The terms "military grade" and 'MIL-SPEC" are thrown around a lot, but what do they actually mean? Many products skirt under false advertisement rules simply because they're cheap or without an obvious manufacturer, but many products stand up to the military-standardized testing requirements with pride in their results. To understand what military-grade means and how relevant it is to your assembly lines, connectors, and other machinery that can't fail for petty reasons, here are a few military-grade product details:
What Does Military-Grade Mean?
The term military-grade means that a product has passed a test and has been approved for use by a military organization. This doesn't necessarily mean the United States military, the US Department of Defense, or any specific nation; just that it passes some sort of military testing.
If you need the equipment to last, you need to figure out what kind of military-grade testing has been done. This means looking up the specific MIL-STD (military standard) or MIL-SPEC (military specification) that the product falls under.
Products that aren't fake will have some sort of military regulation to match up with their claims. The military documents the items that are approved for official use by way of regulations, special bulletins, and inventory system entries.
These can usually be confirmed on a .gov website, but you can contact major military-related groups such as SPAWAR, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Naval Sea Systems Command, or other testing and maintenance commands that do a similar job to your company. Don't worry about secrecy; the worst they can do is tell you no, and if they give you information that they shouldn't, that's the command's fault.
Except for secret projects with phone numbers you can't access in the first place, you're not likely to run into those issues.
Military Standards For Hardness And Durability
It's important to know that there isn't a single military standard for all metals or materials that every chain of command uses. Just like in the civilian world, many pieces of machinery or complex systems require some level of innovation. Maintenance needs to stick to the rules, but building new systems or upgrading to a better standard has to be thought of by the senior engineers at a specific project.
Toughness isn't what you want in all cases. For military certified fasteners, you may not want the "hardest" material that withstands impact based on military crush tests. Instead, you may want something that has a bit of give or can resist twist and torque, which a crush test can't prove.
Compare military tests along with other government tests. There could be some specific, weird reason that a specific command uses an otherwise inferior product, such as reactions with certain lubricants or atmospheric conditions. The documentation may not be readily available if the standard was requested by a service-member who transferred and may not be easily contacted, but a little research can get you the right answer.
Contact a military fasteners and industrial supplies company like Milcom Supply & Manufacturing Inc. to discuss your project, their products, and any related military standards.