The Myth of Military Grade [Archive] - Glock Talk

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Toyman
04-05-2012, 05:52
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?

Protus
04-05-2012, 06:11
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.

Lowdown3
04-05-2012, 06:15
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!

Lowdown3

cyrsequipment
04-05-2012, 06:24
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.

Toyman
04-05-2012, 06:38
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.

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.

Protus
04-05-2012, 06:45
sometimes the military grade stuff is heavier.
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.....

mac66
04-05-2012, 07:15
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?

jason10mm
04-05-2012, 08:00
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.

series1811
04-05-2012, 08:03
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.

cyrsequipment
04-05-2012, 08:34
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.

Deals are the key. Don't pay more for something that can do the job that you need done.

Protus
04-05-2012, 09:01
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?

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.

DrSticky
04-05-2012, 09:10
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
Amazon.com: Leatherman 850022 MUT Tactical Multi-Tool, Black: Home Improvement@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31OyTduHE7L.@@AMEPARAM@@31OyTduHE7L

Gerber Recon Flashlight(It is half the price if you get it without IR)
Amazon.com: Gerber 22-80075 Recon M-CPL Military-grade Task Light: Home Improvement@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41xhuH9CSCL.@@AMEPARAM@@41xhuH9CSCL

Oakley Protective Glasses.
Amazon.com: Oakley Protective Eyewear SI M-Frames Strike: Industrial & Scientific@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31K3W3C0hYL.@@AMEPARAM@@31K3W3C0hYL

G-shock with the red back light(I hate losing my night eyes because of my stupid watch).
Amazon.com: Casio Men's G-Shock Watch GD100MS-3: Casio: Watches@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41OiuZDbV3L.@@AMEPARAM@@41OiuZDbV3L

GoRuck GR2 (Made in the USA too!)
http://www.goruck.com/

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.

arclight610
04-05-2012, 10:56
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.

Contact
04-05-2012, 11:15
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.

series1811
04-05-2012, 13:10
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.

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.

racerford
04-05-2012, 13:19
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. :)

cyrsequipment
04-05-2012, 13:37
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. :)

https://acc.dau.mil/CommunityBrowser.aspx?id=122817

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...

beatcop
04-05-2012, 14:56
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?

falnovice
04-05-2012, 15:59
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).


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

Warp
04-05-2012, 18:55
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.

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.

shotgunred
04-05-2012, 19:29
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. Comments?

Nice thought but completely wrong. Do you know how the government buys stuff? They put out a RFP. A Request for Purchase. In the RFP is the minimum standard for that particular item. Because the government buys from the cheapest bid that meets those specifications. Quite often "Military grade" is made to a lesser standard than similar items.

samurairabbi
04-05-2012, 19:49
A bag sitting on a shelf for years has its own specialized requirements. Any moisture that condenses on it may take months to dry out. Would an inexpensive "commercial" bag stand up to such service?

Milspec standards CAN be overkill ... but knowing WHY they are in force may be useful in reaching that judgement.

lawman800
04-05-2012, 23:13
Isn't government issued also synonymous with lowest bidder?

kirgi08
04-05-2012, 23:57
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?

Isn't government issued also synonymous with lowest bidder?


:whistling:

AK_Stick
04-06-2012, 01:40
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.



Find me a commercial MH-60, and I'll find you some waterfront property in AZ for sale :rofl:

TangoFoxtrot
04-06-2012, 05:56
First off the military spec is not always the best option. Remember everthing the government (military included) purchases goes to the "lowest" bidder. Since I retired from the army I've been working in the defense industry,I am a technician for a major player. Believe me the company trys to cut corners in every way, while the government inspectors sit in their offices with their feet up letting the company do this. Now you tell me what kind of product do you think they are producing??? .....CRAP!

beatcop
04-06-2012, 07:29
I'm used to dealing with aviation components...precision stuff where the companies do not want to cause loss of life. There is no monkey business. I have toured some plants, they maintain ISO certs and have gov't inspectors on site and solid QA.

Can't speak to uniforms, forks & spoons, but the bottom line is I'd rather have something built to a standard. If it's a truly mil only product, there's really no other choice....I don't see miles gear at walmart. If it's a product with a competitive civilian equivalent, like buis, sure you can get a top end unit that will prob be superior, but at 3x the price of the matech.

edit: If it is just labeled "milspec" "military grade", it may have never gone through acquisition...and may be junk. If it's real mil issue w/nsn that's another story.

lawman800
04-06-2012, 10:21
Find me a commercial MH-60, and I'll find you some waterfront property in AZ for sale :rofl:

Maybe he meant civilian MH-60 like the ones used by Customs?

AK_Stick
04-06-2012, 11:19
There are no civilian MH/UH-60's.


Customs uses old worn out UH-60A's and recently purchased a few new UH-60M's.


There is no civilian/commercial variant of the blackhawk. There is only the blackhawk.

lawman800
04-06-2012, 12:47
There are no civilian MH/UH-60's.


Customs uses old worn out UH-60A's and recently purchased a few new UH-60M's.


There is no civilian/commercial variant of the blackhawk. There is only the blackhawk.

Maybe the old, worn out ones are actually broken in and more comfortable? Or they got refurbished and retrofitted with better seats?

Hey, I'm trying here!:supergrin:

Verrater
04-06-2012, 13:19
There are no civilian MH/UH-60's.


Customs uses old worn out UH-60A's and recently purchased a few new UH-60M's.


There is no civilian/commercial variant of the blackhawk. There is only the blackhawk.


Sikorsky makes many commercial s-70 series helicopters.

AK_Stick
04-06-2012, 13:26
Correct, the S-70 is the export variant of the UH-60.


UH-60 was the US designation given to the Sikorsky S-70 family that was adopted for service.


A export S-70, and a UH-60 of the same family, A/L/M are identical. There is no "military grade/civilian grade" difference.


There are some unique airframe peculiar mods that can be performed, but those are more end user specification than differences in models.

<--10 year UH-60 mechanic

AK_Stick
04-06-2012, 13:27
I suppose you could say that the S-92, would be a 'civilian grade" of a UH-60, but they're not really the same helicopter.

Batesmotel
04-06-2012, 15:28
Mil-Spec=Lowest Bidder.

AK_Stick
04-07-2012, 02:16
Well, lowest bidder, to the military specifications. Which are generally higher than that of contemporary civilian designs.


There are very few places where "lowest bidder" military grade stuff, is not superior to the civilian equivalent.

series1811
04-07-2012, 05:00
Isn't government issued also synonymous with lowest bidder?

Remember astronaut Alan Sheperd's famous quote that got him chewed out? :supergrin:

"It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract."
Alan Shepard

series1811
04-07-2012, 05:13
Well, lowest bidder, to the military specifications. Which are generally higher than that of contemporary civilian designs.


There are very few places where "lowest bidder" military grade stuff, is not superior to the civilian equivalent.


The problem is that a lot of times mil-spec, is for a specific reason, that is peculiar to the military, that may make a particular item less useful to the general public.

The perfect example in weapons is the mil-spec 1-7 twist rate requirement. The 1-7 twist is necessary because of types of ammunition the military shoots that not much of the general public shoots, that need a faster rate of twist to stabilize.

Commercial barrel manufacturers could reprogram their lathes to cut 1/7 twist rates instead of 1/9 in about five minutes if they wanted to. Why don't they?

Think about the mil-spec jet fuel for SR-71's. Is it the best jet fuel made? No. Is it better than any other jet fuel made? No. Does it work better at normal temperatures than normal jet fuel? No.

But, did it work better at the temperatures generated when the SR-71 flies? yes

glockaviator
04-07-2012, 10:00
Military stuff is better than it used to be, but still not as good as the BEST (civilian) available.

lawman800
04-07-2012, 10:07
Totally agree on the milspec craze for the AR crazies. I keep telling my friends to stop worrying about milspec on their AR's unless they plan on shooting only the green tips and whatever else their rifles are made for... they keep saying it has to be this way or that way and I ask them, what ammo do they use and does it match the barrel... blank stare.

lawman800
04-07-2012, 10:10
Military stuff is better than it used to be, but still not as good as the BEST (civilian) available.

I would say, mil-spec is actually worthless as a designator for civilian usage unless you know exactly what the spec is.

I can say my backpack is milspec but what exactly does that mean? Does it mean 500 hours underwater without seepage? Does it mean 300 pounds load before tensile strength is compromised? 2 miles being dragged behind a car before tearing?

What exactly does it mean?

Most people who harp on milspec will have no idea what the spec is.

series1811
04-07-2012, 10:56
There are no civilian MH/UH-60's.


Customs uses old worn out UH-60A's and recently purchased a few new UH-60M's.


There is no civilian/commercial variant of the blackhawk. There is only the blackhawk.

Actually, I was talking about USCG hh-60's versus USA MH-60's. We would fly in both of them, and going from one to the other, it was hard to believe they were built by the same company. Maybe the guts are the same inside, but the USA birds looked like flying tin cans next to the USCG 60s.

RWBlue
04-07-2012, 12:28
The best thing about military gear is that it was designed to work together.



The bad news is, it was not designed to do what I want it to do.

AK_Stick
04-07-2012, 13:21
Military stuff is better than it used to be, but still not as good as the BEST (civilian) available.


As far as what? The newest military stuff, is often better than any contemporary civilian designs.

Actually, I was talking about USCG hh-60's versus USA MH-60's. We would fly in both of them, and going from one to the other, it was hard to believe they were built by the same company. Maybe the guts are the same inside, but the USA birds looked like flying tin cans next to the USCG 60s.

The USCG Jayhawk, is just a stripped version of the Navy Seahawk, with a snazzy white and orange paint.

Compared to a MH-60, or Airforce HH-60, or Army UH-60 they're dogs as far as performance goes.


Now perhaps the squadron you flew with took better care of their birds, and made them look pretty, but a Airforce Pavehawk, will absolutely outperform the Jayhawk in just about every regard, except duration of flight.

series1811
04-07-2012, 18:38
As far as what? The newest military stuff, is often better than any contemporary civilian designs.



The USCG Jayhawk, is just a stripped version of the Navy Seahawk, with a snazzy white and orange paint.

Compared to a MH-60, or Airforce HH-60, or Army UH-60 they're dogs as far as performance goes.


Now perhaps the squadron you flew with took better care of their birds, and made them look pretty, but a Airforce Pavehawk, will absolutely outperform the Jayhawk in just about every regard, except duration of flight.

So, in some cases, mil-spec is better, and in some cases, mil-spec is worse? I think that was my point.

But, we do have some Sikorsy S-76s, commercial grade that we got from the military. For the win, tell me who we got them from.

AK_Stick
04-07-2012, 19:14
There is no some cases, they are the same airframe. There is no "commercial spec" UH-60 in any flavor.


As for the S-76, I don't know who the "we" you speak of is, but the US military does not operate them, nor have they ever been adopted.

beatcop
04-11-2012, 18:47
Hmmm, my unit demodded a Firehawk and pushed it out to a unit. I believe it was the only one.

I have seen the Turkish export package a long time ago...was nice.
The Sultan of Brunei has some with door chimes, raised "throne" seat, jewel encrusted seat, TM's w/gold leaf, etc.

AK_Stick
04-11-2012, 19:48
I know of atleast one other firehawk that was demoded and taken to Iraq, but that was by the Cali guard. Though they're surely few cases of that happening.


That said, the firehawk, was still a blackhawk first and foremost. There is/was no differentiation between the materials and/or standards made when building it. While the end user may make some changes, the hawk itself is no different.

Spike52
04-11-2012, 20:20
Sometimes Military Grade just means it was bought by the military from the lowest bidder...
Jus sayin.
-S

lawman800
04-11-2012, 21:26
What's a Firehawk?

RedHaze
04-11-2012, 21:51
What's a Firehawk?

This is a Firehawk.
http://www.firehawkhelicopters.com/images/2315%20(Large).jpg

And this is a Blackhawk.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Blackhawk.jpg