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Military Surplus - What is Real, What is Not

One of the benefits of being involved in the survival industry is access to military surplus equipment. Military surplus is a wide-open market with items in various condition that could be from any decade. This can mean anything from an ammo pouch mixed in with hundreds of canteens to canvas gear bags filled with tiny Tabasco bottles. The vast majority of the items we receive are related to the items we carry. And then, there are the knock-offs.

The survival industry offers an impressive variety of items to choose from. So much so, it can be difficult to distinguish between genuine items and “knock-offs”. Other companies feature items with descriptions such as "USGI - Type", "GI -Type", or "Military Approved" without any evidence of military endorsement. These items find themselves in our surplus pallets when a serviceman replaces missing issued gear on their own. And Impressively, some are almost indistinguishable from the genuine thing.

Every time we come across these ingenuine items, we realize that less experienced buyers may not be able to tell the difference. We understand that people need to prepare themselves on a budget but this doesn’t mean you have to settle for second-rate equipment. Knowing what to look as you shop for genuine United States Government Issue (USGI) Military Surplus (MilSurp) is very important when you want to ensure you are getting the real thing.


National Stock Numbers

Look for an obvious set of words and numbers printed directly on the item or on a tag attached to the item. This is known as the National Stock Number (NSN) and indicates the manufacturer. Often using the same numbers for multiple items, this number verifies authenticity.

Ex. the Genuine Issue US Military Surplus Canteen Cover has the following NSN printed directly on the nylon cover:



NSN 8465-00-860-0256


Other Than MilSpec

Avoid items that advertise “US-type”, “USGI-type”, “MilSpec-type”, etc. This may seem obvious but these companies are openly advertising the fact that the item is not military quality. Even a small item like a P-39 or P-51 Can Opener will have, at the least a "US" stamped into it. Inspect items closely, if you can. If you are shopping online, ask your supplier directly for the NSN number or a close up image of the stamp.


Best Glide A.S.E. Offers Military Quality!

When you choose to buy from A.S.E., you can trust that are items are genuine military issue. We proudly feature the NSN directly in the product descriptions. Plus our items are selected by an agent acting for the DRMO - Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office – for the U.S. Department of Defense. We even offer items in various conditions to meet the budgets of all our customers. Items in “Used”, “Very Good” and “Like New” condition often have a "DRMO" stamped or printed onto it. This indicates the military has replaced this item in their inventory and this item is approved for distribution to approved markets.

We inspect, categorize, and package, usually right out of the crate. Buying military surplus often, we don’t expect items to be new or un-issued unless advertised as such. Many items have small tears, rips, holes, large stains, etc. though all items are very usable. We're sure to be very clear in our descriptions with several levels of description depending on the condition of an item.

The United States Government equips its troops with some of the finest equipment in the world. A lot of what ends up as MilSurp can still be utilized for many years to come. We are always looking for the best deals on quality MilSurp that we can pass on to you at the lowest prices. One thing we can promise: If we wouldn't use it - we won't sell it. Keep an eye on our site for new items, especially in the MilSurp category - we've got some good stuff on the way!


Remember - " Fortuna favet præparaverat  -  Fortune Favors the Prepared!

This entry was posted on October 16, 2012 by Patrick Carey.

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