Overview of Compliance Testing
NIJ administers a program to test commercially available armor for compliance with the standards to determine whether the vests will perform as expected.
In addition to being tested for NIJ compliance, body armor models must meet workmanship and labeling requirements.
NIJ also has a follow-up inspection and testing requirement to ensure that the body armor worn by officers is safe and reliable. Each body armor manufacturer with a model that meets the standard is subject to six follow-up inspections and testing over a five-year period, consisting of:
- Inspections of recently manufactured vests to determine whether they are constructed in the same way as the original samples.
- Follow-up ballistic testing.
NIJ's Criminal Justice Testing & Evaluation Consortium manages the compliance testing program.
Manufacturers' Role in Compliance Testing
On this page find:
- Overview of Compliance Testing
- Manufacturers' Role in Compliance Testing
- Testing at Approved Laboratories
During compliance testing, manufacturers:
- Register with the program.
- Submit body armor application documents.
- Send armor model samples to an NIJ-approved laboratory. See our list of approved testing laboratories.
- Agree to follow-up inspection and testing. Learn about follow-up inspections.
- Declare a period of ballistic warranty.
Testing at Approved Laboratories
NIJ requires that body armor models being tested for NIJ compliance must be tested at an approved laboratory. To be approved, a lab must:
- Be accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology as meeting general international standards for laboratory technical competence and quality management, as well as meeting specific technical requirements to perform the body armor tests included in the NIJ standards. Learn more about the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program.
- Be an independent, third-party laboratory and conduct all body armor compliance testing within the United States.
- Demonstrate freedom from potential conflicts of interest and maintain independent decisional relationships from its clients, affiliates, contractors and other organizations.