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While Cobra Buckles are excellent buckles, I’ve recently been introduced to a new SRB (slide release buckle) called the Raptor at TTPOA last week. I definitely consider the Raptor to have been one of the best new products at the show and I’ll tell you why.
First let me give you a brief background and history on Rigger’s Belts, I’ll start with their origin as being made by Parachute Riggers in the military. A Parachute Rigger is just as it sounds, they’re the group responsible for the rigging, repair and packing of parachutes in the military. I know for sure the Navy and Army have them as an “A” School (PR) and MOS respectively.
As riggers commonly work with parachute webbing and buckles, the Rigger’s Belt was born out of spare materials and worn as a symbol of pride by riggers. Surely brought to the public eye by an enterprising rigger, they’re now made by many gear companies utilizing both the common Parachute Harness Adapter Buckle and more recently Cobra Buckles.
At some time during their history, the idea to add in an attachment point was born out of necessity. Initially added to back up a Swiss Seat, as shown here in our Knot of the Week, a piece of hardware called a “V” Ring was sewn in to route your carabiner through after clipping in to a Swiss Seat. Just in case your Swiss Seat starts sagging or you somehow screw up your knots and it falls apart, at least you’d have something holding you in to the rope.
Standard Rigger’s Belts today are virtually bombproof and can realistically function as an emergency rappelling harness, trust me I did it with a 215 Gear Belt. However, manufacturers aren’t going to put that in their product descriptions.
The use of Cobra Buckle has been a welcome addition to Rigger’s Belts, as the standard parachute grade hardware used in buckles and “V” rings is prone to rusting. In the Navy I was issued a Rigger’s Belt in “rollback land” at BUD/s because we’d do buddy drags and our standard Navy issue belts we’d wear with our cammies kept breaking. Our pants always wound up with rust stains where the buckle resided from saltwater corrosion after hitting the surf.
Not only is the Cobra Buckle made of aluminum, which doesn’t rust, but they’re quick releasable and won’t open under tension. Many dismissed the Cobra Belt as a safety risk worried that it would open at an inopportune moment, but that’s clearly not the case. The introduction of the combo that 215 Gear came out with on their Ultimate Rigger’s Belt, Cobra Buckle and sewn attachment loop, is a fantastic option in my opinion.
There are a few downsides to the AustriAlpin Cobra Buckle though, primarily the increased cost associated with using them. Any equipment utilizing Cobra Buckles is always going to demand a premium over traditional parachute hardware, because of the higher price the belt manufacturer is going to pay to obtain it.
Not only that, but it’s also meant that Cobra Buckle Rigger’s Belts can’t be listed as Berry Compliant because the buckle isn’t made in the United States. They’re made in Austria. Update: It’s been pointed out in the comments that Cobra Buckles have been approved for use on Berry Amendment products.
AustriAlpin does have US distributors, which cuts down on shipping costs, but they’ve always been in the retail price range of $23 to $26 just for the buckle. Update: They can also be found between $20.30 and $24.50 thru distributor websites like Paragear.com.
The last hang up I’ve always had is that while Cobra Buckles are offered in Black, OD and Tan, the finish is glossy and reflective. Not that it’s a huge hang up on a belt buckle, but it’s something that’s always bugged me.
The first thing that drew me to the Raptor, being showcased at the Marz Tactical Booth at TTPOA, was the flat coloration. I immediately thought, “oh man, why didn’t anyone do that sooner?” After talking with Mike, owner of Marz Tactical Gear and Octavio Cazares, R&D director for JBC CORP, I really saw the merits of the Raptor buckle.
Octavio handed me a complete spec package that highlights all of the testing that the Raptor has undergone, which includes exceeding NFPA 1983 Section 188.8.131.52 (load bearing test) and MIL-STD 810F (salt spray and blowing sand/dust). While these testing protocols may not mean much to you, suffice to say it’s guaranteed not to open under load or have any issues in salt water/sandy conditions. (See loop configuration testing results below)
Made of the same 7075 aluminum alloy as the Cobra Buckle, the US Patent-Pending Raptor uses high-strength solid stainless pins in assembly and is available in Coyote Tan, Foliage Green and Matte Black. In talking with Octavio, they can produce any Pantone color if you’re buying in quantity and they’re even looking into patterns (think camo) for their new hardware. Sizes offered currently are below and each come in dual adjustable, single adjustable male or female and non-adjustable male or female.
- AD-218-25 – 1″/25mm (1.7 oz.) – 12 kN/2000 lbs. – Pulled to 2,400 lbs. and held for 1 min., pulled to destruction and broke at 3,480 lbs.
- AD-218-38 – 1 1/2″/25mm (2.5 oz.) – 18 kN/4000 lbs. – Pulled to 2,473 lbs. and held for 1 min., pulled to destruction and broke at 4,290 lbs.
- AD-218-45 – 1 3/4″/45mm (2.6 oz.) – 18 kN/4000 lbs. – Pulled to 2,473 lbs. and held for 1 min., pulled to destruction and broke at 5,110 lbs.
- AD-218-50 – 2″/50mm (2.8 oz.) – 18 kN/4000 lbs. – No load bearing test data provided
Hopefully you can see that the human body is going to break long before this buckle will!
Update: The specs on the AustriAlpin buckles can be found here.
Mike from Marz Tactical Gear had a few sample belts made up at TTPOA and said that they do have their Cobra Buckle Belt available with the new Raptor Buckle (the white colored text in the photo of the belts above was on sample pieces and isn’t on the production buckles). To inquire about purchasing (minimum order 200), you can find JBC CORP’s contact info on their Website. Details on the Raptor Buckle will be on their site shortly.
While no official retail pricing has been released yet, I’ve been told by JBC CORP that they’ll sell at a significantly lower price than the Cobra Buckles. Update: I’ll update this article with Raptor buckle pricing when it’s officially released.
One last thing I’ll say on the AustriAlpin Cobra Buckle is the dependency on the mechanical release tabs to be free of debris in order to operate. It takes a lot to clog the release on a Cobra Buckle and I’ve only done this trying to purposely test whether it would jam and has never happened to me under normal circumstances.
While I haven’t had the chance to test this out on the Raptor Buckle, it’s likely an abnormal amount on debris might do the same. That being said, I’m anxious to start seeing Raptor Buckles start making their way into the community and personally see the competition with AustriAlpin as a good thing for the industry.
You definitely can’t beat made in the USA!
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I have a few tactical belt. Blackhawk CQB and tactical belt with Raptor buckle. Every belt with Raptor buckle acquired an advantage, the identity for a particular purpose. For example:
My Shooter's belt come with 2 "Raptor buckle + Industrial grade nylon loop positioned on the back of the belt. 3 layers of 2" durable Mil Spec Type 13 webbing rated at 5,000 lbs with 7 rows of reinforced stitching. Has been used and tested. No problem and safely.
And my Riggers belt come with 1.5 "Raptor buckle + 1" aluminum raptor no loop. 5 rows of heavy duty stitching. Double layered 1 "webbing Millspec Type-13 rated at 5,000 lbs. No problems and safe to use for short distance rappel.(Below 10mtr).
Both material, hardware and craftmanship complies with OSHA and ANSI A10.14 requirement VER:FH042811.
Already wear more than a year and tested in the field. It is better to use a harness for safety. What kind riggers belt we use it only an option as a second choice when emergency. Repeated, when emergency.
What I saw from the users comment here, of course, they will defend their usefulness brand is the best.
The figure below shows. How Raptor is used as a tactical shooter belt. Any problem with that?
real and truthful heh?
best check out the independent tests released by ctoms:
seems octavio's boogyman competition is telling it like it is
oh and while we are at truth .... the raptor is the asian made presto buckle in minor tweeking
and guess what... its even made by same asian knock-off artists (ace metal / adf ) famous in the mountaineering and fall-stop industry for ripping off authentic safety hardware companies
and no i don't work for the boogeyman either!
Wow. It's funny how some companies can't take competition. Sometimes "taking the high road" just makes you look better, not to mention it keeps you out of the shit that is piled 4 foot high by the squabbling. Good luck to raptor buckle.
Hello, my name is Octavio Cazares and I developed the RAPTOR buckle. For REAL and TRUTHFUL test results, not speculation or competitor BS, check out: www.raptorbuckle.com. If you have any questions, my phone number is: 757-687-0019. My e-mail is: [email protected]
IMO, ADF and its affiliated AMP, inc. do not practice ethical business and etiqutte; one salesperson I've experienced. I would not use Presto buckle nor Raptor on any belt I built.
I'm developing a wilderness pack and would like to use the raptor in the design. Where can I order the raptor?
Great write up, I hope to stir up the dispute once more with an offering from Stubai Austria. http://www.stubai-bergsport.com/buckle_click_fix_flex_xl_adjustable_produkte_art_aWQ9ZnVscG1lcyZsPWVuZ2xpc2gmc3VjaGU9JmVpbnRyYWc9ODMzMjky.html
Actually I was wondering if you have any knowledge or experience with this brand of buckle, as I think the Design is quite similiar to the Cobra but I'm diggin the shape a little more. Thoughts?
These buckles were advertised talked about and have disappeared not to mention my samples never showed up months ago?? Oh well.
At 215 Gear, we pride ourselves on the fact we go to great lengths to use all American made products and services. In fact, if we can use a product or service in our own 757, we do what we can to support our local economy. We also take great pride in using the finest materials that money can buy. This is the case with the Cobra Buckle from AustriAlpin. From strictly a price point, they are one of the single most expensive components we use. However, there is NO equivalent. We would not manufacture a product we haven’t or wouldn’t trust our own lives to. When manufacturing a life saving product, no expense is too great. We have yet to reject a single component, due to inoperability, function, or even surface defects. AustriAlpin provides a world class product, with great customer service. We stand behind our decision to use only the best.
I've seen both companies buckles up close and from a common mans point of view, the cobra superceeds the other by far. When you hold and examine them side by side you will see and feel the difference . You gotta get out there and look at 'em, touch 'em and read about 'em. The choice will be simple. Love the comment section . It's good for the companies and great for the guy who's trying to make an educated decision.
I just had a look at some Raptor samples. I can't see how they compare to the cobras. Alternative, maybe... but not comparable and not one I'm going to use. First off, they are at least 30% bigger than the cobras. Second, there's no way they are CNC machined like promoted. If they were, the parts wouldn't be so rough and edgy. On closer inspection I noticed that the release clips are warped or bent from the obvious production method - re: stamping. Lastly, the bulky rivets on one of them were loose enough to actually move up and down (eek). American made is great - if there's a comparison. I just don't see one.
I would like to run these on some sew up tests of my own some day. US Rigging Supply sells someting identical called the Phython Buckle. I am forever sold on the Cobra Buckle.
This would have been better in a email to us instead of making it look like Bryan had no clue before writing this article. I can assure everyone we do a lot of research on our articles before posting them. We're not here to pump out article after article just to put content out.
That being said sometimes we get things wrong, plain and simple. Anyone who has contacted ITS with corrections to something we wrote about has always gotten a response and the appropriate corrections made.
I wear a riggers belt with the AustriAlpin Cobra buckle at work 5 days a week and its a great product. A little competition never hurt anyone though.
Dear ITS Tactical / Brian Black,
Interesting article although as a piece of "journalism" I found it to be full of factual errors and far from being objective. To be clear, I'm a long time user and fan of the Cobras. I am concerned that your article's errors create misinformation and may have negative consequence for not only AustriAlpin's brand but also for OEM manufacturers like myself who use their products. I have samples of the Raptors and from my perspective they don't compare in any respect. Anyway, about your article, for the record:
1) Your statement on the costing of AustriAlpin's Cobra products is GROSSLY erred. I don't disagree that it's expensive hardware (you get everything you pay for though) but your $18 to 24 comment is wrong. I have used the product for years and the prices have always been between 13 and 16, depending on the model.
2) You state that, "the Raptor Side Release Buckle System represents a stronger... buckle option" to the Cobra. Again is is ENTIRELY FALSE. I have 3rd party test reports for both companies and the Cobras are rated higher for MBS (max tensile break strength). The problem is that you are reading the facts wrong as AustriAlpin publishes their capacities in "frame / straight pull configuration" where as JBC is listing their "single sample" MBS test results in loop configuation (I don't know about you but a single sample MBS rating seems extremely subjective and I wouldn't put my life on the line with it). That means, you / they are overstating the ACTUAL raptor tensile strength of their products by 100%. If you want to compare actual apples to apples the Cobra products (across the size range) have a maximum loop configuration test tensile strength (the same format as the Raptor MBS tests) of :
1" cobra : 24.3kN (5467 lb)
1.75" cobra: 24.45 (5501 lb)
2" cobra: 26.7kN (6007 lb)
Clearly, your facts are wrong. The Cobras are, in fact, much stronger.
3) You are partially incorrect about the finish color options on Cobra buckles. They have been available in subdued or Matte Black for years. I do agree with you on the past shiny finishes per the coyote and foliage but that has changed. I was told that as of this April all speciality colors are now produced in dull matte finish. While on the topic of finishes it is important to understand that AustriAlpin uses a special "Anodizing" process which produces an extremely durable and scratch/chip resistance finish. As far as I can tell from my samples the Raptors are painted or coated which isn't remotely as durable as electro anodizing. Maybe that's why my samples are already looking beat up.
4) From what I understand, Raptor buckles are NOT US patented - they are supposedly "patent pending" - as stamped on the parts themselves but patent pending and Patented are not one in the same. Furthermore, from what I've heard, if there is an application it is based around the adjuster bar design (of which another Poster - JONES- already said it was a "deal breaker"). For the record, it's illegal to claim "patented" when something is only "patent pending". Maybe JBC can comment as their literature is likewise misleading on this topic.
5) Your statement that Riggers Belts with Cobra buckles can not be listed as Berry Compliant may be debatable. I certainly don't pretend to be an expert but maybe this post will get such debate going as there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about Berry. As I understand it, Cobra buckles, which are made in a "Favoured Nation' can be accepted under Berry Provisions (per DFARS 225.872-1). Additionally, per DFARS 252.225-7014; the definition of specialty metals does not include Aluminum Alloys. Therefore, Berry Amendment provisions restricting the origin of “Specialty Metals” do not apply to either Raptor or Cobra buckles which are made of Aluminum alloy. I'd love to hear what other posters have to say as I am not sure myself. Regardless, the military obviously loves the Cobras and anecdotely they seem to allowable just by their sheer presence in the market.
In closing, I think you owe it to the market, current cobra users, and in the interest of fair and competant journalism to review your statements and openly address / correct your obvious errors.
Good stuff, Looking for someone to start running a 2" version for a Molle Sleeve inner belt. Hopefully not in only Black. FDE Hint Hint
Word direct from Marz is that once the pic on the website changes to the Raptor they will have them in stock, should be about a month or so. Price should be about the same since they are looking at some reinforcement changes to the belt design.
We offer a 2 inch now in Black. Marz Tactical is working on developing a LE Duty Belt now. Be on the lookout for it!
Any chance they're gonna make a 2 1/4" version that would work with duty belts in black? That would be awesome and a great market since there isn't an Austriaplin version.
Might as well throw my .02 in here...
I got three Raptors in a couple of weeks ago, and they are very nice buckles to say the least. The powder coat finish is nice and matte. The downside for me as a manufacturer is the locking bar. There is no edge break on the bar, so when it is used on a belt it is very, very difficult to adjust. That is a deal breaker for me. Now I know some folks won't care about that, but, if you have to adjust something more than once, you won't like it for long. I had high hopes for these buckles, since they are made here (U.S.), but AustriAlpin Cobra buckles have been approved for use on Berry Amendment products, so that not a worry, for me anyway.
The buckles are wider than the standard Cobra buckles as well:
1" (25mm) Cobra = 1.58" Raptor = 1.82" (Adjuster side = 1.87")
1.5" (38mm) Cobra = 2.01" Raptor = 2.30" (Adjuster side = 2.34")
1.75" (45mm) Cobra = 2.29" Raptor = 2.53" (Adjuster side = 2.57")
The only buckle that I am interested in is the 1" buckle, since the webbing I use is thinner than standard riggers webbing, they adjust with ease. We'll see what unfolds in the coming weeks.
Very nice, I really like the Cobra buckles and the one on my VTAC belt has held up great. Coincidently I just ordered a 215 gear belt yesterday.
I have a prototype for a wilderness pack and would like to utilize the raptor in the design. Where can I purchase it?
First off my article is actually very objective to both companies and I myself am both a fan and user of the Cobra Buckles as well. In fact, we have 4 of them hanging in our closet on belts right now. You obviously work closely with AustriAlpin to be addressing these things as you have, so I'd like to address my so called "errors" with you up front and here in the comments since you're questioning my journalistic integrity.
1. Here's the price of AustriAlpin's Cobra Products straight from their Website http://www.austrialpin.net/products/cobra/cobraretails.asp I see from $23 to $26 so if the article needs to be amended my original price quote of $18 to $24 should be raised. I'll do that shortly. I have seen them for between $20.30 and 24.50 at paragear.com and will update that too. I also agree with you get what you pay for, but as a US Citizen I try my best to not only promote products that are made in the USA but that offer alternatives to what's out there.
2. In regards to the frame/straight pull configuration vs. the loop configuration. I'll amend the article to state that the Raptor is based on a loop configuration and make adjustments to the article where needed. I along with probably 99% of our readers have never even heard of the difference in testing protocols, but I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. Since you have 3rd party tests that I, nor anyone on the web seems privy to, a link to those would be great. I'd love to add that loop configuration test data for AustriAlpin you list into the article, is that available on their Website? (I see some 3rd party data that's mostly in German, I'll add the link to those in the article)
3. If AustriAlpin buckles have been available for years in subdued how come I've never seen them being used by manufacturers in this industry or seen photos of them on the AustriAlpin Website? Again, all I can write about is what information I can gather off of a company's Website. I see Matte Black listed there, but it's still not the same matte coloration I saw being used in the Raptor Buckles.
4. You're 100% correct about Raptor's not being US Patented, they're US Patent Pending which I've confirmed with JBC CORP on the phone. I'll update the article to reflect that. I was just going by the literature I was provided, which lists them as having a US Patent. I can definitely see how the adjuster bar difference could mean the deal breaker as Jones mentioned, but I'd still like to get hands on with one for myself. Until I can, I'll defer to him on that since he made one of the Cobra belts we have and he utilizes Cobra buckles every day.
5. Jones mentions that Cobra's have been approved for use on Berry Amendment products, which is definitely a good thing and I'll update the article with the DFARS regulations.
In closing, I would encourage you in the future to address problems you have with a company directly with them and not on a Website through the comments by questioning journalistic integrity. I will also state that if this becomes a war of companies in the comments, as articles have been in the past on ITS Tactical, I won't hesitate to close down the comments for this article. This isn't a place to air business' dirty laundry.
Thanks for your comments,
Woody, I offer a 2" Cobra Duty Belt with a 2" buckle in Black, Coyote Brown (Marpat), and Foliage Green. http://www.jonestactical.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=6 Cheers, JT
Jones, Thank you for your comments. As for the adjuster bar issue, There are versions of all RAPTOR Buckle sizes with a thinner adjuster bar for use with thicker/heavier webbing types like that typically used on Rigger’s belts. We also offer RAPTOR Buckles in double adjustable Male/Female sides. The entire RAPTOR SRB system is in the process of being placed on the QPL/QML listing through DLA. I will advise as soon as they are listed. The RAPTOR is slightly wider but thinner in profile and lighter in weight than the Cobra while offering the same or better performance characteristics. Over the next several weeks, more of the RAPTOR Product line will be unveiled. Be on the lookout for it. JBC
Woody, Jones products are great. The recent belt I received from him a few weeks ago are stronger then my Ares and seem to wear better as well.