What Is NIJ Certified Body Armor?
NIJ Levels are ballistic ratings established for body armor plates by The National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The NIJ sets the standards and testing protocols for body armor ratings and levels, which dictate the caliber and threat level that body armor plates can withstand. Specifically, they test and certify body armor to ensure that a bullet does not puncture the plate and that the wearer is protected against blunt trauma. These NIJ body armor ratings range from level I to level IV. The NIJ certification is the only certification nationally recognized for commercial use by law enforcement and the U.S. military.
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NIJ Certified Armor
Manufacturers must have their body armor plates tested through an NIJ-approved facility, where body armor is put through ballistics and endurance testing, including submerging armor in water as well as stressful conditions testing.
NIJ certified body armor will include a certification mark that lets the buyer know the body armor is legitimate and has been tested to protect against the threat level it has been assigned. If the body armor is NIJ certified, the certification will be placed on the exterior of the body armor plate. Some manufacturers cut costs and quality by not getting their body armor tested or certified by the NIJ. If there is no NIJ certification mark on your body armor, it does not meet NIJ standards and is not safe to wear. Some manufacturers may include verbiage with their body armor that states the armor complies with NIJ standard or is NIJ-rated, but this is not the same as being NIJ-certified. If the armor is not NIJ certified, the NIJ has not tested it and it is unfit for adequate protection.
NIJ Certified Threat Levels
NIJ Level I rated soft body armor can defeat low caliber threats, such as .22 caliber LR LRN and .380 ACP FMJ RN. NIJ Level IIA body armor can withstand a few more low caliber threats, including 9 mm FMJ RN and 40 S&W FMJ. NIJ Level II body armor can defeat up to 9mm FMJ RN and .357 Mag JSP.
NIJ certified level IIIA protection can defeat most common handgun rounds, including 9 mm FMJ RN, .357 SIG FMJ FN JHP and .44 Mag SJHP. NIJ certified level IIIA protection is used by undercover law enforcement and other professions where stealth, mobility and discretion are more important than a superior protection level. If you’re looking for a lightweight, low protection option with NIJ certified Level IIIA protection, check out our Tactical Level IIIA Certified Wraparound Vest.
For those who only plan on encountering handgun threats, level I-IIIA can provide adequate protection and are lighter weight than the higher ratings.
The most common body armor plates in circulation are NIJ Level III body armor plates. NIJ threat level III body armor plates will defeat all handgun rounds, and also rifle calibers up to 7.62mm NATO FMJ (M80). For NIJ level III threat protection that is approximately half the weight of comparable body armor plates, take a look at some of our newest technology – Spartan Armor Systems Level III Elaphros Body Armor Plates. For advanced threat protection, we suggest AR550 level III+ plates (single curve, full coat) which have been NIJ certified under level III specifications but special threat tested up to level III+.
NIJ certified armor with a level IV rating provides the best ballistic protection on the market. Level IV body armor can protect wearers against rounds such as 7.62 x 51, light armor piercing projectiles like 5.56 x 45 (M855), and .30 Caliber M2 armor-piercing bullets.
Spartan Armor Systems NIJ Certified Body Armor
We are the trusted NIJ certified armor supplier to law enforcement departments, military members, first responders and more. As a thank you, we offer a 10% discount for all first responders, military and law enforcement. All orders come with a one-week processing time and free shipping.
For more information about body armor or tactical equipment, call us at 520-396-3335 or send us a message using our contact form.