When a company has creates a new material that is focused on protecting an individual from the threat of bullets, the manufacturer must first undergo testing. The testing is necessary because a bullet rating must be associated with it in order to advise the wearer of the level of protection it affords.
In order to begin selling a particular bullet proof vest, the National Institute of Justice has a procedure that must be followed to properly rate body armor.
The Testing Process
To register a new body armor product and to sell it to the government and other personnel, the vest must meet the following test:
Two samples are taken of the vest, one from the front panel and one from the back panel and 2 types of ammunition must be used.
- 6 shots are fired at each panel, with two of the shots impacting at a 30 degree angle.
- This sequence is carried out twice, for a total of 48 shots.
- The deformation of the material that is behind the bulletproof material must be no more than 44mm or 1.73inches.
- These testing limits must also be achieved when the armor is wet.
If you are looking to purchase a bulletproof vest that has a rating of Type IIIA (the highest concealable rating for a vest), then that vest had to meet the following test:
- The first sample fired 9mm full metal jacket round nose bullets that weighed 124 grams that impacted the vest with a velocity of 1,430 feet per second.
- The second sample fired .44Magnum Semi-jacketed hollow point bullets that weighed 240 grams that impacted the vest with a velocity of 1,430 feet per second.
- The vest will them be checked to make sure the deformation of the vest and material is within the test limit.
Once the vest has passed the testing phase, the National Institute of Justice will issue a certification attesting to the validity of the test, as well as registering the vest for sale.
It is important to note that you should not purchase a vest that does not have a size label on the vest. This label will indicate the size, manufacturer, date of issue, protection rating, lot number, serial number, and care instructions. If you have in your possession a vest that does not have this tag, then you should not use it and if possible, return it to the company that you purchased it from.
The bulletproof vest test is in place to ensure that you are aware of what level of protection is being afforded to you. It also provides uniformity across manufacturers to create the same high-quality body armor that is demanded of them.