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Using Contract Numbers to Determine Dates on Military Gear

All United States Military clothing & gear is made with a tag or stamp that contains the contract number. By following the numbering system you can easily figure out the year and sometimes even month your item was made.

The first step is to find out if you have a DA, DSA, DLA, or SPO Contract Number.

  • DA ( Defense Agency) - from 1953 to 1961

  • DSA (Defense Supply Agency) - from 1962 to 1977

  • DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) - from 1978 to 1993

  • 1994 to Present - SPO, SPM, & other recent numbers

  • If there is only a manufacturer stamp - it was made prior to 1953 (the Korean War)

DA Number

DA stamped items were manufactured during the Korean War or early Vietnam War. To date your item, look for a 2 digit number near the end of the code (it will be between 53 and 61). That two digit number is the exact year of manufacture for your surplus item.

DSA Number

DSA stamped items use a more complex dating system for items from early Vietnam to the end of the Vietnam War.

  • 1962 thru 1964 – Prefix of DSA-1, Suffix of E6Y (Y=Year)

  • 1965 – Prefix of DSA-1, No Dating Suffix

  • 1966 – Prefix of DSA-100, No Dating Suffix

  • 1967 thru 1977 Prefix of DSA-100, Dating Suffix of YYM (YY=Year, M=Month)

On this tag the contact number would be found above the manufacturer. In this case the contract number is "DSA 100-71-C-0181" with "71" being the year of manufacture. The remaining numbers & letters do not relate to the date.

DLA Number

DLA picked up where the DSA System left off, just replacing DSA with DLA.

For Example, on this tag the contract number would be found above the manufacturer. The contract number would be "DLA 100-78-C-0720" with "78" being the year of manufacture. Again, the remaining numbers & letters do not affect the date.

1994 to Present

SPO replaced the DLA system and continues till today. To find a year of manufacturer, locate the first 2 digit number after the 6 character alphanumeric code.

There are other recent number systems, but generally they go back to the DLA System.

For example this tags contract number is

"SPM100-05-D-0419" with "05" being the manufacture year. If you need help finding a manufacture date, feel free to Contact Us.

Manufacturer Stamp & Date

For items before 1953, there was no coordinated system to date items. This leaves 2 ways to find the date:

  1. Manufactures sometimes dated their product when it was made

  2. Get a rough estimate, based on the time period the item was made & manufactured

For example this Pre-1953 item was dated Feb 7, 1951 by the manufacturer.

All our items are dated and arranged by war in our Collectibles category. There you can find World War 2, Korea, and Vietnam War vintage military items.
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1 Comment

Elepaio Minton
Elepaio Minton
Feb 05, 2023

Thank you! I was able to date a canvas combat field pack I have thanks to this, and now know it's a 1963 production!

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