Standardization News

Body Armor Standards

ASTM International's Committee on Homeland Security Applications (E54) recently approved three new standards for body armor for military and criminal justice personnel, helping protect them from gunshots and stabs.

According to ASTM member Casandra Robinson, a broad group of stakeholders (including the National Institute of Justice, the U.S. Army Program Executive Office, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology) is working through ASTM to harmonize body armor standards, including test methods.

"The intent of this collaboration is to eliminate duplication of effort, to more effectively use resources, and to reduce testing costs," says Robinson, a physical scientist at NIST. "The ultimate goal is to provide the best protection possible using the combined knowledge and resources of federal agencies, law enforcement agencies, testing and certification bodies, and manufacturers."

The first standard in this series, Practice for Measurement of Body Armor Wearers (E2902) was approved in 2012. The committee recently approved three more:

  • The Practice for Body Armor Wearer Measurement and Fitting of Armor (E3003) will help ensure proper measurement and fitting of body armor to obtain sufficient coverage of the torso and vital organs while allowing the wearer to have full range of motion.
  • The Specification for Preparation and Verification of Clay Blocks Used in Ballistic-Resistance Testing of Torso Body Armor (E3004) provides a standardized method for handling backing assemblies used in ballistic-resistant torso body armor testing. This standard helps reduce variability within and between laboratories.
  • The Terminology for Body Armor standard (E3005) defines more than 50 terms relating to ballistic, stabbing, fragmentation, blunt impact and other threats. These words, phrases, abbreviations and formulas help remove ambiguity and improve communication in the body-armor community.

Robinson notes that the growing suite of standards will improve and validate methods, increase consistency between test laboratories and ultimately increase confidence in body armor.

ASTM's subcommittee on personal protective equipment (E54.04) encourages all interested parties, particularly manufacturers, to join in developing potential future standards:

  • Specification for Indoor Ballistic Test Range Configuration for Small Arms and Fragmentation Testing of Body Armor;
  • Test Method for Measuring Backface Deformation of Clay Backing During Body Armor Testing;
  • Practice for Hard Armor Test Item Conditioning;
  • Practice for Nonplanar, Soft Armor Test Items;
  • Assessment of Ballistic Limit for Body Armor;
  • Assessment of Penetration Resistance and Backface Signature for Body Armor; and
  • Body Armor Program Management.

To purchase standards, visit and search by the standard designation, or contact ASTM Customer Relations (tel +1.877.909.ASTM; ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member at

CONTACT Technical Information: Casandra Robinson, National Institute of Standards and Technology • Gaithersburg, Md. • tel +1.301.975.2546 | ASTM Staff: Mary Mikolajewski • tel +1.610.832.9678 | Upcoming Meeting: June 27-29, 2016 • June Committee Week • Chicago, Ill.

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