UL 752 Vs. NIJ Standards: Comparing Different Bullet Resistant Standards

Materials and devices used in physical security installations — from guard sheds to teller windows, blast resistant doors and walls, to bullet resistant glass — are only as good as the standards that determine the bulletproof levels of those products.

In the broadest sense, a standard provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics designed to ensure materials and products perform as intended for their stated purpose. For example, ballistic standards provide ratings for levels of bullet resistant glass based on the number of rounds, fired by weapons of various caliber and various velocity, required to break the glass.

When it comes to glass and other products designed for bullet resistance, the ballistic standards most commonly adhered to are UL 752 and NIJ 0108.01.

About UL and NIJ

UL Solutions was founded in 1894 as the Underwriters Electrical Bureau and was known for most of its history as Underwriters Laboratories. Essentially, it is an impartial organization that evaluates material and technology to determine their safety.

UL maintains more than 1,500 standards. Products or materials meeting their applicable standards as determined by a nationally recognized testing laboratory can be certified as UL rated.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) was founded in 1968, becoming a leader in developing standards and testing for bulletproof vests in the 1970s. NIJ is still primarily known for its body armor standard (NIJ 0101.06). In 1981, it released NIJ 0108.01, dealing with ballistic materials used in construction.

UL 752 vs. NIJ 0108.01

Essentially, UL 752, “Standard for Bullet-Resisting Equipment,” is a construction standard. It addresses individual materials, such as a piece of laminated glass, or fixtures composed of several materials, such as a door in a frame.

NIJ 0108.01 establishes minimum performance requirements and test methods for ballistic resistant materials. Anyone can test using the NIJ standard and claim to meet its requirements. NIJ only tests and certifies body armor.

Because products bearing a UL seal indicate independent verification of performance levels, and because UL 752 has been updated frequently since first codified in 1937 (NIJ 0108.01 was last updated in 1985), it is generally the preferred standard. 

UL 752

The test establishes levels at which protection is provided against penetration by projectiles or shards thereof and/or glass fragments (also referred to as spalling). Some key points:

  • The level is based on the firearm, ammunition and the number of shots.
    • Levels 1-3 focus on handguns.
    • Levels 4-8  are the best options for rifles and high-power firearms.
    • Levels 9 and 10 are most used in military applications.
    • There is a different rating for shotguns.
  • The levels are not necessarily linear. Rather, the expectation is that the level chosen will be based on the ballistics most likely to be encountered.

NIJ 0108.01

All tests under this standard are five-shot tests, with the exception of level IV which is 1 shot. The shots must be spaced greater than two inches apart, but no maximum distance is stated. Samples of the same material at different sizes could yield different results under the test. The standard uses witness plates (aluminum alloy placed behind the test specimen) to determine penetration. Where projectiles penetrate the test sample and merely damage but do not penetrate the witness plate, the sample is considered to meet the standard.

Choose U.S. Bullet Proofing

Regardless of whether your aim is to meet UL 752 or NIJ standards, U.S. Bullet Proofing is ready to offer unique, innovative and state-of-the-art solutions in the arena of forced entry, bullet resistant and blast resistant high security products. From windows to door and wall systems, U.S. Bullet Proofing has helped create secure buildings, safe rooms and guard booths in settings as varied as the U.S. Capitol, the Eisenhower Office, the Smithsonian Museum, elementary schools and commercial storefronts. Contact us today to better understand your options in protecting your structure from ballistics, blasts, storms or forced entry.