Just got this Griswold jump bag from SOF Military. They have been announcing it since their no.39 re-enactor catalog, along with some other new paratrooper items, but the release date was pushed back several times. Given that an original first type Griswold will set you back 3000 euros, I wonder why it took so long for anyone to reproduce them in quantity. Really, what hasn’t been reproduced? So I was a happy camper when they were first announced, and even more when I saw the eventual price, only 40 GBP, or about 50 euros. That’s until I received it.
Let me start by admitting that the result is what you can expect for 50 euros. I would have liked it to be as perfect as my repro ‘holster’ for the M1A1, really used-looking and all, but at that price I shouldn’t have been dreaming. The reproduction is decent enough for re-enactment, but it won’t do for filling the gap in my collection.
So why complain, you ask? You shouldn’t have bought it in the first place if you’re so picky! Or why didn’t you return the item?
All true, but now you can benefit from my experience. As for not returning it: that would cost me 15 euros easy. I prefer holding onto it for now and selling it here at a small loss.
So let’s have it then:
My main gripe with this reproduction is the fabric they used. In the pictures below you see the repro 1st type next to an original 2nd type (which aren’t nearly as rare, but the fabric was the same). The fabric of the repro is much coarser, like much of the British made equipement in WWII. You could wash it, even stone-wash it, and it still wouldn’t look real.
|Repro is smaller than original 2nd type bag||Repro hook and webbing vs. original|
I wonder why this repro is smaller than the original first type Griswold. This repro will fit an M1 Garand broken in two parts, as it was intended to, but it won’t hold a Thompson M1A1 as the original second type Griswold will. Is there anyone who has an original first and second type Griswold for a first-hand comparison?
The hook for attaching the bag to the parachute harness looks nice with one eye closed, as does the repro white parachute webbing (see my article on the repro T5 parachute). Both the hook and the webbing look like they will glow in the dark. If you display this next to original equipment it will stick out like a sore thumb.
|The button closure system looks good||Repro markings compared to original|
The difference between the first and second type Griswold bags is the closing system. The first type was closed with cotton loops through which a wire was passed, which was in turn covered by a flap closed with press studs. I must say they did a nice job on the details here. The wire you see in the picture did not come with the bag. It is a leather thong for tying down a knife scabbard I still had lying around and which fits like it was made for it.
The manufacturer and order number markings look like they were copied from my second type original. Exactly the same text, but the font is not the same (though similar) and chicago is spelled with a lower case c. I dont’ mind the spelling mistake as much as the dark black marking. I may have mentioned this in previous articles: this is where almost all repros, no matter how well made, fail the test. It must be difficult to accurately reproduce stampings that look as crisp as the originals.
SOF Military aren’t the only ones selling repro Griswold bags, but they are about the only reliable source I know of. Others turn them out at a peacemeal rate, but maybe they look much better? Let me know if you have one (so I can get one too).
I wasn’t going to devote a whole article to this one, but now I have. Oh well. Once I’m on my horse…
Update June 2021:
I had forgotten all about this page when I received the photos below from Johan Willaert. It clearly shows the difference in size between the first (smaller) and latter type (larger).
While I was at it, I also added photos of a Grisworld bag with a rigger-made extension, so the weapon wouldn’t have to be broken down. This extension is only about 15cm, so it would fit a carbine. But longer extensions for use with the M1 Garand can also be seen in period photographs.
Interestingly, in their books about Market Garden called “Burning Bridges” (volume 1) and “Bridges Are Ours” (volume 2), Michel De Trez and Peter Hendrikx show 82nd Airborne paratroopers with M1 Garands that are carried on the jump without a Griswold bag. Instead, they have a large felt barrel cover. These were clearly field-made and vary in size. I have never seen one for sale, and it would be hard to tell if it’s genuine if you do see one for sale. If anyone has a pitcure of it, it would be great if you could share it here.