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Explanation of NIJ standard 0101.06

This article looks at the technical aspect of NIJ standard 0101.06 and what requirements there is for a bullet proof vest tested after the .06 standard. 

NIJ standard 0101.06 is the newest and most advanced bullet proof standard in the world. The NIJ standard poses extremely high requirements for the product, and when comparing to the older NIJ standard 0101.04 with the NIJ standard 0101.06, you will see significant differences in test methods, where many NIJ std. .04 body armor vests wouldn’t be able to pass the latest test NIJ 0101.06 standard. 

NIJ standard 0101.06 supersedes the following standards: 

  • NIJ standard 0101.04 Rev. A, Ballistic Resistance or Personal Body Armor (June 2001) 
  • NIJ 2005 Interim Requirements, Ballistic Resistance or Body Armor (August 2005) 

NIJ standard 0101.06 focuses on providing you with the latest and best technology as the requirements for manufacturing a bullet proof vest have become significantly harder versus NIJ standard 0101.04. 

The 3 main topics for NIJ standard 0101.06 are as follows: 

  • Increased performance against today's ballistic threats to police
  • You need to be able to trust your body armor 
  • Improved durability as the body armor must be able to withstand the challenges of everyday wear and loose the ballistic durability when worn every day, 7 times a week, 52 weeks a year.


Higher velocity for test bullets 

The purpose of the .06 standard is to provide you with protection against the latest and most advanced threats. For NIJ Level IIA, II, and IIIA the velocity has increased and the .357 SIG have been added to NIJ level IIIA, and in addition to testing the bullet proof vest ambient/dry there has also been added a conditioned state, where the body armor is being tested wet. We will get into this further down the text. 

Water and conditioned body armor test

Besides being able to stop a certain type of bullets, like all other bulletproof standards, there is particular focus on trusting that one's bullet proof vest still have the same ballistic resistance no matter if it's a brand new body armor or has been used for 5 years. For this the conditioned testing has been added. 

Before adding the conditioning test, a bullet proof vest should only be tested after being exposed to a water spray for 6 minutes (NIJ standard 0101.04), which is significantly different, as it now needs to be put into a water bath in 21 degree hot water for 30 minutes before testing the bullet proof vest. 

This also means that .06 vests usually come with a waterproof sealing to comply with this requirement where as a .04 vest could easily get through this without being waterproof. 

In addition to being put into water, there is also added a durability to increase the durability of the body armor as it tumbles over a 10 day period, with 72,000 cycles at 65 degrees with 80% humidity. 

When testing the body armor that has been through the conditioning test, the velocities of the bullets are lower. 

The conditioned test applies only to the NIJ standard 0101.06, and this test significantly increases the durability of a bullet proof vest as it means it can keep water and moisture away from the ballistic insert while being used for daily wear without losing its bullet proof capacity. 

It is important to keep in mind whether the bullet proof vest has been exposed to the conditioning test as this means a lot for the durability and whether you can count on the body armor. 

Testing 28 complete bulletproof vests 

For NIJ Standard 0101.06 it is required to test 28 complete bullet proof vests (front and back inserts) where the manufacturer will test the following: 

  • A set that will be the size of the smallest bullet proof vest
  • A set that will be the size of the largest bullet proof vest 

Each ballistic insert must be tested with 6 shots and the shots are placed in a certain order on the insert. (6 small and 22 large ballistic inserts) 

There must be 3 shots near the edge (2 inches / 5.08 cm from the edge) and 3 shots placed in a circle with a diameter of 3.94 inches / 10 cm. 

This ensures that the bullet proof vest can stop impacts that are located close to the edge. It has previously been seen that some bullet proof vests of poor quality could not stop this, and the bullet would push the vest aside and kill on the spot. 

The angle of the shot

In addition to testing horizontal bullet against the insert, in addition to the normal P-BFS, you also test the angle of the bullet, which means shooting from an angle of 30 degrees and an angle of 45 degrees with a single shot.

This ensures that the bullet proof vest can stop bullets fired from different angles, which previous standards have not been focusing. 

Ballistic plates 

Ballistic plates needs to be exposed to thermal exposure at 65 degrees, and a humidity of 80% for 10 days. 

Then they must be subjected to thermal exposure with a shifting cold and heat that fluctuates from -15 degrees to 90 degrees and an air humidity fluctuating from 0 to 50 degrees. 

Hard armor plates need to be put into water and tested wet. For NIJ level 3, 9 samples are tested with 6 shots per panel. 24 P-BFS shot and 24 BL shot. 

For NIJ level 4, 7-37 samples are tested with 1-6 shots per. Panel. 24 P-BFS shot and 12 BL shot.  

When summarizing the NIJ standard 0101.06, there is a lot of focus on stability and the durability of a vest that is used every day. This gives you significantly better safety when a bullet proof vest and ballistic plate tested according to NIJ standard 0101.06. 

You can readmore here about the difference between NIJ standard 0101.04 and NIJ standard 0101.06. 


  • P-BFS (Perforation-Backface Signature):This is a test to secure the perforation of body armor. Here, the bullet proof insert needs to be kept in direct contact with the material (using a special type of clay) in order to measure how the bullet proof vest reacts to the bullet impact.
  • BL (Baseline Ballistic Limit): Here you test "limit” for perforation. It is important to understand that no perforation can take place at the lowest required velocity. Only at higher speeds this is allowed to measure the BL.