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Ballistic Resistant Shields

Ballistic-resistant shields are essential to the safety of law enforcement officers, especially during active shooter incidents. A proposed new ASTM International standard, WK45341, Test Method for Ballistic Resistant Shields, will be used to establish minimum performance requirements for this life-saving equipment.

WK45341 is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E54.04 on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), part of ASTM International Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications.

David Otterson, Ph.D., materials engineer senior staff, National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, says that using the test described in WK45341 will provide a higher level of confidence for officers employing a shield in the line of duty.

The proposed standard will be used to evaluate ballistic-resistant shields against threats faced by officers in the line of duty. “In the absence of this standard, manufacturers decide how their products will be tested and use the results of those tests to claim equivalent levels of performance with the current National Institute of Justice ballistic-resistant body armor standard,” says Otterson. “However, it is unclear how many times a shield was shot with a given threat, or if common shield features like windows and handles were specifically targeted during the test.”

WK45341 will include a methodology to evaluate a shield’s strike face, as well as a test for evaluating the performance of shield handles and windows. Primary users of the proposed standard, once it has been approved, will be testing laboratories that perform ballistic shield testing and manufacturers that perform in-house testing during product development.

All interested parties are invited to participate in the ongoing development of WK45341. Otterson says the subcommittee would particularly like to have involvement from manufacturers, testing laboratories, law enforcement officers and shield experts.

CONTACT Technical Information: David Otterson, Ph.D., National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center • Gaithersburg, Md. • Phone: 301-240-6754 | ASTM Staff: Rick Lake • Phone: 610-832-9689 | Upcoming Meeting: May 28-30 • National Institute of Standards and Technology • Gaithersburg, Md.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.