Military surplus

Military surplus are goods, usually matériel, that are sold or otherwise disposed of when no longer needed by the military. Entrepreneurs often buy these goods and resell them at surplus stores. Usually the goods sold by the military are clothing, equipment, and tools of a nature that is generally useful to the civilian population, as well as embroidered patches, name tags, and other items that can be used for a faux military uniform. Occasionally, vehicles (jeeps, trucks, etc.) will be sold as well.[1] Some military surplus dealers also sell military surplus firearms, spare parts, and ammunition alongside surplus uniforms and equipment.

A military surplus shop in Haikou City, Hainan Province, China
Military surplus trucks

Demand for such items comes from various collectors, outdoor adventurers, hunters, survivalists, and players of airsoft and paintball, as well as others seeking high quality, sturdy, military issue garb. The goods may be used, or not. Some merchants of surplus goods also sell goods that are privately manufactured in military standards.

Most items that are sold in military surplus stores are deemed as being "military grade." Military grade refers to meeting the standard that the Department of Defense's branches set in place. For example, uniforms created must be Army Regulation 670-1 approved. All of the uniforms that are no longer in service being sold at a Military Surplus store meet that compliance.


The history of army surplus in the United States dates back to the American Civil War.[2] This was the first large American war that required proper military uniforms for many troops.[citation needed] In earlier wars, most troops were basically a militia wearing whatever they had with them. This required mass-produced wears and arms for both sides. After the war, to recoup some money they sold the supplies in stores. Thus the military surplus store was born.

In the 1870s Francis Bannerman VI operated "Bannerman's surplus".[3] His surplus company was one of the largest ever to operate. He built Bannerman's Castle, a massive storage facility on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River to store his goods.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The World's Biggest Clearance Sale." Popular Mechanics, February 1955, pp. 89-93.
  2. ^ "Short History of surplus." Kaufman surplus
  3. ^ "The Bannerman empire." Antique Trader

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