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A Tale of Two Jungle Jackets

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raggedglory View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 11:42am
In 1969, at the height of the American war in Vietnam, when the two Jungle Jackets of our tale were made, defense contractors were probably falling all over themselves trying to make them fast enough for all the teenage boys going out to get shot at in them. 47 years later, after being the exclusive province of Rainbow Gatherings, Sturgis Rallies, Veterans Administration waiting rooms and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, they have been reintroduced to the fashion world by designers such as Ralph Lauren, Engineered Garments, OrSlow and the Real McCoys.

Through the mysteries of EBay, our two jackets ended up at my flat in Berlin this summer, where I had a chance to examine them closely side by side. I decided to put this post here simply because I know this is a community of folks who have similarly obsessive levels of attention to detail, and also because I don't feel any particular camaraderie with any of the war paraphernalia collectors' forums out there. I hope you bros enjoy this little trip.

My first words are about sizing. They are greatly oversized in the width, and greatly truncated in the arm-length. Plus it is almost impossible to find correct measurements on the internet for these since most vintage sellers list the US Department of Defense recommended chest sizes rather than the actual measurements, and all the modern reproductions have totally re-patterned the jacket to fit more fashionably than the originals. At 6"/1.82m tall, 190Lbs/87Kg with a 42"/106cm chest, I assumed a Large would be the right one for me.

The biggest difficulty with buying these jackets online (rather than hitting old American army surplus shops in person) is finding one that isn't a Small or Extra-Small, and that doesn't have a price tag over USD $100 or more. The elusive Large Regular (my first purchase, intended for chest sizes 42"-45") measures 25.5 inches pit-to-pit! My mistake, I thought, and kept looking around. I tracked down a Medium Long (chest sizes from 37"-41") because I knew from experience that a Medium Regular's sleeve ends somewhere in the middle of my forearm. Sizing of the ML is spot on: 23 inches across the chest and 25.25 inches from shoulder to cuff.

Complete measurements below for those hunting a Jungle Jacket of their own:

Tagged: Large Regular
Chest: 25.5 in/65 cm
Shoulders: 18.5 in/47 cm
Length: 32 in/81 cm
Sleeve: 25 in/64 cm

Tagged: Medium Long
Chest:  23 in/58 cm
Shoulders: 17.5 in/45 cm
Length: 32.5 in/83 cm
Sleeve:  25.25 in/64 cm

I read up quite a bit on what the manufacturer's tag can tell you about the jacket--mainly the contractor who made the jacket and the production date (usually the second set of digits in the serial number). 100-69-C-1361, for example, tells us our specimen was made in 1969. But what I failed to realize was the total difference of production standards between these contractors!

So, sadly, while my Medium Long made by Bonham Mfg Co, Inc. fits me well, the Large Regular by Allen Overall Co., Inc. features far superior workmanship (or workwomanship, as case more likely was!). The quality of the ripstop poplin cotton in the Allen Overall jacket feels more substantial, and has already faded a little to a nice olive drab rather than the brighter, almost-forest-green of the Bonham Mfg. This second point could, of course, change over time. But probably my biggest disappointment was that the internal side seams of the Bonham Mfg jacket are serged rather than felled like the Allen Overall one. The horror, the horror…

The general level of finish on the Allen Overall one is simply much better, even down to the button-tacking. Interior seams are straighter and better-finished even if not felled, the stitching overrun around the pockets not so pronounced, the chest-pocket and button-flap tacking better executed, and the overall lines cleaner. Many of the differences, apart from the difference in fabric, can only be seen inside the jacket, but of course these are the kind of details people like us thrive on.

And guess which one I am had to sell?

Photos to follow soon.



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smoothsailor View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote smoothsailor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 11:51am
cool wright up, thanks
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raggedglory View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote raggedglory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 11:54am
Side by side for color:

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raggedglory View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote raggedglory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 12:00pm
LARGE REGULAR

















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raggedglory View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote raggedglory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 12:04pm
MEDIUM LONG
















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Dr_Heech View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Dr_Heech Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 12:05pm
Very interesting, thanks for posting all that RG
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raggedglory View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote raggedglory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 12:06pm
It was sitting on my HD since July, glad to finally get it off my chest!

All the photos are 3264 × 2448 resolution, just in case you want to see real details then just right-click ;-)
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Aries View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aries Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 3:14pm
Great write up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mr. Q Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 4:17pm
Thanks for all this! Great information!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote attackwithstones Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jan 2017 at 6:46pm
I'm interested in finding the first version with exposed buttons. They are very hard to come by
Sell me your Mister Freedom stuff. :)
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