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Tactical Shields

Tactical Shields 101

The NIJ Standard - 0108.01

When it comes to choosing a tactical shield, the number one priority of any operator is performance…will this shield protect me against the rounds I am about to face? Learn your shield basics here.

Tactical Shields 101

What should a shield be tested against?

The number one priority of any tactical operator when selecting an entry shield is performance – Does this shield protect me against the threats (rounds) I am about to face? All Type (Level) IIIA entry shields should be tested against the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Standard-0108.01 for Ballistic Resistance Protective Materials. This standard mandates that any material tested for Type (Level) IIIA threats must protect against two rounds:

  • .44 mag at 1,400 ft/s (+/- 50)
  • 9mm FMJ at 1,400 ft/s (+/- 50)

In addition to identifying the rounds and velocities with which Type (Level) IIIA shields are tested, the NIJ Standard-0108.01 also covers the following:

  • Pass/fail test only. This standard does not issue any ballistic certifications
  • Five test shots per round (9mm FMJ/.44 Mag). The number of shots are consistent regardless of the number of specimens submitted for testing.
  • Dry testing only
  • No backface or V50 test requirements

How can I find out what a shield has been tested against?

Many manufacturers provide approved labs with their own protocol for testing Type (Level) IIIA shields. Because the NIJ Standard-0108.01 is a “testing only” standard, the protocol for testing the shields is left up to the interpretation of the approved lab performing the test. When a manufacturer submits its own test protocol, the test is labeled “Modified” or “Abbreviated”. It is important to ask for a copy of the independent lab report from the shield manufacturer so you understand what elements of the testing have been modified or abbreviated. Asking these questions will help you determine the following:

  • Was it tested against the proper rounds/velocities as mandated by the NIJ Standard-0108.01? If not, how was the test modified/abbreviated?
  • Was it tested against additional rounds/special threats that are a concern in my city, state or region?
  • Were shot locations identified by the manufacturer or left up to the interpretation of the approved lab?
  • Was the seam of the viewport edge and other design elements of the shield (i.e. body, handle, bolts, etc…) tested for product integrity?

The right answers to these questions will ensure you are purchasing a shield that will provide you with maximum protection.

Is your viewport as strong as the body of your shield?

Viewports are a very important component to entry shields because they provide maximum peripheral vision while protecting the shield operator and other members of the tactical team when in a stacked formation. If a shield has a viewport, usually an area of the shield's body (ballistic material) must be reinforced at its seams to ensure maximum product integrity. When choosing a shield with a viewport, consider the following:

  • Is the viewport the same threat type (level) as the body of my shield?
  • Is the seam around the viewport edge (frame) designed with the proper amount of overlap, or is it mechanically secured (by means of bolts) to prevent a round from pushing through the viewport seam of my shield?
  • Does my shield's viewport overlap in the front (strike face) and the back (body side) of my shield to reduce the possibility of a round skipping through my viewport seam?

When rounds hit the seam of a viewport without proper overlap, the shield is vulnerable to penetration. This type of design provides poor ballistic protection and may be subject to failure, similar to an edge shot.

How our shields compare

Our shields are independently tested against the NIJ Standard-0108.01 and are referenced as “Modified NIJ 0108.01” This modified testing means we test to the NIJ Standard-0108.01, as interpreted by an independent lab, and modified the testing to incorporate additional special threat rounds and velocities beyond the requirements of the NIJ Standard.

So, what sets our shields apart?

  • Maximum head and upper torso protection
  • Extensive special threat testing beyond the rounds/velocities required by the NIJ Standard-0108.01.
  • Testing against the shield body, bolts/handle system and viewport/viewport seams.
  • Robust front and back, overlapping viewport design for protection against angle shots.
  • 18-degree extended viewport for excellent peripheral vision and aligning sights while canting weapon.