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NIJ's Bullet-Resistant Vest Standard Reaches Milestone

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 249 Dated: July 2003 Pages: 24-27
Date Published
July 2003
4 pages
Publication Series
After reviewing the history of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) bullet-resistant body armor standard, this article discusses the purposes of the standard, describes plans for improving the performance of body armor, and concludes with an explanation of NIJ's leadership role in this field.
Thirty years ago NIJ introduced the first ballistic-resistant body armor standard in response to a dramatic increase in the fatalities of law enforcement officers during the 1960's. Vests tested and worn in accordance with the standard have been credited with saving more than 2,500 lives. Recognition and acceptance of the standard has grown worldwide, making it the performance benchmark for bullet-resistant vests. The 1972 ballistic body armor standard has been revised four times, with each revision making the standard more detailed as it addressed increasingly sophisticated technologies, particularly in weaponry and ammunition. The current standard, updated in 2000, upgrades the testing methods for measuring ballistic protection, incorporates current threats from ammunition, and attempts to ensure consistent laboratory testing of body armor. Education of the law enforcement community about body armor is an ongoing process, and NIJ's National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center is a key resource. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 allows most law enforcement and corrections agencies to afford body armor. NIJ is working in the following areas to further improve body armor: development of a testing protocol and specifications for providing multihit testing capability for ballistic-resistant armor; extension of the life expectancy of vests; updating of the 1981 ballistic helmets standard to take into account more current ammunition threats; and a general ballistic materials standard update to cover other types of protective equipment, including blankets, bunkers, and shields, as well as protected facilities. NIJ's leadership role in this field has led the agency to partner with other countries to establish similar ballistic-resistant armor standards worldwide. 8 sources for additional information

Date Published: July 1, 2003