90th IDPG Reviews


At The Front Service Shoes

Review Date:  4/8/2008
Author: Chris Guska

These boots were purchased at the Fort Indiantown Gap (FIG) military reenactment in January of 2006 by my brother Geoff.  Since 2006 At the Front has changed boot manufacturers from a Mexican supplier to a Chinese supplier.  I verified at FIG in January of 2008 that the boots are indeed the same pattern and that this would be a valid review of a currently available product.  The boots are unworn – unaltered and have not been polished. 

The Boots:
The boots are available in whole sizes and E width only.  Rollin does a good job describing the fit of the boots and provides a pair of reasonably high quality photographs of the boots.  The photos aren’t detailed to the degree of this review – but you get a good idea of what you’re getting.

These Type 2 Garrison Shoes retail for 109.99 or can be purchased 2 pairs at a time for $199.99.  

I do have some concerns about construction quality after reviewing the ATF Roughout boots – specific to the new Chinese manufactured boots versus the last generation Mexican made boots.

I took the time to compare them to a pair of well used originals – the originals are size 8.5 and the repro boots are size 10.  Do not compare them for direct size- but rather for general details and shapes.

General Photos –

Out of the box-


Took this photo with flash just so you could see the difference in color between flash and non flash.


Comparison to originals:
The original examples are sewn with white or un-dyed thread.  The reproductions are sewn with dark blue/purple/black thread.  The dark colored thread is perfectly acceptable and was one of the specified types for service shoes.  The eyelets on the wartime boots were originally painted brown or red-brown and have simply worn off over time exposing the brass base metal.


Side Detail –


Rear Detail –


Rear comparison to original
This photo could be somewhat deceptive – giving the impression that the ATF boots are way too tall.  This problem arises from the comparison boot being size 8 and the repro size 10. Generally – the overall shape and details are correct.


Sole Detail –
The soles and heels are of a generally accepted pattern. The half soles are marked with “US ARMY” in raised lettering – this was present on original examples


Instep Detail


Toe Detail -


Toe comparison to original


Eyelet detail:
The eyelets are firmly set, none of them are loose, with all of the crimps being properly formed and quite deep.


External view of the eyelets – the coating appears to be a hard thick paint that does not appear that it will rub off easily.


Interior detail:


While these older examples are not marked with any kind of maker mark – the newer examples are marked with a period inspired “contractor marking” and sewn in “made in china” tag.  It appears that these markings are done to comply with US import regulations, but I believe that they could be done in such a way that is more authentic.

Sole nail detail:
Note that on these boots all the nails are fairly well set, unlike the shoddy installation on the Chinese made roughouts.


Sole side edge detail:
These boots do not exhibit the same odd sole stitching, or lack thereof where the sole meets the upper – and continued to the heel.



These boots appear to be very serviceable boots.  The pattern of the boots is very good, and the factory applied color is also acceptable.  I can find no major faults with these boots.  With a pair of original laces, several coats of polish, and some use – I think they would look fantastic. 

I do have concerns about these boots now that they are made in China rather than Mexico.  These Mexican made examples appear to have reasonably good construction quality and attention paid to finishing details.  The pair of ATF roughout boots that I reviewed were significantly lesser in finishing details and overall aesthetic quality with very poorly set sole nails and some idiosyncrasies in the attachment of the upper to the sole.

Should you decide to purchase these boots, whether in person at a show that ATF attends, or via mail order, please take some time to examine the details.  If you are unhappy with them, send them back to ATF – and express your discontent.  They could have a truly excellent product, but it may be compromised due to choices in global manufacturing. 

Summary Pros and Cons:

The boots are serviceable
The boots are externally correct
The leather feels to be of reasonable quality and thickness
The finish color of the leather is a generally accepted shade and not excessively glossy
The boots are the least expensive of the currently available Service Shoes.

The current batch of boots is made in China
The boots are only available in whole sizes
The boots are only available in E width
The current batch of boots has interior contract markings that could be significantly improved.


I can’t definitively say that these boots are “The Best” – as I am very happy with the WWII Impression Service Shoes, but the ATF Service Shoes are certainly 100% acceptable for use.  The pattern is good, the materials are good, the color is good, and the price is the lowest.  I would have no reservations in recommending these boots to anyone.

As with any boot review- the durability of these boots are really dependant on their owner/user and may vary.  I cannot speak to the long term durability of these boots, as no one in the 90th IDPG currently owns and uses these boots on a regular basis.



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