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NIJ Body Armour Protection Levels

NIJ Body Armour Protection Levels

All ballistic and/or edged blade and/or spike restistant vests are tested to different levels, and are designed to serve different uses and purposes. More specifically, a vest that is certified to protect against bullet threats may offer no protection to stab threats, and vice versa.

Therefore, it is important to consider which threats you may face, so you can identify which protection levels are most suitable for your needs.

When choosing a vest, it can be assumed that a vest with a higher rating vest will be slightly thicker, slightly less flexible, and slightly heavier than a lower level alternative. This is especially the case when increasing the ballistic level of the vest, as more layers of kevlar must be present within the soft protective panels of the vest.

If level III or IV ballistic protection is needed, hard ceramic or polyethylene SAPI plates will need to be added to the vest. As these plates are designed to defeat rifle threats, they add much greater weight to the Cordura with SAPI plate pocket vests (the only vest which can hold these plates.)

Below are the tables issued by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice). These outline which bullets will be stopped by which levels. It also noteworthy that higher levels will stop bullets travelling at higher speeds.

NIJ protection standards might update slightly from time to time, but the changes will be minor, and will not affect 99.9% of private consumers.

It is worth mentioning that if these levels do indeed change, the vest that passed the old standard would more than likely pass any small changes.

DO NOT purchase a lower level vest than needed in the hope it will perform higher. No vest is truly bullet proof, and any vest will always be penetrated by a higher, more powerful calibre weapon.

If you need any help deciding which vest and/or size to choose, please see our 'Guide to choosing a vest'. If you are still unsure, it may be worth contacting one of our specialists directly, using the many contact options advertised.

Threat Level

Round

Barrel
Length (inches)

Velocity

Ft/sec

M/sec

IIA


All .22 LR, .25, .32, .380, .38 & .40 
S&W .22Mag. 40gr Speer FMJ
9mm 115gr JHP Rem, Hornady, Federal
9mm 115gr Cor-Bon JHP
9mm 115gr STHP Winchester
9mm 124gr FMJ Rem
9mm 124gr IMI Black Tip
9mm 124grW-W Nato FMJ+P
9mm 124gr JHP Federal Hydra-Shok HP
9mm 124gr LHP Federal Nyclad
9mm 147gr JHP Win Black Talon & Reg.
9mm 147gr JHP Federal Hydra-Shok
9mm+P+ 127gr Win SXT
9mm+P+ 115gr JHP
.357Mag 180gr Cor-Bon
.357Mag 158gr SJSP Remington
.357Mag 158gr Norma FMJ & SWC
.357Mag 125gr CCI-Speer SJHP
.357Mag 125gr Win JHP
.357Mag 110gr JHP R-P Win
.357Mag 158gr SJHP Win
.357Mag 125gr Cor-Bon
.357Sig 125gr JFP
.357Sig 115gr JHP
.357Sig 125gr JHP
.40 S&W 180gr JHP All Major Brands
.40 135 to 200gr All Known Brands
10mm 200gr Norma
10mm 200gr JHP Win Black Talon
10mm 135 to 200gr All Known Brands
.45ACP 190gr JHP Super Vel
.45ACP 230gr JHP Win Black Talon & Reg
.44Mag 250gr Win Black Talon
.44Mag 180gr JHP Federal
.44Mag 240gr W-W "gas check"
Shotgun Pellets #12 - 000Buck


4
4
5
5
4
5
5
5
5
5
5
4
5
6
4
6
4
6
6
6
5
4
5
6
5
5
5
5
5
16
16
6
4
4
24


1300
1155
1300
1225
1090
1200
1200
1120
1120
950
1050
1300
1250
1290
1250
1300
1450
1550
1450
1300
1350
1400
1350
1475
1100
1000
1050
1175
990
1200
900
1325
1475
1300
1200


397
397
397
374
332
366
366
342
342
290
320
397
381
393
381
397
442
473
442
397
412
427
412
450
336
305
320
358
366
275
259
404
450
397
366

II


.22Mag .40gr FMJ
9mm 124gr FMJ Remington
9mm 116gr Norma NATO FMJ
9mm 124gr FMJ (steel) GECO
9mm 115gr FMJ Fiocchi
9mm 115gr FMJ (steel) Sellier & Bellot
9mm 124gr FMJ (Norinco)
.357Mag 158gr SJSP Remington
.357Mag 125gr Speer JHP
.44Mag 240gr SWC GC Remington
.44Mag 240gr JHP W-W
.45 230gr FMJ Winchester Magnum
.50 325gr Action Express
7.62X25 85gr Tokorev VSP FMJ
12ga R-P 1oz .52 Sabot Slug
12ga 3" Mag Win 1oz .50 cal Sabot Slug

24
5
5
5
5
5
5
6
6
6
6
5
6
24
5
24

1800
1175
1150
1110
1210
1140
1140
1395
1550
1400
1350
1400
1425
1250
1250
1400

549
358
351
339
369
348
348
425
473
427
412
427
435
381
381
427

IIIA


9mm 124gr FMJ Remington
9mm 116gr FMJ Norma
9mm 123gr FMJ GECO
9mm 123gr FMJ Lapua
.44Mag 240gr SWC GC Remington
.44Mag 180gr Fed JHP
.50 325gr Action Express
12ga R-P 1oz .52 Sabot Slug
12ga 3" Mag Win 1oz .50 cal Sabot Slug


16
16
16
16
6
6
6
5
24

1400
1350
1300
1350
1400
1600
1450
1350
1500

427
412
397
412
427
488
442
381
427

III


7.62 NATO Ball 150 Grain FMJ (308)
30.06 PSP 180 Grain
.30 Carbine 110 Grain FMF 
12 Gauge Rifled Slug
.223 55 Grain FMJ (5.56 MM)
7.62 x 39 150 Grain FMJ



28
24
18
18
20
22

2750
2700
1950
1550
3075
2400



Spike/Stab
Protection Levels

E1 Strike Energy

E2 Overtest Strike Energy

J ft. lbf J ft. lbf
1 24+/- 0.50 17.7 +/-0.36 36+/- 0.60 26.6 +/- 0.44
2 33+/- 0.60 24.3+/-0.44 50+/- 0.70 36.9 +/- 0.51
3 43+/- 0.60 31.7+/-0.44 65+/- 0.80 47.9 +/- 0.59


Bullet Abbreviations
The following standard abbreviations are used to designate types of  bullets or projectiles contained in the rounds tested.

FMC/J

FMJTC

HSP

LRB

LRN

LSWC

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket Truncated Cone

Hollow Soft Point

Lead Round Ball

Lead Round Nose

Lead Semi-Wadcutter

JHP

JSP

LFP

SJHP

SWHP

Jacketed Hollow Point

Jacketed Soft Point

Lead Flat Point

Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point

Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point