“Military Grade” Is Just a Marketing Ploy

Back in 2015, Ford Motor Company made it clear to anyone with a television that it’s new F-150 pickup was “military grade.” Ford staked its entire marketing campaign on the idea that the F-150 met the apparently very high bar of the U.S. military. Meanwhile, soldiers were laughing their heads off. That’s because in the armed forces, “military grade” isn’t the best — it’s the cheapest stuff that gets the job done. Technically speaking, military grade refers to Military Standard-810 — a loose set of requirements that companies would need to adhere to in order to have their product considered military standard grade. Even then, they’re not really requirements, but more like guidelines that manufacturers can use to test their own products to see whether or not they would be military grade. The Military Standard-810 was created to simplify the procurement process of gear for millions of soldiers. That way, if you’re in charge of buying a million helmets for the Army, you can be confident that the companies competing for your business are at least meeting your basic, minimum requirements for resiliency. So, while Ford says its F-150 has a “military-grade aluminum alloy body,” that could simply mean that it’s any old aluminum alloy that just so happens to be included in the long list of alloys the military uses for various applications. The bottom line? You can trust a product that’s actually used by the military, but if you see a keychain flashlight or a cell phone case that’s “military grade,” it’s a load of bull.