At The Front OD#2, 2015
Review Date: 1/3/2016
Author: Sean Foster
Contributors: Chris Guska, Tom Kelly, Josh Kerner
US Army enlisted man wearing newly designed field jacket, which may also be worn by officers.
Date taken: 1941 Photographer: Dmitri Kessel
Courtesy of the Life Archive powered by Google
The 'M41' Field Jacket was, without a doubt, the ubiquitous GI Field Jacket of WWII. Even after the introduction of the M43, the M41 continued to see extensive service through the war's end.
The Quartermaster Catalog describes the "Jacket, Field, OD" as "A short combat jacket of windproof, water repellent cotton poplin with flannel lining and with button and zipper closure.
At The Front has had numerous versions, generations, runs of M41 field jackets. Each run has been different with positive and negative changes each run. The current run we've decided to call the 2015 OD2 version.
These jackets are contracted specifically for At The Front, and no other US vendor offers them unless they are second hand.. These are not Sturm-Miltec, SM Wholesale or other maker jackets simply re branded or claimed to be unique - as many small vendors do.
Purchase date: August 21, 2015
Current Retail: October 6, 2015: $149.99
At $150, this is reasonable and middle-range of the M-1941 field jacket market. Other vendors sell repro M41 field jackets in the range of $70 to $400, with the more expensive ones being made in Japan.
About the Review:
This review will compare the ATF 41 Field Jacket - size 36, against an original size 36 Field Jacket from my collection. As the review progresses, additional original 1941 jackets will be utilized for comparisons.
The reproduction jacket has not been washed and is slightly oversize to account for shrinkage. The original jackets are not unissued and have been washed and are assumed shrunk.
The shell fabric compares well to originals. The fabric is tightly woven cotton poplin, as it should be. The current ones are OD#2, which turns out to be the color specified by the QM originally. Josh and Tom from the 100th ID went to the QM Museum and pulled the original color swatches - to which this jacket matches well.
AR 600-35, specifying that the M1941 Field Jacket was to be made from OD#2.
Original color swatch from QMC color sample book compared to ATF 2015 M41 Jacket.
The ATF 2015 OD2 is the 2nd jacket in the stack, with the last jacket with SSGT stripes being the ATF Gen2.
The ATF lining color does closely approximate the color of the lining on the M38 Parsons Jacket in the collection.
The wool lining is a bit darker than I usually find, but after one laundering, not illustrated, the lining did lose some of the darker brown tint, and faded slightly to a dark olive.
The garment is well made and no missing stitches were visible on inspection, or any seams not properly sewn together. Stitching arrangement (single needle seam / double needle seam) is accurately replicated on the repro.
Thread used to secure the buttons is modern thin synthetic, and does not have the thickness of the cotton thread used to secure originals. This is a similar problem to nearly every repro garment I have personally examined, and can be remedied by some thicker thread and an hour or so of sewing time.
The garment appears as though it will be durable, my only suggestion for improvement in construction might be to secure the buttons with thicker thread. The garment is easy to wear, and can withstand washing by hand or by machine. This jacket will be a solid companion through many events, both displays and tacticals.
These are made in even numbered sizes (40, 42, 44, etc) which is how the originals were made and issued. Some sizes are/will be available in “L” Long (tall) and “S” Short height, although not every chest size is offered in the Long and Short lengths. Based on research by the owner of At The Front, he relates that most originals were made with long sleeves.
Laying the jackets out side by side, 36R to 36R, they appear to line up quite well.
Performing the "Kerner Zip Them Together" test, the reproduction is slightly larger - it may shrink to a direct match after being laundered - which the example being photographed is new out of the bag.
The fit feels the same between the two jackets, such that it is not different enough to be noticeably larger to the wearer.
Sleeves are cut more straight in the repro, whereas in the originals there is a more pronounced curve to the sleeves. Most will never notice this difference.
Cuffs & Tabs:
The cuffs are blind stitched as they should be, and the reinforcing bar tack is in the right spot. The issue is that the sleeves on the originals are 24 inches and the reproduction is 25 inches, assuming they will shrink in length when washed.
The tabs are within the range of widths and lengths of cuff adjustment tabs.
The adjustment tab rear button is on the seam rather than offset as seen on the samples compared against.ATF has a photo on their site of an original with the button placed on the seam as per the reproduction, while the others have the button offset.
The originals as compared against measure 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches from the edge of the seam to the center of the button. This is not wrong, but is a less common variation. Easily fixed, but annoying.
Inside cuff detail
Rear Adjustment Tabs and button Spacing
The rear adjustment tab is shorter than the originals examined.
The button spacing is correct on this run of jackets.
The back band on the repro (left) is slightly larger than that on the original 36R example as compared against.
There is a degree of variation in back band sizes across the originals in the collection and this is acceptable.
Bi-Swing Back detail:
Looks and feels right.
Inside view showing the side and biswing detail.
Arm pit detail:
The reinforced arm pit gussets look OK from the outside.
Inside detail is narrower and deeper.
The epaulets are a bit short on the reproduction measuring 5 1/2 inches when compared to the similarly sized sample, but there is a significant range of variance within 41 jacket epaulet sizes.
Reproduction 36R, 5 1/2 inches
Original 38R, 5 1/2 Inches
Original 36R, 5 3/4 inches
Original 34R, 6 Inches
The lapels measure out correctly and are not oversized or oddly shaped as other reproductions have been. Below are two illustrations, representative of the stack.
The collar, when buttoned all the way to the top, does seem a slight bit small as there is a gap in the collar lapels when closed up all the way. It is uncommon for the jacket to be fastened this way except in very cold conditions, but some who purchase this will want the neck to have the provision of closing for added warmth in colder environments.
Underneath the collar, the reinforcement stitching pattern closely resembles one of the originals.
The lower lapel storm flap button could and should be repositioned.
The contract label in the pocket is well done, and the import tags appear to be easily removed. The size tag is sewn inside the lining at the back of the neck, underneath the import label (Made in China, 100% Cotton). Most originals have a similar cloth tag sewn in the collar area of the lining to designate the size. The reproduction tag is slightly oversized compared to the other jackets with tags remaining.
The pocket label follows the format of an original, but is on a sturdier material so as to remain readable after laundering. The label being sewn long edge like would be seen on a shirt is less common, but still correct.
Storm Flap Detail
The storm flap looks right on with regards to width, and slightly longer as previously called out with the zip test.
The zipper is a modern Talon with close resemblance to an original (it is a modern day replica of a historic zipper as used in the 1930’s-40’s). The main difference is the stopper at the base of the zipper (female side) is smaller and lacks the designed TALON decoration. Also the puller / slider of the zipper is a little more robust in the replica when compared to the original.
The zipper is the correct length on the jacket reviewed of 16 inches.
The pockets are corrected on this generation of jackets measuring 7 1/4 inches, with originals varying from 6 3/4 to 7 1/4 inches, regardless of size.
At The Front has made several previous production runs of the M-1941 field jacket. Previous ones were a bit more brown in color (less green) or had visible stitching at the cuffs. This is possibly the best replica of this jacket which they have made. Personally, I prefer the color of this one although I like the lining of the previous one better.
There are three pricing tiers of reproduction M-1941 field jackets.
Under $100 - What Price Glory and Sturm are in the
$100<$200 - ATF
>$200 - Buzz Rickson, WWII Impressions
What Price Glory and WWII Impressions have both offered this jacket for well over a decade. SEMS / STURM was among the first to offer replicas of this jacket. Buzz Rickson makes this jacket from time to time, but evidently they do not produce it every year.
Pros & Cons
OD#2 Color matches the QMC Museum sample extremely well
Shape and proportions are right, not adjusted for "modern sizes"
Collar / lapel face appearance
Zipper is good facsimile
Pockets are correctly sized
Button placement resolved from prior generations
Lining color is on the dark end of the samples
Straight cut sleeves
Collar area not large enough to be fully closed when buttoned to the top on Size 42L
For the money, this is an excellent reproduction jacket. The sleeves are the only really annoying error on the jackets. Head and shoulders better than the low end reproductions, and comparatively, it is an easy decision over the more expensive offerings.
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