5 Commonly Asked Questions About United States Military Standard

If you’ve ever been browsing the internet, looking for particular equipment or accessories to buy, you might have stumbled across the term ‘MIL-SPEC.’ To many people, the word is foreign and confusing, and you might be dissuaded from making a purchase because you don’t know what it means. Check out this guide below with some of the most commonly asked questions answered so you can make future purchases confidently.

What Does MIL-SPEC Mean?

MIL-SPEC is a term used to signify military specification. Typically, the word is used to describe equipment or accessories that meet specific military standards. Five types of military standards can apply to specific goods:

  • Interface
  • Design criteria
  • Manufacturing process
  • Standard
  • Test method

Having such standards in place can mean that all equipment and gear used in the military, down to the sheets on the beds and the triggers in guns, is all the same, no matter where you are in the military.

What Does MIL-SPEC Mean On a Gun?

Purchase a firearm from your local hunting store, and you likely won’t see any of them described as MIL-SPEC. For a weapon to be classed as MIL-SPEC, it must meet all criteria defined by the military – from its dimensions to how the parts are tested. Every single component of a MIL-SPEC firearm must also have United States Government inspector approval.

While some gun experts might describe particular firearm components as MIL-SPEC when describing them to would-be buyers to make them sound like a product they can’t resist, no legal civilian firearm is authentically MIL-SPEC.

What Defines MIL-SPEC?

How MIL-SPEC is defined can depend on each military application. However, regarding materials, MIL-SPEC is typically based on a product’s quality for safety and performance. Products are generally judged for their form factor, ability to withstand various environmental conditions and the characteristics of the materials used. The finishing and production of military applications are also important, often requiring the military to seek trusted suppliers they can rely on to deliver consistent results.

Generally, there is more than one set of military standards based on the products being manufactured. This means that various manufacturers can be provided with specifications unique to their industry to ensure they maintain them.

How Do You Read MIL-SPEC Numbers?

You can’t always tell that something meets military standards just by looking at it. So, you might be curious as to how you would now. Apart from pulling an item apart and comparing every feature to the military standards guides, you can typically read numbers printed or punched onto products.

As a general rule, a MIL-SPEC product has a code starting with ‘MS,’ which is used across multiple agencies. Otherwise, ‘MIL’ can mean military specification, and ‘FF’ can mean federal specification. There are also a number of other military spec abbreviations based on the industry and product, including:

  • AN for the Department of Air Force and Navy
  • GSA for General Services Administration
  • NAS for National Aerospace Standard
  • NSN for National Stock Number

Understanding what MIL-SPEC is can be important, whether you’re buying products for yourself or as part of the United States Military. The more you know about MIL-SPEC, the easier it might be to make informed purchasing decisions.

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