NIJ IIIA Standards Explained: Ballistic Inserts vs Body Armor

NIJ IIIA Standards Explained: Ballistic Inserts vs Body Armor

In an era where safety and security are paramount concerns, it is essential to be well-informed about the options available to us. Whether you're a parent, a frequent traveler, or simply an individual seeking enhanced personal safety, understanding the differences between ballistic inserts and body armor is key to making an informed decision.

Although PAKSHIELD is categorized as a ballistic insert rather than body armor, it was crucial to us to ensure that it possessed the stopping power equivalent to certain body armor types. As you browse our website, you'll find numerous references to PAKSHIELD meeting "NIJ IIIA standards," which might leave you wondering about its significance for the average person. 

Join us as we demystify the meaning behind these standards and explain how they relate to the everyday individual. 


What is NIJ? 

NIJ, which stands for the National Institute of Justice, is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the US Department of Justice. Although the scope of NIJ extends beyond ballistics, it plays a crucial role in classifying ballistic products and assigning ratings based on their stopping power, particularly if the product is designed for that purpose. 

By assessing and categorizing these products, NIJ ensures a standardized approach to evaluating their effectiveness and allows individuals to make informed decisions regarding personal protection.


Breaking Down The Ratings 

At the initial stages of development, we decided to design PAKSHIELD as a soft insert to optimize its stopping power without compromising on its lightweight nature. As a result, we were presented with three options to consider. 

To understand the levels of protection offered by soft armor, it is helpful to refer to the descriptions provided by NIJ regarding their protection ratings. These ratings serve as valuable guidelines in assessing the effectiveness and capabilities of soft armor in various scenarios: 

  • Level IIA - Tested to Stop 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition fired from short-barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
  • Level II - Tested to stop 9mm and .357 Magnum ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
  • Level IIIA - Tested to Stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunitions fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.

These three levels correspond to the classifications established for lightweight, soft body armors. It is important to note that while PAKSHIELD is not a body armor but an insert designed for bags, we aimed for it to exhibit a comparable level of resistance to body armors. As a result, we specifically chose the highest level of soft body armor ratings, NIJ IIIA, as our target benchmark. This decision ensures that PAKSHIELD offers an optimal level of protection, aligning it with the high standards set by NIJ IIIA-rated body armors. 


Is NIJ IIIA Sufficient Protection? 

Contrary to the prevalent portrayal of rifles in the media, it is important to note that most mass shooting incidents involve pistols and pistol calibers. In fact, research shows that an astounding 77% of all mass shooters utilize firearms chambered in pistol calibers. While AR-style rifles often dominate the headlines, it is essential to recognize that numerous firearms based on the AR platform fire smaller calibers. These smaller caliber ARs may be more readily accessible in certain areas due to local laws. 

To illustrate, below is an example of an AR variant that specifically fires 9mm bullets, which fall under the category of pistol calibers. Moreover, it is worth noting that IIIA-rated vests are the preferred choice of soft armor for most law enforcement officers, emphasizing their reliability and effectiveness in real-world scenarios.


PAKSHIELD as IIIA Protection 

Our primary objective was to develop a protection solution that offers an optimal balance of effectiveness, affordability, and portability in active shooter situations. After careful consideration, a Level IIIA rating would best suit the requirements of PAKSHIELD. This rating ensures the capability to halt projectiles from commonly used calibers while maintaining a slim, lightweight design that seamlessly integrates into most bags. 

With PAKSHIELD, you can be confident knowing you have an added layer of security and peace of mind. 



PAKSHIELD LLC is a manufacturer of a high-quality personal protective device with ballistic stopping power designed to be used in the event of an active shooter occurrence. It can be easily and discreetly inserted into a backpack or other bag.

At PAKSHIELD LLC, we believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and secure, and we are proud to offer a device that can help provide that peace of mind. The PAKSHIELD personal protection device is just one example of our commitment to innovation, quality and customer satisfaction. 

To learn more about the PAKSHIELD device, please visit or contact us directly. We look forward to helping you protect what matters most.

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