• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 92: Jackass (not the Movie)

Updated: Oct 12

Rick Gallagher founded a company he called Jackass, in Chicago IL 1972. That's the official date according to the State but like all gunleather entrepreneurs, he is happy to claim a date a few years earlier. Why scrabble for a few years more when your company has been around until today? A mystery. But I'll give him this, he is five years older than I; and we're both Capricorns.

Rick told me, while he was a client customer of my Nichols Innovation, that he named the company after himself! His words, not mine. And on the subject of company names, he renamed the operation as Galco in 1980 and likes to add to the 'fog of legend' by claiming it stands for Great American Leather Co :-). As if. In at least one interview he acknowledged the obvious: Galco is a contraction of Gallagher Company.

Galco was moved from IL to AZ in 1983 and we'll speculate it was either for a better business environment or for better weather. I spent a month in Chicago one day in January and it is bitter! Whereas here in QLD it is much more like AZ, weather wise. Nothing like Chicago's crime rate here though.

Jackass started out on coattails of Paris Theodore, in copying the models that came from Seventrees and therefor, their unique construction style. Just before the name was change to Galco the switch began to emulating (copying) the Bianchi range and we were the obvious target: a market giant then, we were the major innovators.

If Paris had lasted until the pancake fad began (it's still going) I agree with Rick: it would have looked like this with the pocket forced out from the backside just as Paris and Chic made their gunleather --

Gallagher has his own patents, too, largely centered around his efforts to break into polymer laminates against both Uncle Mike's and Safariland. But it is for their gunleather that both Jackass and Galco are remembered; the latter more so than the former. So much so that I've been know to call Galco the 'heir apparent' of the Bianchi crown, for quality styling, design and execution. Never mind that none of that is original, but rather derivative of the Bianchi world-class R&D center.

Some of the Jackass direct knock-offs of Seventrees' products; to the point where one would need to see the markings on the backside of both to know which was which:

To his credit (?) Gallagher next branched out into Bianchi clones. One of my favorites, and his, is this knockoff the Ruger by Bianchi holster that is known as the Ruger Practical Holster (I doubt he knows its origin story; that's the trouble with copying):

Safariland's holsters got a Galco treatment, too; right down to the odd little 'curl' at the rear sight, in the forward welt:

Galco makes some superb designs (you're welcome) but some crazy ones, too. Crazy because they're ridiculously top-heavy to the point that someone had to make up the phrase 'get a good gunbelt' to keep their holsters upright and their pistols in their holsters. One would need a thick, stiff belt to force the holster upright when they have their center of gravity so high that the cylinder of a 44 snubby is well above the belt line.

The company has touted its innovation in creating the SOB (hey, he could have named his company that) but it's from television's Tightrope!, a 1959 crime drama:

Galco makes its products in the same manner as Bianchi Holsters did when it was a real gunleather company; this is the oil bath process that is applied largely to achieve the famous Bianchi color more than for weatherproofing (Lawrence had to apply masses of it to achieve that and ended up with a greasy result) or for leather strength (ideally created by the tanner instead):

For 'get a good gunbelt' types there was also a belt buckle:

Made in Chicago, of course, by Lewis Buckles.

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