You may be surprised to hear that traditional body armor and bulletproof vests don’t protect you against stabs and slashes. Now, in the US, stab vests are that common, because ballistic threats are a lot more common, however, in other countries, especially the UK and other European nations, Knife attacks are a lot more common, therefore, there is a worldwide […]

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You may be surprised to hear that traditional body armor and bulletproof vests don’t protect you against stabs and slashes. Now, in the US, stab vests are that common, because ballistic threats are a lot more common, however, in other countries, especially the UK and other European nations, Knife attacks are a lot more common, therefore, there is a worldwide need for stab-proof armor. 

Even in the US, stab-resistant vests are needed in prisons and correctional facilities, where inmates are far more likely to get their hands on an improvised stab weapon rather than a gun. 

In this post, we are going to talk in detail about Stab proof vests, and the standards that are used to manufacture and regulate them. Keep reading to learn more.

NIJ0115.00 Standard overview.

In the US, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) specifies the standard for different kinds of armor, and their NIJ 0115.00 Standard specifically concerns stab-resistant vests. It was developed in collaboration with the Police Scientific Development Branch (PSDB) from the UK, where stab vests are regularly used by law enforcement officers. 

The NIJ 0115.00 standard specifies the testing methods and the minimum performance requirements body armor needs to meet to be classified as stab-resistant. Now, the threat posed by a knife depends on a wide variety of factors, like the attack angle, the design of the blade or spike, the physical strength of the attacker, and their skill. Therefore, the testing methods created under the NIJ 0115.00 Standard use three different kinds of weapons and 2 standard energy levels to specify the protection level of stab-proof armor

The NIJ 0115.00 Standard only pertains to stab-resistant armor, and does not address slash resistance, however, stopping slash attacks is typically easier than stopping stabs, therefore, most stab vests also offer protection against slashes.

All body armor manufacturers, who make stab proof body armor need to comply with these standards to commercially sell their products.

NIJ0115.00 types of threats

The NIJ 0115.00 Standard addresses two kinds of threats, commercial threats, and improvised threats.

Commercial threats

The treats from commercially manufactured knives and spikes are classified as commercial threats. These include all kinds of kitchen knives, combat knives, switchblades and spiked weapons like ice picks. 

Improvises threats

Improvised threat protection standards are designed to test armor against improvised spikes, sharp-tipped objects, or an edged blade (Shives), like the ones found on inmates in correctional facilities, or juvenile detention centers.

Stab proof vest testing.

NIJ0115.00 levels of protection

According to the NIJ 0115.00 standard, stab-proof vests are classified into three levels of protection. These are levels 1, 2, and 3. However, before moving on to the detail of these protection levels, you need to understand how stab-proof vests are tested.

  • Three weapons are used for the stab tests, two knives, and an ice pick.
  • The stab vests are stabbed at two angles, straight on, and at 45 degrees.
  • The stab vests are stabbed with two levels of energy, ie. E1, and E2. E1 is the level of energy that the stab resistant vest is rated to stop, according to its protection level, and for E2, 50% more energy than E1 is applied.
  • There should not be any penetration at E1, and at E2, only a few millimeters of spike or knife penetration is permitted, such that the skin may be damaged, but no vital organs are harmed.

NIJ Level I stab protection

stabproof vest level 1

A stab-proof vest that is rated for level 1 protection, needs to resist knife attacks that have up to 24 joules of energy. This is the E1 energy level for a Level 1 stab-proof vest and at energy level E2, which is 36 joules, there should only be 7mm of penetration at most. 

Level 1 is the lower level of stab protection, and these vests are usually used to make concealable armor.

NIJ Level II stab protection

A level II stab-proof vest needs to offer protection against stabbing attacks of up to 33 joules at energy level E1. at energy level E2, it should allow only 7mm of penetration at most for an attack of up to 50 joules. 

These stab-proof vests are more commonly worn by law enforcement, customs officers, immigration officers, transit officers, traffic wardens, and police officers in many countries in the European Union including the UK, where knife and blunt force trauma attacks are more common than shootings.  These overt vests also have load-bearing systems to carry tactical gear.

NIJ Level III stab protection

This is the highest level of protection for stab and slash-proof body armor. A level III stab-proof vest should be capable of prohibiting knife penetration in an attack that carries 43 joules of energy and allow maximum penetration, for an attack of up to 65 joules. 

These vests are most commonly used by police officers and correctional officers in prisons, where they are more likely to be attacked by an improvised knife blade, spike, or shiv. These vests can also dampen blunt force trauma attacks, like a hit from a pipe, or rod. 

Is wearing a stab vest illegal?

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What is a stab-proof vest made out of?

Stab-resistant body armor has been around for a long time. People have been trying to protect themselves from slashes and stabs for a lot longer than guns and bullets.

In old times, slash-resistant vests were made from steel and other metals, usually in the form of chain mail. Leather and metal plates were also used to make stab-proof body armor.

However, modern stab-proof armor is made from specially treated high-density Aramid materials. These high-density Kevlar vests are a lot lighter and protect you against stronger attacks as well.

When someone tries to stab or slash at a stab-proof Kevlar vest, the edge of the blade gets caught in the tightly woven fibers. A modern stab-proof vest also offers better protection against spikes and needles.

stab proof vest
Bulletproof vest with armor plates.

Is a bullet proof vest stab proof?

Though a bulletproof vest offers ballistic protection against high-velocity projectiles, they usually are not stab resistant at all. Now, if you are carrying hard armor level III or level IV plates in plate carriers, they will probably stop an attack from a knife, however soft body armor and level IIIa bulletproof vests, won’t be much help.

If you need protection from both bullets and tabbing attacks, you should consider getting dual protection ballistic vests, which provide protection against both guns and knives.

How much is a stab-proof vest?

When it comes to stab-resistant body armor, there are a lot of different options available in the market, at a variety of price ranges, however, if you want the best bang for your buck, you should opt for the Specter stab and bulletproof concealable body armor from Acelink body armor.

This incredible vest will offer protection from stab attacks carrying up to 36 joules of energy, and it is also a level IIIa ballistic vest, which means that it will provide ballistic protection against pistol calibers up to a 44 magnum.

This lightweight vest only costs $559 and has protection panels in the front and the back.

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