What are the different levels of body armor?


Nowadays, firearms are upgrading constantly, driving the development and innovation of protective products. Before choosing right protective products, you must know what their protection levels belongs to. Then, what is a protection level? How many protection levels are there? And what are the classification rules? Now let’s talk something about these questions.

Currently, there are several ballistic resistance standards, among which the NIJ standard are the most advanced and authoritative in the world. Many manufacturers and criminal justice institutions all test the bulletproof product levels with the methods prescribed by NIJ.

The NIJ standard is always updated and improved regularly, whose latest version is NIJ 101.06, the revision of NIJ 101.04 issued in September 2000.


          Various Bulletproof Products

                                                                 Various Bulletproof Products


According to NIJ 101.06, protective products can be divided into five levels, IIA, II, IIIA, III and IV. Body armor with a protective level of IIA, II or IIIA can resist gun attack, while a III or IV one can resist rifle attack.


1. Protection levels against gun attack

There are three protection levels against gun attack, IIA, II, and IIIA.

IIA: rated to stop 9mm FMJ at a maximum speed of 332 m/s, and 40 S & W FMJ at a maximum speed of 312 m/s.

IIA is the lowest protection level. A level IIA equipment is usually used for resisting smaller threats, and it has been going out of our view little by little.

II: rated to stop 9mm FMJ, and .357 Magnum FMJ at a maximum speed of 427 m/s.

Compared with level IIA, a level II equipment is usually used for resisting some little bigger threats, such as .357 Magnum FMJ. Similarly, due to the weak protective capability, level II protective products are becoming less and less, but there are still some level II concealed ultra-thin bulletproof vests.

IIIA: rated to stop both 9mm FMJ, and .44 Magnum FMJ, at a maximum speed of 427 m/s.

A IIIA equipment is usually for defending people against the attack of powerful guns. Nowadays, level IIIA ballistic vests are the most popular, especially in military and police force.


2. Protection levels against rifle attack

There are two protection levels against gun attack, III and IV.

III: rated to stop M80 FMJ, and .357 Magnum FMJ at a maximum speed of 838 m/s.

A level III equipment can stop the regular bullets of M80, M193 and AK. This level covers a range of protective products with different prices, and most of ballistic plates available now belongs to NIJ level III.

P. S. There is also an additional level III+, which is not included in NIJ standard. To meet customers’ requirements, many manufactures produce protective products with a level between III and IV, and this kind of products are naturally defined as level III+ products. A level III+ equipment is usually used for resisting the attack of SS109.

IV: rated to stop .30 M2 AP, at a maximum speed of 869 m/s, as well as the AP and API of AK, M80, SS109, and M193.

IV is the highest protection level. With the capability of stopping bullets of most rifles, level IV equipment is usually a necessity in major military activities.

In addition, if there are special protection requirements above the five levels, you should provide manufactures with distinct testing threats and the minimum shooting speed, and indicate the effectiveness of the other parts of the wanted protection level.


          Ballistic Plate Testing

                                                                              Ballistic Plate Testing


Finally, it must be noted that the power of bullets can be affected by many other factors. There is possibility that a bulletproof equipment with a certain level fails to stop bullets required for this level. For example, a ballistic vest that can resist 40S&W, may not be able to stop the bullets of 40 S&W at a high speed.

Given the above information, you may have got a preliminary understanding of protection levels.

If there are still some questions, welcome to contact us.

Newtech armor has been focusing on the research and development of bulletproof products for 11 years, and offers a full line of military hard armor plates with the protection levels of NIJ IIIA, III, and IV, as well as other protective products such as bulletproof vests and ballistic shields. When considering the purchase of bulletproof equipment, you can visit our website to find the suitable ones for yourself.



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