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Old 17 May 2019, 08:23 AM   #1
SubKing
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Battle of the Issued Nato Straps Phoenix VS CWC which one is better? Review

For many years I have purchased way too many Phoenix Nato straps from the UK. For those who don't know about the company, they produce nato straps for the Ministry of Defense (MOD for short) for many years now.

CWC is also a company that has produced Nato straps for the MOD..

These straps are the real deal when it comes to military issues straps.
I wanted to write a brief review of both straps and share my opinion on which I think is the best for the money.

If anyone is wondering why my watch is sporting an 18mm strap showing the fixed bars and not a 20mm strap. It's because back in the day the MOD would do thing's in the most cost effective way possible. They happened to had a surplus of 18mm straps from previous smaller watch models used. When they introduced the larger SM300, they issued them on the leftover 18mm straps to use them up, which is why you commonly would see these come on their original 18mm straps. Eventually they used up their surplus and switched to the proper 20mm size for the rolex milsub that replaced this shortly lived sm300..

In this review you will see a phoenix nato admiralty grey nato strap which is an actual issued color choice by the MOD and for the CWC, they also make Admiralty grey, however I chose their Vintage grey color for this comparison which is a more washed aged looking grey..

I love Phoenix straps, I love them because of their stiff nature. The webbing on the nylon has always sat right with me. They are not cheap at $23USD per strap shipped.

The CWC strap is north of $50USD shipped. At almost double the price (will get to that later.)

So first some comparisons.
Stainless buckles are almost the same, however I feel the CWC's hardware is slightly beefier when compared to the phoenix.


next picture you will notice that the CWC straps tail is longer which I prefer as it leaves you with enough strap to tuck through both keepers.




In this next photo, you will see just after 3 days of ware on both straps, what the hole looks like on the phoenix strap when compared to the less stiff CWC strap.



some more shots of each strap on an issued RN300




The problem with the Phoenix straps what I have found over the years, is I go through them much quicker due to the uncontrollable "fraying" issue's they have. Even tho the manufacturer claims that running a lighter flame over the fraying will fix it, that is just a shortly lived fix.. They just don't stay pretty for long. That just has to do with the webbing and nylon used on them. Both these straps have heat welded hardware and made in the UK per MOD spec.

The phoenix strap is more stiff and the CWC strap is a little less stiff and more forgiving for sure.

Yes you will pay double for a CWC nato, but that one strap will stand the test of time when compared to a phoenix strap (which I have purchased over 20 straps in the past few years).

I searched around the net and couldn't really find any reviews on these two natos head to head.


There are many different nato's out there, however, if you're looking for the real deal issued nato's to the MOD, then these two are it.

So based on my review and for the win, it's the CWC nato


I would love to hear anyone else's opinions based on their experience with either of these brands.
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Old 18 May 2019, 03:00 AM   #2
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I have own a few Nato straps from genuine Omega to others, and my favorite has been PhenomeNato. For me they are the best....
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Old 18 May 2019, 04:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18●20●22●▼●2●4●6 View Post
I have own a few Nato straps from genuine Omega to others, and my favorite has been PhenomeNato. For me they are the best....
For sure there are many great nato strap manufactures. Too many to count. I have some personal favorites aside from these two brands.

My review was focused more on the two brands that are issued to the MOD which have seen some real military action over the years and not just desk diving.
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Old 18 May 2019, 04:32 AM   #4
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Battle of the Issued Nato Straps Phoenix VS CWC which one is better? Review

Nice review, thank you SubKing~

I have a few Pheonix straps and no CWC, so I will have to pick up a few of those...

Thanks,

Randy


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Old 18 May 2019, 04:37 AM   #5
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Nice review, thank you SubKing~

I have a few Pheonix straps and no CWC, so I will have to pick up a few of those...

Thanks,

Randy


nice shot, love that mkII.
I think you will be happy with the CWC nato. I think anyone who has owned phoenix nato straps will most likely feel my pain about the fraying. If they didn't fray like they did, then Phoenix would be a perfect strap for me.
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Old 18 May 2019, 04:42 AM   #6
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nice shot, love that mkII.

I think you will be happy with the CWC nato. I think anyone who has owned phoenix nato straps will most likely feel my pain about the fraying. If they didn't fray like they did, then Phoenix would be a perfect strap for me.


Thank you, SubKing...
Yup, both of the Phoenix straps are fraying.



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Old 19 May 2019, 03:54 AM   #7
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I must have bought at least 6 or 7 Phoenix NATO straps over the years, and each time I wonder why

The quality is by far the worst out of all the nylon straps I've bought (probably about 50). And the hole spacing isn't ideal for me either.

As you've mentioned, they just look tatty within days. The holes fray in no time, and the white webbing inside often shows.

Best thing about them is the colour, which also varies.
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Old 19 May 2019, 05:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I must have bought at least 6 or 7 Phoenix NATO straps over the years, and each time I wonder why

The quality is by far the worst out of all the nylon straps I've bought (probably about 50). And the hole spacing isn't ideal for me either.

As you've mentioned, they just look tatty within days. The holes fray in no time, and the white webbing inside often shows.

Best thing about them is the colour, which also varies.
100% agreed my friend. Please give CWC nato a try, I think you might be very pleased. I just ordered a couple more for myself. The colors are spot on and they just don't fray or have the issues that the phoenix straps do.

I assume the MOD has been clients of Phoenix for so long is because they are probably the least expensive nato that's made in the UK to the MOD specs when compared to CWC nato straps.

The CWC strap is a little more expensive, but that is only because of their shipping charge which costs more than the strap itself. That's the only real downside to CWC. But I know Silvermans surplus issues the CWC watches to the mod with their own nato straps for awhile now I believe. They also carry Phoenix straps as well on their site. I feel it's only a matter of time until they phase them out.

The cwc strap that is their version of "phoenix admiralty grey" is just called "cwc nato grey" if you want to check one out.
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Old 19 May 2019, 06:27 AM   #9
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I second that... I will never recommend Phoenix NATO band to anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent65 View Post
I must have bought at least 6 or 7 Phoenix NATO straps over the years, and each time I wonder why

The quality is by far the worst out of all the nylon straps I've bought (probably about 50).
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Old 20 May 2019, 01:07 AM   #10
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When they're brand new, the tighter knit on the Phoenix makes them stand out from the crowd. They really make others look cheap.

However they do fray quickly. And I've even had one that came with a pin that was slightly too small for the buckle, my watch dropped from my wrist once while I was folding and tucking the loose end...

Anyway I think I'm moving away from NATO altogether.



Last edited by dat_watch; 20 May 2019 at 01:28 AM.. Reason: adding a picture for good measure x2
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Old 20 May 2019, 02:33 AM   #11
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Good and appropriate review.

For me, the Phoenix has the best version of Admiralty Gray. I get about 4-5 months out of them so I order a batch to last a couple years. It is the best and appropriate color.

Will likely try the CWC.

I have used some that are better made but the colors are always off when compared to the original.

67 Big T
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Old 20 May 2019, 05:17 AM   #12
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Good and appropriate review.

For me, the Phoenix has the best version of Admiralty Gray. I get about 4-5 months out of them so I order a batch to last a couple years. It is the best and appropriate color.

Will likely try the CWC.

I have used some that are better made but the colors are always off when compared to the original.

67 Big T
Nice big T my friend. It looks like the Grey strap you have might be from the older batch that i actually miss. Phoenix over the past couple years has changed their admiralty grey to an even darker tone which I don't like.

Your exact color is exactly the grey that it's supposed to be. I only have one left somewhere in my sock drawer that color tone. I wish phoenix was more consistent with their colors. The strap in my review is one of the most recent batches as I have only had it a week since I ordered it. It's pretty dark, even in direct sunlight.
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Old 20 May 2019, 05:25 AM   #13
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Starting from the far right is the most recent strap from phoenix which is darker, next to it is a strap from last years batch, the next one is the correct and original admiralty grey color that phoenix was shipping maybe around 5 years ago? You can see it is lighter than the other 2 straps to the right of it.

The nato on the far left is actually a real issued nato from 1968 that was issued with my RN-sm300 pictured above. the nato on the far left has seen some real action and is actually missing one of the keepers, but it is still in good shape. The harware still has the most of the plating intact as they didn't use stainless back then. The material on the far left vintage nato is so perfect. It's stiff like a phoenix nato only it's thicker as well and feels like it would last forever, it kinda has.. i wish phoenix would use that recipe for their straps going forward.

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Old 20 May 2019, 06:02 AM   #14
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Blushark mid range are the best NATO I have tried. Do not buy the $39 premium as it’s curiously less quality than the mid range $34 version. I have owned Phoenix too.
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Old 21 May 2019, 01:12 AM   #15
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Blushark mid range are the best NATO I have tried. Do not buy the $39 premium as it’s curiously less quality than the mid range $34 version. I have owned Phoenix too.
i have checked out blushark.
My problem with them is that they are not even close to issued straps. stitched hardware and not heat welded. the nylon almost looks like the seat belt style material. Im sure they are strong and do the job, but I look for authenticity when I use nato straps. so the selection is minimal when it comes to that
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Old 21 May 2019, 10:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Nice big T my friend. It looks like the Grey strap you have might be from the older batch that i actually miss. Phoenix over the past couple years has changed their admiralty grey to an even darker tone which I don't like.

Your exact color is exactly the grey that it's supposed to be. I only have one left somewhere in my sock drawer that color tone. I wish phoenix was more consistent with their colors. The strap in my review is one of the most recent batches as I have only had it a week since I ordered it. It's pretty dark, even in direct sunlight.
Thanks ; )

The color of even the newer ones is still closer than almost everyone else.

The problem with the Phoenix is the heatweld (which is needed), does anyone do it where the hole does not round out?
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Old 22 May 2019, 10:58 PM   #17
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Thanks ; )

The color of even the newer ones is still closer than almost everyone else.

The problem with the Phoenix is the heatweld (which is needed), does anyone do it where the hole does not round out?
I don't personally think the problem is the heatweld. I think the problem is with the nylon phoenix uses. The cwc straps have the same exact heatweld treatments and I don't have any of the problems that I have with the phoenix straps.
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Old 24 May 2019, 04:52 AM   #18
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Thanks Subking, nice little review. I'd also like to second your endorsement of the CWC Natos. Top quality issued stuff!
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Old 25 May 2019, 02:22 AM   #19
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100% agreed my friend. Please give CWC nato a try, I think you might be very pleased. I just ordered a couple more for myself. The colors are spot on and they just don't fray or have the issues that the phoenix straps do.

I assume the MOD has been clients of Phoenix for so long is because they are probably the least expensive nato that's made in the UK to the MOD specs when compared to CWC nato straps.

The CWC strap is a little more expensive, but that is only because of their shipping charge which costs more than the strap itself. That's the only real downside to CWC. But I know Silvermans surplus issues the CWC watches to the mod with their own nato straps for awhile now I believe. They also carry Phoenix straps as well on their site. I feel it's only a matter of time until they phase them out.

The cwc strap that is their version of "phoenix admiralty grey" is just called "cwc nato grey" if you want to check one out.
Cheers my friend - I may well have a peek!
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Old 25 May 2019, 02:27 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Starting from the far right is the most recent strap from phoenix which is darker, next to it is a strap from last years batch, the next one is the correct and original admiralty grey color that phoenix was shipping maybe around 5 years ago? You can see it is lighter than the other 2 straps to the right of it.

The nato on the far left is actually a real issued nato from 1968 that was issued with my RN-sm300 pictured above. the nato on the far left has seen some real action and is actually missing one of the keepers, but it is still in good shape. The harware still has the most of the plating intact as they didn't use stainless back then. The material on the far left vintage nato is so perfect. It's stiff like a phoenix nato only it's thicker as well and feels like it would last forever, it kinda has.. i wish phoenix would use that recipe for their straps going forward.
Nice comparison. The one on the left rules! Darker ones still nice tones, IMO. I like the blueish tint on some.
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Old 5 November 2019, 06:40 AM   #21
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Does anyone know of this is a Phoenix from HODINKEE walking watches with Reza Ali Rashidian?



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Old 5 November 2019, 07:52 AM   #22
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Excellent review.
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Old 8 November 2019, 11:22 AM   #23
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Does anyone know of this is a Phoenix from HODINKEE walking watches with Reza Ali Rashidian?



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I don’t think that is a Phoenix. That looks like a vintage issued nato with the thinner brass chrome plated hardware. They were of much tougher quality than the Phoenix straps. I have a couple NOS vintage natos and they are fantastic.
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Old 8 November 2019, 11:53 AM   #24
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I’ve actually been extra impressed with the CS Co (Cincy Strap Co) stuff.

This “Stealth Bond” came with my Project 300.








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