World-leading holster manufacturer Galco International, LTD is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. With dozens of patents and singular innovations, the Galco Gunleather™ brand has now remained at the forefront of concealed carry methods and gear for a half century.
Richard Gallagher, Galco’s founder and President, first established the company in Chicago in 1969. He comments, “It’s hard to believe fifty years have passed since those early days in Chicago: the late 1960s and 1970s, when we were still called The Famous Jackass Leather Company. Looking back, what I remember most is the tremendous sense of excitement, optimism, accomplishment and camaraderie we shared from the beginning.”
The Famous Jackass Leather Company originally popularized the horizontal shoulder system that came to be closely associated with Galco, as Gallagher renamed the company in 1980, just ahead of a move to Phoenix in 1983. Gallagher has fond memories of that shoulder system, since it was the rig’s appearance on television’s Miami Vice that rocketed Galco to fame. As Gallagher comments, “When I designed that first horizontal shoulder holster for a real police officer back in the early 1970s, I’d have never guessed a fictional vice cop would make it world famous!”
The horizontal shoulder system, later renamed the Miami Classic™, quickly became the flagship of a line that’s since diversified to include every type of concealed carry holster, concealed carry handbags for women, and a wide range of hunting and sporting accessories.
It all began with leather holsters, at the time the most common and accessible material for holster construction. Horsehide was a particular favorite in the early years because of its robust durability, Steerhide holsters have always been at the forefront of Galco’s product line with innovations like the forward-molded design of the famous Concealable™ belt holster in 1971.
In the early 2000s, Galco recognized a need for economical holsters that performed better than the floppy nylon rigs that once dominated the entry-level concealed carry market. Galco developed Premium Center Cut Steerhide™, a heavy-duty unmolded napped leather. This material gave birth to the Carry Lite™ line of high-performance yet modestly-priced holsters, which are now in use by literally hundreds of thousands of gun carriers.
Galco was one of the early pioneers of the use of Kydex® in the early 1980s, well before it came into vogue as a holster material in the 2000s. Building on that experience, Galco developed hybrid holsters like the KingTuk™ IWB series that fuse the best properties of Kydex holster pockets and comfortable leather backing plates. Galco remains on the cutting edge in both design and production of concealed carry holsters. Heavily incorporating both Kydex and injection-molded polymers, the current thermoplastic holster lines add to the leather and hybrid models.
Today, Galco continues to invest in its employees and facility in Phoenix, to remain the manufacturer of the finest holsters and shooting accessories in the world. Galco is truly, “For those who demand the best…and know the difference.”