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National Institute of Justice Completely Revamps Ballistic Body Armor Standard with New 0101.07

Last week the National Institute of Justice released NIJ Standard 0101.07, the standard for testing and categorizing ballistic body armor.

The primary purpose of the standard is for use by the NIJ Compliance Testing Program (CTP) for testing, evaluation, and certification of ballistic-resistant body armor. It is also used by ballistic testing laboratories and body armor suppliers participating in the NIJ CTP and to accredit ballistics laboratories.

Over the past decade NIJ collaborated with the U.S. Army, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, ballistics laboratories, body armor manufacturers, materials suppliers, and other stakeholders come to agreement on laboratory test procedures and practices relevant to ballistic testing. They also produced a suite of ASTM test methods and laboratory practices that are used as the building blocks of NIJ Standard 0101.07.

A lot has changed. First off, ballistic test threats are no longer listed in the NIJ Standard but rather are available in the Specification for NIJ Ballistic Protection Levels and Associated Test Threats, NIJ Standard 0123.00. This document defines ballistic threats identified by US law enforcement as representative of current prevalent threats in the United States. Additionally, Protection levels have been redefined and are defined NIJ Standard 0123.00.

They’ve also introduced new Threat Levels, two for handguns and three for rifles:

The former NIJ Level II is now NIJ HG1 for Handgun.

The former NIJ Level IIIA is now NIJ HG2.

The former NIJ Level III is now NIJ RF1 for Rifle.

There is a new NIJ RF2 for a new intermediate rifle protection level that includes all the threats at the NIJ RF1 protection level plus an additional threat.

The former NIJ Level IV is now NIJ RF3.

The standard has three additional updates:

-Improved Test Methods for Armor Designed for Women

-Perforation-backface deformation testing, updated to include an additional shot on soft armor panels near the top center edge.

-Reconfigured perforation-backface deformation testing on hard armor plates, to include striking the crown on curved plates.

Download your copy here.

6 Responses to “National Institute of Justice Completely Revamps Ballistic Body Armor Standard with New 0101.07”

  1. Seamus says:

    Glad this finally made it across the finish line.

    My two cents:
    1) There is no NIJ nomenclature that denotes a multihit plate vs a single hit plate, and there is no NIJ nomenclature that denotes a 3shot multihit plate from a 6 shot multihit plate. This is a massively missed opportunity.

    2) Plate ratings are not cumulative, meaning that RF3 is not a necessarily a multihit plate. Pages 39-41 of the .07 lay out manufacturer options. basically the fare right columns show that manufacturers can select different options. One of those options in certifications is single round hit RF3 (Level IV) plates. Multihit is an option but not a requirement for RF3.

    While the RF2 standard includes every component of the RF1 standard that is not so with the RF3. So it will likely continue that cheap RF3 plates will be made that will disintegrate after a single hit but still be marketed as RF3 next to another RF3 plate that is multihit.

    In all RF standards it appears the variation in multihit is from 3-6 rounds of multihit. This means that moving forward all RF “multihit” plates will need a knowledgable consumer to ensure it is 3 or 6 shot rated.

    3) The standard requires a manufacturer to show any data on material sourcing or supply chain QA/QC process. They only look at a select sample of plates for the manufacturer and that is it. Without looking at QA/QC or ensuring safe sourcing methods then there could be serious problems. Several “manufacturers” are just taking cheap Chinese ceramic plates and aramid fibers, put them in the oven and slap their logo on them and then calling themselves a “manufacturer”. No possibility of QA/QC on their supply chain.

    4) Complete lack of AP Tungsten core threats (M995 or M993) or soviet equivalents, or inclusion of standard US military issued ammo (ie M855A1 or M80A1) or soviet equivalents.

    All in all this is a great update and long long long overdue, with significantly improved methodology and rigor. I am glad it finally made it. Hopefully as 6.8x51mm SPEAR rolls out in the next few years there will be an update to this standard.

    • SSD says:

      The latter is because it is oriented toward LE use and not military; concerned with threats presented within the US.

      • Seamus says:

        It is worth pointing out that M2AP is not exactly a common civilian cartridge either. Instead M2AP functions more of a “stand in” for any hardened steel penetrator that could be shot at an officer.

        The same could be said for M993 and tungsten threats. It isn’t like tungsten ammo doesn’t exist and isn’t reasonably available. Definitely not as wide spread as other threats but still easily purchased over the internet.

        So if one, why not both?
        If nothing else it future proofs the standard.

        • SSD says:

          When the program started M2AP was widely available. Now, not so much. You’ve got to remember that .44 Magnum never became a common threat either but due time the Dirty Harry effect, LE was aware of it and concerned about facing it.

    • Creamus says:

      There are a number of US-based suppliers/manufacturers (like Honeywell and Barrday) that utilize Chinese aramid in products used for ceramic plate backing materials. The world is global… and it is incorrect to claim that anything from Asia cannot be made with verifiable quality. It’s amusing to see people get offended every time they see someone in the US “manufacture” an armor product in the US at an afforable price that can compete with armor 2,3,4x its price.

      “…just taking cheap Chinese ceramic plates and aramid fibers, put them in the oven and slap their logo on them and then calling themselves a ‘manufacturer'”. Well, that’s sort of what manufacturing “is.” In this case, a number of emerging, quality, well-performing US-based armor makers are focused on the build process that combines affordable materials with proven assembly techniques – adding powerful adhesives into the mix… something truly lacking in Asian-made armor plates. Some of these products would rival most well-known plates on the market… and don’t really deserve the low opinion you have of them. This US ingenuity is something to be celebrated, not blindly criticized.

      Other US companies purchase their ceramic from Cerco and it is usually not as pure as Asian tile (especially dollars to dollars). Cerco sells a lot of 90% alumina monolithic. Most Asian alumina is 95-99%. All in all – MUCH of the world’s ceramic power is processed in China, no matter where you purchase the final product.

      ITEN Defense presses plates. Other companies (like Cerco) make the tile. So, any company that has their backing plates pressed and purchases monolithic tile strike faces are “assembling” armor components. Even Spartan does not make the PE sheets or the ceramic – they fuse (assemble) them in an autoclave. So, is this manufacturing? Who cares what you call it if it results in a product that protects people, is reliable and is afforable. Not everyone can afford a $500 armor plate and still need something that functions well.

      It is false to claim that no QA/QC is possible with Asian-based sourcing. Simply isn’t true. Many of these companies are ISO certified, are expert manufacturers and easily batch their materials.

      “…it will likely continue that cheap RF3 plates will be made that will disintegrate after a single hit but still be marketed as RF3 next to another RF3 plate that is multihit.” Yes – this is the reason for the 1, 3 or 6 hit testing. In truth, most 0101.07 certified plates will be “single hit” plates but capable of additional hits. Some companies would rather play it “safe” with a certified testing process to increase the percentage of success by certifying for single hit only. I am not an expert on the new standard, but would assume that it would be easier to “fail” a 6-shot AP test as compared to a single shot – so, most would opt for the single shot to protect their investment. Afterall, look what happened to RMA and their loss of NIJ certification under strange circumstances.

      Ceramic armor is made to “disentigrate.” It won’t work unless it does. The testing process will involve shot “patterns” which space out the projectiles. Ceramic plates… no matter who the “manufacturer” is… can be defeated by placing a second shot within 1-2″ of the initial entry point. So, this idea of a three shot or six shot, multi-hit plate is relative to shot placement and not truly accurate. I could take a six shot “certified” plate (that may cost many hundreds of dollars) and defeat it by bypassing the approved shot placement pattern in the NIJ testing process by placing another round in close proximity to the first. And then – you have come “full circle” right back to your “cheap” single-shot ceramic RF3 plate… which is all you can count on in the first place.

      My 2 cents – If someone wants to purchase a Chinese plate that can actually stop an AP round… then more power to them. Go for it.

  2. frank says:

    This seems to imply you can’t easily find out the specifications of body armor types now. Do you have to be an official of the government to acquire the specifications?
    Is this another aspect of only the government is allowed to use self-protection? Anything that will keep an honest civilian from getting murdered is generally outlawed in many left wing cities and states.