The U.S. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has established and updated minimum performance stands for body armor to ensure that users will know what their body armor will protect them from. The NIJ classifies body armor into 5 different threat levels:
Level IIA, Level II, Level IIIA, Level III and Level IV, based on their ability to stop specified rounds at specified velocities. The current standard is NIJ 101.06.
Please note that while a higher level generally means protection against more powerful rounds, it does not account for other factors such as weight or multi-hit capability. Because of this it is suggested that you choose body armor that is right for the situation and not the one that is the highest level.
NIJ Level I to IIIA are typically soft armour panels made from Kevlar, Twaron or similar aramid material. Level III & IV are typically hard plates made from steel, ceramic, HMWPE and similar material.
NIJ Levels offer the following protection:
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