cobra buckle

Where Cobra Buckles Come From

A lot of gun belt and tactical belt companies have sprung up in the past year or so advertising a cobra buckle on their belts. Are they so much better than other types of belt fasteners?


They certainly can be. A legitimate cobra buckle (there are fakes) is a serious piece of hardware, so a belt that has a good example is a good piece of equipment.


Just What Is A Cobra Belt Buckle?


what is a cobra buckle

If one goes by the emergence of new gun belt designs, it would seem that the cobra belt buckles are a relative newcomer - someone must have come up with these recently. In fact, they aren't; it's that they haven't been used too much as actual belt buckles that people wear.


They aren't too complex. A male end of the buckle has a prong, which goes into the female end and "clicks" shut. It stays there until the two release tabs are pressed and the buckle opens.


Cobra buckles exist in a unique space in that they are proprietary and they aren't. That sounds confusing, but here's how it works: AustriAlpin, an Austrian (see how that works?) company that makes rigging and other equipment for parachuting, cargo applications, rescue and military gear makes the buckles. The COBRA Buckle is a quick-release, load-bearing buckle.


In other words, the buckle can take a lot of punishment and isn't likely to open unless someone's opens it.


Naturally, that means there's a lot of applications in any endeavor where a load-bearing strap is required. Mountaineering, search and rescue, cargo, parachuting, tactical endeavors, etc., many of which are for the military.


Anyway, the design has been around for some time, but consumer applications - such as tactical belts - are a more recent development. As it has begun happening, a number of derivative products (in other words similar buckles) have begun turning up.


However, the buckle design has become so associated with the name, the term "cobra buckle" is used to describe belt buckles of that type - sort of like how the term "velcro" is used to describe hook and loop fabrics despite all hook and loop fasteners are made by the Velcro company and not all polystyrene foam actually being made by Dow Chemical, the maker of Styrofoam.


Are They Strong Belt Buckles?


strong buckle

Cobra buckles, at least those built to AustriAlpin's standards or close to them, are pieces of hardware rated for serious work. Various versions are rated to load bearing strengths of several tons; the base model has a tensile strength of 2,000 pounds, some models 4,000 pounds and some models up to 11,000 pounds - that's 5.5 TONS of pull before breakage.


In other words, the buckle is used for cargo straps, parachute rigging, and can take more pull than what the typical person is capable of subjecting the belt to...that is, if it's a legitimate AustriAlpin model or at least a cobra buckle that's made to the same or similar specifications.


Additionally, the buckles are designed to work under adverse conditions, so dust, dirt, moisture and even saltwater don't adversely affect them.


The real-deal cobra buckles are serious pieces of hardware and as a result, any gun belt that's equipped with them is going to be able to stand up to anything that the average person can throw at them and then some.


Except For Knock-Off Buckles


knock off buckle

Low-quality knock-offs, on the other hand...are just big metal buckles. They look cool, and if someone is into being "tacticool" then a fake cobra buckle will definitely do the trick.


That said, the real-deal cobra buckles will keep a belt fastened until the wearer triggers the release, which is a good thing to know. Some models of belt with cobra buckles could even be used as a tow strap or a climbing harness in a pinch.


In other words, they are certainly a viable choice of carry belt.


The only potential drawback is that while a cobra buckle certainly will put a belt together like nothing else, they are a bit obvious. There are some much more understated belt buckles available, should that matter to the person carrying.


Jake Smith 

About The Author


Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.

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