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Ballistic Body Armor: A Closer Look at the Follow-Up Inspection and Testing Program

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 271 Dated: February 2013 Pages: 14-17
Michele R. Coppola
Date Published
February 2013
4 pages
This article discusses the follow-up inspection and testing program for use in ensuring that recently manufactured body armor meets the standards established by the National Institute of Justice.
In July 2008, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published its most recent set of standards for body armor: Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor, NIJ Standard-0101.06. These standards establish minimum performance requirements and test methods for determining the ballistic resistance of body armor designed to protect the torso against gunfire. This article discusses the NIJ Compliance Testing Program (CTP), a program in which manufacturers voluntarily submit equipment samples for testing by NIJ-approved laboratories to determine whether their particular model or models comply with a particular NIJ standard. The CTP contains two phases: phase 1 involves documenting the design of a particular model and testing 28 samples to verify that it meets the minimum standards; phase 2 involves subjecting new samples to additional ballistic testing and comparing the findings to those from phase 1, ensuring consistent production of the body armor. The article also discusses the results of follow-up inspections that were conducted between September 2010 and August 2012. To date, these follow-up inspections have found eight body armor models that have had major variations in construction that could affect ballistic performance. Proposed changes to the program are discussed.