Certified Vs Compliant – The Difference Between Them
Body armor and vest body armor are two distinctly different types of security devices that serve very different purposes in law enforcement and military tactical gear. Certified body armor meets the highest standards of performance currently accepted by law enforcement and military personnel. In other words, the armor being certified means it has met certain test specifications put forth by governing bodies such as the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense. Additionally, the armor being certified means that the material being used meets certain requirements for impact resistance, the ability to resist puncture and tear, the ability to resist deployment, and even that it can be easily removed without causing a safety risk.
So what makes a certified vs. compliant?
The standards for body armor differ depending on where the material is used. In general, however, all armor that is used for defense and protection within the United States is required by law to be certified before it can be sold and used by law enforcement and military personnel. This is also why you hear about so-called ‘certified’ body armor when what is being talked about is ‘compliant’ body armor. When a piece of armor is certified by the appropriate regulatory agency, it meets the highest standards of practice for that particular type of armor.
There are two main regulating bodies involved
in overseeing the quality and standards of armor and other protective clothing. There is The National Institute for Standards and Standardization (NIS) and The United States Department of Defense (DOD) Security Contractor Regulation (SCR). NIS oversees many of the products used in the manufacturing of armor and other protective clothing. They publish many important standards, including those for testing and reinforcing armor and jackets. They also have developed many guides and catalogs that outline the various aspects of their product, including both technical and performance data. As a result, many manufacturers choose to list their products as having been inspected and qualified by NIS.
On the other hand
the United States Military’s Federal Armor Regulations (FRC) focuses on quality rather than on certification. As a general rule, the military will not buy body armor that does not meet the standards outlined in its manuals. Similarly, it will not buy products that are certified by one of the two organizations – NIS or DCMS. While both of these organizations have high standards for their body armor, it is NIS that determines the level of quality that a piece of armor must possess. All body armor is evaluated from its highest level to the lowest level of quality, including items such as gloves, vests, and shirts.
Since certification plays a large role in how well a piece of armor performs
many manufacturers will bypass this step to save time and money. There is a good reason for doing this, too. It is easy to certify an item when it is low in volume since that item will not have to undergo rigorous testing and inspections to become certified. However, an armor item that is certified but which proves to be far more durable or efficient than originally anticipated requires far more mass-produced production. To put it simply, overproduction lowers the price per armor piece, but it also reduces the efficiency of the end product.
While it may seem that certifying products is pointless to consumers
this fact is not as obvious at face value. For instance, in the case of armor, the cost savings incurred by using a properly certified item is not directly proportional to the number of certifications that the engineering team uses to evaluate the item. Rather, it is better to purchase a good quality item that has been properly inspected and meets the appropriate standards, and uses the certification as a marketing tool. For example, many manufacturers sell products with only a low-end level of protection and then include a Certification Certificate with every shipment. In doing so, the product is not only lower in price, but it also offers great safety to the consumer because it proves the item meets all applicable regulatory and industrial standards.