M1910 Canteen Cover Review – American Patrol Company (purchased through MantheLine.com)

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Background:

The M1910 canteen cover is about as standard a piece of equipment as one could want, but nevertheless, as an organization we push our membership to purchase and use only reproduction equipment and uniforms when possible. With that, there are a lot of options on the market for the WWII reenactor: some very good, and some very bad. For those potentially unacquainted, the M1910 canteen cover is a canvas cover that holds both a canteen and cup and is suspended from the cartridge/pistol belt by a 1911 hanger.

 

Ordering:

The canteen cover in question was ordered from Man the Line and was  advertised as “REPRODUCTION WWII M1942 CANTEEN COVER OD#3 SUPER HIGH QUALITY USA MADE.” And…without that old-school SEO contrivance of a product description (ridiculous—and incorrect nomenclature no less), I knew by looking at the photographs that the cover in question was made by American Patrol Company (Raymond Meldrum). With that, I knew I’d like to give it a swing. Pulled the trigger, made the payment, and it was on my doorstep within the week.

Cost was $33.95, shipping included.

 

Out-of-the-Box Thoughts:

Frankly, when one buys American Patrol equipment, they expect quality…and they get it. Ray Meldrum is a real professional. His work is solid, and seems to always be very true to original patterning. AP Co., as its better known, has been a primary wholesale source of field gear for several vendors and productions over the years, including WWII Impressions for a decade or so. He has always been the go-to guy, too, for the unique needs..flamethrower harnesses, BC-1000 harnesses, etc.

With that being said, AP Co.’s equipment has always seemed to border on the 1918-side of a golden khaki with very little, if any, green in the coloration. This has never been “my thing”. Granted, I don’t deny the existence of “muddier/khaki” gear, but this golden tan color is far better suited for a World War I interpretation…and frankly, as quality a reproduction as AP Co. makes, it definitely has a built in “sore-thumb” response…i.e. because of the color, it portrays an exception as opposed to a norm. This is too bad considering the equipment is so well patterned and produced. Recently, some of our members have invested in some AP Co. gear and it appears that he is now using a more subdued, OD#3 material with some green tinge to it.

 

The Reproduction:

Now comes the kick in the gut. Normally I’d go ahead and make a return or pass something on that I didn’t generally care for, but this really is a “red-flag” product from Man the Line. Although I know little about their company, I’m frankly a bit appalled at their false advertising. They stated that these US made items are top quality…premium first quality.

And by top quality, they mean seconds. Now, I can’t speak to all of the AP Co. items they retail, but what I can tell you is that after purchasing my canteen cover, a small, white piece of paper tumbled out of the bottom with an inscription of “2nd”, underlined, and with reasons: crooked stitching around bottom, crooked hanger.

So the “HIGH-QUALITY, EXCLUSIVE, US MADE RUN ITEM” is in essence, the stuff Ap Co. didn’t sell because it was a second. Is selling seconds a bad thing? No. Of course not. Is selling seconds under the guise of the “highest-quality, American made, chest thumping, flag waving amazing-ness” quality a bad thing? Absolutely. In fairness to Man the Line, I did not contact them before writing this, or to ask if this was somehow a mistake. However, judging by the “tagging” system they use on their website photographs, this was something done in house for inventory. Mixed up in the wrong bin? Possibly…but I don’t think so. I’ll continue on with my theory after the photographs below show why this is a second-quality item.

We’ve discussed the high points of the product already, now let’s discuss what, as a second, makes this an abysmal disappointment.

Cover inside

First, lets tackle the real killer in the equation: the bottom. It appears that it was sewn too far from the edge, creating a defined ¼’ inch puckered lip all the way around the bottom. With that, the canteen will not lie flat on the floor of the cover…or even close. Additionally, there are at least three places where the sewing machine was forced through all of the layers and there was a hang up, causing “bunching”. This seriously deforms the shape of the canteen cover. Again, I want to make it very clear, this is not a reflection necessarily of AP Co.’s production and quality. Raymond is a master of construction. This is something that just didn’t cook up well. These things happen.

However, once again, the fact this is being sold as a “first” by a distributor is just plain wrong.

 

Bunched rear of cover.

The second hang-up is the hanger (pun intended). It’s terrible. What else can I say? It’s just shy of being ¼’ of an inch crooked, with a clear (bottom) line of stitching running right off the loop and onto the canvas. This crooked loop probably would’ve cause this piece, if original, to fail inspection before issue. The bunching is sloppy…its bad. But it’s something I’d still use (if it weren’t for the 1918-esque brown color). But the hanger is unconscionably bad.

Cover rear...notice bunching/misaligned hanger.

 

Final Thoughts:

Too bad, so sad. In an earnest review of the product, I would say that if it were a nice, mid-olive range shade #3, it would be without question one of, if not the definitive replica canteen cover. However, the browner tones of khaki are off-putting to me. Again, this is not a question of right or wrong, but a question of both preference, and more importantly of commonality. I will not even remotely blame APCo. for the flaws in production as I clearly know it was a second.

The markings are solid and correct ink-stampings, with maker marks and a “replica tagger” ink stamp on the inside—a testament to Ray Meldrum’s earnest production and quality. Additionally, the hardware is excellent. The 1911 hanger is a great, blackened brass replica and the snaps are real lift-the-dot blackened brass. Quality hardware abound.

Now, as for Man the Line… I’ve been in this dance long enough to easily recognize reproductions, and further, I can generally tell who made what. Man the Line needs to really consider cleaning up their act and doing their research before selling ANYTHING used. They’re product descriptions are easily 75% of the time wrong. Often they mistake WWII Impressions HBT fatigues for At the Fronts, M1942 jump suits from WWII Impressions as What Price Glory’s, etc.  This is not a good practice, and they need to be careful. MOST reproducers label their equipment…it is obvious that little effort was given into correctly identifying consigned product.

 

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Note the “jeep cap” on the left and right are the same, non-WWII replica products being sold under the guise of ATF and WPG.

 

Further, they have a bad habit of putting up occasional oddball garbage, like a roached-out skater beanie with an odd “Rasta” red and gold paint splash on it and calling it “WPG” and “ATF” in two separate instances. This practice is downright untrustworthy.  Considering the fact that they clearly “tag” their items, I wonder what the actuality behind the tagging process is? I don’t know if its dubious or ignorance, but I’ve sent the warning out to the guys in my group to be very careful ordering anything from them.

Would I recommend this to others?: No, I would not. If you are an AP Co. fanatic, reach out to Ray directly and do business with him. He makes some great stuff, and some very unique and handy stuff. Again on shading, however, I can’t speak to if Ray has officially adopted a greener/OD#3 canvas, but it would be highly preferable. In the meantime, I would most definitely send membership to either WWII Impressions or At the Front from an out-of-the-box, quality replica without hassle and with common design traits and consistency in quality.

 

Written by: Tom Frost