Pub Talk - “How to become a M-1 helmet expert”

Big Red here at me favorite waterin hole, Cohan's Pub.

Pull up a chair, have a pint.

“Big Red, how can I become a M-1 helmet expert when I grow up?”

Allow me ta share some of me thoughts….


There are many avenues to becoming an expert M-1 helmet collector. If you have an excess of money you don’t know what to do with and you don't want to exercise your brain, you can just buy things that look cool and assume they are what the seller said they were. You can buy and post helmets on a forum trusting the consensus, of mystery persons hiding behind avatars, learning by trial and error. You can scour the inter-webs for videos and trust what Wikipedia says or, you can purchase and read the books that detail the history of the M-1 helmet, create relationships with fellow collectors, discern which ones are actually on top of their collecting knowledge, develop trust and ask them questions.



However, if paying your dues through study and forging relationships with fellow collectors isn’t your thing, you can always create an account on a popular helmet forum, select a sexy avatar name that makes obvious reference to something WWII and declare that you know everything there is to know about M-1 helmets.

Then bully all the uninformed entry-level members, argue with the actual experts when they try to interject documented proof that contradicts your posted statements and act like an obstinate ass until the actual experts leave the forum.


Once the actual experts are gone or no longer engage within the community you, with your limited comprehension of the subject, will become the new default forum expert and can rule the remaining junior collectors with a Stainless Steel rimmed, front seam welded Manganese fist.



I can’t help you with your ability to interact socially with others, but I can set you on the right path for gaining knowledge about the M-1 helmet. Your first book should be “The M-1 Helmet” A History of the U.S. M-1 Helmet in World War II, by Mark A. Reynosa.


Why Reynosa and not’ Steel Pots or Oosterman, bla, bla, bla. If you are serious about collecting the M-1 helmet and at some point, want to develop your collection to a level of high-end examples; you need to build your knowledge by collecting a library of all these books.

The primary reason I stress Reynosa’s book as your first book is because the research in this publication is the foundation of all the other books that have been published by collectors on the topic of the M-1 helmet. Reynosa is an Engineer by trade and there can be no debate that this book is organized and reads like an Engineer wrote it. Some folks struggle with this aspect of the book, which is why they prefer other authors.

However, I have found that if you read a section of Reynosa then read it again, your mind begins to develop the picture he is presenting and when you go back and read it again at a later date you continue to discover little jewels of knowledge and insight. The second reason I promote Reynosa’s book is, aside from a brief introduction of the state of the U.S. helmet leading up to the M-1, this book focuses on the M-1 helmet and does not branch out in other directions of U.S. headgear.


With Reynosa’s M-1 book under your belt, you will have the necessary foundation to navigate the other books available on the subject. Now all that remains is to figure out how to develop relationships with fellow collectors and discern which ones you can trust, and which ones are full of...

If you take the path of "Study & Relationships" you will not be able to build an overnight high-end collection, but you will be able to reduce your risk of making expensive mistakes while building a solid collection and creating solid lifelong friendships. Regardless there will be times in collecting, just like everything in life, where you will have to make a choice based on the best available information you have at the time. Like they say back home in Texas, “No balls, No buckle”.


Good Luck my young M-1 helmet Padawan and remember to concentrate, feel the force flow and keep collecting fun.



Until next time, I bid ye a fond


  • phillip d marritt

    in my mind, no one is truly an “expert” until theyve done original research on the subject and published said research. you can be knowledgeable without doing such research, but youll never truly be an expert until youve done such research. even then, that wouldnt make you an all knowing guru as new scholarship is revealing new information decades after the fact. for instance the fact that parish made a few helmets during ww2. i didnt find this out myself until just a few years ago after collecting for 40+ years. always keep an open mind and be receptive to learning. you also have to be receptive to learning that something you learned years ago is flat out just wrong. for instance back in the pre cambrian period when i started collecting (lol), the m1917 helmets thatd been updated with the newer liner were known as “us model 1930”.

  • Joe Brown

    a great well written piece, to the point. Thing is like anything , in the M1 helmet world ,or life is going to throw you a curve ball.
    never assume you know everything ,because you dont or cant. we should all draw and build on our collective experiences. If nothing else to build something accurate to pass on to future generations. unlike us, they wont be able to talk to wwii or nam vets. to know 1st hand , unlike us, they were not brought up by them either. we have a collective responsibility , to the future , to be honest and truthful , we are ? the castodians , not only of these M1 ‘s but their legacy , the knowledge that made them , restored them. we owe it to the people who designed them , wore them. Lets not let them down , or let the future down. its in our hands. so is the responsibility. I am the proud castodian of 13 front seam m1’s of wwii origin. I will own them for my life only. I will pass them on to the future. I figure that if they are the last 13 m1’s to exist. the M1 will not die, in that examples will exist for the future. I dont collect wwii equipment. I restore it , preserve it. for the future. Not to be the big I am of wwii collecting. no a quiet stoic humble pride. some one , some day , will be so so glad we did , that we did preserve these things. I do it to conserve , to save .its too precious not to. a gold bar ? ’or an m1 ? ILL KEEP MY M1 . nothing can buy what it was , is and represents. The greatest generation, it is testomny to their efforts. to keep us free. that cannot be bought , sold , its priceless….. raised by wolves that fell from the sky and slogged up a beach in Normandy 44. Joe.

  • Lee Caron

    I hope that some time in the future you would come out with a book. The reason I say this is because the more we see in print becomes something we can refer to and you certainly do have the knowledge. This is good stuff Josh.

  • Curt Reus
    I definitely agree that the Reynoza Book is (or should be) the Start/ Basis of collecting (a “primary” – fundamental source of information on the (WW2 era) M-1 Helmet Assy. I still study it 20+ yrs after buying it. As I collect Helmets as a Part Of Collecting, in-general – U.S. Militaria (pre-WW1 thru Gulf War “I”.) my specific knowledge (esp w/o “The Book”) would be limited. To me it’s another Collecting “bible” / a MUST-HAVE for ANY Serious Collector. I am NO “expert” in what I collect (although I have at least 40 yrs experience – buying & “looking”) & there are CERTAINLY many more folks MUCH More Knowledgeable than I ! (I know more than a few 50-60+ yr collectors who have “not-seen=it-all” after a life-time of collecting ! ( As I favor Uniforms & Webgear/ Equipment, perhaps I (naturally) have greater knowledge in those areas (?) ) I’m not a great fan of forums (some good folks, but still far too many self-appointed (usually) – “experts”; lots of “showing-off” there ‘impossible’ finds & some "my stuff’s better than your stuff non-sense. Also I’m not impressed by “names” drop’d (and as often said "well “Ralph Smucalltilly gave me several minutes of his time to sanctify/ pronounce my item as COMPLETELY 100% ORIGINAL !”: I collect f/ my own interests / f/ myself – NOT to impress others (collectors) Like the song line says – “if it makes you happy – it can’t be too bad”. Anyone born after 1945 was not "there to see things made during the war, let alone have them issued to/ worn by them . . . (even Vet’s are NOT usually reliable experts. per se) I saw my first WW2 “Militaria” in the Surplus Stores of the mid-1960’s (then, as now, I’m not really overly concerned to learn they could have been made “after-the-war”/ and were NOT then 20 yrs old !)


    Big Red is always helpful in getting you straighten out with your “WTF is this helmet I just found” question and I bought this book based on his suggestions so I can go well armed into the buyers market. I meet many a seller who just because it’s an M1 helmet think its got to be from WWII and worth a billion dollars. I do love running down the list of why its not and breaking their bubble. Information is valuable, great information is even better.

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