I will admit – I’m curious. I just can’t help it! I’ve always wanted to peek behind the scenes, learn how things are made, dissect a business model or look under the hood. Curiosity is natural, but we don’t always get to feed it. Sad, I know. So what I’ve been doing here with this blog (aside from poking fun at myself) is sharing fun experiences for everyone to enjoy with me. And, boy, did I get a treat this time!
Last December while I was in L.A. doing this, I managed to sneak in a visit to the Safariland Headquarters in Ontario, CA. Yes, people, that’s in California, not Canada – they are funny about guns there…. First of all, I was psyched to receive a personal invitation from the founder himself – Mr. Neale Perkins – the man, who along with John Bianchi, started an empire by making leather holsters in his garage. A true Bill Gates story – the man’s a legend! To top it all off, it was my birthday too and, as a treat, the Safariland folks showed me some awesome hospitality. I learned a lot and here’s an insider look behind this now multi-million dollar operation:
When I stole (yes, stole) my first Safariland holster from hubby I didn’t know much about the brand. I thought they only make competition gear – after all, that’s all I’d ever seen. Turns out more than 90% of their business is from law enforcement & riot gear. Their tagline is “Together, we save lives” and let me tell ya – these people take this stuff seriously! Don’t believe me? Check out this pic of their counter of people added to their “Saves Club.” Yes, just like you guessed – this is number of LEO lives saved by their gear! It hangs in the front lobby of the HQ building and is such a huge part of their culture – talk about having a meaningful job!
And when I say they take it seriously – they do:
How do they know it will stop a bullet? Because they test it – duh! They have 2 ballistic labs on the premises (soundproof, at that) where lucky technicians like the one pictured below get to blow stuff up for a living. He gave me a tour and explained the elaborate quality control process but lost me after “ballistic coefficient” and “sectional density”…. 🙂
Then I got to play with the water jet machine. No, not really, but pretend was fun too.
And the best part about making holsters – well, they have to fit real guns! I took a detour to one of the (many) gun safes but totally got busted stuffing my purse. Dang! Next time…
And while we are on the subject of how holsters are made – it all starts in the R&D lab with prototypes and input from heavy users like myself:
Then craftsmen like the man below, a 37-year veteran with the company, make the magic happen with their bare hands. Ok, maybe some proprietary machinery might be involved too – but that’s top secret and you didn’t hear it from me! 😉
Last but not least, I discovered that Safariland’s main facility is also the place where a ton of major car maker’s tire covers and floor mats are manufactured, including such for giants like Toyota, Chevrolet and my personal favorite – Jeep!
All in all, it was a great trip and I will always be grateful to the man who “discovered” me and always showed me kindness and hospitality – the one & only Scott Carnahan (yes, he is a shooter too and a motorcycle daredevil)! Thanks for everything and see you next time.
And this, folks, is how my favorite shooting accessories (and a bunch of other stuff) is made. Where should I sneak in next?
Your friendly neighborhood gun lady,
If curious about what other products they offer, or just want to learn about their initiatives, visit: www.safariland.com