The market for Soldier Systems items is changing rapidly. No one knows this more than Outdoor Research who for many years, has led the development of specialized handwear for military customers. In fact, their association with military customers predates the current conflict and many of the styles that troops wore that first winter in Afghanistan came from their factory in Seattle.
But how this market purchases their clothing and equipment is transforming. The military isn’t consuming products at as rapid a pace as even a year or two ago and the cost of domestic Berry Compliant production is too high for most individual, retail-based purchases or even procurement by law enforcement agencies with tight budgets.
Outdoor Research is adapting to this new reality by introducing three different versions of their highly popular Firemark glove in order to offer different options for different types of customers.
First, they continue to produce a Berry Compliant version of the glove that is manufactured in the US, from materials made here in the US. These are intended for contract purchase by the US Department of Defense.
Second, OR has produced a Trade Agreement Act glove that can be sold via GSA. This model is meant for purchase by Government agencies. TAA Compliance means that a product is manufactured in the US or Designated Countries. These countries are generally those that we have a free trade agreement with, belong to the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement, are considered “least developed” or located in the Caribbean Basin. There are several countries not on this list, particularly North Korea, Cuba and the People’s Republic of China. A full list of Designated Countries is in FAR 25.003..
And last, but not least, there is an overseas production model that will find its way into retail outlets for individual purchase. It’s also a great model for those agencies and departments that do not require Berry Compliance. Regardless of production, all three versions meet OR’s performance specifications.
As you can see below, there are slight differences with each variant and these are based on materials and construction techniques available to each manufacturer but the quality remains the same. I’ve seen samples of all three versions coming out of these factories over the past few months and they’ve really dialed it in. You might not realize it, but in many cases, Berry Compliance limits the types of materials that can be used and how they can be assembled into a finished good.
To see which model is which, in the photo below, click the jump.