Coming Soon: Revisions to NIJ Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor Standard

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) plans to publish an updated version of the current ballistic-resistant body armor standard by early Q2 CY2021. The new draft version, NIJ 0101.07 Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor, draws from more than ten years of testing conducted under the previous standard (0101.06). It was developed through an NIJ Special Technical Committee (STC) made up of criminal justice professionals and testing experts with support from NIJ and Compliance Testing Program (CTP) staff. This standard was previously open for public comment, but the public comment period is now closed. Find the draft standard and comment sheets here.

NIJ Standard-0101.07: Clarifying Threat Levels, Refining Ammunition Types, Adding Female Armor Testing

The draft revision of NIJ Standard 0101.07 will consist mainly of administrative clarifications and technical refinements, many of which will impact only test labs and the NIJ CTP. Changes impacting criminal justice professionals fall mainly in the areas of testing of female armor, revised protection levels, types of ammunition used in testing, and vocabulary refinements. Details on those changes include:

  • Introduction of a robust test protocol for shaped or female body armor. This new test method, designed to increase confidence in the body armor’s performance, includes testing on buildup in the bust area and uses a different shot pattern to fully test female armor designs. Female (shaped) armor will be tested against the same ammunition used to test planar (not shaped) armor.
  • Revisiting protection level names of both hard armor plates and soft armor vests, with a goal of ensuring clarity through nomenclature that instantly identifies the type of protection offered and provides demarcation between the new standard and previous iterations:
    • Retiring Type/Level IIA, the lowest level of soft armor protection. A review of models submitted to the NIJ CTP for testing in recent years showed that Level IIA armor was seldom used in certification testing and represented a very small market share in the industry.
    • Replacing the remaining previous threat level classifications, Type/Level II, IIIA, III and IV, with a new standard naming convention: “HG” for handgun (NIJ HG1.07 and NIJ HG2.07) and “RF” for rifle (NIJ RF1.07, NIJ RF2.07, and NIJ RF3.07). From this list, you will notice a reduction in soft armor levels and an additional hard armor protection level. This was again a response to the needs and requirements identified by the STC participants. For more details on the new threat level matrix, please review the draft threat level document
  • Reducing confusion caused by manufacturers, labs, practitioners and government agencies all using the same term to mean different things, or using different terms to describe the same thing, by including only a truncated section of definitions and additionally referencing the recently updated ASTM E3005-20 Standard Terminology for Body Armor
  • The testing of hard armors has changes to accommodate the introduction of the new test threats, 7.62 x 39 mild steel core (MSC) or an equivalent threat round and 5.56 mm M855 ammunition.

When developing ballistic performance standards, there are two primary options available when looking to incrementally improve the resultant products: either maintain protection levels and look to reduce the weight burden on the wearer, or increase protection capabilities with minimal additional weight burden to the wearer. STC participants selected the latter for this iteration of the NIJ standard due to the need to look at widening the range of ammunition against which hard armors tested to the NIJ standard provide protection. The proposed changes to hard armor testing are anticipated to allow for manufacturers to offer improved performance, with little or no additional weight burden to the wearer.

For more information about NIJ Standard-0101.07, contact:

Daniel Longhurst, Standards Development Coordinator

National Institute of Justice
Dr. Mark Greene, Technology & Standards Division Director