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Assault vests


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I have noticed that prices on original Second World War assault vests are quite high. Depending on the make and model, I have seen them go for as little as $500, or as much as $4,000. Given that these rose in popularity after movies like Saving Private Ryan came out, what is their availability right now? They were not common before the collecting boom, and surely they are at a premium today. What would those with more experience in this area think a fair maximum price would be for a genuine U.S. assault vest?

Capstone

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Beware there are a fair number of reproductions of these vests out there. Some prop vest from the movie Saving Private Ryan are also being sold as originals but I believe these are marked SPB. Unless there is a proven provenance I'd steer away fromt these. Kevin

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No problem - I worked as a volunteer in an Army museum several years back and there was no shortage of dealers trying to sell the museum "D-Day worn" Assault vests. Same with WWII paratrooper items, there are high quality reproductions of the uniforms, boots, and even parachutes. Kevin

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I specialize in Second World War American headgear, especially the M1 helmet. I have seen many paratrooper helmets that I could have sworn were genuine, only to turn out to be cleverly aged and faked. Not much gets past my eye, but there are still those that are nearly perfect.

Probably my favorite authenticity test is the "smell" test. There is just no substitute for the smell of an original piece of equipment. It is nearly impossible to replicate the smell as well.

After talking to a fellow historian and collector from another forum, he seems to believe that genuine assault vests are in short supply, hence the high price tag (eBay estimates between $550 and $2500). Surely there are many examples to be had, but the majority of genuine ones are likely already residing in private collection or museums.

Thanks,

Capstone

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest paracollector

It's my understanding (no I can't cite a specific source, just bits and peices from interviews I've watched) that the assault vest was an unpopular item, and most that were issued were left back in England. True or not I couldn't be sure, but if it is true you would be stuck with two types of vests. The unissued, or left behind which would be rare in its own right. And the used version, which would be very rare.

As far as price and ability to find one, I think it would be safe to say that there are more repos out there than there are originals. Considering the price of a documentable M-42 Jump Jacket, a documentable Assault vest would surely and easily fetch into the 4 digit arena.

John

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An acquaintance of mine recently acquired two M42 para jackets and one pair of jump pants at a "yard sale" as we call them in America. It is my opinion that there are likely those issued vests still out there to be had from various places. I agree that if the vest was unpopular amongst the troops, they would have likely opted out of wearing them. After reading the information posted in the link below,I can see why they would be unpopular. Today's vests are much improved: they provide easy access to ammunition, medical supplies, grenades, and a even clip to hang the soldier's weapon on. Today's assault vests used by Special Forces troops are very popular for just those reasons. However, given their unpopularity in The Second World War, most surely would have been left in surplus in Great Britain.

Here is a good link for pictures of the assault vest:

Assault Vests

Thank you for the information,

Ryan

Edited by The Capstone
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