From a focus on horizontal shoulder systems to innovations in how best to conceal today’s smaller carry guns, Galco International Ltd. this year is celebrating 50 years of providing leather holsters.
The company got its start under the name Famous Jackass Leather Co. in 1969 in Chicago. Soon afterwards, company founder Richard Gallagher partnered with a police officer to design the shoulder rig. A few years—and a new company name and location later—the design rocketed Galco to fame when one of the “Miami Vice” cops made it part of his ensemble.
“When I designed that first horizontal shoulder holster for a real police officer back in the early 1970s, I would have never guessed a fictional vice cop would make it world famous,” Gallagher said.
The rig was later renamed the Miami Classic to pay homage to its television history.
Throughout its decades of business, Galco has devised dozens of patents for innovations that have made it one of the premier holster manufacturers.
Although its focus has been on leather—the most common holster material—Galco has responded to market changes over time.
It was one of the early pioneers of Kydex when the company first began using the material in the early 1980s.
While other companies have responded to today’s growth in compact carry guns by putting out flimsy nylon holsters, Galco developed its Carry Lite line of higher-performance, moderately priced products.
Today, Galco produces the KingTuk line that brings the best of Kydex and leather together in a product.
“It’s hard to believe 50 years have passed since those early days in Chicago. ... looking back, what I remember most is the tremendous sense of excitement, optimism, accomplishment and camaraderie we shared from the beginning,” Gallagher said.
Today, Galco calls Phoenix home as it continues its quest to produce fine holsters and accessories.