Ballistics Testing

ballistics-testing-overview

Ballistics Testing

Ballistics testing is a critical component of the QA processes associated with MIL-STD-810 and other regulatory guidelines. At NTS, we have more than 50 years of experience helping defense contractors meet these challenges while developing more effective tools and technologies for America’s troops. With a number of ballistics testing facilities throughout the country, we specialize in meeting your project’s requirements in a safe and cost-effective manner. Our team of in-house engineers is comprised of recognized experts in their field, and our testing labs are equipped with some of the most sophisticated measurement and analysis tools available today.

NTS Ballistic Test LabsBallistic Gel for Testing

NTS maintains multiple ballistics ranges used for materials, components, and systems impact testing using pistol, rifle ammunition, and Fragment Simulating Projectiles (FSP). Service and loaded velocities are available for proof and ballistic limit testing.

The following NTS facilities feature ballistics testing equipment suitable for wide range of simulation and certification purposes:

  • NTS Camden: NTS Camden hosts the National Ordinance and Ballistics Test Center, a modern, fully equipped weapons testing lab featuring several different firing ranges, a warhead test arena, rocket range and more. In addition to ballistics testing, NTS Camden is a multidisciplinary testing facility offering cost-effective environmental and climatic simulation, dynamics testing and other services.
  • NTS Chesapeake: located northeastern Maryland near Aberdeen Proving Ground, our Chesapeake facility is a state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot laboratory providing ballistic experimentation and non-destructive testing services in support of munitions and protection systems.  
  • NTS Wichita: NTS Wichita features three ballistics test ranges, each of which is large enough to test full-scale products. All ranges employ advanced technologies for velocity measurement, including fully redundant Oehler Model 55 chronographs and Model 34 ballistic computers, as well as Doppler measuring technology. A protected viewing room is available for remotely launching ballistic tests using a pneumatic triggering device.
  • NTS Dana Point: The NTS testing lab in Dana Point, California is a national leader in interior ballistics modeling. Test facilities include the ability to perform sophisticated projectile and rocket motor analysis and performance modeling, including trajectory simulation, aerodynamic analyses and more.
  • NTS Rustburg: NTS Rustburg offers a number of relevant testing services for naval defense contractors, including environmental and dynamic simulation, with an emphasis on shock and vibration.

All NTS ranges have the ability to fire a wide range of projectiles. Unless factory loaded rounds are requested all rounds are hand-loaded to ensure precision and accuracy. Projectiles used at include:

  • Ball and armor piercing projectiles
  • Ball and armor piercing incendiary projectiles
  • Fragment Simulator Projectiles
    • .22-cal
    • .30-cal
    • .50-cal
    • 20-mm
  • Right Circular Cylinders
    • 2-gr through 64-gr
  • Light gas gun operations for fragmentation low velocity tests (<1,300 ft/sec)

NTS utilizes the most advanced equipment and instrumentation available. These include:

  • FARO laser scanners and point probes
  • Doppler Radar System for continuous velocity measurements
  • High speed cameras (color & monochrome)
    • 1ms exposure, up to 100,000 frames per second
    • 2D & 3D video analysis (velocity tracking)
  • Highly accurate and calibrated velocity measurement equipment
    • Optical screens
    • Magnetic screens (for small fragments)
    • Paper break screens for special requirements
  • Ballistic Clay and Gel testing (US Army, FBI, DEA, DHS)

In-Door Ballistic Ranges

NTS has eleven indoor ballistic ranges. The majority of our ranges measure 15' x 70' in accordance with NIJ standards. Additionally, our larger indoor range measures 18' x 102' and is designed to accommodate large caliber, 30-mm and specialty weapon system testing. This large indoor range also has drive-in capability for vehicle testing and large component/sub systems. Each range has an independent HVAC system with an advanced HEPA filtration system that exceeds EPA and OSHA standards for air quality.

Each range has its own loading/firing room and data collection/management area. Here is where NTS technicians and customers can safely watch and evaluate each shot in work space connected to each range. The customer rooms are equipped with the most up-to date electronic technology including Wi-Fi so that customers can bring their office with them as testing is conducted. Ranges are also equipped with video cameras that transmit range activities to viewing screens in the firing room. With the investment in safety, customers are encouraged to be present in the firing room to observe their testing.

NIJ Body Armor Compliance Testing

One of the first widely accepted test standards for personal body armor were the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards. (NIJ 0101.06 and NIJ 0115.00)

Even outside of the USA, the NIJ test standards are widely used by police and military forces to evaluate and procure body armor for public service officers. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have adopted similar parallel certification programs. The UK Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) has a testing and certification program very similar to the NIJ program, but more focused on the domestic threats to public officers in the UK. NTS is certified by the HOSDB to perform armor testing to these standards.

In addition to testing, NTS actively participates in standard committees and working groups, providing valuable testing expertise and experience. Independent test laboratories such as United States Test Laboratory (USTL) and Chesapeake Testing have played a major role in the development and maintenance of these critical standards. NTS facilities in Belcamp, Maryland (formerly Chesapeake Testing) and Wichita, Kansas (formerly USTL) offer testing services in accordance with NIJ standards.

Projectiles & Threats

A variety of projectiles is used at NTS ranges, from small fragments all the way to large anti-vehicle rounds. Non-standard rounds, non-lethal, rocks, shrapnel, etc. are also utilized. All rounds are hand-loaded to ensure accuracy, unless factory rounds are specifically requested. Some examples of projectiles used at the ranges include:

  • Ball and armor piercing projectiles
  • Ball and armor piercing incendiary projectiles
  • Fragment simulator projectiles
    • .22-cal
    • .30-cal
    • .50-cal
    • 20-mm
  • Right circular cylinders
    • 2-gr through 63-gr
  • Light gas gun operations for fragmentation low-velocity tests

Measuring Equipment

NTS employs the most up-to-date and advanced equipment and instrumentation available. Some of the equipment used in NTS testing includes:

  • FARO laser scanners and point probes
  • Doppler radar systems —for continuous velocity measurements
  • Color and monochrome high-speed cameras
  • Highly accurate and calibrated velocity measurement equipment
  • Ballistic clay and gel testing —FBI, army, DEA and DHS

Forced Entry Testing

There are some applications where bullets and fragments may only part of the protection required. One notable example is in the design and validation of building envelopes and system components, such as windows, doors, escape hatches and wall panels. Forced entry tests attempt to pierce or distort an edge in order to allow access. NTS carries out all forced entry tests in their DOS approved facility in accordance with the required standards. The selection of tools used to accomplish forced entry testing ranges from lock picks and hammers, to sledge hammers, pry bars, axes and battering rams.  

Safety Glazing Materials Testing

Not all armor is designed with the intent to protect against a human adversary or enemy combatant. There are many other scenarios where seemingly benign objects travelling at high-velocities can be a threat to safety. Ballistic testing is still one of the best ways to characterize and evaluate these systems. This includes the materials and structures that may protect against flying objects during a hurricane or tornado, or passengers seated behind windshields in an automobile or high-speed train.

NTS performs testing in accordance with numerous government safety standards, including the Federal Railroad Administration – FRA CFR 49, Part 223 – and the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205. Both of these standards mainly focus on the protective glass and laminate materials that make up the windows of vehicles and train cars. This involves a wide range of test scenarios, including impact testing using small fragments and projectiles (such as a .22 caliber bullet) as well as dropping large 24-pound concrete blocks from heights of about 30 feet.

Blast Testing

Ballistic loading and structural testing’s goal is to understand the behavior of various materials at high rates of loading. One of the best-equipped military testing facilities in the country is located at NTS’s Camden, Arkansas location. This facility provides the opportunity for ordinance and munitions-related analysis, specifically armor and explosive testing.

Defense contractors rely on NTS for safe, cost-efficient facilities to meet their needs for advanced explosive testing. Decompression testing to MIL-STD-810, 202, RTCA/D0-160 and many other areas can be completed at the facility.

  • IED and EFP Testing:Civilian and military casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are a growing concern. Protective solutions involve the testing of retro-fitting equipment and gear at various facilities nationwide.
  • Reactive Armor and Arena Testing:Military-grade protective equipment and gear that is able to withstand a ballistic impact is crucial. MIL-H, MIL-STD, NIJ and other regulatory standards require proper testing. The measurement technology available at NTS allows for deeper understanding into the cutting edge of ballistic material testing, which results in powerful and effective end products.
  • Body Armor, Armor Plates, Combat Helmets and Vehicle Armor:NTS has the capability to test all protective equipment and provide extensive feedback on their results. The developers and manufacturers of these materials rely on the ballistic-testing facilities to produce to best products in the defense market.

NTS Ballistic Testing & Evaluation

NTS has served the U.S. government, military and commercial sectors for over fifty years. Extensive evaluations and testing are conducted in all areas of services. The NTS Camden location is one of the most complete weapons and ordinance testing centers in the country. Simulation, data acquisition and analysis tools provide the necessary tools to streamline the MIL-STD testing process.

NTS Wichita and Chesapeake locations provide body armor and small arms-testing facilities. Team members with experience in ballistic analysis for defense and law enforcement can expedite compliance with MIL-STD-662F, NIJ 010.06 and other required standards.

Ordinance testing protocols for military and other applications are developed at the NTS Dana Point location. The NTS lab in Rustburg, VA is a certified MIL-STD-901D heavyweight and lightweight facility. The testing facilities in both Anaheim and Baltimore also perform military specifications extensive testing, including MIL-PRF-55110, MIL-PRF-31032, MIL-PRF-50884, MIL-STD-202 and MIL-STD-883. 

Request a Quote for Ballistic Testing Services from NTS Today

For more information about ballistics testing services at any NTS facility or to request a free quote for your project, contact our head office today. We will work to provide fast, cost-effective service that meets your timelines and your budget.