The 28th Annual Report on the Latest Advances in Ballistic Armor Technology and Design
Police and Security News Editorial Staff
Image by Amaynut
It comes as no surprise that the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) revised ballistic-resistant body armor standard 0101.07 is still awaiting implementation. Announced back in 2018, the NIJ had planned to release a revised version of the current ballistic-resistant body armor standard in late 2020.
The new draft standard was developed through an NIJ Special Technical Committee (STC) made up of criminal justice professionals and testing experts. Following a public comment period, the STC and the NIJ undertook additional research to validate ammunition selection and will publish the standard upon completion of this research.
The STC took a critical look at NIJ Standard-0101.06 and, based on input from law enforcement, subject matter experts and test laboratories, made the necessary changes to address the needs the STC identified.
Some of the principal changes include an introduction of a robust test protocol for shaped or female body armor; a new naming convention – type/Level II, IIIA, III, and IV will be retired. The standard naming convention will become “HG” for handgun and “RF” for rifle. Examples include NIJ HG1.07, NIJ HG2.07, NIJ RF1.07, NIJ RF2.07, and NIJ RF3.07; plus the testing of hard armors has changed to accommodate the introduction of new test threats.
In the meantime, the current NIJ Standard-0101.06 is still in effect. The Criminal Justice Testing and Evaluation Consortium continues to maintain a list of all brands/models of body armor which comply with the current standard. This list can be found at https://tinyurl.com/pp8huznj
Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act
Since 1999, the Patrick Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) has awarded more than 13,000 jurisdictions a total of $522 million in federal funds for the purchase of over one million vests (1,441,013) as of November 2020. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 BVP application funding period was open from April 29, 2021, until June 23, 2021. More information, including a complete list of FY 2020 BVP award recipients, can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/dvd2fwbc
No Touch Measuring
In December 2020, Flying Cross®, together with Safariland®, announced a collaborative launch (phase one) of a new virtual sizing technology called XpertFit. This technology transforms the process in which individual officers are sized for uniform apparel and body armor. XpertFit offers a touchless, self-measure method of capturing body measurements right from a mobile phone.
The process takes less than two minutes to complete from initiating the technology until the time you are provided with product sizing.
Individuals access the technology from a mobile device and choose their path to fit either uniforms or body armor. Next, the technology gathers general information and then takes a front and side profile picture. This is then used to calculate measurements based on its algorithm and it determines a recommended size for Flying Cross uniform apparel or Safariland body armor.
New Ballistic Protection Products
Advanced Technology Compliant Solutions
ATCS has recently introduced the Swift Shield™ Compact which is a lighter
weight and smaller version of the origami-inspired foldable ballistic shield. The compact version is about 80 percent the size of the original Pro version and weighs only 4.8 lbs. It is only 3/8″ thick, yet, when fully deployed, still provides 3.1 square feet of NIJ Level IIIA (NIJ-STD-0108.01) ballistic protection, stopping pistol rounds such as 9mm, .40, .45 and .357 Mag.
When folded down, the Swift Shield Compact version is only 9.2″ x 14.8″ which is about the same length and width as a notebook computer. (atcompliantsolutions.com)
BlueRidge Armor, LLC
A new industry first feature available from BlueRidge Armor is the 3D Shield Builder.This new Web-based service allows officers to customize their BlueRidge shield, including being able to view it in 3D before purchasing.
Users select their ballistic shield platform, viewport, handle and light combination, and see their selections assembled instantly in full 3D view. Buyers can select a size and see how the range of shields match up against one another. They can also choose from a range of colors and COREBOND™ large format ID. Plus, agencies can also send in their own artwork or logo to add to their personalized shield.
The TOMAHAWK hard armor ballistic shield is a flat, compact weapon mount platform in Threat Level III+ rifle protection. It is an ideal vehicle assault rifle shield which provides ultralight rifle rated protection at a moment’s notice. Two size/weight configurations are available: the 18″ x 24″ version weighs 12.5 lbs.; and the 20″ x 30″ version weighs 16 lbs. The TOMAHAWK shield provides a flat panel weapon mount (viewport not available) and a straight bar handle for carrying. It also features a 100 percent composite ballistic construction.
Also new from BlueRidge is the VENGEANCE™ series hard armor ballistic shield which features an ambidextrous weapon mount design in Threat Level III+ rifle protection, along with a well-designed viewport. This new shield provides optimized coverage area, speed to sight acquisition and good balance. Depending on the size, the VENGEANCE ballistic shields weigh anywhere from 19 to 26 pounds. (blueridgearmor.com)
Boydd Products, Inc.
The Compact Response Shield from Boydd comes in both 21″ and 26″ lengths, with a panel weight of 7.5 lbs. and 10 lbs., respectively. Originally designed for solo officer responses to active shooter incidents, this lightweight and compact shield can be quickly deployed and utilized for a variety of response options. According to the manufacturer, the shield does not utilize bolts, screws or holes with its ballistic rifle panels – eliminating common weak points.
New features which have become available include Kydex® Rifle Support Brackets; Door Window Straps which enable driver or passenger side window protection; a Load Bearing Shield Cover; and a Foxfury Shield Light. (boyddshield.com)
Diamond Age Corp.
Diamond Age is offering a Full-Cut model option of its NeoSteel™ Helmet. The ACH-style helmet is manufactured from advanced metal alloys and exceeds VPAM-3+ Special Threats ballistic requirements.
The NeoSteel Helmets weigh in at 3.25 lbs. with high levels of ballistic performance and minimal backface deformation and impact trauma. (diamondage.org)
GH Armor Systems
The PH4 First Responder Tactical Carrier is GH Armor’s newest tactical carrier. Designed by a former tactical medic, the PH4 is a one-size-fits-all full coverage vest, available in Ballistic, Spike and Multi-Threat soft armor packages. The carrier is equipped with top-loading front and rear 10″ x 12″ plate pockets and is constructed of 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon. The PH4.FR is equipped with a rear drag strap for emergency extraction and telescoping padded shoulders for added comfort and weight distribution. (gharmor.com)
Hardwire recently introduced its new NIJ-certified Level II soft body armor. Hardwire soft body armor began with US Special Operations Command and is now used by the Marine Corps and Army. The technology’s military pedigree offers NIJ-certified ballistic performance along with up to 30% weight savings for the user. Made of Dyneema® fibers and pressed under 25 million pounds of force at precise temperatures, Hardwire turns multiple layers of material into a single system, resulting in up to 30% weight savings. This newest soft armor is also offered in an NIJ Level IIIA configuration. (hardwirellc.com)
Point Blank Body Armor
New from Point Blank is the Elite Gen V Concealable Carrier which features integrated Eurus Ventilation Panels. The surface area of these panels allows for air to flow through the material – cooler air enters and warm moist air exits through the ventilation holes. The surface material is antimicrobial and moisture-wicking, and the inner foam material resists moisture absorption.
Also new is the K-9 Operations Vest (Threat Level II/IIA) which provides improved adjustability at the chest for a secure fit, as well as rapid donning/doffing. The outer shell is made from 500 denier CORDURA material which is abrasion-resistant and the split collar offers a full range of motion during tracking. (pointblankenterprises.com)
Safariland has released two new highly customizable armor systems. The SHIFT 360™ is a scalable plate rack system which will accommodate multiple sizes ranging from small to extra-large SAPI plates. The lightweight flex internal lining system ensures a tight and secure fit and is available with either Advanced Webless MOLLE System with a new proprietary Divergent MOLLE in 500 denier CORDURA nylon or Traditional Modular Webbing.
The Gen 3 FAV (Fast Attack Vest) provides front, back, shoulder, and side soft armor ballistic coverage. The independent, bottom-loading front and rear rifle plate pockets accommodate 10″ x 12″ and SAPI plate sizes. Its new external cummerbund system provides enhanced fit and adjustability with proprietary attachment options for VELCRO® or FirstSpear® Tubes™. An internal flex pouch accommodates radio and accessory storage, while SWIFT Clip attachment offers compatibility with a variety of different pouch systems. (safariland.com)
ShotStop® Ballistics Technologies, LLC
ShotStop has recently announced the release of its Level IV HA Armor Piercing Advanced Body Armor Plates, made with Duritium® Technologies. Duritium is a portfolio of technologies including a proprietary formula of polyethylene fibers or ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene. These polyethylene fibers are woven and stacked by an advanced layering process.
These new Level IV body armor plates are available in Shooter Cut and SAPI Cut, in six different sizes, and weigh in at only 4.5 lbs. (2.0 kg) with a low-profile thickness of 0.9″. They provide multihit protection and can defeat a variety of special threats. (shotstop.com)
Spartan Armor Systems®
Spartan Armor Systems’ new Hercules Level IV Ceramic Body Armor features a true multi-curve design. The Hercules offers full edge to edge protection, providing 10″ x 12″ edge of armor to edge of armor protection and is threat protection rated for armor-piercing rifles up to .30-06 M2 AP.
Hercules weighs in at just 6.9 lbs. per plate and is made from ceramic and UHMWPE materials, covered with 1000 denier CORDURA material. (spartanarmorsystems.com)
Tactical Medical Solutions®, LLC
TacMed Solutions’ DKX M3 Series Ballistic Plates provide NIJ 0101.06 Level III stand-alone rifle protection. Positively buoyant, the plates provide users with flotation capability and blunt force trauma protection. At only 2.9 lbs., the M3 stops special non-armor piercing threats and is equipped with Radio Frequency Embedded Verification (RFEV) tracking for inventory management. A polyurea coating protects the plate from harsh conditions. (tacmedsolutions.com)
A Brief Reminder
FBI statistics show that from 1987 through 2015, over 92% of all felonious deaths of law enforcement officers in the line of duty in the US were due to firearms. However, analysis of 637 cases from FBI data when officers who were shot by a firearm in the torso found that those who wore body armor were 76% less likely to be killed than those who did not wear armor.