WHAT’S IN YOUR ARMOR?
There is so much talk about protection these days, but what is in your armor? Here we will make an attempt to give a quick overview of body armor for a human body and what standards to look for.
There is a government organization called the National Institute of Justice or NIJ for short. This is the governing body for body armor certification for the law enforcement industry. Many others outside law enforcement use these guidelines, but really these certifications only apply to Law enforcement. Most federal agencies have their own testing guidelines and do not use the NIJ certification.
The NIJ certifications were designed with our officer’s safety and protection in mind. Each threat level has certain calibers associated with it (see chart below). The testing required by the NIJ are more rigid and intense than one might think. You can’t just purchase rounds off the shelf to test with. The testing requirements actually require the rounds to be much hotter and rounds must reach velocities of 300-400 fps faster than standard off-the-shelf rounds.
Here are the NIJ levels and the rounds they stop.
(Remember These only apply to Personal Body Protection —- And nothing else)
NIJ Threat Level Rounds used in testing
Threat level (I) Protects against .22 caliber long rifle lead round nose.
Threat Level (IIA) Lower velocity 9mm, .40 S&W
Threat Level (II) Higher velocity 9mm, .357 Magnum
Threat Level (IIIA) .44 Magnum, 357 Sig
Threat Level (III) High-powered rifle. This armor is hard or semirigid construction, protects against (7.62mm FMJ), (5.56 mm FMJ), 30 carbine FMJ and 12-gauge rifled slugs.
Threat Level (IV) Armor-piercing rifle. Typically, hard material like steel and ceramic materials.
Even though many companies use the NIJ standards for everything from body armor to backpack inserts to car armor in all reality the NIJ certification only covers body armor for law enforcement. Because the NIJ standard is really the only standard out there it is commonly used by companies to test for and market.
The security industry tends to follow along the lines of law enforcement, since many security personnel tend to come from there. Security Personnel many times know about the NIJ threat levels and prefer to have the peace of mind knowing that it’s been tested to those standards.
There are a lot of choices in body armor. When body armor does have a NIJ certification it means it passed ALL the required tests and that companies armor will be listed on the NIJ approved list. Even with a NIJ certification you will find a wide range of sizes, shapes, weights, and thicknesses.
It pays to do your homework and find out what fits your needs. You will find that some companies put the least amount of armor coverage as possible to meet NIJ standard, and others will give the max possible coverage to protect its wearer.
ATEK Defense Systems is a company that is deeply concerned about the individuals who actually wear the armor. The company has developed a unique armor technology using space age materials called carbon nanotubes. The proprietary formula is called Nano-Protek and the technology gives an extra level of protection that other companies just don’t have. ATEK is listed on the NIJ approved list for level IIIA, but also has developed additional products that have been tested to the NIJ standards including armored backpacks, shield inserts, building armor and architectural Shield Glass. ATEK is also a leader in vehicle armor technologies. The company has developed and patented glass products for doors and windshields as well as using Nano-Protek on all other panels of the vehicle. ATEK’s vehicle armor technologies allow the vehicle to be much lighter than others in the marketplace. To find out more about ATEK Defense Systems go to our websites: www.atekdefense.com and www.vehiclearmorsystems.com.