In our This vs. That series, we're comparing (and contrasting) two seemingly similar products. A lot of products seem the same at first glance but can greatly affect the outcome of your next application. Today, we're comparing two main types of coaxial cable specifications: M17 and RG.
All of these cable designations and specifications for different types of coaxial cable can get confusing, especially with how often the same standards seem to evolve. M17 and RG standards both refer to coaxial cable, but they are not exactly the same. See how the designations differ and learn about the continuing changes in military specifications for the wire and cable industry.
RG Coaxial Cables
RG coaxial cable designations are the old military standards for coax. RG, or radio grade, cables are still popularly used to refer to parts, but they have been officially discontinued by the military. You will mostly hear RG coaxial cable part numbers used by commercial industries, corresponding to the different types of connectors used in their products.
There is a wide range of products still available under their RG numbers, and the differences between these numbers can depend on one or more things, including a material change or difference in ratings. Because the RG standard is no longer controlled by the government, even products with the same RG number are not guaranteed to be exactly the same, so it is important to check product specifications.
M17 refers to the military specifications (Mil-Spec) set by the U.S. Department of Defense. Mil-DTL-17, or M17 for short, is their standard for coaxial cable. This mil-spec has replaced the old RG numbers and ensures that the new M17 coaxial cables will stand up to tough military requirements in extreme applications and environments.
How Do They Compare?
While both of these specifications are still common, they are being transitioned out of the industry. The government often releases canceled or inactive standards to the hands of non-government standards bodies, like the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). These independent organizations develop standards that address the quality and safety of cable products, and both SAE and NEMA are in the process of updating and converting a selection of Mil-Spec numbers into their own standards.
No matter what kind of cable you are ordering or what identifying standards are associated with it, make sure to read every specification sheet closely. This is an important step to ensure that you choose the appropriate product for your application requirements and the standards you need.