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Term of the Month

Defining Criminal Justice Research

Welcome to NIJ’s Term of the Month. Each month we are featuring a term from our scientific research portfolios informing significant American justice system issues and solutions.

November 2023 - Body Armor

Torso-worn body armor, commonly referred to as vests, helps protect law enforcement officers from weapons such as guns and knives. Through body armor standards and the Compliance Testing Program, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) provides law enforcement and corrections agencies and individuals with information about commercial body armor performance. NIJ’s body armor standards provide minimum performance requirements for both ballistic and stab resistant vests, while the Compliance Testing Program allows manufacturers to submit their body armor products for testing to see if they meet the national standard.  

NIJ will be publishing a revision to the performance standards for ballistic resistant body armor later this month, with updates including improved test methods for armor designed for women, additional test requirements for both soft and hard body armor, and several standardized procedures and test methods published by ASTM. Ballistic threat tests were part of the previous body armor standard but now will exist as their own standard: “Specification for NIJ Ballistic Protection Levels and Associated Test Threats.” This specification describes which bullets and velocities should be used to test ballistic resistant equipment in conjunction with other performance standards.

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Ballistic Resistant Armor

Stab Resistant Armor

See a full list of all NIJ’s active standards


Date Created: January 28, 2021