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A Full Guide to Stab Resistant Body Armor

A Full Guide to Stab Resistant Body Armor

The Essence of Stab-Resistant Armor

Stab-resistant body armor is crucial for law enforcement, corrections officers, security personnel, and civilians, providing protection against threats from edged and spiked weapons. When it comes to stab-resistant armor, its crucial to understand the different makes, models, and the specific threats they protect from. 

NIJ Protection Levels and Classes

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard 0115.00 outlines specific criteria these armors must meet to ensure they offer reliable protection. Stab resistant body armor should combine protection against injury from penetration by knives, edged weapons, and sharp-pointed weapons while ensuring that the movement of the user remains unrestricted. The protection required of the user should be determined from the specific threats they are likely to encounter.

The NIJ standard identifies two main protection classes:

  1. Edged Blade
    • Threats that may be expected on "the street" from high quality, commercially machine edged knife blades.
  2. Spike
    • Threats that may be expected in a corrections environment such as low quality knife blades and improvised spike-style weapons. 

Each class is further divided into three protection levels, indicating the armor's ability to withstand specific energy levels of attack:

  • Level 1: Designed for low-energy threats, making it suitable for extended wear in situations where the risk is considered to be minimal.
  • Level 2: Offers a balance between protection and comfort, intended for general duty and capable of withstanding medium-energy threats.
  • Level 3: Provides the highest level of protection against high-energy threats, recommended for high-risk scenarios.

The E1 and E2 energy levels within each protection level dictate the minimum performance requirements for armor under normal (E1) and overtest (E2) conditions. This ensures the armor provides an adequate margin of safety against the specified threats.

The E1 test permits a maximum blade or spike penetration of 7mm (0.28 in) for the given strike energy.

The E2 overtest implements a 50% increase in strike energy from E1. A maximum blade or spike penetration of 20mm (0.79 in) is required.

 Protection Level E1 Strike Energy
E2 Overtest Strike Energy
J                 ft-lbf 
J                 ft-lbf 
1 24 ± 0.50      17.7 ± 0.36  36 ± 0.60      26.6 ± 0.44 
2 33 ± 0.60      24.3 ± 0.44 
50 ± 0.70      36.9 ± 0.51 
3 43 ± 0.60      31.7 ± 0.44 
65 ± 0.80      47.9 ± 0.59 

Identifying NIJ Stab-Resistant Levels

A unique aspect of NIJ-certified stab-resistant armor is its labeling system, which uses colored shapes and numbers to indicate the armor's class and level. This system helps users quickly identify the protection level of the armor:

  • Edged Blade Protection: Utilizes a blue square to denote armor designed to protect against knives and other edged weapons.
  • Spike Protection: Identified by a green triangle, indicating armor crafted to resist improvised stabbing instruments like spikes.

Within these colored shapes, numbers 1, 2, or 3 clearly mark the armor's protection level, providing an immediate visual cue of the garment's intended use and capability.

Example of a stab armor label

Top Armor's Stab-Resistant Offerings

At Top Armor, we're committed to providing our customers with the highest quality protective gear, adhering to NIJ standards. Highlighting our dedication, we introduce two standout products:

  1. Spike Level 2 Armor: A versatile option for individuals needing moderate protection against spike threats. Its design focuses on comfort and mobility, making it an ideal choice for daily wear in various security settings.

  2. Spike Level 3 Armor: This armor offers the utmost protection against the most severe spike threats. Engineered for those in high-risk environments, it delivers confidence and safety when it matters most.

Making Informed Decisions

Choosing the right stab-resistant armor involves considering your specific threat exposure, required mobility, and comfort preferences. By understanding the distinctions between the different NIJ protection levels and classes, individuals can make informed decisions about their personal safety gear.

Top Armor stands ready to assist you in navigating these choices, ensuring you're equipped with body armor that meets your needs, backed by the rigorous standards set forth by the NIJ. Whether facing edged blades or spike threats, our products offer reliable protection to keep you safe in the line of duty.

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