What’s A Military Arm Without The Proper Accoutrements?
Admittedly I’m a gun collector; the 70-plus World War II firearms in my vault are proof of that. But, I’m not an accouterments collector, although I have some of that stuff, too. My rationale for having cartridge pouches, holsters, helmets, hats, and such is that they’re needed for photo props.
Here’s a typical conversation between Yvonne and me: “Take these two rifles out in the pasture and photograph them on some rocks or something.” Yvonne speaking, “Give me some stuff to go with them. Guns alone don’t look good.” Me speaking, “I don’t have any stuff to go with them.” Yvonne speaking, “Then get some, dummy.”
The fly in Yvonne’s ointment is this: original World War II “stuff” is getting awfully expensive. For instance, I just checked an Internet auction site for vintage US military 1911 holsters. Good condition ones (meaning photogenic to Yvonne and I), were priced at $100 to $150. Buy many photo props at that rate and another good gun could be setting in the vault instead, which is my preference.
And that brings us to a company I recently discovered. It is called World War Supply and is a source for good-quality reproduction equipment as used by the armies of America, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia and a bit from other nations too. World War Supply’s exact duplicate of a US military 1911 holster is a mere $26.99. And it’s not cheesy, slapped together “stuff.” It’s quality.
Many World War II rifles floating about nowadays are missing things like cleaning rods, and slings and most of them are minus storage accouterments like leather sight covers or fabric muzzle or action covers. Indeed, it was a search on the Internet for slings and cleaning rods for German K98k rifles that led me to World War Supply in the first place. There are a half dozen of those rifles in my collection now and only one of them came with cleaning rod and sling. From WW Supply I got those items so all my K98k rifles have the proper accouterments.
From there I moved on to slings and cleaning rods for my Type 38 and Type 99 Japanese Arisakas and even an original sling for my French MAS 1936 rifle. Some of World War Supply’s items are original such as that French rifle sling. However, the availability of original items is sporadic and “once gone perhaps always gone” whereas reproduction accouterments are usually resupplied when sold out.
When Duke bought this German K98k it was a bare-bones rifle. Now from World War
Supply he has fitted it with sling, leather sight cover, and cleaning rod.
World War Supply also sells a variety of fabric military accouterments such as
this holster for a Webley Mk VI and an American shotgun ammunition pouch.
Here’s another factor; the poor condition of leather and canvas items aged from 60 to perhaps 80 years. For instance, recently an old friend gave me a K98k bayonet complete with scabbard and frog. (That’s the leather and fabric holder for carrying it on a belt.) The bayonet and scabbard are fine but the frog is deteriorated to the point of falling apart. It certainly is not photogenic enough for Yvonne. I got a replacement from World War Supply, even marked the same as original German produced ones. The same was true for my 1940s vintage Wehrmacht gas mask canister. Its fabric straps were so poor that one tore in two when pulled upon to secure its lid. I paid about 100 bucks for it on the Internet but the new made one from World War Supply was also priced at only $26.99. Aside from a photo prop I’ve found it to be the perfect size for toting around magazines for several World War II submachine guns in my collection.
As people close to me can attest I have a rather strange affinity for military helmets. In fact once I told Yvonne that as a 13 year old, my two greatest desires were a tri-color collie dog and a German army helmet. It took me well into my 50s but now I have both. In fact in regards to German helmets I have one original, one reproduction and now thanks to World War Supply I also have a reproduction of the German Fallschirmjager (paratrooper) helmet. Price an original one of those sometime: they cost thousands of dollars! World War Supply sells reproduction helmets with various camouflage patterns or decal arrangements. I ordered my Fallschirmjager helmet to look like those used during the Normandy fighting of summer, 1944. Its price is only about $140. As mentioned, leather and fabric from long ago may be in poor shape. World War Supply offers new liners for many original German and Japanese helmets.
The owner of World War Supply, Mark Petricevic and I have been visiting via e-mails and phone conversations. His knowledge of World War II equipment is amazing and so is his determination to search out rare items such as a Japanese soldier’s 3-pouch leather cartridge belt and then have it reproduced in detail. World War Supply’s website not only contains a catalog of products for sale but also has a myriad of videos showing shooting and disassembly of many types of vintage military firearms plus informational articles on many World War II firearms. Mark also asked me for any ideas of candidate items that he could have reproduced. If you have any such ideas I’m sure he would be glad to hear about them in e-mail.
And you’ll be seeing in the future how I’m keeping Yvonne happy by supplying her “stuff” to photograph alongside many of my military firearms.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos By Yvonne Venturino
World War Supply
P.O. Box 72
Ada, MI 49301