When companies develop new and innovative bulletproof vest materials to protect individuals form the danger of bullets, vigorous test is performed. This intensive scientific testing must take place so that consumers can understand the correct level of protection provided by that particular vest material. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has established a quality procedure that must be carefully follow in order to properly rate body armor and must be performed for each bullet proof vest that is sold.
Testing of Bulletproof Vest
If a manufacturer intends to sells a particular body armor product or vest to official government personnel or employees, then it must comply with the following testing process:
- Two test samples must be taken, one from the front and another from the back of the vest, and two different types of ammunition must be used to fire on the material.
- A total of six shots must be fired at each panel sample and two of the shots must impact at a 30 degree angle.
- This series of shots is conducted twice, which entails a total of 48 shots fired during the tests.
- Additionally, the material that is behind the bullet proof vest material being tested must not deform more than 44 mm or 1.73 inches. And, these testing criteria also apply to the material being tested when it is wet.
NIJ IIIA Testing Example
The highest rated concealable vests are rated at type 3A/IIIA and must comply with the following test criteria:
- The first test consists of firing one of the largest small arms bullets, 9 mm full metal jacket round nose bullet at the vest material testing sample. This caliber travels at an amazing 1,430 feet per second.
- The last test fire is a .44 mag Semi-jacketed hollow point weighing 240 grams, which also impacts the vest material sample at a speed of 1,430 feet per second.
- After these test fires, the vest material is verified that it did not create a deformation that exceeded the testing limit.
If the newly developed bulletproof vest material passes the testing phase, then the National Institute of Justice will issue a certification attesting to the fact that the new vest configuration has met the criteria and that the testing was valid. This registers the vest and allows its material to be used for vests. It is of the highest importance that you never purchase or use a vest that does not have the proper labelling as we have described. The label must include the size, the name of the manufacturer, the date that it was issued, its protective rating, lot number, serial number, and proper care instructions.
If you own a vest that does not contain these criteria, then you should return it to whom you purchased it immediately. The importance of the bullet proof testing cannot be understated sine it ensures that an adequate level of protection is provided. It also helps to maintain a uniform standard across manufacturers so that consumers can rely on the ratings and know that a certain rating reflects the same level of protection from different examples of bodyarmor.