What is MIL-Spec?


MIL-Spec which is short for military specifications means a MIL-Spec designed product or wiring is built for use in the most demanding environments and to the quality control standards of the U.S. military. These standards aim to ensure the quality of the materials used, the workmanship of the build, and the overall reliability of the product. This often means wiring that has been built using the purest of copper, then Teflon-coated to shield from various types of frequency-related electrical interference. Clearly, in scenarios of battle, the reliability of a soldier’s equipment is essential as there can be no room for electrical problems. For the building of equipment that is to be used for combat scenarios, extreme weather conditions, harsh automotive or aerospace uses, the necessity for weight and space savings are also important factors that favor the use of HELTRONICS’ mil-spec wiring. These standards were therefore originally designed to provide reliability in the toughest of military scenarios and have since been made available for additional consumer uses where quality and reliability are, although not quite as critical, still an important factor. This does however lead to an increased cost associated with a product that has been designed to MIL-Spec.

Some specific components of MIL-Spec wiring may include:

  • Manufactured with tin, nickel, or silver-plated copper conductors
  • Meet requirements for low weight and high-temperature resistance
  • Can be used in varying and extreme temperatures and environments
  • Available wiring insulations include: 
    • PVF2 | polyvinylidene fluoride
    • TFE | polytetrafluoroethylene
    • FEP | fluorinated ethylene propylene
    • ETFE | ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer

Who Uses MIL-Spec?

Although MIL-Spec wiring use is not limited only to those in the military or in combat environments, everyday usage of this high-quality wiring can include a wide variety of applications. Some sample applications include automotive engines, antennas, ground wire, shielding, and protective covering, airframe wire, point to point wiring, and bonding moving parts. This also includes use in high frequency and high-temperature applications. For the consumer advantage of MIL-Spec wiring often means that wiring will typically be found to be smaller than the alternatives with more strands per cable, carrying more current than similar-sized non-MIL Spec wires. Smaller wiring looms can significantly reduce the weight of wiring harnesses. 

A common appreciation by the consumer hobbyist and their preference for MIL-Spec wiring is due to its ruggedness and resistance to things such as acids and alkalis, solvents, flames, moisture, and oil and gas. The typical OEM wiring harness of an automotive nervous system can weigh more than 70lbs. Wiring that winds its way through a chassis, delivering electrical signals to various control modules, is a necessity but also can be a significant weight consideration. When dealing with racing, this weight can be a serious detriment to performance. It is many of these reasons that MIL-Spec wiring has become the gold standard of wiring products for the automotive hobbyist industry with examples of broad use both in off-road trophy trucks, racing boats, and high dollar antique car builds.