I've got some older BDUs and ever since I came into posession of them I've wondered why the military chose to use buttons instead of snaps or zippers. I was later told by a veteran friend that it was because buttons are silent, and the covers over them (like on the pockets and front) allow for crawling without catching. Then, more recently, I bought some modern Bundeswehr jackets and found snaps. While I haven't actually gotten my hands on some newer combat dress from the US military, I've heard there's a lot of velcro involved.
Why? My first impression of the snaps was that they'd be uncomfortable under a vest or other gear, and thought that's why velcro was becoming popular in the US. And if that's not so, then why leave the quieter buttons behind?
Buttons are silent, easy to fix, and unlike the other two options, don't clog with snow and dirt. Metal snaps seem like they could wear and become shiny too in addition to becoming another source of unwanted noise when gear knocks against it. If it shines, rattles, clanks or makes a tearing sound, I don't want it on a field/ utility uniform.
Metal snaps seem like they could wear and become shiny too in addition to becoming another source of unwanted noise when gear knocks against it. If it shines, rattles, clanks or makes a tearing sound, I don't want it on a field/ utility uniform.
That's what I was thinking in addition to the added pressure points under a vest, but I don't have first-hand experience in that matter.
All the european gear i have (mostly older OD stuff from France, the Netherlands, Germany) is using snaps in some form or another, although only at certain points like cuffs, shoulder tabs, or to fasten the liner inside the parka. Buttons are still pretty much the main thing on them though... But Snaps are definitely more convinient for garrison wear...
I think that buttons are great, because they are durable, dumb-proof, fixable and silent.
Velcro is great too, but only as far as sealing things you don't need to open that often or use quietly (like some magazine pouches or such).
Snaps are a good choice for things that need to come off in a hurry and aren't in places that get banged around. I was a bit aggravated to find three snaps not working on my jacket after the jacket had been in my bergen for a while and gotten banged around, and squeezed in a few trucks and cars. I think that it's very rare to have such things happen and I was a bit unlucky, but all it takes for a snap to not work is a millimeter's shift in the metal. After that it's useless. Or nearly so, if you're lucky enough to fix it with a multitool or such.
In my experience, never managed to get a busted snap to work again.
Let alone trying to fix a busted or damaged zipper with your housewife kit... Not gonna happen.
So in my opinion, you'd want buttons or clamps on the hard wearing kit and your outer clothing, zippers to kit you use to keep the elements away and not necessarily wear in contact and velcro to fasten body armour, adjust things or attach insignia, not where you have lots of strain on the material or where you need it to be quiet.