B6, BR7, VPAM, VR9, BRV1999, PM2007, ERV2010, VSAG, APR2006, NIJ, Stanag. The world of ballistic certification can be very confusing with a variety of standards which are difficult to understand. In this article we go through the various ballistic standards, what they mean and how to compare them.
Materials vs Vehicles
The biggest difference between all of the armouring standards available is whether they apply to the materials used during the armouring process or to the entire vehicle. Currently only the VPAM BRV (Bullet Resistant Vehicle both 1999 & 2009), ERV (Explosive Resistant Vehicle 2010) and VSAG standards apply to the entire vehicle.
What’s The Difference?
It means that a vehicle was provided as a sample for testing to certify it to the level required, as opposed to the raw materials (steel and glass).
When the whole vehicle is certified you can ensure that the support structure for the armouring materials, quality of welds etc… is of the same standard and meets the same requirements.
Ballistic Resistance, commonly referred to as BR or B, is the most common civilian armouring standard. It is a European standard (DIN EN 1063) that specifies that transparent materials used, though it now generally refers to a whole vehicle and integrates the FB (DIN EN 1522/23, opaque areas) standard under the same definition.
This standard certifies the material and stipulates vehicle construction guidelines.
VPAM stands for Vereinigung der Prufstellen fur Angriffshernmede Materialien und Konstruktionen or Association of Anti-Attack Materials and Constructions. Founded in 1999, it is a group of armoured vehicle testing sites based throughout Europe who have developed their own standards for Civillian Armoured Vehicles and Armoured Cars. The number of standards set out by VPAM almost justifies a page of it’s own dedicated to it, however the one common factor across all of their standards is the level designation of VR, Vehicle Resistance.
This is the General Test Directive which covers the basic ballistic testing and the conformity of materials and structures.
The PM standard is a testing procedure and standard (in addition to the APR2006) for the materials used in the construction of an Armoured Car, such as the ballistic metal and ballistic glass, similar to the BR and FB certification standards.
An acronym for Bullet Resistant Vehicle, this is VPAM’s original testing certification, released in 1999, it was innovative in that it required the whole vehicle to be tested, rather than simply testing the materials used and supplying guidelines to the construction of the vehicle as per other armouring standards.
A development on the previous BRV 1999 standard, the 2009 standard introduced more real world testing scenarios stipulating multiple hit angles as opposed to the 1999 standard’s 2 (45 degree and 90 degree). It is worth noting that the levels are not comparable between the 1999 standard and the 2009 standard, for example, the ammunition and rifle protected against for VR7 1999 would be VR9 in the BRV 2009 standard.
The ERV (Explosive Resistant Vehicle) 2010 standard was introduced specifically to address blast protection, all information on this standard is protected by a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement).
VSAG (Vehicle Security Advisory Group) is a UK based organisation which has set out various standards approved by the BSI (British Standards Institution) for the design, manufacture, development and testing of armoured cars and vehicles. The current highest level in their standards is VSAG-15, the details are kept confidential so we are unable to publish them here.
STANAG is a NATO armouring standard dictating protection levels for occupants of logistic and light armoured vehicles stipulating protection from ballistic, artillery and IED blasts. This is a military standard covering 5 levels and is unlikely to be seen in an armoured car used by civilians.
The NIJ (National Institute for Justice) standard covers not only vehicles but body protection as well, covering 5 levels from 9mm handgun to rifle ammunition.