Look for NIJ’s New Mark When Choosing Body Armor

February 28, 2017

PhotoIf you are responsible for evaluating and purchasing body armor for your agency, the new NIJ Certification Mark (NIJ Mark) may be a helpful tool in identifying NIJ compliant body armor. As of October 2016, NIJ’s CTP began to phase out the NIJ Statement of Compliance in favor of a new registered Mark of Compliance to indicate that specific models of armor have been determined to meet the current ballistic-resistant body armor standard and NIJ CTP requirements, and have been approved by NIJ.

Previously, the NIJ CTP has communicated compliance status through both a published compliant product list and a statement of compliance applied to equipment. NIJ has now begun authorizing ballistic-resistant body armor manufacturers to move from using the statement of compliance to using the NIJ Mark.

Look for the NIJ Mark. [See a sample here.]  It indicates that body armor models have been tested through the NIJ CTP and found to comply with the requirements of the NIJ Standard. NIJ has registered the Mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and has established rights that provide certain legal protections against misuse by manufacturers who do not participate in the NIJ CTP; the statement of compliance did not have these protections and was susceptible to manipulation. In the past, some manufacturers created statements very similar to the NIJ statement of compliance that implied participation in the NIJ CTP. Thus, some criminal justice practitioners may have mistakenly purchased armor that was not NIJ compliant.

The NIJ Mark indicates that the ballistic-resistant body armor model to which it has been applied has been determined by the NIJ to be compliant with the current version of the NIJ ballistic-resistant body armor standard and NIJ CTP requirements. By placing the NIJ Mark on the armor, a manufacturer declares that the armor was both constructed in the same manner as the original test items evaluated by the NIJ CTP, and assembled under the NIJ CTP’s surveillance program that periodically inspects and tests production armor.  I recommend that when making a purchasing decision, agencies do two things:  Check for the Mark and go to JUSTNET to identify whether the armor’s listed on the CPL. Find the Ballistic-Resistant Body Armor CPL here: https://www.justnet.org/compliant/ballistic_cpl.html.

Manufacturers are completing their NIJ CTP agreements and are submitting draft labels for NIJ authorization to use the Mark. Once authorized by NIJ, the manufacturer may begin placing the NIJ Mark on production units. The new process is underway, and very soon, all newly produced compliant armors will carry the NIJ Mark. Other elements you should look for on a label are:

  1. Name, logo or other identification of listed company.
  2. Model designation as it appears on the manufacturer’s Notice of Compliance.
  3. Applicable standard version.
  4. Rated level of protection, referencing the standard.
  5. Size (name of individual if custom-fitted).
  6. Serial number.
  7. Lot number.
  8. Location and date of manufacture.
  9. Date of issue (filled in by user).
  10. Length of warranty and point of contact for warranty information.
  11. Declaration as to whether the armor provides ballistic protection, stab/slash protection or both.
  12. Clear identification of either strike face or body side.
  13. Care instructions.

For more information about the NIJ Mark, go to: https://www.justnet.org/howto/NIJ-Mark.html. Or contact CTP staff at bactp@justnet.org or call (800) 248-2742.

Alex Sundstrom
Testing Coordinator, JTIC