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MSA's TRP3A body armor meets new NIJ standard
Jun '09
MSA, the world's leading provider of safety equipment, announced it is among the first manufacturers of ballistic body armor to have a product certified as meeting rigorous new performance standards adopted by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The first MSA product certified to the new standard is the company's TRP3A Templar Ballistic Package, which provides law enforcement personnel with a higher level of protection against modern-day ballistic threats including .357 SIG and 44 Magnum rounds.

The new NIJ standard, released in July 2008, represents the most significant change in ballistic protection performance over the past eight years. Among the many changes mandated by the NIJ are new testing protocols to simulate the effects of aging and extended wear on ballistic materials. The NIJ initiated this effort following two separate incidents in which one law enforcement officer was killed and another injured from gunfire while wearing body armor containing Zylon(R) material. The failure of the Zylon material, which has since been removed from NIJ certification, was attributed to a gradual degradation of the ballistic material which occurred over time.

The NIJ divides body armor packages into five classes according to the threat levels law enforcement personnel may encounter. Ballistic packages designated as levels IIA, II and IIIA are all soft, concealable body armor, with IIIA providing the highest level of concealable protection. Ballistic packages designated as levels III and IV are hard, tactical body armor commonly used in SWAT operations.

Under the new standard, the NIJ has heightened testing requirements for all five levels. MSA's TRP3A body armor package is a level IIIA protection package utilizing MSA's patent pending design and Paraclete(R) ComforTech Reinforcements that reduce body armor weight and deliver a greater flexibility index when compared to many other ballistic vests certified under the former NIJ standard. The end result is a ballistic package that maximizes ballistic protection and trauma reduction without adding weight or sacrificing comfort.

While the TRP3A Templar Package is the first MSA product to be certified to the new NIJ standard, the company expects to have within the next few weeks a full NIJ-compliant product line that features a broad range of ballistic material options, including DuPont Kevlar, Teijin Twaron, Honeywell Goldflex, and DSM Dyneema.

In addition to the emphasis on simulating extended wear, other significant changes to the new NIJ standard include:

• The use of substantially more rounds in testing body armor designs to increase the statistical reliability of armor certified to the new standard - 72 rounds of each caliber shot against 12 armor panels under the new requirements versus 24 rounds shot against 4 armor panels under the former standard.

• The ability to withstand higher velocity projectiles to more accurately simulate real-life threats. For example, the new certification requirements for a level IIIA ballistic package now mandate testing with a .357 SIG round instead of the 9 mm round used in the old standard. The .357 SIG is a common round issued to police forces and, unfortunately, a favorite of criminals due to its increased penetrating power.

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