P41 Utility Jacket comparison – Originals vs Repros

The classic HBT jacket worn by the USMC throughout WW2. A must have item for anybody reenacting WW2 Marines. But which reproduction is the best? I compared the jackets from two of the best manufacturers of reproduction USMC items and a Chinese reproduction which is sold through various outlets to several originals.

The first four from the left are original jackets, then follow reproductions from “WWII Impressions”, “At the Front” and finally one of the Chinese ones mostly sold on eBay. (click to enlarge):

Click below for details and more photos:

I deliberately picked “salty” originals to demonstrate the different shades. Even mint ones vary in colour, add saltwater and fading by sun and you get huge differences. There is no 100% correct colour. Still I prefer the WWIIImp and ATF colour over the Chinese repro, the Chinese one is farthest away from all originals I own even when faded. If you want to get a very salty look using a WWIIImp jacket you will have to some serious “fighting”, they fade slowly (good long term investment ;-))

All three reproductions use the correct USMC style weave, closest to the originals is the WWIIImp weave, closely followed by ATF. The Chinese one is a bit too coarse. WWIIImp Fabric weight and feel are closest to the originals, again ATF is second best.

Several manufacturers produced P41 Utilities during WW2, this is why the cuts of originals can vary slightly. Especial when it comes to the breast pocket. The breast pocket is also a good indicator of post WW2/Korea jackets, on those the bottom is very “round”, WW2 ones are usually more square. Cut of all three reproductions is OK. WWIIImp and ATF come closest to the originals. All three have slight problems though, but those only stand out in direct comparison. The lower pockets of the Chinese repro are situated too high and all pockets are bit too small. WIIImp breast pocket is also situated a bit on the high side and the collar does not close as tight as on the originals (no big problem since it is worn with an open collar most of the time anyways).ATFs Jacket is a cut almost perfect if not a little wide.

The ATF jacket uses a single row of stitching around the pockets, the WWIIImp and the Chinese one double rows. Both is found on originals so no worries.

Thread colour is good on WWIIImp and ATF, Chinese thread is too dark.

WWIIImp and ATF are fine, Chinese “USMC” and “EGA” are too close together.

Only the WIIImp jacket has the earlier “copper” buttons. ATF and Chinese reproduction have late steel ones. Characters on the WIIImp buttons are a bit thin.

All in all I personally prefer the reproduction by WWII Impressions with the ATF jacket being very close second. Can’t go wrong with either one. I would only go for the Chinese jacket if you are on a very limited budget. Buy once, buy the best 😀

Some closeups…

Breast pocket of a salty original P41 Jacket:

Another original one:

One more, on this one the EGA is almost gone. Note the double row stitching around the pocket:

At the Front reproduction:

WWII Impressions reproduction:

Chinese reproduction:

Three examples of original buttons:

WWII Impressions reproduction:

ATF reproduction:

Chinese reproduction:

~ by m1pencil on September 2, 2010.

31 Responses to “P41 Utility Jacket comparison – Originals vs Repros”

  1. Nice Comparison.
    Great Blog bzw, I really like it.

  2. Dear Sir,
    What a wonderful source of information this site is to me. I am a collector for almost 25 years now mostly WW2 US and German ETO gear. But now I am looking into the Pacific Combat zone “Triggered” by the HBO mini series. I was wondering since I have bought an At the Front P41 coat if it was common practice to put the EGA collar insignia on this jacket. In the series Eugene Sledge wears one for goodluck. Was this actually done I can’t find any pictures on the INTERNET supporting this! Good you please help me with this? I hope to hear from you.
    Kind regards,
    Bernard van Bronkhorst
    Royal Dutch Fusilier first class (ret.)

    • Hi I noticed that too in my experince it was not regulation but mostly if the individual marine wanted to because of personal prefrence that would be up to him. there was no rule saying he cant! I am a usmc reinactor and i wear one on mine.
      hope this helps

  3. I am interested in buying one of those outfits shown, where would i go to buy the shirt and pants, does anyone know what website i can go to to buy them and if they also sell the leggings and accesories, i am interested in buying reproductions not originals?

  4. You can get good quality reproductions at “WWII Impressions” (www.wwiiimpressions.com) and “At the Front” (www.atthefront.com)

  5. I have a jacket i found years ago, but it has sewn-on buttons (they’re rather small). Is this post-WWII? Thanks! Great blog!

  6. will do asap (later in the week). They may very well have pulled out or been pulled off and been replaced, as you said. And, it does seem to have a “WWII-style” upper pocket, not the later type. Thanks!

  7. btw, how do I post photos? Do I need to put them online somewhere and link to them? (thx)

  8. Thanks! Okay, here they are:
    the jacket: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orangecountync/USMC/uniforms/jacket1.JPG
    upper pocket: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orangecountync/USMC/uniforms/jacket2-upperpocket.JPG
    button: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orangecountync/USMC/uniforms/jacket3-button.JPG
    pants: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orangecountync/USMC/uniforms/pants1-back.JPG

    I purchased this coat about 20 years ago, either at a surplus store, thrift store, or at a militaria show (can’t quite remember). Back then, I was going to use it for reenacting, but ended up not doing any Pacific WWII reenacting. The two-piece four-hole japanned/blackened metal buttons are the buttons that were on it when I bought it (same buttons on the front and sleeves). I sewed the edges of the very frayed cuffs but otherwise made no modifications to the jacket.

    The coat’s rather faded or “salty” as you can see; the EGA is barely discernable. The name above the pocket is “E. E. HARRIS” (handwritten in heavier ink) and there’s also a name (can’t tell if it’s Harris’s or someone else) in lighter ink/skinnier handwriting just below it. The pockets are double-stitched with green (seems to match the HBT fabric color) thread, and has the pen section on the chest pocket. Under the left (when worn) collar is a small ink stamp “W-9875,” and underneath the back of the collar is “EEH.” No noticeable rank insignia/stripes on the sleeves. There appears to be a slight fade mark where the missing buttons are/were (one on the chest and two cuff), showing that likely the original buttons were larger, but were removed or fell off and were replaced. However, there is no “big hole” in the fabric as if a rivet was pulled through it. I would say the jacket is a size 40 or 42 short.

    Around the same time that I obtained the jacket, I bought a pair of USMC pants that are post-WWII. I was going to pair them with the jacket for reenacting. I do wear the pants occasionally, as they fit me perfectly! I only replaced the top fly button (with an old-timey metal button I had laying around); the other buttons are the original, four-hole green plastic; the rear pocket button is missing.

    Is the jacket an early verion of the ’41 pattern perhaps (with sewn instead of riveted buttons), or just a manufacturer’s variation?


    • Hi,

      Nice jacket. I think the buttons have been replaced at some point. Maybe post war if the jacket was used in “civilian life”.
      In case you have not seen this post, here is some more info on P41s: https://m1pencil.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/p41-utility-jacket/

      Not sure about the “W-9875,”, for a service number is seems too short and the “W” prefix was used to denote “Women Marines” IIRC
      Could also be the first letter of a last name + the last 4 digits of the service number.

  9. I like it

  10. Hello ))) good original ??? P41 Jacket ww2???


    Thanks for the answer!!!

    • Hi,

      Rank on the sleeves was very unusual for WW2. 99% of the time it was done post WW2. P41s are not particularly rare, I am sure you can easily find one in better condition and without the sleeve rank.

      • The jacket was made during World War II???…Jacket but could use after World War II ??? That is ranks could be put after World War II…I correctly understood you? ? ?

        Thanks for the answer!!!

  11. Hi Alex,

    Yes, that is possible. Might also be a post WW2 jacket. Hard to tell from the pics. Some jackets are easy to date, others like this one are a bit difficult as they have ww2 and post ww2 features (depends on the manufacturer).
    Is there something written in Japanese above the name stamp? Maybe the jacket was used during occupational duty in Japan?

    • Hi Friend!!!

      I can’t make out yet that is written on Japanese, I bought a jacket but yet didn’t receive it, it is delivered to me by mail. As I will receive I will be able to consider an inscription. I watched photos ww2, on some jackets there is a rank on a sleeve, I think the rank could place and during ww2, I don’t speak precisely, but I think that is possible…

      Thanks for that that you help! ! ! ) ) )
      Thanks for the answer!!!

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  13. beautiful jackets

  14. Thanks for the great information. What’s your opinion on this one? I think the pockets seem “sqauared”, but the EGA looks different than your original examples.

  15. Is this a correct tag for a P41 WW2 produced jacket?

    • Is the tag rayon-like or cotton? Looks more like a repro or a European made or perhaps post-1950s top to me. Original WWII ones were stamped with ink directly inside the back shoulder area.

  16. Here is a side by side comparison of the button above and the WWII Impression reproduction button in the earlier part of this post.

  17. I think that is is most similar to the WWII Impression button, but it is not exact. Look at the spacing between the words. The WWII Impressions button has much more space.

  18. Steve is right, from my memory most WW2 jackets were ink stamped, some had a bigger label stating manufacturer, date and size in addition. Not sure what this small label is, if you look at the photo with all the jackets in a row you can see that the Chinese repro on the far right side has a small size tag as well. Could be a repro, or a late 40s or 50s jacket? Need to dig around in my books… 😉

  19. Does anyone have an opinion on the accuracy of the jackets sold by SM Wholesale? How do they rate when compared to ATF etc? I’m in Australia and the price of most of the major companies are reasonable however I have to factor in the crazy range of postal costs which can almost double the total price.

    • The SM Wholesale ones I saw in the past were very good, unfortunately I don’t know if the current ones are the same. Their stuff is usually top notch! Shipping costs to Europe is crazy at times too, so I feel your pain 🙂

  20. Thanks for your feedback. I ended up buying one from SM Wholesale. Fingers crossed it gets here before Christmas (present for myself!!). I’m far from being an expert but by comparing the photos of the original pockets and the reproductions, the USMC lettering seems to be slightly more accurately positioned and spaced on the SM Wholesale jacket. But as I said, I’m no expert. I’ve always had an interest in the Marines being an Australian, living an hour north of Melbourne in the State of Victoria. In my younger days it was always a tradition to have a beer with ‘Chloe’ in the Young and Jackson Hotel as the Marines did after Guadalcanal and also knowing that they were quartered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when we go there to watch the football adds to the connection. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has a fantastic website with numerous photographs of the Marines in Melbourne at the time if you’re interested.

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