At The Front "Generation 2" M41 Field Jacket
Review Date: 6/17/2012
Author: Chris Guska
American soldiers playing poker, using the 200 francs each was given for their trip to France, as they sit atop Army supply truck, one of many waiting on dock to be loaded onto ships for transport to their D-Day objective, the beaches of Normandy.
Location: United Kingdom Date taken: June 6, 1944 Photographer: David E. Scherman
Courtesy of the Life Archive powered by Google
The "M41" Field Jacket was without a doubt "the" ubiquitous GI Field Jacket of WWII. Even after the introduction of the M43, the M41 continued to see extensive service through the war's end.
The Quartermaster Catalog describes the "Jacket, Field, OD" as "A short combat jacket of windproof, water repellent cotton poplin with flannel lining and with button and zipper closure.
At The Front has had several different iterations of this product. This review specifically applies to the "2nd Generation" of high end 41 jackets as currently available. A "2nd Generation" was released shortly after the 1st Gen jackets, as previously reviewed. This review covers the improvements made in the "2nd Generation".
These jackets, 1st and 2nd Gen are contracted specifically for At The Front, and no other US vendor offers them. These are not Sturm-Miltec, SM Wholesale or other maker jackets simply re branded or claimed to be unique - as many small vendors do.
I've had this jacket for a while. I honestly don't even remember when I got it, other than it was basically as soon as it hit the market. I don't remember what I paid either - these jackets do go on sale from time to time and the price may vary.
Current Retail (6/17/12): $125.00
About the Review:
I'll be comparing the Repro ATF 41 Field Jacket - size 36, against an original size 36 Field Jacket from my collection. As the review progresses, I'll pull in additional 41's out of my collection for more comparisons. For sizing and pattern - I'm trying to keep this as apples to apples as possible, then show variants across manufacturers.
I've had this jacket for a while now - it is not fresh out of the box. I've worn it in rainstorms, slept in it, done the whole "reenacting" thing in it, as well as worn it around the machine shop. Its wrinkled, dirty, a little oily and generally "used".
Having already received a 1st Generation ATF M41 jacket, I knew generally what to expect. The 2nd Generation jacket was essentially same as the first in color and materials - just with the pattern "oops" worked out of it.
Rehashing from the 1st Gen jackets...
"The materials felt really good - with a similar "hand" feel of the poplin shell to a couple of the original 41s from my collection that will be shown below. The lining feels / looks spot on to some of the examples as well.
The buttons stood out to me as a positive, as they were the happy chocolate brown color - and with a bit of finger oils shined up to look like an original. I have been pretty unsatisfied with the buttons of other repros. I'll get into these details a bit more further down."
It appears that several pattern tweaks have been made to the 2nd Generation jackets. Here it is folded and laid on top of a size 36 original. The body length issue has been resolved.
I lined up the shoulder seams to get a sleeve length comparison as I did last time. When you line it up this way, it looks just a little bit short on sleeve length.
If you flip it over and compare bottom armpit seam as a starting point, they line up perfectly. The sleeves appear right in shape - but I'm not sure how to explain this difference in length based on how it is laid out.
Back view, shoulder seam to shoulder seam. The body length issue has been resolved.
As laid out last time, I've been wearing original jackets to reenact in for just over 10 years, so there's a "feel" thing when trying on a jacket. This one fits pretty good compared to the same original. I like it.
Modern suit coat sizing - I wear a 38 to 40 depending on brand. With regards to original 41 jackets - I wear a 36. I initially tried a 38 repro with the first generation, which didn't "feel" right. I stepped down to a 36 in the repro and found it to feel much better. On the 2nd Generation jacket, I ordered a 36 from the start - and it fit like a 41 should. The same sizing caveat applies as with the 1st Gen.
These jackets do have taper to them, which is great for guys who don't have 40 inch chests and 40 inch waists, unlike some other repros. This is a positive. Figure a 4 inch taper minimum. I didn't get the tape measure out to figure out the exact taper on these.
Color is totally within the range of originals. I like it a lot. Also remember, color is a subjective thing - I wrote a Color Primer to discuss how perceptions of color change based on condition.
Repro on the left, 6 other originals to show color range. Some from virtually new to "salty".
The ATF Repro looks a little brown in some of the photos. Remember my comments on the dirt level - and also consider that most of my other 41's have been cleaned. Some of the photos below, the repro is almost difficult to discern from the original.
The cuffs are blind stitched as they should be, and the reinforcing bar tack is in the right spot. Adjustment tab placement is a little low on the repro (top).
The repro is in the middle. The adjustment tab and button color is well within the range of acceptable.
The adjustment tab buttons are spaced way further apart on the repro than on the originals. This is fixable. Its probably one of the few "WTF!?" flaws with this jacket. Just looking at it, even when not compared to an original, it is obviously wrong.
The back band on the repro (left) is significantly larger than that on the original 36R example I am comparing it to.
The gap between the start of the bi-swing and the side seam is slightly larger on the repro than the original. This is a pretty consistent thing across the originals.
Once interleaved with the 6 originals... its hard to tell. The back band width did vary, and is within the acceptable range.
Bi-Swing Back detail:
Its a little difficult to see - but the back panel of the bi swing does not appear as large on the repro (left) as it does on the original (right). I think the whole back panel may be slightly narrower, but didn't get my tape measure out to be sure.
Arm pit detail:
The reinforced arm pit gussets look spot on.
The epaulets on the repro were right on. This previously was an issue with the 1st Generation jackets.
The original I am comparing against (left) has 1 more row of reinforcing stitching at the collar. Collar looks smaller on the repro to the right, but is just presenting differently due to how it is laid out.
Apparently I got a lemon of a jacket. Dave from the group also has a Gen 2 ATF M41, and pointed out that his jacket does have the buttons. Upon asking around, it turns out that they all have buttons under the collar - except mine. Ouch.
I've left my original commentary in regarding the buttons, but it no longer applies as mine was simply a lemon.
This was another huge "WTF!?". My 2nd Gen is entirely missing the buttons on both sides for the collar tab. This is kind of a big deal, as its a bit of a pain in the ass to sew those buttons on - as you cant sew clear through the collar. The buttons must be attached to the outermost layer.
A poorly laid out photo showing both buttons missing. I could have done a better job laying out the repro on the right, as the button shown is the top storm flap button, rather than the upper collar tab button. The collar tab buttons are missing.
Here's a variety of originals with the repro slid in.
Storm Flap Detail
The storm flap is slightly wider on the repro (right) and (top). Button placement is a bit wonky as well - I can live with this variation.
The zipper in the ATF jacket is marked Talon, silver in color and square in shape. It matches closely some of the originals I have. The bottom stop was modern in style and did not match the originals which were fairly distinctive
More Originals (Conmar)
The major flaw on the smaller size Generation 1 ATF jackets was that the manufacturer shortened the zippers based on size of the jacket.
This zipper issue has been resolved on the 2nd Gen jackets.
The pockets are another "WTF!?" Originals measure 7 to 7 1/4 inches, regardless of size. Repro measures 6 1/4 at opening. I wonder if the pockets got graded much like the zippers did with the 1st Generation Jackets.
Repro (right) compared against a variety of originals.
Similarly styled QM tag.
Materials are great - both shell and liner
Pattern is better
Buttons are great
Construction quality is good
Cheapest of "High End" M41's @ $125
Color is great
Zipper is good quality
Zipper length is fixed
Cuffs are fixed
Epaulets are fixed
Pockets are too small
Missing buttons under collar
Rear adjustment tab button placement is too wide
Back details could be improved
Cuff tab placement could be moved slightly
The 2nd Generation jackets are much improved from the "1st Generation". They still have some minor flaws. The button problems are correctable. The pocket problem and some of the other details will just have to be lived with.
Its damn good for the price, especially when compared to other jackets that are 2x to 3x the price. Based on what I've seen of more expensive jackets, I will continue to wear this jacket. I feel like this jacket should be the baseline reproduction to which others should be weighed and compared.
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