What does military grade mean & what makes something military grade?

what does military grade mean?

What makes something military grade?

Military grade is a term companies use to imply their products meet military standards. The term is meaningless by itself. For such a label to mean something, a company using it should provide information about the exact military specification that was followed during production and testing of a product. Without information about the exact specification, “military grade” is just a term used in the marketing of a product so that potential customers believe the product or device is more rugged in its design.

Companies love to call their products military grade because the term is easy to exploit for marketing purposes; it doesn’t have to mean anything. There are many different military forces around the globe. Each of them has lots of different specifications for equipment, and a good number of those specifications don’t deal with the quality of the equipment.

Some specifications deal with the interchangeability of parts used in equipment. This ensures that parts can be mass-produced and easily replaced. Other specifications standardize materials, weight, dimensions, and color of equipment. Finally, there are specifications about methods of testing equipment’s tolerance for pressure, temperature, shock, humidity, sand, vibration, explosions, freezing, etc.

Is military grade a real thing?

When you consider how many different specifications the military of one country has, labeling a product as military grade doesn’t really tell you anything about the product. For example, a military grade knife you are buying could be produced according to dimensions specifications of the Colombian army. This means that you could get a knife that looks like a knife used by a Colombian soldier but gets dull and rusty soon afterward. In a way, such a knife is a military grade knife. After all, the knife is created in compliance with certain specifications, but it can still be a poorly made knife.

You might find a product that is marketed as “tested according to military specifications”. That still doesn’t guarantee that the product will have high quality. It doesn’t even guarantee that the product was actually tested. Let me explain why.

Most often, vendors will claim that the item is compliant to MIL-STD-810. MIL-STD-810 is a United States Military Standard about equipment’s environmental design and test methods that replicate conditions that the equipment is expected to experience.

An important piece of information about MIL-STD-810 is that it leaves plenty of room for flexibility. It allows users to create test methods that fit their products. This results in commercial organizations that don’t test their products with methods their customers expect.

What does military grade mean from vendor’s perspective?

For example, a company that sells phones could test how a phone handles fungi. After they confirm that fungi are not particularly interested in phones, they can market the phone as “tested and compliant with MIL-STD-810” and call it a military grade phone. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be lying because there is Test Method 508.7 in MIL-STD-810, which describes laboratory test methods for the interaction of fungi with equipment.

The example I used is a bit extreme, but it emphasizes the point. Companies don’t necessarily test products for humidity, shock, vibration, or any other element that is important for the durability of a product. They often use tests that the product will surely pass, and label the product as compliant to MIL-STD-810.

So what does military grade really mean?

In its simplest form, military grade means nothing. It is just proof that the company using such a label is prone to cheap (yet clever) marketing tricks. There is no guarantee of quality even when commercial companies claim their products are compliant with a specific standard because military specifications for equipment are flexible and vague.

So, what does military grade mean, and should you buy a military grade product? Military grade doesn’t mean anything. There is no such term in any dictionary. This means “military grade” is a term coined by companies to imply their products are durable.

As to whether or not you should buy such a product; proceed with some degree of caution. You should check with the company what specific tests were performed on the product. If you get a detailed description of methods used in testing, and you consider them good enough, there is no reason to mistrust the quality of the product.

Military grade definition in a nutshell

In a nutshell military grade is a term used by commercial companies for marketing purposes. No military in the world defines military equipment as military grade, but when civilians hear something is military grade, they expect it to be tough and durable.

The truth is that the quality of military equipment varies from country to country. It even varies between branches of the same military. There are price considerations when equipping tens of thousands of soldiers. Sometimes governments will try to save money and equip soldiers with items of subpar quality. With that in mind we can conclude that even if the knife you just bought is of the same quality as knives that the military uses, that doesn’t mean it is a high-quality knife.

Military standards deal with many things including interchangeability of parts, dimensions of the equipment, standardization of colors, etc.

Specifications that deal with quality aren’t binding for commercial organizations when applied to them. Even when commercial organizations comply with them, that still doesn’t impact the quality of their products. Such specifications are flexible and vague which makes it easy for companies to abuse the “compliant with specification XYZ” label.

So, is military grade a real thing? Yes, it is a real marketing label, nothing less, nothing more.

What is military grade? FAQ

What does military grade phone case mean?

There is no such thing as military grade phone cases. No army in the world issues phone cases to their soldiers. When you see a phone case marketed as military grade, that just means that the company selling it is using cheap marketing tricks.

What is military grade aluminum?

When companies refer to military grade aluminum, they are most likely referring to alloys of mostly aluminum and 0.8% to 12% zinc. Alloys of aluminum and zinc have the biggest tensile strength out of all aluminum alloys. They are often used in aircraft and sporting equipment.

What is military standard?

Military standard is a defense standard used to help achieve standardization objectives set by the government. The term can also refer to a document that establishes uniform technical requirements for military processes, procedures, and practices.