Mission Critical Quality: What to Keep in Mind When Sourcing Mil-Spec Fasteners & Components

In July, the House of Representatives passed an $839 billion policy bill that would increase President Joe Biden’s requested Pentagon budget by $37 billion, reflecting bipartisan cooperation in Congress to raise military spending with a view on new threats from Russia and China. It includes billions for more aircraft and ships.

Military budgets around the world are about to get bigger. This is most notable in Europe, where the threat of Russian aggression looms largest. Most NATO member countries are now implementing or proposing increases in defense spending that will make 2% of GDP the floor for defense spending, not the goal. Germany, Italy, and Norway, among others, have already decided to spend more on defense.

What Are Mil-Spec Standards?

Concerning fasteners and components and all the related supply chains impacted, mil-spec (or military standard) is a standardization created by the US Department of Defense (DOD) that serves as a measuring device to ensure that government contractors meet certain requirements. Mil-spec materials must pass specific requirements before they can be used for government contract work. Mil-spec fasteners are commonly used in the defense, government, marine, nuclear, and shipbuilding industries.

Fastbolt offers a wide variety of Mil-spec fasteners, including MS, NAS, AN, and NASM.

Different sectors within the military and defense industry have various applications. As such, the requirements and restrictions they have for fasteners may vary. The most common standards used are:

  • Military Standard (MS): The DOD uses these standards for fasteners (and other equipment) employed in defense contract work. Companies also sometimes utilize it not related to the defense industry.
  • National Aerospace Standard (NAS): These voluntary standards are used in the aerospace industry to ensure quality and precision in mission-critical components.
  • Army Navy (AN): These standards are used for aircraft employed by the army and navy. They overlap with M.S. standards.

Why Are Mil-Spec Standards Important?

The performance standards expected of military-grade fasteners—like other military-grade materials—are exceptionally high to ensure that equipment works as intended throughout its service. These standards require that the hardware be manufactured to specific tolerances using specific techniques and performance materials.

The construction materials, finishes, and plating employed significantly influence the performance of fasteners. For example:

  • Corrosion resistance: This quality ensures fasteners maintain their integrity when exposed to the elements and corrosive compounds for a prolonged period.
  • Temperature resistance: This quality allows fasteners to withstand exposure to high, low, or fluctuating temperatures. In aerospace and naval applications, they may be exposed to extremely low temperatures high in the atmosphere or deep in water.

DFARS and ITAR: Two Key Mil-Spec Regulations to Keep In Mind

The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) is known as the “safeguarding” clause. Any external contractor who wants to work with the DOD or any federal agency and handles Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) must comply with DFARS. The stipulations include who has access to the data, provides security education and training, audit controls, management of software/hardware, identity, and access management. DFARS requirements and regulations guarantee the integrity of CUI or sensitive information belonging to the government that third parties such as suppliers, partners, and trade associations may hold or use. Fastbolt is DFARS certified.

ITAR stands for International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls administers these within the State Department. The goal behind these is to regulate defense products. In addition to State, the Department of Defense is also heavily involved in these regulations—DTSA, the Defense Technology Security Administration, and other program offices in DOD. If you send a case over to the State Department under ITAR, they will immediately send it out to the DOD.

Among our many certifications, Fastbolt is:

  • ITAR compliant
  • ISO 9001:2015 registered
  • AS9100 Rev D Registered
  • DFARS Compliant
  • ATF 16949 – Target Certification 2022
  • ISO 13485:2016 – Target Certification 2022

You can view the details of our registrations and complainces on our Registrations page.

Applications for Mil-Spec Fasteners

Military-grade fasteners find application in the construction of a wide range of military devices, equipment, and systems, such as:

  • Land vehicles
  • Missile systems
  • Ships and submarines
  • Unmanned drones

Failure of a fastener can lead to catastrophic consequences; these fasteners are designed, constructed, and tested to ensure they meet the higher quality required.

At Fastbolt, we maintain an inventory of mil-spec fasteners and components, including:

  • Mil-spec bolts are used in several applications in a wide range of industries. Military-spec bolts are available with either coarse or fine threads and are made from various materials with different finishes.
  • Mil-spec machine screws are used to fasten machine parts and in other applications. They do not have a tapered tip; the entire length of the screw has a uniform diameter. Military-spec machine screws are made from stainless steel or steel with black oxide, cadmium yellow or plain finish.
  • Mil-spec nuts are used with bolts to fasten materials in military, government, aerospace, automotive, or industrial applications. These fasteners are made of steel, including stainless steel.
  • Mil-spec self-tapping screws are used for metal and plastic materials to create threaded holes. They are used in various applications, as military-spec self-tapping screws are available with a pan head or round head.
  • Mil-spec sockets are made from stainless steel and alloy steel materials to increase the strength and durability of the socket cap screw. The military-grade screws are designed to meet NAS and can be used to separate electronic and electrical components. Sockets come with a hexagonal head cap opening to be used with Allen keys and hex wrenches.
  • Mil-spec washers are used in aerospace and defense applications. They reduce the chances of a nut or bolt loosening. Mil-spec washers include flat washers, split lock washers, screw washers, and internal and external tooth lock washers.

What Mil-Spec Criteria Should You Keep in Mind From a Mil-Spec Supplier 

When choosing a supplier for your next project in the military industry, there are many criteria you need to check off. Three criteria your supplier should possess include.

  • Familiarity: Your supplier needs to be familiar with similar projects. This set of standards can be broad and diverse, so one of the best ways to expect a high-quality final product is to work with a supplier with previous experience.
  • Attention to Detail: Mil-spec guidelines, especially coupled with the United States Military Standard (mil-std) requirements, direct the outcome of the final product, but the environment in which it is produced. Every step of the required production process is outlined in detail. This means that your supplier needs to be exceptionally detail-oriented. This includes maintaining a facility and environment that perfectly adheres to every production specification.
  • High Technical Capability: Mil-spec projects require a supplier with the technical capabilities to manufacture your product and the ability to do the copious amounts of research that goes along with it. Mil-spec and mil-std documents are comprehensive.

Work with Fastbolt to Meet the Demands of Mil-Spec Standards

At Fastbolt, we pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality of mil-spec fasteners and components. As these components are critical to ensuring equipment reliability in the field, we understand that every detail of your supply processes—from sourcing to delivery—is handled with the utmost care.

Please reach out to us on our contact page to learn more about how we can help you with your mil-spec fastener and components supply. Our experienced team will assist you in answering questions and proposing scalable solutions that meet your manufacturing objectives.

Prev Post

Next Post

Other Articles by