What does it mean to be NIJ certified?
The National Institute of Justice is a governing body that regulates and sets standards and requirements for any manufacture of body armor to follow. When purchasing an armored plate, you should insure that the plate is from a NIJ verified source. The verification process is long and tedious to say the least. However, this process is a necessity to understanding the protection level provided by the plate. Each plate endures the same rigorous testing process, and each is ranked accordingly.
The Testing Process
The NIJ has an extensive testing procedure in place for testing all armored plates seeking NIJ approval. The first part of the testing method is to torture test on the plate and plate carrier. This ten day test, involves exposing the body armor to extreme circumstances, such as high heat or frigid cold. This extreme element exposure evaluates the products ability to withstand under extreme conditions. Following the ten day torture test, comes the controlled firing by a computerized cannon. The NIJ ranks the plates as normal despite harsh environmental they had to endure. They must still be able to perform at the level they are seeking verification for. If the plate is not perforated by the firing, it is concluded that the plate protects against blunt trauma. Each plate is ranked based on velocity and ammo it can handle.
In order for a plate to pass and become NIJ verified, it must first past all aspects of the testing process. If passes without puncturing then the plate is rank based on ballistic testing conducted by facilities. The plate will be registered on the NIJ national list if passes all testing with no piercing of the armor. In addition to ballistic requirements, most armor also undergoes a stab and spike testing. Based on testing, a plate can be put in two categories. One being high quality commercially produced knifes. The other is the lower quality sometimes handmade knife. If the armor protects the torso and vital organs from being pierced by a knife, then your plates has some stab and spike protection. The level can be determined during the testing process. Manufacturers also have some requirements in the testing process, including the type of facility that they are allowed to receive testing at. Each facility utilized must be an independent, certified, and unbiased facility. They also have to preapprove by the NIJ, they also have a list of independent facilities. This ensures proper testing of the product, with the addition of equitable resulting. Moreover, manufacturers also have a duty to constantly update their product to meet the stipulations created by the NIJ. In order for a product to get tested, manufacturer must submit a request to the verified testing center. After, they would send samples of their plate carrier and plates to the facility. They must sign an agreement to get tested at a later date by the facility to test if product is still being made at same standards. Subjecting the manufacturer to later testing verification forces them to constantly put out a quality product, and ensures safety. After passing all testing, the company receives the verified stamp and list placement.
So being NIJ certified is important!!
When shopping for plate carriers or plates, remember to make sure it is NIJ stamped and improve. Purchasing a plate can be a huge investment in your tactical collection, but it also could save your life one day. Relying on something you know has not been properly tested raises a huge red flag. When you purchase a NIJ verified manufacturer, your purchasing a plate you can trust with your life. You’re purchasing something that has been tested to back up its abilities. Trusting in an armor that is non NIJ verified is like taking a huge gamble. This gamble could end in the loss of your life, invest in a body armor you can put your faith in to protect you in any instance.