Body Armor Update


I was very lucky, actually. We had a traffic stop...and I initially thought the guy was in need of medical attention. He had blood on his face, he was drooling, vomiting, and I kind of looked over the car a little bit and said, ‘Hey, are you okay?'.... He had a .45 right under his leg...he pulled it out and shot me once in the chest. Luckily, I was wearing my body armor.... It was a dead-on heart saved my life."To get more news about bulletproof zone customer service, you can visit official website.

Accounts like this one from Kyle Russell, a K-9 police officer with the Alexandria (VA) Police Department, of random attacks against police officers are becoming increasingly common. For many officers like Russell, body armor makes the difference between life and death.
State of the Industry

While there hasn't been a revolution in body armor technologies over the past year, industry experts agree that there have been incremental improvements in the overall weight and bulk of body armor solutions. "The reduction of weight and increased performance of body armor has been due to the advancement of Ultra-High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene (UHMWPE) materials like Dyneema®. Officers today are seeing the lightest and highest performing armor in the history of body armor," says Michael Foreman, EVP of International Business Development, Federal Sales and Marketing, Point Blank Enterprises.

"Achievements continue to be realized in the ongoing quest for thinner and lighter armor which maintains, or exceeds, the expected protection levels," says Georg Olsen, Sales Manager at U.S. Armor Corporation. "When their armor is fitted properly and tailored specifically to them, officers can no longer use the excuse, ‘It's too heavy and uncomfortable!' This serves our primary goal which is to increase body armor wear rates."

Industry Challenges

Not all changes in the body armor industry are good, however. Olsen fears that the pressure to develop new products which are thinner and/or lighter may lead to the release of substandard products. "Being ‘first' with something is not always a good thing, and manufacturers need to be careful not to take products all the way out to the performance's always wise to leave room for a margin of error," he says. An influx of companies in the industry is also worrisome, he says. "I'm very concerned about the dramatic increase in new companies marketing armor products which have no longevity or background experience with these products."

Body Armor Certification

The National Institute of Justice Compliance Testing Program (NIJ CTP) ensures that products meet stringent standards and perform as expected by maintaining a list of compliant products and provide manufacturers with statements of compliance to be placed on their products. Concerned that some manufacturers were mimicking the NIJ statement of compliance, the NIJ has now registered its new Certification Mark with the US Patent Office.

The NIJ Mark is currently in use only by ballistic-resistant body armor manufacturers and may only be used on specific models which have both demonstrated compliance with NIJ Standard 0101.06 and participated in the FIT surveillance program. (

"This registered mark will help officers and agencies ensure that what they require and order is in fact what they receive. Having the NIJ Certification Mark will help prevent knockoffs, protect the end-users and prosecute those who breach the market with substandard products," Foreman says.

Even bigger news regarding the NIJ is its plan to eliminate Level IIA vest certifications by the end of the year, Olsen says. "They feel that the increase in street level firepower has created the need to raise the protection. This would create a significant issue for agencies who currently issue the Level IIA vest, including some very large agencies like the Chicago PD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," Olsen adds.

Shopping for Body Armor

"Shop for ‘best value,' not lowest price...they are often not the same thing," recommends Olsen. "When you publish highly limiting, ‘tight' bid specifications and award based solely on price, you cheat yourself out of the chance to compare several product offers and select what's best for your agency."

Be sure to test and evaluate prospective body armor purchases and confirm their technical data, Foreman says. It is a misconception that all published data and specifications are accurate.

Olsen concurs, "I have also noticed a highly disturbing trend of ballistic plates being marketed which imply they will do things they cannot do. In-house testing by the manufacturer is not the same thing as testing by an NIJ Certified Laboratory, and documentation should be required."

Olsen and Foreman also agree on the importance of insisting that vendors have proof of product liability insurance. "Be sure that the supplier has current and sufficient liability insurance coverage; require that it provide a Certificate of Additionally Insured," Olsen says. The product manufacturer should also have and maintain ISO Certification of its manufacturing and business processes during the entire useful lifespan of the armor you are purchasing, he adds.