The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the administrative organization that supports and monitors current ballistic testing of armor. This certification programs applies uniform performance, evaluation and testing standards in the United States. Once an armor model is approved, tested and registered, the model will be placed on the Certified Products List (CPL). The CPL is a list of manufacturers and their armor models which have successfully passed the ballistic requirements of NIJ STD 0101.06.
It’s important to realize NIJ STD 0101.06 is a voluntary standard and armor manufacturers are not legally required to submit to this testing. However, its commonly known that armor that passes the NIJ STD 0101. 06 has been rigorously tested and manufactured to a higher standard. A certified armor model as the approval of NIJ and is eligible for funds through the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Act in which the Department of Justice will offer a grant for 50% of the cost of NIJ-certified armor for eligible police departments in the U.S.
Prior to the NIJ STD 0101.06 procedural testing where it is shot with rounds, the body armor undergoes a vigorous amount of preliminary conditioning designed to simulate wear and tear. This includes the (P-BFS) and the Water Submersion.
Preliminary conditioning : The penetration - Back-face Signature (P-BFS)
The P-BFS is a pass/faill test used to determine armors ability to stop multiple impacts, edge shots, close proximity shots, and 30º and 45º oblique shots. In addition, measures trauma (1, 2, 3 shot)
The body armor is placed on a backing material comprised of a type of oil-based clay. The clay is smoothly and uniformly pounded into a steel box measuring 24”x24”x5.5”, with a .75” piece of plywood on the back. Roma Plastilina clay serves two purposes during ballistic testing: 1) the clay provides a semi-rigid and stable mass to support the armor while testing, much like the human body; 2) Roma Plastilina also has a memory, meaning any indentation into the clay remains static and can be measured to ensure 44mm or less of backface trauma.
Preliminary conditioning : The Water Submersion Test
The Submersion (Waterproof) Test is conducted by submerging “new” armor panel in water in a vertical orientation for 30 minutes with a weight on the bottom of the panel, then 6 Shot P-BFS and 12 Shot V-50 test is performed.
NIJ 0101.06 TEST: The velocity-50% (v-50) test
Both soft and hard armor systems are assessed and evaluated by performing a V-50 Ballistic Test. This ballistic test was created by the U.S. Army to determine a theoretical velocity at which a given projectile will penetrate a given piece of armor 50% of the time. This velocity is also the velocity at which a projectile is expected to be stopped by the armor 50% of the time. This is like a power rating for armor.
iMpact Locations for Baseline Ballistic v-50 limit Testing