DeSantis Gunhide Celebrates 50 Years of Holster-Making
Eve Flanigan 10.13.22
Long Island-based DeSantis Gunhide is celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary. At the Outdoor News America Writers’ Conference this week, industry reporters from across the nation heard from Chad DeSantis, co-owner of the company and son of founder Gene DeSantis. We got an insider’s view of the DeSantis legacy, as well as a look at what’s new in their holster lineup for winter 2022-23.
Gene DeSantis was an engineer who had a gun hobby back when Elton John had his first hits on the pop music scene. He decided to craft a shoulder holster for himself out of leather, and took it to his local gun store to get a critique. Another patron there was an FBI agent, who saw the holster and immediately thought it would be a great fit for himself and other officers. He placed an order for 100. Then and there, the DeSantis brand was born. Chad chuckled as he said his dad and that agent are still friends today.
From those humble but promising beginnings, a massive product line has grown. The company currently has just over 4,800 SKUs matching more than 650 individual guns. The greater SKU than gun number covers various holsters for the same gun, plus left/right-handed fits. The holsters are still handmade on Long Island with American leather and kydex. DeSantis Gunhide employs about 150 people, down from a high of 200 during the record gun-buying trend that took place during the Obama administration.
Keeping up with the market in most any industry requires keeping up with technology. Holsters are no exception. Chad shared the memory of his business partner brother and himself approaching their father regarding the purchase of a 3-D printer. He relented, insisting all the while that they didn’t need it and that the company would only purchase one, ever. That printer soon proved its worth, and in a short time, a second took its place on the production floor. The printers allow DeSantis to create dummy guns almost instantly after learning of new gun releases, so long as the gun company releases drawings or a sample to them. New holster fits can thus be in production soon after, or, in the case of the Springfield Armory Prodigy, simultaneously with the introduction of new gun models. Thanks to this capability and their longstanding relationships with most gun producers, DeSantis is often the first company with holsters for new guns. Their 3-D printers are also helping reduce waste and contain costs because they automatically select and perform the most efficient methods to cut sheets of Kydex or leather.
There’s no lack of creative energy at DeSantis Gunhide, even after 50 years in the business. The company has no less than five new products set for release this winter. Chad kindly shared some of them with writers at the conference. They are as follows:
- GRD Shoulder Rig: GRD stands for Gunhide Retention Device, their name for a kydex shell that provides solid, gun-specific retention. This winter, the GRD meets the traditional DeSantis shoulder holster, an FBI-style throwback, to provide modern retention for a classic design and eliminating the need for a retention strap. Look for this one to appear on their website in November. Price will be a bit above $100.
- Duty Holster: This is a brand new Level 3 retention holster for a duty belt. Like most new holsters today, it’ll be optics-ready. “A couple years ago, we were making room for lasers,” DeSantis said, “but today it’s red dots.” The holster pictured is a prototype and not a representation of the final product. The price on this one is TBA.
- Slim-Tuk 2.0: “The Slim-Tuk is by far our best seller. It adds nothing to the width of the gun,” said DeSantis. This year the Slim-Tuk will be the subject of numerous updates based on popular demand. A built-in claw will be added for grip concealment. There will also be room for a red dot sight, in addition to improved rigidity in the belt/holster interface. Price TBA.
- Tuckable IWB Mag Pouch: Built to complement the Slim-Tuk, the new magazine pouch will give concealed carriers a handy way to tote a second magazine, as well as tuck in a shirt if desired. Predicted price is $50-70.
- Wouldn’t We Like To Know: A good businessman never gives away all his secrets. DeSantis hinted at yet another new product that’s yet to be revealed. This one, along with the others on the list, will likely be revealed at one of the early 2023 trade shows.
Again this year, Outdoor News America conference organizer Joshua Sykes of Tennessee, co-owner of Blue August marketing company, did an outstanding job of pulling companies like DeSantis Gunhide and others together to create an enjoyable and educational event for members of the outdoor industry media. Conferences like this one are growing in popularity as they offer in-depth understanding of products and product development and serve as the basis for many new and ongoing working relationships between manufacturers and those who try out and report on products.