Thanks @momo. Its worth calling this out since it is in the middle of all those links
This initially sounded weird to me, since AR500 is on the list of companies I was researching and everywhere I looked I saw NIJ this or that. I skimmed through the reddit link (there is a lot to go through, and the author seems to have an issue with steel plates in general but thats another topic) and then went back to AR500’s website for confirmation one way or the other.
And it does indeed look like AR500 uses TWO distinct phrases when talking about their armor.
For their Level III (Steel), Level III+ (Steel), Level III+ Lightweight (Steel?)
Independently tested and rated to NIJ 0101.06 standards…
And then they explicitly say the following for their Level III Lightweight (UHMWPE)
NIJ 0101.06 Certified
On their FAQ page, they have links to the independent 3rd party and their testing methodology, and they say they are tested to NIJ levels. My understanding is that NIJ testing is super expensive, which may be why they choose to have them tested by someone else rather than NIJ.
It is an important data-point when considering armor, whether you trust a non-NIJ party to “certify” the armor’s capability. I will definitely be paying closer attention to the specific verbiage on each model from a vendor to check for NIJ certification.
Thanks again for pointing that out.