ITW Nexus / AustriAlpin GhillieTex Cobra Buckle

by , August 19, 2013

Two of the best hardware manufacturers in the world recently teamed up on a special project and the result is something revolutionary.

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 1

AustriAlpin is one of our favorite hardware makers, they’re responsible for bringing us the amazing Cobra quick release buckles, often seen on Bedouin, Defy Bags, etc. These chunky bits are considered to be the strongest buckles in the world, supporting up to 2,000 lbs per unit. They’re all rigorously tested so they can be used in life or death situations where performance is critical, such as climbing, paragliding, military special forces gear, etc. It just so happens that the industrial aesthetic look they run with, is just as great as they perform.  Simply put, they’re the best in the world, proven time and time again.

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 2

However, being the best generally means it won’t come cheap. Each buckle is made in the Stubia region of Austria, a place not known for its cheap labor. Labor here is expensive, especially when well-trained professionals with fancy degrees are working the production floor. A combination of aluminium, brass and steel go into each buckle, which continues to drive costs up. Throw in development time, load testing machines, quality control and additional costs – you’re looking at about $19-$25 per buckle. Yes, per buckle. Though they’re worth it, sometimes their use is a bit of overkill. A messenger flap will no doubt self-destruct long before the buckle reaches its breaking point.

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 3

ITW Nexus North America saw an opportunity. As makers of some of the highest quality military-spec plastic hardware on the market (you’ll see their stuff on Triple Aught Design, Mystery Ranch, etc), they kept hearing requests from their customers for a cheaper Cobra buckle. Among other desired improvements on this nearly flawless hardware bit, ITW has some of the most cutting edge manufacturing, polymer product design and development expertise in the world. They just needed to lean a bit on AustriAlphin’s existing load bearing hardware technologies to find the right balance.

A little over a year ago we heard rumours of these two giants linking up and as of this month, the wait is finally over.

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 13

Announcing the ITW Nexus / AustriAlpin GhilleTex Cobra Buckle. It’s been nicknamed “GT Cobra” and is constructed from 100% polymer, this unit still can handle 500 lb, 40% stronger on average than the standard side release buckle. They’re also easier (and more fun) to operate than the side release design. The all-plastic construction allows the unit to be lighter, quieter, pass through a metal detector, and the GhillieTex technology in the Acetyl material produces a very low infra-red signature (meaning they don’t stand out when viewed through IR vision).

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 11

Since they’re produced on US soil, they’re completely Berry amendment compliant for government/military use. A non-obvious benefit of these Cobra GT’s, just like their all-metal cousin, any size female half can fit any size male half (shown a few images up in the original AustriAlpin Cobra buckle, as I only received one complete GT Cobra buckle – size 1.75″). For example, you could use a 1.5″ male half, clipped into a 2.0″ female. Lots of potential for customizing, upgrading or field repair. Wins all around.

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 14

Most importantly, these GT Cobra buckles are considerably cheaper to produce and more affordable to purchase, coming in between $15.40 and $19.40 per unit (40% off for wholesale). As of early August (2013), these just started hitting distributor shelves, which is strangely exciting for us. Available in 1.5″, 1.75″, 2.0″ (38mm, 44mm, 50mm), you’re certain to see these popping up on all sorts of carry products this year and for the next few to come, we can guarantee that.

ITW Cobra GT Buckle 12

  • Joey

    Taylor, have you tried these buckles? They squeak like a little mouse, and I the action is far from the smoothness I’d expect.

    • Taylor Welden

      Hey Joey,

      Yep – I have have the 1.75″ version sitting on my desk (photographed in this post).

      Though it doesn’t make that awesome metal *clink* that the original Cobra does, it still sounds pretty nice. I can’t seem to replicate the squeakiness, very quiet in fact. The metal option sounds like a pistol and this GT plastic sounds like a pistol equipped with a silencer. This particular unit is buttery smooth. Though I hate to say it… probably even smoother than the original Cobra. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the original over this new plastic any day of the week, but for brands/clients/projects/products where cost is a very limiting factor, these GT Cobras seem like a great option. Perhaps you got a defective GT Cobra unit?

      • Joey

        Good to hear that you’ve had a different experience than I had. The buckles I handled were during a meeting with ITW during a trade show this summer.

        • ITW NEXUS

          JOEY, you have a 1st shot proto unfinished sample, hence the noise issue. PLEASE Scrap it and email us your address, We can replace it. THIS is why we don’t like handing out prototypes! JB

          • Joey

            That’s why you didn’t give me any samples :) The only one I have handled was at the ITW booth.
            We’ve already ordered some samples for our reference library. Based on Taylor’s raving review I’m sure they are far better than the 1st shot.

  • AustriAlpin

    Great article guys – THANKS !
    Just wanted to make a important few corrections:

    1) the price listed for the AustriAlpin designed / ITW manufactured, GT COBRA is quite incorrect. Retail prices are actually between $15.40 and $19.40 per buckle (depending on size and variation). Wholesale prices for OEM accounts / volume buyers / military contractors etc are approx. 40% less.

    2) Regular AustriAlpin metal buckles retail for between $19 and 25 per buckle (depending on size). These can be found online at Wholesale prices are likewise (as above) 40% less.

    3) AustriAlpin metal buckles have been used for several years in are specified in countless US military projects and applications. There is NO issue with Berry compliance and in fact they are admissable per DFARS 225.872-1 and as COTS items. Furthermore, specialty metals provisions do not apply as this product is made of aluminum – an exempt alloy.

    For your clients information there are 3 master distributors for GT COBRA buckles
    – AustriAlpin Inc. (
    – Perlane (
    – Fastening Systems (

    Again – thank you for the great artiicle, kind words, and support!
    Kind regards,

    • Taylor Welden

      Thank you for the clarifications! We’ll update them now!

      We love your products, best in the world.

      Might be fun to do a feature article / test on the original Cobra buckle (and a few variations)!

  • Tony Cobb

    While I LOVE BOTH these buckles, I do have some issues with the pricing of the new GT Cobra.
    I was under the impression that the 100% poly buckle would be a cost effective version of the original Cobra buckle? After reading this review it seems like in most instances they would only be few dollars cheaper or even the same price.
    I’m sure you’re well aware that almost anyone can find ITW SR buckles for “any size” for around $1 Dollar each.

    Don’t get me wrong these new GT Cobras buckles kick arse and most likely will outlive any other plastic buckle on the market. I just can’t justify spending $15-$19 EACH for a couple of these plastic buckles, (I would buy only a handful for my small bag company) with shipping/taxes I would be only a few bucks away from purchasing the metal versions?
    I was expecting these buckles to be AT LEAST half the price of the Cobra buckles which I can find online shipped for $24 bucks each, spendy, but worth the extra for performance and tech/cool factor of an all metal buckle.
    I’m guessing the GT Cobras will sell for around $17-$20 each shipped?
    So I’m looking at a savings of only about $4-$7 bucks a buckle?
    Sorry but I just can’t justify spending that much on a plastic buckle.
    I would spend the extra few dollars on the real Cobra buckles any day!
    I can only imagine how much it costs to develop and produce a new buckle for market, and I applaud you for getting it done with a beautiful product!!!
    If the GT Cobra was much cheaper ($8-$10) I’d think it was worth it, but right now I would only buy the metal versions.

  • Mike Lowery

    “I was expecting these buckles to be AT LEAST half the price of the Cobra buckles which I can find online shipped for $24 bucks each, spendy, but worth the extra for performance and tech/cool factor of an all metal buckle.”

    Where are you seeing this? If you’re going by the prices listed on the Austrialpin website, you have to add +$16 for shipping.

    I have not been able to find a single metal buckle for less than $38 SHIPPED.

  • Tony Cobb
  • Chad Yonkman

    Bummed on the pricing as well. When I saw these were coming out, I was stoked on a new price competitive option for future projects. Cost is too high for an all plastic buckle. Hoped it could be a premium replacement for SR, but not even close.

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