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Original vs. repro items


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As someone who runs a group I encourage where possible to use original, however original boots would not last, so repro in a size that is comfortable to the individual is advised. In the Airborne role it is impractical to demand original uniform items, likewise in some infantry impressions, but when it comes down to webbing and weapons it has to be original all the time.


The repro webbing from what I have seen can never last as long as original stuff, even the very best while looking like the original stuff is not load bearing. There is plenty of original stuff out there still and sometimes cost no more than repro, you just have to look around.


Weapons, I have had a few guys with imitation weapons, made from monkey metal, they fall apart when in simulated combat conditions.


Whenever possible original stuff is best and unless you are in "Bat Sim" conditions every day of the year it will last a long time. In my group I have collectors and pure re enactors, they are mostly the younger lads who cannot afford to collect, but I would rather they saved their cash just a little longer and brought original webbing and weapons than waste their money with a repro item that they will fall apart after a couple of weekends in the field.


Just this last weekend, we had two (the only two toy guns in the group I might add) repro guns (M1 and M1Carbine) break under field conditions and two sets of repro webbing buckles break.


My pet hate is repro 1911 holsters, never ever seen a repro that looks like the real thing, I ban them in the group!





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  • 1 year later...

I don't believe there is so much field time to endanger original gear. If the event lasted a month, that would be different. Then re-pro gear would be sensible.

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I could possible see an argument for original, or mostly original stuff for displays.


I can't imagine any reason for wearing real, vintage items (not talking current stuff that is still produced) and subjecting it to the likes of paintball or airsoft, just to play at combat. I mean, it's not even re-enacting. It's just running around shooting each other with foam BBs. What possible reason would there be to subject old cloth and thread to this sort of abuse when current and repro stuff, that is still being made, would be quite sufficient for the purpose and would hold up to the stresses of this sort of playing.


I agree... keeping the original stuff safe is my preference, and then use repro stuff for anything that could be damaged.

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In Poland, in WW II reenactment, some of us use copies and some original stuff. It depends simply on how much money you have. But mostly begginers use copies and then, when they get deeper into the reenactment they sometimes swap into originals.

Approx 95% of my stuff is original, except m41 jacket, service shoes, medic pouches, helmet liner was made in 1952, and helmet / liner straps. During events, when I ,,fix some wounds,, I use modern bandages in repro boxes, repro plasma / blood bottle, but original tourniquet.

Personally, I think that the outworn original is even better than the best copy. But that’s just me ;)

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Ironically, the tables have turned and now replica uniforms and kit can actually cost rather more than original items, so wearing repro gear is not necessarily a cost-cutting exercise. If you visit Michel de Trez's "Paratrooper" store, adjacent to his museum at "Deadman's Corner" in Normandy, you can pick up your empty basket at one end and leave via the other completely equipped as a WW2 paratrooper! It all comes at a cost, of course, but it's down to individual choice. This was the stuff of dreams when I took up GI collecting in the 80s. Back then it was a case of wearing originals...or nothing. Add to that the problems of finding stuff that fit! Nowadays, you can buy a jump-suit with a 44" waist and 50" chest, off the peg, no problem!! I have an ex "Band Of Bros" re-enforced jumpsuit, which was lightly used on set. I keep it as a collectible. However, if I was to wear it to re-enact and launder it multiple times, only real aficionados would be able to identify it as a replica. That's the down side of modern, near perfect replica uniforms. Webgear still isn't quite up to the same standard yet. Though it might look ok, it lacks the ruggedness of WW2 originals.

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I've got to agree with Lee: so far all the repro web gear I've seen doesn't hold a candle to the original kit.

When I started doing US WW2, I bought what was recommended as good-quality repro webbing, but every single piece failed me after the second event.

I completely switched to all-original webbing.

Actually, I picked up a nice transitional BAR belt this week. No repro compares to the original.


Uniforms are a different matter, though. Sizing along demands repro uniforms and, of course, 70 years old wool and thread won't last long in the field.

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Till now I have not made comment on this, as I did not want to make water in anyone's breakfast cereal made in Battle Creek, Michigan. Here though are some unvarnished realities; The majority of WW2 items available nowadays, never, ever went overseas, but sat in warehouses here in the states and was sold as surplus over the years!

History is not being destroyed, particularly as a large number of museums have collections (let alone some of the Forum members who have whole large buildings full to the rafters with the stuff, those of you with stacks of helmets as tall as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and rooms of just Ike jackets, know who you are), Military bases and their collections, let alone the DOD's collection of straight off the factory floors of everything made, and all the stuff left in other countries!

The most important value of anything, is that which the owner puts on it. To me, my gear is nothing, if I am not enjoying it, I own (and use the crap out of) mostly original stuff, and some repop stuff, most of which is replacement for unavailable original stuff (42 jumpsuit fer instance), by the way, $3.00 is the most I have paid for a OD flannel shirt (three weeks ago!) My front seam helmet was given to me by Uncle Sam.

Basically, it's your thing, do what you want to do!


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