- Buyer's Guide
ITW Nexus / AustriAlpin GhillieTex Cobra Buckle
Two of the best hardware manufacturers in the world recently teamed up on a special project and the result is something revolutionary.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.