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It appears there is a rather widespread misunderstanding these days that people who might hold an interest in various outdoor activities, live action military style gamers and the recently expanding population of “Preppers” and survivalists, need to acquire their gear brand new at high-priced sporting goods outlets. Of course it’s true that using brand new, top name-brand gear from the most prestigious manufacturers is desirable. But, is the added cost that comes with the prestige of using gear that sports manufacturing labels from highly regarded commercial suppliers really worth it? Especially when you consider that in this particular industry, a rather unique option is available which can provide the consumer with exceedingly high quality used goods at a much reduced cost.
I’m speaking, of course, about military issue surplus items and equipment. And, the items they offer as surplus goods should be well considered by preppers and sportsmen looking to add to their list of gear — especially if money currently happens to be tight. Military organizations, after all, really are expertly experienced ‘preppers’ themselves. Thus, the equipment they use for their own purposes are of the highest quality available. And, when those items become marked for surplus, they are often made available to the public at bargain prices.
Western military organizations specifically require the equipment they use to be of the most rugged stock available. In an active combat scenario, which military orgs must prepare for, if equipment fails then lives get lost. The stakes are exceedingly high. And so, very little expense is often spared when it comes to building their equipment tough. Military organizations spend an exceptional amount of money, expertise, effort and man-hours in making sure the items they equip their personnel with can endure the utmost abuse, harshest of conditions, and overuse. They make sure the equipment is simple to use or operate, is as unencumbersome as is possible, and is highly efficient at fulfilling the need it is required to fulfill. Military goods are engineered and designed to work, and to work well for a very long time.
Along with this, of course, is the added benefit that exactly this type of gear, when made available at surplus to the public, is almost always available at exceedingly low cost when compared to the same type of new commercial gear.
But, why should such well made gear be made available for such little comparative cost? There’s basically two reasons for this: The first is that the military is a volume buyer, and so they usually originally obtain their equipment through contract buys at the lower end of wholesale cost. Whereas a sporting goods store might be able to purchase an inventory of, say, camo rain ponchos at a wholesale cost of, say, $35.00 per poncho, the military, because of the volume discounts they enjoy from the manufacturer, might be able to obtain rain ponchos of equal, or even better, quality at a wholesale cost of just $15.00 per item. Now, of course, the commercial supplier will mark-up the new item by a certain percentage — usually 50% is the absolute minimal markup commercial retailers like to aim for. So, your price for the new item from the sporting goods store is a total of $52.50 at the lowest. Whereas, the military obtained their ponchos for a much lower price and does not mark-up their product. Instead of paying $50.00 or more, you’re much more likely to obtain these military surplus ponchos at a price closer to $15.00, or even much less.
The second reason is that the military are not retailers, nor distributors. They’re not in the business of selling off goods. They’re not in the business of making money in such a manner. Their incentive in selling off military surplus items to the public doesn’t lie in turning a profit for themselves. Their incentive merely lies in getting rid of excess items and freeing storage space, and associated costs, in order to make way for their new incoming equipment. The incentive, therefore, on the part of the military, to go after the highest possible price they can get for their surplus goods isn’t the same as it is for commercial dealers.
The military has their tax-payer funded budget that’s buying them new equipment — whether they turn a profit or not, or how much money they earn from the sales of their excess inventory — they’re still going to get their new gear, and they need to make room for it. So, their incentive is to get rid of stuff quickly, with the least amount of handling on the part of the military organization as is possible. And, the way to do that, of course, is to sell it off cheap.