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The Myth of Military Grade

Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by Toyman, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Toyman


    May 6, 2003
    West Michigan
    Those of us who were in the military might understand this better than those who weren't.

    "Military grade" - something that many think of as the best choice for whatever they are buying.

    Those of us who were in the military know that there's a reason some of the stuff in the military needs to be tougher. Sometimes it's a matter of reliability, sometimes it's because of the range of environments something has to work in, and how often it is transported.

    But often, it's simply because of two reasons:

    1. It's used 24/7, 365. It has to be tough simply because it's used a lot and needs to resist wearing out. Some things in the military are used more in one year than you would use them in a lifetime.

    2. It's used by people who don't own it. Simply put, it's not the serviceman's personal equipment, so they don't treat it as such. Anyone who has served with "bubba" from Alabama has probably seen them toss sensitive electronics test equipment like it was a catfish.

    Just because something is military grade doesn't mean that it is going to be the best option for your application. Sometimes the only difference between the commercial and military grade stuff is that the military stuff has been put through tests and certified, whereas the commercial stuff is the same exact thing, just not certified.

    Case in point - military gas cans. Do you really need a metal gas can that costs 2.5 times as much as a plastic one if it's just going to be sitting on a shelf in your storage place? No. Are you planning on hauling around that gas can on the back of a Humvee 24/7/365 in the desert? I didn't think so.

    Sometimes, the military version of something is a compromise. A safety feature is added, or a good feature is removed because some people are idiots and can't handle it.

    So my point is, use some common sense when determining what you buy. Comments?
  2. Protus


    Apr 6, 2008
    i thought "mil spec" was what the navy seal door gunners used:whistling: LOL.

    Good point on the gas cans. Just like backpacks.
    I love talking "BOB's" with guys. Some insist that they need the toughest pack out there to outlast the longest shtf event. But will end up with a maxpedition or LAPG ruck or go to the other end of the spectrum with a kifaru or mystery ranch.
    Most folks wont use their packs for nothing more than stuffing them with "72 hours" of stuff. So why drop 2-600$ on a ruck that sits. When a 20$ surplus ALICe ruck will do the same and last as long collecting dust as the high end never used ruck.

    If your gonna use your stuff buy the best you can, and like you said, sometimes commercial stuff is just as good as mil surplus if not better for what we as survivalist would be putting it through imho.

    sorry i went on about packs, but it fit the same bill as the gas can example.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012

  3. Lowdown3


    Apr 10, 2008
    Good post +1.

    This comes at a perfect time as it seems thinking for ones self has just about died out in the preparedness movement. Some believe it's much easier to post a thread on a message board saying "what's the best (insert name of gear)?" versus actually getting out and doing something with the gear.

    On the gas cans, we bought a bunch of Euro surplus 5 gallon cans "back in the day." Came ugly and rusty but they work. I partially ran one over with a bulldozer hurrying to take care of a spreading brush fire. The can still held fuel afterwards. I don't think a plastic "blitz" can could say the same.

    I like tough gear like that cause we never really know how or maybe even who will be using it. If it can't take me beating it a little bit in training, I don't want it and have time to get rid of it now and seek a better alternative.

    On the contrary, if the gear is never used ahead of time, can you really be sure you can trust it?

    Went through a lot of different gear and equipment over 26 years. Sometimes the "you get what you pay for" has proven true, sometimes the less expensive stuff can be a bargain and decent quality.

    Great post, thank you!

  4. cyrsequipment

    cyrsequipment Angry

    Aug 8, 2004
    While I agree with your premise and typically purchase commercial gear because it is cheaper (I'm poor) and suits my needs. The fact that certain items are designed to stand up to careless user abuse (Bubba from your example) is a good idea to be handled by a user under stress, or my wife who isn't exactly willing to practice with the gear as much as she should.
  5. Toyman


    May 6, 2003
    West Michigan
    Ya, that's where good judgement comes in, for example, my girlfriend needs a military grade phone and laptop if you want it to last very long. LOL

    Even if someone has the money to spare, sometimes the military grade stuff is heavier.
  6. Protus


    Apr 6, 2008
    very true
    Kelty mil line of packs for example. The falcon weighs 6lbs give or take while their commercial equivalent is around 4-5lbs.
    Clothing as well a Mil issue goretex will weigh twice as much as a sporting goods store one.
    Ponchos. A mil poncho weighs 1.3lbs and is 5x7 ft. A good sil poncho or even sporting store 1.5oz nylon dwr backed ripstop will weigh nearly 3/4's less. Look at the USMC tent vs a similar eureka tent.....
  7. mac66

    mac66 Huge Member Millennium Member

    Oct 28, 1999
    Blue Planet
    Don't military guys sometimes buy and use commercial stuff for their own personal use in order to save weight or perform a function better than issued stuff?
  8. jason10mm

    jason10mm NRA-GOA-TSRA

    Jan 27, 2001
    Clarksville, TN
    This is way too big a discussion to give generalities.

    Personal kit items like camping type stuff; the civvie sector is WAY ahead of the military. All that TA-50 gear we get issued was designed and made by who knows when and where, it ignores all the recent (and not so recent) advances. So do you want a "military issue" sleeping bag that weighs 30 pounds or a slumberjack that weighs 4?

    So many military procurement contracts are politicially motivated, go to the lowest bidder, or are designed by a comittee to be so encompassing that they are marginally adequate jack of all trades (masters of none).

    Is military ammunition superior to commercial defensive rounds? Unless you are running a machine gun, not likely. Are their vehicles superior to commercial ones? What about electronics like night vision? Sure, some stuff is restricted or preferentially going to the military like the ACOG, but you can get many similar alternatives or pony up for the real mccoy.

    Mil-spec or whatever is a good selling point for folks who don't/can't do their own research and experimentation. It MIGHT weed out the poor quality knock-offs. You have to think about your mission requirements. Compare them to likely military requirements. I bet they won't be very similar, thus the gear you need shouldn't be identical.

    That said, a good army surplus store can be a gold mine for cheap, durable, reliable gear if you can pass up on the latest tacti-cool color pattern, weight savings, or gizmo.
  9. series1811

    series1811 Enforcerator. CLM

    A lot of people don't seem to get mil-spec. One of the funniest things is to hear people who are so sure Colts are the best AR because they got the military contract, but who don't think about the fact that Beretta got the handgun selection over Sig-Sauer, simply because they were cheaper.

    Ride in a mil-spec MH-60 Blackhawk, and then ride in a commercial grade one, and get off and say the mil-spec one is better.
  10. cyrsequipment

    cyrsequipment Angry

    Aug 8, 2004
    Deals are the key. Don't pay more for something that can do the job that you need done.
  11. Protus


    Apr 6, 2008
    the military itself has been doing just that. 1-2 yrs back there was some rangers in Astan that got issued merrels,certain clothing,lighter sleeping bags and shelters. All higher end backpacking gear just made in "army" colors.

    There was a good right up about it in the PEI or whatever it is that spart of the mil. that does that thing. wonder if i can dig it up.
  12. DrSticky


    Nov 28, 2005
    Good post! I find the best mil-spec stuff is the stuff that isn't issued, but is made specifically soldiers. Downside is that these things are either expensive or very expensive.

    Leatherman MUT
    [ame=""] Leatherman 850022 MUT Tactical Multi-Tool, Black: Home Improvement@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    Gerber Recon Flashlight(It is half the price if you get it without IR)
    [ame=""] Gerber 22-80075 Recon M-CPL Military-grade Task Light: Home Improvement@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    Oakley Protective Glasses.
    [ame=""] Oakley Protective Eyewear SI M-Frames Strike: Industrial & Scientific@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    G-shock with the red back light(I hate losing my night eyes because of my stupid watch).
    [ame=""] Casio Men's G-Shock Watch GD100MS-3: Casio: Watches@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    GoRuck GR2 (Made in the USA too!)

    Yeah, I have heard some units get these items issued but I never have.

    Some stuff Milspec is terrible, like ACUs. Those are garbage. The rip easily, the velcro is noisy and stops working with too much sand, they fall apart and they are expensive.
  13. arclight610


    Dec 2, 2009
    I've broken two ACOGS in my career in the Marines. They both lost their zero and couldn't be adjusted back. Even mil-spec stuff breaks under hard use.
  14. Contact


    May 4, 2006
    I also do not believe that "Mil-Spec" is the end-all be-all of quality. In my full time Job, I work for a large auto parts supplier, and I'll have customers come in who insist they want "OE (Original Equipment) Quality parts." This is all well and good until you realize that some car parts are bid on and manufactured by the lowest bidder for the car company.

    So, I have learned that OE auto parts do not always equal the best quality. An aftermarket company that offers a lifetime warranty never wants to see that part come back defective, so more care is put into the manufacturing process, as opposed to a part that is designed to last through a given warranty period. Sure, they could build a car/part that would absolutely never rust, never break down etc, but it would be so expensive that the average customer could never afford it.

    I am sure this also plays a part in government contracts, which is why I don't give much credence to whether or not something has been given a mil-spec/military grade endorsement. I've seen the 20+ page "Military Spec" recipe for chocolate chip cookies, so give me a break. :rofl:

    And of course, no company with any sense whatsoever is going to come out and say "Yeah, our product isn't actually any better, we just happened to land a government contract." They're going to use the rating to bolster any sales they can, whether they're selling Military Grade pasta noodles, toilet paper...or firearms.
  15. series1811

    series1811 Enforcerator. CLM

    We used to buy all of our night vision gear on government mil-spec contracts (really the only way you can get latest generation). It broke and malfunctioned like crazy. It was hard for me to beleive that stuff we could have bought off the shelf at some high end sporting goods store would have been worse.
  16. racerford


    Apr 22, 2003
    DFW area
    Unless the piece has the MIL number on it or you got straight for the Military, how do know for sure that it actually military specifications. I don't have a way to check that, or prove it. Do you think there could be any cheap knock-offs that would be so bold as to print the MIL number or something that looks like one and sell it to unsuspecting person? I am sure that is not possible, just like there are no Rolex knock-offs that say Rolex on them. :)
  17. cyrsequipment

    cyrsequipment Angry

    Aug 8, 2004

    Not Exactly what you were looking for, but if it has a mil standard, it is published somewhere... unless it is based on alien technology...
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  18. beatcop


    Aug 13, 2003
    New England
    Depends on your budget. You can always get the "very best", but if you are trying to break a tie between products at a particular price point, go with mil-spec. At least it is made to a recognizable standard and the sole motivation isn't increasing the profit margin with substandard construction, components, workmanship, etc.

    Some products the military buys are COTS...comercial off the shelf. They just buy the existing product, however if it's spec'd out from the ground up, how is some chinese crap going to compete?
  19. falnovice


    Jan 15, 2008
    Most important point on the thread.
    Only correction I would make is that it isn't only military procurement contracts, but all government contracts.
  20. Warp


    Jul 31, 2005
    Can you please cite/reference the cans you are referring to that have a 2.5x price differential? I'd love to hear of a plastic can that is that much less expensive and doesn't completely suck.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012