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selection from:

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
National Institute of Justice 

"Selection and Application Guide to Police Body Armor"
NIJ Guide 100-98

NIJís policy on body armor has always been that preserving the life of the police officer is the sole criterion on which to judge body armor effectiveness. At present, an officer may select a garment that corresponds to an appropriate threat level and be confident that armor in compliance with NIJís standard will defeat the stated threat level.

Armor Classification

NIJ Standard-0101.03 establishes six formal armor classification types, as well as a seventh special type, as follows:

Type I (.22 LR; .38 Special). This armor protects against .22 Long Rifle High-Velocity lead bullets, with nominal masses of 2.6 g (40 gr), impacting at a velocity of 320 m/s (1,050 ft/s) or less, and against .38 Special roundnose lead bullets, with nominal masses of 10.2 g (158 gr), impacting at a velocity of 259 m/s (850 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against most other .25 and .32 caliber handgun rounds.

Type I body armor is light. This is the minimum level of protection every officer should have, and the armor should be routinely worn at all times while on duty. Type I body armor was the armor issued during the NIJ demonstration project in the mid-1970s. Most agencies today, however, because of increasing threats, opt for a higher level of protection.

Type II-A (Lower Velocity .357 Magnum; 9mm). This armor protects against .357 Magnum jacketed soft-point bullets, with nominal masses of 10.2 g (158 gr), impacting at a velocity of 381 m/s (1,250 ft/s) or less, and against 9mm full-metal jacketed bullets, with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr), impacting at a velocity of 332 m/s (1,090 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against such threats as .45 Auto., .38 Special +P, and some other factory loads in caliber .357 Magnum and 9mm, as well as the Type I threats.

Type II-A body armor is well suited for full-time use by police departments, particularly those seeking protection for their officers from lower velocity .357 Magnum and 9mm ammunition.

Type II (Higher Velocity .357 Magnum; 9mm). This armor protects against .357 Magnum jacketed soft-point bullets, with nominal masses of 10.2 g (158 gr), impacting at a velocity of 425 m/s (1,395 ft/s) or less, and against 9mm full-jacketed bullets, with nominal velocities of 358 m/s (1,175 ft/s). It also protects against most other factory loads in caliber .357 Magnum and 9mm, as well as the Type I and II-A threats.

Type II body armor is heavier and more bulky than either Types I or II-A. It is worn full time by officers seeking protection against higher velocity .357 Magnum and 9mm ammunition.

Type III-A (.44 Magnum; Submachine Gun 9mm). This armor protects against .44 Magnum, lead semi-wadcutter bullets with gas checks, nominal masses of 15.55 g (240 gr), impacting at a velocity of 426 m/s (1,400 ft/s) or less, and against 9mm full-metal jacketed bullets, with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr), impacting at a velocity of 426 m/s (1,400 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against most handgun threats, as well as the Type I, II-A, and II threats.

Type III-A body armor provides the highest level of protection currently available from concealable body armor and is generally suitable for routine wear in many situations. However, departments located in hot, humid climates may need to evaluate the use of Type III-A armor carefully.

Type III (high-powered rifle). This armor, normally of hard or semirigid construction, protects against 7.62mm full-metal jacketed bullets (U.S. military designation M80), with nominal masses of 9.7 g (150 gr), impacting at a velocity of 838 m/s (2,750 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against threats such as 223 Remington (5.56mm FMJ), 30 Carbine FMJ, and 12-gauge rifled slug, as well as the Type I through III-A threats.

Type III body armor is clearly intended only for tactical situations when the threat warrants such protection, such as barricade confrontations involving sporting rifles.

Type IV (armor-piercing rifle). This armor protects against .30-06 caliber armor-piercing bullets (U.S. military designation APM2), with nominal masses of 10.8 g (166 gr) impacting at a velocity of 868 m/s (2,850 ft/s) or less. It also provides at least single-hit protection against the Type I through III threats.

Type IV body armor provides the highest level of protection currently available. Because this armor is intended to resist "armor piercing" bullets, it often uses ceramic materials. Such materials are brittle in nature and may provide only single-shot protection, since the ceramic tends to break up when struck. As with Type III armor, Type IV armor is clearly intended only for tactical situations when the threat warrants such protection.

Special type. A purchaser who has a special requirement for a level of protection other than one of the above standard threat levels should specify the exact test rounds and minimum impact velocities to be used and indicate that this standard shall govern in all other respects.

Visit:  http://nlectc.org/txtfiles/selectapp.html for the full text of the National Institute of Justice Guide to Body Armor.  Every Law Enforcement officer should read it!  It is a straightforward booklet that covers all aspects of the armor you should be wearing on every tour of duty.

 

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