, self-regulating NIJ-certified laboratories put the body armor through a number of different tests to ensure they meet NIJ code and performance standards.

The NIJ has the authority to retest body armor that the manufacturer is already selling on its floor to ensure that the performance standards remain up to code as time passes. This is just part of the NIJ’s excellence and audit procedures.

The NIJ’s performance standards means that commercially available body armor meets the minimum performance requirements they set forth. The NIJ publishes their ballistic and stab resistance standards for personal body armor, as you can see here by clicking on these links. An overview of both the NIJ 0101.04 and the NIJ 0101.06 Standards can be found below.

NIJ 0101.04 STANDARD

Table Ballistic Requirements Penetration / Back Face Signature NIJ 0101.04

NOTES NIJ 0101.04 STANDARD

  • Backing is conditioned Roma Plastilina® nr. 1
  • Bullet manufacturer is not specified
  • All armor panels (including carriers) will be sprayed during three minutes on both sides before testing
  • Shape of impact pattern is given, shot 4 and 5 have an impact angle of 30 degrees
  • Minimal distance to edge of sample is 76 mm
  • Minimal distance to previous impacts is 51 mm

NIJ 0101.06 STANDARD

Table Ballistic Requirements Penetration / Back Face Signature NIJ 0101.06

NOTES NIJ 0101.06 STANDARD

  • Backing is conditioned Roma Plastilina® nr. 1
  • For certification Level IIA, II and IIIA, 28 complete vests must be provided
  • For Level III certification, nine armor inserts are required
  • For Level IV certification, 7 to 37 armor inserts are required
  • All new vests and hard armor plates will be immersed for 30 minutes before testing starts. As per
    section 7.8.2 NIJ STD 0101.06.
  • Bullet manufacturer is specified

Does body armor expire? YES!

All body armor used in vests and other protective gear is stamped with an expiration date. It’s important for you to know why and when your armor expires so you ensure your gear is always performing at its peak to keep you safe.

Why Does Body Armor Expire?
Like any chemical compound, the ones used to make up the panels inside your vest will eventually degrade. This is true whether the vest is made of Kevlar, a composite, or a combination of industrial fibers. Of course, there are a variety of factors that influence exactly how fast the typical body armor breaks down, including exposure to moisture, UV light, and overall use. A vest that’s worn every day in a humid environment is going to expire sooner than a vest that’s only worn on weekends in a dry climate. Body armor won’t suddenly go bad on its expiration date, but expired vests aren’t rated to protect you with the same consistency and reliability as non-expired vests.

How Long Does Body Armor Last?
That greatly depends on what it’s made of, how it was manufactured, and how it’s used. On average, most body armor comes with an expiration date around five years after it’s made. Soft armor deteriorates much faster than hard armor and is particularly vulnerable to heat and wetness. If soft armor ever becomes completely saturated with water, it should be replaced immediately. It’s essential to always follow the expiration guidelines provided by the manufacturer regardless of whether you think your vest should last longer; it could be a matter of life and death.

Why Shouldn’t You Wear Expired Body Armor?
Expired body armor may not provide adequate protection against deadly force. No one wants to find out the hard way that an expired vest is no longer viable. Although an expired vest may not be penetrable by a bullet or blade, its internal components are more likely to warp, crack, or dent, causing serious bodily harm to the wearer. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to body armor. Replace according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you have questions about your expired equipment, the lifespan of your current gear, or want to discuss upgrading your protective arsenal, give our team a call. We’re experts at keeping you prepared.