Comparison of National Institute of Justice Body Armor Standards NIJ 0101.04 (NIJ 2005IR) vs. NIJ 0101.06

Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor NIJ Standard-0101.06 is the latest published National Institute of Justice standard that sets minimum resistance requirements as well as test methods to be followed for ballistic resistant vests and ballistic resistant plates. The standard specifically addresses the Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor regarding soft armor panels “Vests” and hard armor panels “Rifle Armor Inserts”.

The NIJ Standard-0101.06 does not include: Edged Blade/Spike Weapons referenced in Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor (NIJ Standard–0115.00). Nor does it address the NIJ Standard for Ballistic Helmets (NIJ Standard-0106.01), Ballistic Resistant Shields or other products that may fall under Ballistic Resistant Protective Materials (NIJ standard 0108.01). Each of these standards are considered independent National Institute of Justice standards.

NIJ standard 0101.06 replaces the following standards

  • NIJ standard 0101.04 (2001)
  • NIJ 2005IR “Interim Requirements” (2005).

“NIJ 2005IR was released to make sure that the synthetic polymer material Zylon was never used in the manufacturing of NIJ 0101.04 certified ballistic resistant vests. Zylon was a ballistic material used in protective vests constructed with Zylon and became controversial in late 2003 when two police officer’s ballistic resistant vests made of Zylon failed. Some studies subsequently reported that the Zylon vests might degrade rapidly and leave their wearers with significantly less protection than expected. Learn more about Zylon here

NIJ Standard 0101.06 offers more rigid testing process for improving ballistic threat protection

  • Increased resistance against today’s threats, which means increased security for you as your ballistic resistant vest is designed and manufactured to defeat the latest ballistic threats.
  • Greater demands have been made for the ballistic testing of ballistic resistant vests and plates, which in turn provides for stronger and higher performing ballistic resistant products.
  • The durability of the body armor has been improved so that a ballistic resistant vest is stronger for everyday use.
  • The ballistic resistant vest also needs to be tested under specific conditions, including dropping into a water bath of approx. 21 degrees for 30 minutes. The former NIJ standard 0101.04 only required a water spray test for 6 minutes, which necessarily did not make the body armor waterproof.
  • In addition, the test inserts also need to be tumbled for 10 days with 72,000 cycles. The temperature needs to be 65 degree Celsius and have a humidity of 80% before testing the ballistic resistance, which has a slightly lower velocity than the above ballistic test.
  • NIJ 0101.06 Level III and IV Plates are conditioned to:
    • 10 days of uniform thermal exposure at 149 F (65 C) and 80% relative humidity.
    • 1 day of thermal exposure cycling from 5 F (-15 C) to 194 F (90 C) from 0% to 50% relative humidity.
    • Mechanical durability test (armor drop test).

Areas on which NIJ 0101.06 is different than the previous ballistic standards reviewed in the following

Ballistic Threat Levels

Levels/Threats NIJ 0101.04 (2005IR) NIJ 0101.06
NIJ IIA (9mm / 40 S&W) 1120 fps / 1055 fps 1224 fps / 1155 fps
NIJ II (9mm / .357 mag) 1205 fps 1306 fps
NIJ IIIA (.44 mag / .357 sig) 9mm eliminated Replaced with .357 sig – 1470 fps
  • For NIJ IIIA the 9 mm FMJ RN has been replaced with a .357 SIG FMJ FN.
  • Furthermore, you can test against special threats that are not covered by above standards. This also applies to hard armor in NIJ III and NIJ IV.
  • NIJ level I have been eliminated and no longer exist in the NIJ 0101.06 standard.

Guardian 3s11 Level III Plate tested at the NTS Chesapeake Ballistic Laboratory with four rounds 7.62 x 51 mm – M80 to NIJ 0101.06 Standard

Location of the ballistic impacts has changed

Shot location NIJ 0101.04 (2005IR) NIJ 0101.06
Shot to edge (distance from the edge of panel) 3 inches (7.62 cm) 2 inches (5.02 cm)
4, 5 and 6 shot will be placed within a circle of 3.94 inches (10.1 cm) Spread on insert 3 shots near the edge and 3 shots located close proximity to each other

The above points are essential for your safety. Previously, the shots were spread out on the panel according to NIJ standard 0101.04. For NIJ standard 0101.06, 3rd, 4th and 6th shot must be placed in a circle of 3.94 inches. This ensures the ballistic resistant vest can withstand multiple bullet impacts in the same area, and still offers a BFS below 44 mm.

Additionally, the “shot to edge” has been modified so that the 9mm FMJ RN and .357 SIG FMJ are placed 2 inches from the edge. This means bullets close to the edge are required to be stopped.

For NIJ standard 0101.04 body armor, it has been allowed that a shot hit 2 inches from the edge could push the material aside causing lethal damage. This is not allowed for NIJ 0101.06 compliant ballistic resistant vests.

The size of the ballistic inserts that are to be tested

The ballistic inserts that are to be tested according to NIJ standard 0101.06 need to be in the sizes: C-1 to C5 covering the smallest panel coverage to the largest panel coverage.

Typically, the smallest and largest panel is chosen as it will have impact on what models the factory can manufacture as a compliant/certified ballistic resistant vest.

Number of Panels/Plates & Shots per NIJ Standard

Description NIJ 0101.04 (2005IR) NIJ 0101.06
Number of panels to be tested 6 panels (front and back) 28 panels (front and back)
Total number of shots in test 48 shots / 24 for each caliber listed in threat matrix 144 shots / 72 for each caliber listed in NIJ threat matrix
Number of template inserts 1 insert 2 inserts (smallest C1 and largest C5 panels)
V50 threat recorded 9mm Both Calibers listed in NIJ threat matrix
Backface deformation requirement “BFS” 2 measured above 44mm 3 measured above 44mm and all other below 44mm

Rifle Armor Level III & IV Facts

Description NIJ 0101.04 (2005IR) NIJ 0101.06
Hard Armor NIJ Level III 6 ballistic impacts 6 ballistic impacts
Number of shots per panel 4 test plates with 6 shots per plate (12 P-BFS and 6 BL shots) 9 test plates with 6 shots per plate (24 P-BFS and 24 BL shots)
Hard Armor NIJ Level IV 1 ballistic impact 1 ballistic impact
Number of shots per panel 9 test plates with 1 shot per plate (2 P-BFS and 6 BL shots) 7-37 test plates with 1-6 shots per plate (24 P-BFS and 12 BL shots)

HighCom Armor NIJ 0101.06 Compliant Armor

Guardian 3s9™Guardian 4s17™Trooper sa2910™Trooper 3a300™
Guardian 3s9m™Guardian 4s17m™Trooper sa2300™Trooper sa3000™
Guardian 3s11™Trooper sa3100™
Guardian 3s11m™Trooper sa3920™
Guardian AR500™Trooper sa3920f™
Guardian AR1000™
Guardian 3i7m ICW sa3920™

Protection Assurance

NIJ standard 0101.06 focuses more on safety and everyday use than the former NIJ standard 0101.04. It is always recommended you check if the ballistic resistant vest has been certified in compliance to the NIJ 0101.06 standard as this is safer than older NIJ standards.

Finally, the price for the NIJ 0101.06 testing and compliance is significantly greater. NIJ 0101.04 costs that were approximately $2500-$3500 USD, of which the NIJ Standard 0101.06 test alone costs $18,000-$20,000 USD. In addition, 28 complete sets of ballistic inserts must also be provided for the test, which means that the cost of materials, labor, and assembly along with shipping and handling can far exceed the testing cost on its own.

The NIJ 0101.06 compliance testing program is expensive, but it also ensures the operator of a 0101.06 certified ballistic resistant vest of the products quality and likelihood it will not fail.


Want to learn more?

You can read more about the NIJ 0101.06 standard here or other helpful topics on this subject can be found below!

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