TACTICAL GEAR: The M-65 field jacket – Not Just For Crazy Homeless People!

You talking to me – or my pimp ass m-65 field jacket?

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.

Even Rambo loves the M-65!

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

A Huge Selection of M-65 field jackets from 20 to 100 bucks at Amazon >>>

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~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

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

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53 thoughts on “TACTICAL GEAR: The M-65 field jacket – Not Just For Crazy Homeless People!”

  1. If it’s good enough for Rambo AND James, it’s good enough for me!

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  2. I graduated MP OSUT in January and my training cycle was one of the last cycles to get issued the M-65 in ACU. All the other cycles now-a-days get these neato gortex parkas that don’t actually keep you warm.

    I like how they weren’t exactly waterproof but they are thick enough that they generally keep the water out.

    By the way, the liner on these things is practically gold.

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    1. hey private, your an idiot thats why your a lower than whale shit private. but my point actually is dont knock the gore tex parka or,the pants. i practicaly lived in them the whole time i was stationed in germany and beyond.if you take and wear the m-65 liner inside it, it will be the warmest driest coat you own. listen to your fuckn ncos,they will be the best chance you will come home alive.

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      1. Wow, You need to chill out. It’s just a coat. The guy prefers one coat to the other. That makes him an “idiot” that’s “lower than whale shit”?

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  3. I hate to burst your bubble, but:

    They make them in multicam. and yes, they did add a shitload of velcro onto it.

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    1. [img]http://www.deathvalleymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/MC M65.jpg[/img]

      THE HORROR!

      ~James G

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      1. I got one of the last BDU ones issued before they made them in GACU (pronounced Gay C U) with velcro everywhere. The new official issue have plastic hardwear, except for metal buttons, and no longer are issued with the liner.

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  4. Hells yeah…I started sporting mine in Jr. High for the same reasons….That liner you get at the Army/Navy store made it the shit! I still have that one, and 2 more issued jungle camo and desert camo. They never gave us an ACU one..only Gore-tex…oh well.

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  5. So which of the myriad of brands do you recommend?

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    1. Pretty much any brand in the 50$+ range will do – just follow the suggestions above about the Brass hardware. I bought my last one off of Amamzon.com

      ~James G

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  6. THE HORROR!~James G  

    and they actually managed to add some velcro!

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  7. When I was a kid, my dad used to wear the one the Air Force issued him on winter campouts with the liner in and then just a t-shirt and he was always plenty warm, I’ve since relived him of it, stripped most of the patches off and wear it for hunting and camping when I want a coat I know won’t get ripped to shreds if I have to lay down in it.

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  8. I inherited one when I was a kid from my uncle. I was never really allowed to wear it. I have a couple of newer ones, black and green. No multicam (and the Satan of all Camos, freaking brilliant). I like them, they are good quality coats that I don’t mind getting dirty. However one thing that I have noticed is the popularity of them in regards to fashion. So watch what you purchase on Amazon and make sure it is authentic, or you might accidentally purchase one that is above 50$ and was designed for nothing but emo kids looking to be uncool. Or some Dbag on a runway.

    I also like some of the new takes on it. I enjoy the hell out of my Woolrich take on the M-65, has elastic straps in the pockets to secure anything I desire. However this could be added to any of them by anyone who is industrious enough and is good with a needle and thread. The only drawback of it is that it is all freaking velcro closures. I would prefer snaps.

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  9. Wait, why is Multi-Cam the Satan of all camos?

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  10. The M-65 field jacket looks bad ass, have one in some kind of brown (might be tan), and this classic makes the new hyper velcroed, low drag, over pocketed and questionable speed new tactical nonesense look wannabee. Great article, almost spilled my coffee on the keyboard laughing.

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  11. My son just moved out of the country to a warm climate & after 10 yrs I got my black M65 jacket back. I agree it is an awesome jacket. I first started wearing a WW II version that belonged to my Uncle in high school, & yes back then it was cool.

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  12. James G.

    So far I’ve agreed with everything you posted to date and being “old school” myself felt we were kindred spirits, but brother, in the case of your love for the M-65…..well man you have to jump into the 20th century, let alone the 21 century.

    Brass zips and brass dome fasteners (buttons as you called them)… my god man! There is nothing wrong with Nylon Zips and Nylon Buttons (CF Slotted Style) …in fact I am so shocked by this article I do not know weather to cry to scream.

    What I will do in an effort to get you into this century is, I will send you one of my famous Drop Zone Recce Smocks (in Olive of course) for absolutely free. The only catch is you must try it and compare it to your beloved M-65. Print your findings here.

    Are you up to the challenge my friend?

    You’ve got my email send your shipping details and your waist and chest measurements and will see if we can break, in this case, the obsolete gear addiction you have.

    Warmest Regards
    Brian Kroon
    President
    Drop Zone Tactical

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    1. Drop Zone Recce Smocks!!! I have THREE of thems bitches! Black, “Cadpat Desert” – Cdn Desert (mucho time in Iraq with it… Fuck you, I cant’ wear camo…) and Friggin’ ACU…

      Brian… good to see you on here!

      I am in tropics, Single malt and Cuban puros available!

      James,,, get all over this man! Give up your first born for a Recce Smock… and Brian, you forgot to tell everyone the name of the drawstring on the bottom of the jacket! (stolen from an M-65!)

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  13. i have one in woodland i got in the 90′s , but i never got a liner for it, whats the scoop does any liner fit it? or are some better than others. i would have to look for the damn thing as it rarely gets cold enough here for it without a liner even. but would be handy if i go up north. ive seen used liners for $5-$8

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  14. I have my black M-65 jacket since 19 years. Still going strong.

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  15. It wasn’t the Field Jacket that was keeping you warm. It was the liner. The design of the jacket actually dates to World War II and it isn’t anything to write home about. It’s made from a fabric that absorbs water and isn’t windproof. The pockets are “mm-ee-uh”. They were more for good looks than function.

    Thank God the military sent it into that good night.

    Now, what does the military need? A 21st Century Field Jacket.

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  16. What I will do in an effort to get you into this century is, I will send you one of my famous Drop Zone Recce Smocks (in Olive of course) for absolutely free. The only catch is you must try it and compare it to your beloved M-65. Print your findings here.

    Take it! Its great gear but you could outfit a convent in m65s for the price of one ;)

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  17. i have a croation one i picked up at fleet farm for i think 25 bucks without the liner brand new. i like it because it has more brown to it and is a darker color. when it got cold i just went to the military surplus store and bought a new liner for 10-15 bucks. i dont use any other jacket for cold ass minnesota winters and im nice and toasty.

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  18. I look sexy as hell in my Facebook “Action Shots”!!
    I was looking at the MC M-65, but I’m not digging the Velcro…
    And I’m not spending $100+ for a Jacket I have to take a seam ripper too..
    My old school M-65 I used to wear in Middle/High School is too small now..
    Plus, I blend in better in my Carhartt Jacket anyways..

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  19. A hint – look for the manufacturer. Google the M65s. Alpha is one of several companies which has been a UM military contracted supplier over the years, they still stitch every thread in the USA and can be had reasonably in most surplus stores. Alpha and Propper both make good liners, be sure the length is right, though – some liners run long and make the wearer truly look like a guy who’s gonna ask you for a buck.
    There are sometimes good buys on the Czech Republic issue versions of them made some years ago, many of them come WITH liners included.
    And one which I traded with an Austrian, years ago, is made as well as ours, plus it has pit0vents… a definite plus if you have ever been brass-monkey frozen on the outside while you stewed in your own sweat on the inside!

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  20. had an m-65 in high school, then got issued two woodland ones when i joined the army.never wore it after basic, gore tex all the time after that. so iam a fan of the gore tex,it would be awsome if they made a gore tex m-65 id buy it.but the m-65 is classic and versitile jacket, it just has to evolve a bit.

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  21. I think I mentioned on here that some wimp ass college kid stole my original OSUT 11B Ft Benning issued OD M-65 (1980) from me when I was in ROTC… My Woodland BDU M-65 Small Regular, that I bought was issued (and allowed to keep after I was commissioned – 1983) has, um, shrunk… I remember some guys in my guard unit still using the old white sided cotton liners before the green quilt was issued. And how about that liner? yeah, all you needed under your BDU top… Ranger jammies!

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  22. @ Jeanette K. – Please see this article RE why Multi-Cam the Satan of all camos:

    http://www.deathvalleymag.com/2010/03/13/tactical-gear-if-i-hear-one-more-person-talk-about-how-f-ing-great-multicam-is-i-am-going-to-kick-a-kitten-in-the-head/

    @ Brian Kroon – RGR man, will get with you, looking forward to the challenge – thanks for the offer! The Recon Smock looks cool, I like the adjustable hood, clever idea

    Hmmmm… “fasteners” = “Buttons” I cant keep up with all these terms, I will just go with saying Velcro, buttons, clips and such – lol. But there is something nostalgic to me about brass zippers.

    @ Topher – No one looks sexy in MultiCam buddy

    @ Slobyskya Rotchikokov – Thanks for the tip about Alpha

    @ steve – They make a gore tex liner for the M-65, just goggle it

    @ Rob Krott – “Shrunk”, Ha! sure dude, And I heard you were in the land of sun and cigars, I hate your guts!

    ~James G

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  23. Never liked the Field Jacket that much. Never seemed to keep me warm without the liner and too hot with the liner. Now, the jacket I really liked was the old “fish-tailed” field coat. I don’t remember the nomenclature, but it was the one that had the fur-ringed hood that could be buttoned on or off and the “slit” hem with the drawstrings that went through the cargo pockets on the old field pants. Wish I could find one of those again. The last time I saw a new one, it was from the first Gulf War and it was in that night vision camo pattern. Anyone remember that?

    I really want an old British Army smock in OD. All the ones I’ve found here in Germany are in DPM or the desert camo. Might just have to get one of Mr. Kroon’s Recce Smocks. Got to talk HH6 into it first though.

    Take care,

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    1. “the old “fish-tailed” field coat. I don’t remember the nomenclature, but it was the one that had the fur-ringed hood”

      I think you’re describing the old field parka. It was a really thin outer garment with a fur ringed hood, and had a really thick brown liner, like 1-2 inches thick. It kept you almost too warm, even for German winters. I loved the field trousers though, they were indestructable.

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  24. I still have the set the USAF gave me at Greenham Common, which was nice of them as I wasn’t even in the RAF let alone USAF, wouldn’t give it up for anything, and I live in M65 trousers, the genuine issue ones last forever.
    The other great invention from that period that has NEVER been bettered is the MA1 Flight Jacket, all your fancy Multicam and velcro reinventions will never be as good as a nicely worn in and sagging MA1, if it’s good enough for Steve McQueen it’s good enough for me

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    1. “I live in M65 trousers”

      Are those the old field pants? I lived in them in Germany 79-81 and have been looking for a pair for years. Any idea where to find them?

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  25. I’ve got a well-used (and abused) m65 in woodland cammo. it quickly became my favorite camping jacket, due to it being fairly warm, having huge pockets, and being so oversized I could use it as a small improvised shelter.
    I’ve since modified it to have a couple of inside pockets, which means I can actually use it as a daysack, in jacket form.
    best thing was, thanks to my uncle getting it from the NATO base he used to work at over here in the UK, the whole thing was free!

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  26. It was also good enough for the Colonial Marines in the new Battlestar Galactica.

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    1. Have you ever considered crianetg an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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  27. @TacticalGearHead – Oh i love me some BSG!

    @ James G. – Duly noted!! I’ll have to remember to kiss a kitten goodbye every time I type out the word MultiCam on my blogs.

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  28. I remember the m65 less fondly; it was a piece of crap and was left behind if we had to hump it. Most guys kept the liner and wore it under the BDU jacket or “blouse” as Marines called it then. It did not stop water, it soaked it up. It did not stop wind, and it weighed like five pounds. Even in California, at higher elevations, you were going to freeze your ass off with or without it. See Yah, five pounds! Finally, with respect to the author, I believe the “scotch guard” repellent type stuff they used to treat the jacket with was outlawed (ozone depleting) so maybe his was better than mine.

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  29. My experience while heavy the M65 Jacket and trouser were stellar bits of kit! While I agree they were heavy as hell. They did a good job of keeping you brier and burr free . I was issued 1 woodland in the Army at 17 and 1 in 6 color desert in the USMC during the Gulf War . The night desert trouser and jacket combo were issued at the same time.The only ones that fit now were the issued from the Corps. I learned to get em Big by then..
    Without liners they were heavy, lightweight in cold protection with very little wind resistance.With Liners I never had a problem . Used the 6 color as a contractor in Iraq when I worked in the ADOC on VBC at night,it was cold in Jan -Mar mostly in the Day I just wore my Tan Liner.On my gig in Afghan for the low profile PSD I just shoved the liner on under vest and cover-shirt it added warmth!
    Great Article sorry for the dissertation on the glories of the M65 I also like the issue Gore-tex ,but I almost froze to death until I learned how to layer with it on a few Field Ops!

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  30. Shit son where you been? The one I was issued back in ’70 was velcroed up! was the neatest shit at the time! had it at the collar, pockets and sleeve extensions, damn I miss that jacket,,, a couple of my kids were even conceived while I was wearing it,,,

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  31. hey Solsys the M-65 was made TO BE WATERPROOFED with the same shit that we used on shelter halves,,, damned kids, need to tie you to our belts and feed you on farts til your old enough to eat shit??? They didnt COME waterproofed to begin with because the waterproofing was flammable as hell and was to be added as needed… ya musta been a remf!

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  32. My first “tactical jacket” was an M65. However, it didn’t hold up to the ridiculous Mid-Canadian winters. I bought a polartec ECWS fleece to throw under it. For about 100 dollars total, I was good in dry weather up to -40 (even after waterproofing, I was left soaked and cold after a blizzard, but that’s still saying a whole lot, lol). Simple, effective and inexpensive. My only problem with them was the fact that most of the surplus ones were “Bum Ready” and usually snatched up by homeless guys or mountain men and I was only left with a few sizes too big or small. Either I had to wear layering underneath or go without layering depending on what I picked up.

    I’ve since moved on from em to the tacticool stuff (I need velcro patches for work), but I still have a soft spot for a good M65.

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  33. James, Jump on that deal I got a drop zone smock in cadpat . Built to last to take abuse and all those things you want when your walking a post . A bit pricey but I got fair warning from Brian .Your livin large you can afford it.

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  34. My first M-65 was my dad’s. Still have it even though the base laundry fucktards managed to crush the zipper thing. I keep planning to get it replaced…

    Don’t forget the button-in field jacket liner and winter hood (wolf fur, please! It freaks out the fruits and nuts set).

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  35. Solsys was a REMF. Agreed. That doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the M65 sucks. The only plus anyone has mentioned about that craptastic jacket is the price, and that’s for a use one. In my not so humble opinion guys who put price first are the same ones who helped wreck America’s manufacturing base. They are the same guys who buy everything at Walmart and wonder why all their friends have been laid off. Go with a Drop Zone Recce Smock. They rock. Even if they are Canadian.

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  36. And I forgot to add that a fabric treatment called Quarpel, for Quartermaster Repellant was applied to the M65. The problem is that it was developed in the early 60s and wasn’t all that great. All of the units I was in, going back to the 80s issued Gore Tex. That might clue you in on how much of a REMF I was.

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  37. Forget all the ads about what “The elite forces” are wearing right now. Just about every arms carrying professional has worn an M65 at some point.

    Seriously, they’re awesome.

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  38. started wearing an M-65 in 1980 during high school when my older bro was in the USMC and gave me one. a few years ago i bought an Alpha Industries M-65 in black, with liner and wear it everywhere. Alpha is top quality. To make it warm in very cold weather you really need to tie the drawstrings at waist and bottom, and close the cuffs on the sleeves. Otherwise it “breathes” too much– which is actually why I like it because you don’t sweat if you have it on walking around in the sun or in a mall etc. someone mentioned waterproofing– you can spray it if you want, but it repels rain and snow during limited exposure. Downside— it is heavier in weight than modern fabric coats. But only strong men and women should wear an M-65.

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  39. I have a hand me down desert camo one, with the olive drab liner in it. I love it.

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  40. My M-65 is a size large regular. I purchased a liner for it in a size large. But its short at the the arms and a bit snug, so I can’t button it into the jackets sleeves because it pulls them down. would it better to get a larger size?? Maybe XL??

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  41. I was reading this blog, and see alot of pros and cons to the M65. I have worn many types of issue coats in the Army, and still wear them. just coming back from Afghan for the 3rd time. One thing I can say about an old broke in 70′s M65 or 80′s. It felt better than any jacket I ever put on that was issued. But you know the deal, it’s like wearing that favorite shirt your wife wants to throw away. I also still have the issue Night vision 90-91 issue fish-tail jacket one guy speaks of on here, it also is one of my favorites, but don’t carry a can in your hand, people will drop change in it if you got this jacket on. /i dont wear the furry collar with it, /but it does have a attached hood hanging on it. I just wish it didn’t have the elastic cuff’s on the end of the sleeves. But I just wanted to add on this blog is a web site I found that sells M65′s and other jackets that are real, not fake. http://www.vintagetrends.com I just bought me another M65 off this site, paid 175$ for it, but really after you ask yourself that is not much when I know it will last me 20 years like my last one. The one I bought was never worn from the late 70s, it was perfect, and never had a nametag or patch sewn on it. to me it is worth every penny. And yes the Gortex was a great welcome to the army, not for the noise they bring, but if you ever had to stay on a hill in Korea for a month in the winter, I will take a gortex jacket over the old stuff any day. Yea the M65 will keep you dry if you are just running to your car to the house, but if you got to be out in the weather for more than 10 mins, you are screwed. Hard to stay warm with any jacket soaking wet in 10 degrees….ouch!! But with that said you are not going to sneak up on anyone wearing Gortex or most of the new stuff. I was on a special team in Afghan, and we got issued some really nice stuff you dont see everyday, it was warm and quiet. So they do know how to make the right stuff, and it didn’t seem like it cost more than the Gortex. But I’m just a white spec in a pile of chicken shit, and that is on a good day, the DOD has never listen to Soldiers on the ground, why should they start today.

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  42. Gents, a few points for what they are worth….

    Alpha M-65 field trousers are available from Amazon. Constructed from Sateen NYCO 50/50, they are almost identical to the original design, except they are stonewashed and fit to size. Velcro tabs adjust the leg cuff instead of ties.

    Driducks or Frogtogs are suitable for use as an internal waterproof liner for the M-65. They are a breathable waterproof jacket, intended as an oversuit, so drop one size.

    If you can find a surplus NYCO M-65 that fits, then snap it up. Otherwise, Alpha and Propper are made to spec. The
    Alpha M-65 field jacket is of the highest quality. Poly-cotton Smocks and M-65s are lighter but less durable.

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  43. The M65 is good to go but the field jacket liner is the hidden treasure. The liner can be worn under other jackets or by itself. I some times refer to mine as my “smoking jacket”…on project when I step out of my hootch to burn one on nights when its chilly Ill throw it on.

    I still have my M65 from high school and Ive grown since so for now its in the attic waiting for my son when he gets bigger.

    See you on the other side!
    B

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    1. I got my first M-65 in my initial issue ( in OD, of course)in boot camp in ’79. And, of course, being a punk kid, I had no clue how good it was. It did keep me warm out at MacGregor Range at Ft. Bliss, and then later in Germany. When I reenlisted in ’84, I got another one, this time in Woodland Camo. When I got back to Germany again, we figured out that if you took the liner, and put it inside the wet weather jacket, you stayed warm and dry until late December or early January. When I got out of the Reserves in ’94, the 76Y40 in Unit Supply ( who I had worked with and thought was a decent sort ) turned into a real dickhead and required me to turn in all my issue uniforms. Since I was getting out, there was no need for me to keep them. The unit was starting to fill up with squirrels, so it was just as well I cut all ties.

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