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WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

Article about: canvas weight is another factor. example shown weighs in at 3lb. 5ozs

  1. #1

    Default WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos


    I have been visiting this Forum for a long time, but this is my first post. It's with more than a little trepidation that I'll begin my stay here by posting photos of a British assault vest (or battle jerkin) that I have owned for more than 20 years. I am going to be either very happy, or very disappointed, to learn your opinion of this piece.

    From the very moment I purchased this vest, I have agonized over whether it is an authentic piece or a replica. Back in those pre-internet days I had but a few photos and very general information about these vests. I assumed that like any desirable collectible, there had to be fakes, or replicas made for the reenacting crowd. Unfortunately I had no information concerning the existence of any fakes or the way to distinguish them from a real vest if in fact they did exist.

    I had to make my purchase decision based solely on what I could determine from a facile examination. The problem was that there was nothing that shouted either real or fake, nothing that definitively made the vest right or wrong. I considered the quality of construction and materials along with the apparent attention to minor details, to be a good sign. The vest is very solidly made and must weigh between three and four pounds. I considered the unissued condition to be a potential problem. I would have preferred a piece evidencing serious use and aging, an appearance difficult to replicate without great skill. On the other hand, I rationalized that these vests were purportedly not well-liked by the troops and not widely used. The existence of an unissued surplus vest is not beyond the realm of possibility. Or so I tried to convince myself.

    In the absence of any reference materials or first-hand experience to guide my decision, I made the purchase with the acknowledgment that it might be real. Or it might be fake.

    When I recently took this vest out of storage for the first time in close to 20 years, I decided to abandon my laissez-faire attitude about originality. I have done a lot of searching online, both here and at other forums, but I have not learned much besides the confirmation that these vests have been faked long enough that I could very well have purchased one two decades ago. With that said, please examine the attached photos and give me the good, or bad, news. Thanks!

    Last edited by Richard in NY; 05-18-2011 at 11:14 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    Hi Richard, welcome to the forum!

    Thanks for the good detailed photos and the very honest and frank first post.

    The big problem with these is, as you have mentioned, the waters were muddied due to the amount of fakes made over the past 25 years or so and the few known originals being handled by collectors.

    The materials used all appear original, but as you will know, the fakes were made with original materials.

    Let us look at the makers name: now this company is it appears, still in business. They are not too far from where I live actually. If they have an archive and the records were not destroyed, it might be worth asking if they actually made these> of course this does not make the item original, but it is a start.

    Woven Narrow Fabrics and engineered textile structures, rigid and elastic webbing, M Wright & Sons Ltd, Quorn

    But I know the ones sold by a London dealer back in 1994 had this marking. These always seem to lack WD acceptance stamps too, another troubling issue..

    I need to contact a few friends about these. One has (or had) an original tan training marked version from his Grandad's old collection. Another may have been involved in the production of copies many years ago.

    Personally, I think it is a copy.

    See here for todays copies, and sold as such:


    To be honest, these are better made.

    The only good thing, if it is a fake, is that you would get your money back selling it as such.

    Cheers, Ade.

  3. #3

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    Oxford English Dictionary : n. short gun with wide bore

  4. #4

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    Hi Jeff, I had to think about that one for a minute!

    Cheers, Ade.

  5. #5

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    could even pre-date '94. I can remember strolling down the asphalt at Duxford past the stalls along the way from the car park to the MV's in the August sunshine. an enterprising chap from their shop was wearing one. stapled to it on the back was a sheet of paper with " FOR SALE ". quite a few people stopped him on his travels. the story was that a small cache had been found. a cynic would argue that this was the pre-order stage .

  6. #6

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    I spoke with my firend re the tan training vest, sadly he has now sold it. But I know the guy to whom it was sold, so if I see him at an event this year, I will ask him about it.

    This is the problem with these, collector confidence in them is low and paranoia abounds due to those sold in the 1990's by the London based dealer.

    Cheers, Ade.

  7. #7

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    Ade and friends:

    Thanks to all who responded to my inquiry. Although I must say that “Prosty's” comment,
    “Oxford English Dictionary : n. short gun with wide bore“
    left me puzzled despite finding numerous Google references. Our mutual Irish cousin, Oscar Wilde, summed-up the situation nicely
    "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, the language"
    Gentlemen, I respect your combined experience and opinion on matters of Brit field equipment, but I am not yet ready to give-up hope that my assault vest is genuine. I have been a daily visitor to gun and militaria forums since 1998. I am almost embarrassed to think of how much time I have spent reading and conversing with my fellow collectors. On many occasions I have witnessed some poor soul come to a forum to proudly display a newly acquired treasure, only to be met with derision for his failure to spot what virtually everyone else on the forum knows is an obvious fake or piece of junk. In all too many cases, the now humiliated owner hunkers-down and refuses to believe his critics, no matter how persuasive the evidence against him. It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which a hopeful person can convince himself that he is right and everyone else, no matter their experience, is wrong. So sad. Apparently there's no delusion like self-delusion.

    I have always promised myself that I will not form an opinion or judgment on emotion or bluster. I remain firm in my commitment to always base my opinions on articulable fact and logical observations. With that in mind, here's why I continue to hold-out hope that my vest is real.

    In the absence of a “real” assault vest, I can only compare mine to the two Bren gun magazine vests that I purchased several years before the assault vest. I found them in a little, hole-in-the-wall army surplus store buried amid piles of old web gear and miscellaneous equipment. The first Bren vest has outward curving (convex) magazine pouches and is ink-stamped “1945”. According to the tag I added when I purchased the vest in April, 1988, I paid $15.00. I sincerely doubt that it's a fake.

    The second vest is very similar but has inward curving (concave) mag pouches. I purchased this piece at the same time and the dealer gave me a discount for buying two vests. I only paid $10.00! This vest is a small size and is ink stamped with the date of “1943”.

    The color of the two Bren vests is slightly darker than the assault vest, but all three shades are very similar. The canvas material has the same appearance, weight and stiffness. The metal fittings, web straps, stitching and leather washers are for all practical purposes identical, as is the appearance of aging, or rather, the lack of aging as befitting three unissued pieces. There is nothing about the assault vest, when compared to the two (assumed) original Bren vests, that leads me to doubt the authenticity or age of the former.

    The differences between the three pieces are so minor that they are easily explicable by the fact that the pieces were assembled by different manufacturers at different times.

    What would convince me that my vest is a fake?

    If information is discovered that the manufacturer's markings on my assault vest are nonsensical, that the factory named never originally made the the vests, I will have to accept such bad news as definitive.

    Conversely, but not as logically, (or epistemologically) definitive, if a verifiable reproduction vest is located and it is identical, or very similar to mine, my confidence would be greatly undermined.

    In the absence of something more than mere hearsay and second-hand knowledge that reproductions exist, I feel entitled to continue in my state of purgatory, not able to enjoy the feeling of knowing I have an authentic vest, but not yet condemned to know that I own a fake. In other words, the same exact state of mind I had at the moment of my purchase so long ago.

  8. #8

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    Hi Richard, I like both the skeleton assualt jerkins.

    I wish I could put you out of your misery!

    I do think the stitching is better excuted on these than on the battle jerkin.

    Have a go at contacting the factory. I would love to help but my time is really limited.

    Cheers, Ade.

  9. #9

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    Never say die ! opinions are just that. then there is fact. we must attempt to un-muddy the water. let the Prosecution go to chambers and build the case. unless of course the mice and mildew have not gotten there first. TTFN

  10. #10

    Default Re: WWII British Assault Vest...Real or Fake...Lots of Photos

    unfortunately I do not possess a jerkin exactly the same as the one in question together with a receipt / affidavit stating it is a reproduction. what I do have is a jerkin that could be original. I was not present during its manufacture. with these items the devil is in the detail. subtleties and nuances.manner of assembly, the weight of the construction thread. compare the tie strings between the ones on the jerkin and the ones on the vest. WW2 period string is not like modern stuff. differences are its basic make up and the way it is spun . notice the depth of the helve pocket. difference in stencilling. acceptance stamps. oops ! I appear to be plunging into the depths of the anorak. if you have zero doubts then that is all that matters. unfortunately, collections abound with " 100 % genuine " items that have and will continue to do so, prove to be the opposite. I am not out to convince anyone, I merely make observations. such is the hobby and life. a few quick shots.
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