Soldier of Fortune have very much cornered the market for the budget end of reproduction World War I British Army uniform and equipment. Over the years, opinions of SoFs reproductions have varied and some items have been atrocious and others really rather good. Quality seems to have improved over the years and so I took the plunge and bought myself a pair of their replica World War I B5 ammunition boots.
The B5 was one of a number of different patterns of boot used by the British Army in World War I, and was the pattern which was to see the most manufacture and usage so it makes sense that this is the pattern SoF chose to replicate. Initial impressions of the boot are good. It has the distinctive square toe of the original and the rough side out brown leather which make these boots visually distinctive from the Second World War patterns. The leather is reasonably thick and the boot appears to be well made. A set of ironmongery is fitted to the bottom in the form of studs and toe and heel plates. These are made of metal, but the quality seems questionable and I am not sure how much rough handling they could take. I suspect I will need to replace these with more durable examples in fairly short order.
The boots themselves have very visible stitching between the welt and the sole, being almost white in colour. I am told that these do dull down well with wear and once the boots have been waterproofed with dubbin the stitching looses its starkness. The boots seem well made and for the price offer excellent value for money. One observation, however, was that the supplied laces are not brilliant and one snapped on the first wear. Replacement laces can be purchased from SoF for £5 and these are of far superior materials, but it is a little annoying that the supplied examples are so poor.
Better boots are out there, produced by companies such as Lennons. If you have the budget to afford these, and will wear them a lot then it is worth the investment. If you are looking for a boot on a budget or for only occasional use, the SoF B5s might be just what you are looking for. They are available from Soldier of Fortune’s website here for £99.99.