90th IDPG Reviews


What Price Glory M17 Binoculars Case Review

Review Date: 5/5/2010
Author: Chris Guska

Updated: 6/14/2011
Photographer: Sean Foster
Supplimental / New photos with Green Background
Updated Text in RED



There are essentially 2 styles of 6x30 WWII Issue US Army binoculars: the Type EE and the M3 series. There were wartime enhancements which resulted in new derivative models of the M3 produced and issued - but that's a different article. The Type EE was a holdover from WWI, that was replaced early on in WWII by the M3, carried in the M17 case.

The M3 and M17 case were procured from 5 manufacturers ( Bausch & Lomb, Nash - Kelvinator, Universal Camera Corp, Westinghouse and Wollensack Corp. During the war, a total of 311,000+ sets of Field Glasses, M3 were procured at an average cost of $71 per set.




I ordered the Reproduction M17 Binocular Case and the reproduction US Binocular Strap via the e-commerce engine for What Price Glory on 4/1/2010. I paid via PayPal since I had an existing balance and out of partial distrust of the e-commerce site (based in United Arab Emirates).

I received an email from WPG on 4/2/2010 stating that I had not paid... "We have noticed that you did not pay for Order Number 226XX"... telling me to either pay up, or "In case you are not interested to go ahead with payment and wish to cancel this order, please let us know."

This was somewhat obnoxious to say the least - considering I had a payment confirmation and trail through PayPal for the order. I simply forwarded on the PayPal payment confirmation which was clearly tied to my order via Order Number and details.

Two days later, on 4/4/2010 I finally received confirmation of my order.

The order shipped on 4/7/2010 from UAE. I received the order on 4/12

US M17 Binocular Case
"Exact reproduction of the M17 case for 6x30 M6 binoculars. Includes leather strap."
 Quantity : 1
 Price : US$50.00

US Binocular Strap
"New production of the tan leather binocular strap issued with all US Army binos in WWII. This is the one that attaches to the binoculars, not the strap for the bino case."
 Quantity : 1
 Price : US$8.00

Shipping: $12.00

Total: $70.00

The Reproduction:


My first impressions were pretty negative with this one. I was kinda annoyed with the ordering process and the product just felt cheap out of the box. It was only after I really started comparing things that I started to accept this repro.

I purchased a reproduction M17 case since my original is pretty much trashed and unuseable for displays or field use. Bad cases are pretty common, as they were made from leatherette and saw extensive civilian use post war. In my circumstance, the case I have is missing the strap as well as the tab closure on the front. If I had a "nice" original case, I would be somewhat hesitant to use it as I perceive that they're somewhat fragile.

A caveat to remember across all the photo comparisons is that I am comparing a beat up original case made by Nash Kelvinator to a reproduction based on an unknown original. There were multiple manufacturers of cases, so it'd be hard to expect a 100% perfect match in every single way.

Starting top to bottom - the handles are first. Overall shape and style are the same. The handle is functional and feels secure. The binoculars are fairly light and I'm confident that the handle can support the weight of the set. I wouldn't trust it if you loaded the case full of quarters or 45 ACP ammo...

The case markings are a nice detail. The reproduction captures the style, albeit slightly different than my example. Markings can either be a plus or a serious detractor to any reproduction. I'm glad to see these markings aren't "terrible".

Inside of the lid detail - on the left are the original Nash Kelvinator markings, while the reproduction does not have any "maker" markings to be found

Unfortunately my original example is missing the closure strap so I cant compare them. The hardware is of reputable quality and functions correctly.

Update: Here is a comparison of an original tab to the reproduction tab.

Under the top edge of the case, usually covered by the lid is the Drawing # / Piece mark of the case D44160. The reproduction does not include this detail.

Side view - generally pretty close, but there's some slight differences.

Rear view - I'm curious to see how this holds up and wears over time. The leatherette feels somewhat weak, but it may hold up to some real use. The attachment details are slightly different in that the bottom rivets and lowere edge of the loop are set higher up on the back than my example.

Bottom view - not much to see or comment on here.

Inside view - first and second set are the attachment of the lid to the body, the third is the inside view. When I first looked at the reproduction, without comparing to the original - I was quite disappointed with the "cheezy" split rivets. Upon comparison, I was somewhat shocked to see that the originals used the same type of hardware.

The inside finish quality isn't that great. The original isn't exactly fine, but there is a little bit more attention to detail as well as a different "felt" type material rather than more leatherette. I'd be curious to examine more originals to verify if other manufacturers used leatherette inside or felt as my example has.


Update: Sean's example has the leatherette

Strap detail - the hardware is of period style and securely attached. The strap is of similar quality to the case itself. It is serviceable, but does not scream quality or durability. In many ways, this mirrors the original...

Finally - overall view. Most important checkpoint for last, the M3 binoculars actually fit in the case and it can successfully be closed and snapped. This may seem obvious, but I've previously purchased reproductions that did not function for their intended purpose.

The binocular strap- This has shown up in the photos but I've made no mention of it. Its an OK strap - and should stand up to a little use. It feels to be made of real leather and appropriately tooled. It was quite dry out of the box and will need a liberal application of conditioner.

My only complaint about the strap was that it was slightly too wide for the strap attachment loops on the binocular body and required excessive force / time to attach the strap.



The good:

The pattern is pretty decent, in that it fits M3 binoculars
The materials are of similar quality and feel to the original
The markings are a positive rather than an overwhelming detractor

The bad:

The ordering process pissed me off
The inside could be a bit better detailed
The drawing number on the front of the case could be added

Summary Pros and Cons


The case is serviceable
Reasonably accurate reproduction


Small details are off
Ordering process was fubar

I have fewer complaints about the product than I do about the service. The product could be improved to potentially be "fake" quality with a bit more effort and expense. At $50, I may consider paying $20 more for a "fake" quality item, but no more. I consider it to be at the maximum price currently for what I'd consider to be a "value". If you are missing a case for your M3 binoculars, or have a poor condition original, I would recommend this reproduction with a cautionary note about the service.

Update: Sean says - "The WPG repro case (this one purchased several years ago, late 2006) is a very reasonable replica of the original case photographed here.  This original (not marked, came with 1941 vintage pre-government contract M3 style binoculars by Universal Camera though I cannot guarantee those to be the original binocs issued with the case - the binoculars and case came together from the estate of a binocular enthusiast) has the same construction methods and materials.  Even the strap buckles are quite similar in shape and metal color.  Much of the case is assembled with split rivets, as in the original.  The lift-the-dot fastener closure tab is shaped similarly, with tooling marks.  Nomenclature markings on the lid match satisfactorily to the original (the original is slightly bolder font).  The key distinction is that the repro does not have the number D44160 impressed into the leather above the lift-the-dot, in the area hidden when the flap is closed.  Other differences are minimal (dimensional variance in the width of the leather strap, the height of the case, etc.  The interior of both has the leatherette lining, which is different from other known original cases (in particular those made by Nash-Kelvinator)."



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