Over the past few years we’ve seen numerous tragedies in this county and with the carnage in the first few months of 2020, it’s no wonder why there’s been a huge surge in body armor purchases. The idea of body armor as a means of personal protection has just recently gained more acceptance by mainstream America. With that acceptance, there’s been a lot of folks out there eager to strike it rich in the body armor industry. From machine shop knock-off body armor to Liberal Anti-Trump “Tactical” posers, it’s been a crazy sight to see. We’ve created this article not as a means of blasting companies, but to make sure you are educated as to what makes a body armor company legitimate.
When it comes to body armor there are a lot of assumptions and misunderstandings that can lead to dangerous consequences. In fact, it was just a few days ago that someone on Facebook asked us why they should wait weeks for body armor when they could get a piece of steel from a local supplier of construction materials in one day (yes, this really happened). There’s a big difference between ballistic steel and a thick piece of metal. Though, it’s kind of hard to blame anyone with the misconception that all steel is created equal when body armor only just went mainstream a few years ago. Before that, most of what people knew about body armor was based on what they saw in movies or what a friend told them who had a cousin who served in Delta. As with anything, the newfound popularity of body armor has drawn a lot of folks just trying to make a quick buck. However, manufacturing body armor is not one of those things where you just buy a plasma torch and start cutting up sheets of steel sourced from Home Depot. There are regulations in place designed to ensure that body armor manufactures are making a legitimate life-saving product. This is not a business of second chances, if a piece of body armor fails to stop a bullet that it is designed to defeat, it could mean the end of someone’s life. That’s why we have all our body armor tested in an independent NIJ certified laboratory and also why we have the most advanced serialized tracking system in the industry. Below is a list of what you should expect to see from a legitimate manufacturer of body armor. Note that the ITAR registration alone can take almost a year to obtain, so beware those overnight body armor startups you may see on social media or eBay.
ITAR Registration is Mandatory by Law
All Body Armor Manufactures are required by law to become ITAR Registered. If in doubt, you can ask a body armor manufacturer to provide you with their “Manufacturer Registration Statement”and Registrant Code Number from the United States Department of State. For example, our ITAR registration number is M38162. As mentioned previously, ITAR registration can take many months to receive so it’s a good indicator if you’re dealing with a legit body armor manufacturer or a shady fly-by-night outfit.
NIJ Certified Body Armor
There’s a big difference between “NIJ Certified” and “meets NIJ standards”. NIJ Certification is a very stringent (and expensive) means of having the National Institute of Justice confirm that a particular body armor product meets NIJ 0101.06 standards. Any Joe Shmoe can take a piece of body armor to the shooting range and pop a couple of rounds into it, then claim it meets “NIJ Standards”. In fact, this is what many companies in the body armor industry actually do. NIJ Certification costs thousands of dollars so it can be a corner that companies look to cut simply because they don’t want to make the investment. As of June 2020, Spartan Armor Systems™ proudly offers 7 different body armor lines that have been NIJ Certified and that list is always growing.
Product Liability Insurance:
Body Armor Manufacturers should have a minimum of $5,000,000 product liability insurance coverage. This is a lot of insurance and it’s not cheap. If a plate of body armor fails and someone is injured as a result, the armor manufacturer needs to be prepared to pay the financial repercussions that will most likely come in the form of a civil suit. It’s a clear sign that a body armor manufacturer is not legitimate if they do not carry adequate product liability insurance.
Serialized Heat Number Tracking
For sheets of ballistic steel, “Heat Numbers” from every lot produced by the steel manufacturer are listed on the raw steel sheets. At Spartan Armor Systems™ we carefully keep track of these heat numbers and place them on the back of each piece of steel core body armor. This allows us to do two things: 1) associate a ballistic test report from an NIJ Certified Lab to every piece of steel body armor 2) know which customers have body armor from a particular lot of steel should there every be a recall. Thankfully we’ve never experienced a recall, but we have seen it happen to one of our competitors and let’s just say their tracking system was not up to snuff at the time it happened.
Professional Manufacturing Facility
A legitimate body armor manufacturer should have an actual manufacturing facility where quality can be closely scrutinized. This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many body armor manufacturers are making their armor out of their car garage or similar type environment.
Last but certainly not least, a legitimate body armor manufacture should have the necessary workforce to support the end user. This means employing a full workforce of Customer Service, Sales, Human Resource and Warehouse Teams. The end product is only as good as the people that stand behind it. We pride ourselves on the close attention we pay to quality and an even higher level of customer service. When you buy body armor from Spartan Armor Systems™, you are receiving our full commitment that it will defend your life should it be put to the test.
All our Spartan Armor meets all of the specifications providing industry leading protection for most any need at prices that make protecting what’s yours much easier.