Back before 800 dollar Velcro covered designer tactical clothing was all the rage – the original “tactical” jacket was The M-65 field jacket. The M-65 had no need for fancy materials, 400 zippered pockets, gigantic slabs of Velcro (sorry, “hook and loop”) on the arms or cheesy names like “Super Commando Assault Jacket”
The M-65 is just a cotton/polly mix jacket with these amazing inventions called “buttons” to keep the pockets closed, it has a brass zipper (yes, they used to make zippers out of brass, not plastic), brass snap buttons and a hood that easily stuffed into the collar area.
And even better – it keeps you warm for the cost of a few DVD’s.
I first started using The M-65 field jacket as a ski jacket back when I was in high school, unlike the other kids I could not afford a fancy name-brand ski jacket so I picked up an M-65 and liner from the local army surplus store for 50 bucks. It kept my ass nice and warm on the slopes, sure some of the rich kids made fun of it – but that shit stopped after I snow-curbed a few fools in front of their preppy fag friends.
Since then I have used The M-65 field jacket to keep my ass warm while sitting in cold ass cars on CP* gigs to keeping the frost off me during chilly Middle Eastern winters. I also have one in Russett Vintage (sort of a dark tan) to complete my “Professional Adventurer” look for when I am trying to impress drunken female stringers in expat bars (Ray-Bans and Safari Shirt not included) – think Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamonds, but more drunk me saying “fuck” 4 or 5 times a sentence.
The M-65 field jacket was brought into service (in 1965, duhhhh…) to replace the M-1951, it saw its first combat usage during the Vietnam War and is used by armed forces around the world to this day.
They come in pretty much every color (except Sherriff brown for some weird reason), my personal favorite for work is the original OD Green because it does not show stains like the dark or light colors.
Fortunately I have not seen an M-65 in MultiCam so far, I guess it is not TactiCool enough for the Satan of all Camos yet (we can only hope this never happens).
One warning, quality varies with The M-65 field jacket – one rule to follow is if it costs less than 45 bucks it will probably turn into a big ball of threads when you wash it for the first time. Also make sure that it comes with brass buttons and zippers, some of the shittier ChiCom M-65’s have plastic hardware to lessen the cost.
In my opinion The M-65 field jacket is the best “tactical” jacket that money can buy, it may not have a sexy brand name and people probably won’t be impressed if you are wearing it in the “action shots” you post on Facebook – but it will keep you warm when it is cold.
* “CP” = Close Protection
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James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and beating up preppy kids on the slopes 80’s style. James G. on FACEBOOK