Frequently Asked Questions

Agencies should purchase armor that will stop the threats their officers are likely to face; at a minimum, they should purchase armor that will protect against the weapons carried by their own officers.

Stand-alone armor plates should be used only with the specific model of soft armor with which they are tested. These components together create an in-conjunction with body armor model.

No, manufacturers may have them tested at NIJ-approved laboratories, but the results stand on their own and are not certified by NIJ. These items should never appear in catalogs or on websites designated as “NIJ Level XX.”

No, they are intended to reduce blunt force trauma injury to the torso resulting from a bullet’s striking an armor. The CTP does not test trauma packs/plates, either separately or in conjunction with soft armor models.

Backface signature refers to the indentation made by the test sample in the clay backing material that is used during testing when a projectile penetrates (enters the armor) but does not perforate (go through) the sample. The depth of the indentation is used as a reasonable analog of the potential for the wearer to sustain significant, potentially lethal, blunt force injury.

No, the conditioning is intended to provide some indication of the armor’s ability to maintain ballistic performance in the field. This protocol does not predict the service life of the vest nor does it simulate an exact period of time in the field.

No, the area within two inches or less of the edge is exempt from the testing process.

(Adapted from Selection and Application Guide to Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor for Law Enforcement, Corrections and Public Safety, NIJ Selection and Application Guide-0101.06.)