To misquote Heart: “I didn’t want to love you, but I do.” I was already importing a different brand of holsters when Army Ant Gear came onto the scene a couple of years ago. (At the time it was one of very few solutions for CZ owners.) But, the rand was weakening (like now), and local holster manufacturers started to really come through. So I decided to switch to local brands and never looked back.
As it turned out, Army Ant builds their real gear, tough, just a stone’s throw from us. All the better for frequent replenishing and special orders. Army Ant specialises in hybrid holsters. Hybrid holsters combine a soft leather backing with a rigid Kydex outer to maintain comfort while allowing excellent pistol retention and easy reholstering. Many people, like me, prefer this design because your comfort is less dependant on careful positioning of the holster. In the case of Army Ant Gear, their leather backing has an additional neoprene layer stitched to it for reduced sweating. They also offer three different inside waistband designs, increasing your opportunities for ultimate comfort.
Now, here is something you didn’t know: Army Ant also produces a range of leather and canvas bags, under the Nemala brand. Check out their Facebook page for some opportunities to score some points with your better half.
It is now more important than ever to support each other. In this series, we’ll share some more interesting information about local manufacturers and their products.
People who spend a lot of time on online forums know that there are some guys who don’t post a lot but, if they do, you take notice. Whenever range bags were discussed, one of these guys always posted simply: “Speak to Chris at B-Tact.” So, when it was time to add range bags to our product mix, I spoke to Chris at B-Tact.
Customisation is a big part of our business, so our conversations often take the form of: “Would it be possible to do this or that?” answered by: “Hang on.” (Digs through some old samples.) “Something like this?” The only thing that I like more than offering something new, is offering something tried and tested. As it turns out, Chris is an old policeman who knows some interesting people. The kind of people who takes his products to interesting places and do interesting things with it. The lessons that they learn gets incorporated into his products, making for probably the toughest products at the price.
Stepping back a bit from the manufacturers themselves, I need to make mention of the role that they play in our shooting community. Remember, most of these guys started their companies because of their involvement in the shooting community, not the other way round. Not that larger companies don’t contribute immensely, but because they are lean, smaller businesses tend to give more of themselves.
To that extent, I have reached out to some of them in the past (“Can you bring your duelling tree to our community shooting day?” / “Can you do a demo shoot at our shooting club?” ), and they have always come to the party. And then some...
Have a look at our blog post The Joy of Shooting to see Garret Evans showing us the ropes at a club match.
Daniels has a great reputation and it is no wonder that their name always comes up when people are asking for advice online. They make well designed, top quality carry holsters. Proudly local, even the manufacturing of their holster clips is kept in the family.
An interesting fact about Michael is that he is an IDPA Master and a top competitor. If you take the time to examine his recently released Competition Holsters closely, you can really see that experience at work in the fine details.
I like Edge because their innovative products supplement our range of other holsters, rather than compete directly against it. Their Minimalist holster, for instance, aims to secure the pistol with as little Kydex as possible, making for the smallest possible footprint.
Their Horizontal Mag Carrier also needs a mention. Carrying spare magazines can be a lot more difficult than their size suggest. Often the top of the magazine is pushed into the wearer's body. And pushed and pushed until you decide you'll take your chances with the ammunition in the pistol. By positioning their magazine carrier horizontally, pressure points against the wearer’s body are minimised, greatly increasing comfort for some body types.
While writing this series, I amused myself by trying to remember how many of our local manufacturers are family businesses. I surprised even myself with the number of family members that I've met. Wives, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, everybody pitches in.
One explanation for this is that we are in a relatively new industry. A lot of big names from my youth have disappeared, and people are starting to build an industry from scratch. This translates into a lot of dedication and commitment, ultimately carrying through to the passion for the products they offer.
Okay, it should have been DVC Technologies, but I already have a "D" and I need a "G". Plus everybody knows Garrett. He is the current South African IPSC Standard Division Champion. With a Glock nogal. (Wait, what? Did I say that out loud?) A real nice guy, from a real nice shooting family.
Garrett’s current line-up is mostly competition and training products, but I know he is working on some interesting new things as well. Subscribe to his Youtube channel (Garrett-John Evans), where he shares his vast knowledge and training drills. And some real nice stage videos.
Oh yes, we've also got our own line of locally manufactured products. Soon after I started, I realised that there is a good demand for CZ branded products, but import duties on clothing items sent prices on these through the roof. So we negotiated with CZ, and they awarded us a license to produce CZ branded shirts and caps locally. A while later, a friend had some CZ mugs printed for my birthday. I enjoyed these so much that added it to our range. I am also in talks with some other local manufacturers about some other interesting ideas.
I suppose that purchasing our imported line of products can also be considered supporting local, compared to importing it directly. Apart from the value we add by product knowledge, support and stock availability, import duties and VAT do make up a sizeable portion of the price you pay and that is... uhm... supporting local?
Matthew from Quantum Carry was actually one of the first local holster producers that I've contacted. His fit and finish were world-class from the start, and continuous improvement of his designs culminated in an enviable reputation for top class holsters. His Chameleon series takes a unique approach in terms of the number of mounting options and attachments included, and you'll often see it recommended by happy customers.
If you page through Ross Leather's website, you'll find endorsements from such legends as Louis Awerbuck and S.W.A.T. Magazine.
If you are looking for a leather holster or belt, this is where you want to look, especially if you're looking for something special for an older beauty. Their massive range of moulds means that you won't have to look anywhere else.
I can't talk about Ross Leather without mentioning Lindsay Ross' wicked sense of humour. Even when you've stuffed up an order, causing him extra trouble, you find yourself looking forward to his reply.
Ulti Grips makes for a nice conclusion to our series. Not only because I've now run out of alphabet, but it confirms the points I made about family. Part of the Daniel's Holsters extended family, their pre-cut grip tape exhibits the same attention to detail that we've come accustomed to. No wonder that I immediately placed an order when they introduced themselves to me on the first day of Huntex last year.
Available in granulated and rubberised for most popular pistols.
While this concludes our series on local manufacturers, I always keep an eye out for new local guys. Not only because they are part of the community, but because it usually translates into excellent quality for your Rand.