It’s amazing how little we know about the companies that have become household names in the shooting world. My experience with DeSantis Gunhide is the epitome of this statement. Back in 2018, I found myself at a Taurus media event in Okeechobee, Fla., having dinner with a number of colleagues when the topic of hometowns came up. Moments after I blurted out Long Island, Thomas Gomez said, “Oh wow, there’s a lot of industry there, like DeSantis Holsters.”
The History of DeSantis Holsters
Up to that point, I didn’t know that. A man from New Mexico, sitting across a dinner table in Florida, had to teach me that DeSantis’ headquarters is just a few miles from where I lay my head at night. So, after returning home, I set out on a mission. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. to beat the traffic on the Long Island Expressway as I headed west towards Amityville. When I arrived, I was greeted by Danny DeSantis, the oldest son, at a Goodfellas-style backdoor entrance.
Over a cup of coffee, Danny told me a little more about his family and the company they built. He explained that his father, Gene, started the company in 1972 when a friend in the FBI noticed the quality of his handmade holsters and started ordering a few for his associates in New York City. All of the early holsters were made completely by hand with no machinery while Gene was still a full-time college student. Danny wasn’t even a thought at this time, so the operation was headed up completely by the patriarch. However, when he was old enough to walk, Danny began helping out. His early start in the shipping department eventually led to the factory floor, where he filled several positions. Now, with more than 30 years of experience under his belt, he serves as the company’s president.
A Family Affair
The youngest of the DeSantis boys and the current warehouse manager, Chad, then walked in to introduce himself. His history is just like his brother’s—learn to talk, learn to walk, learn gun safety and learn to pack boxes. Looking down on his hip, I noticed he carried his handgun in one of the company’s best-selling leather holsters. It was refreshing to see that the beauty of fine gun leather isn’t completely lost on the younger generations.
As we walked through the foyer, I noticed a larger-than-life movie poster of Die Hard with Bruce Willis wearing his iconic shoulder holster. Brimming with pride, Chad said, “Yep, that’s one of ours. Bruce even asked for it by name in the newer films.” He continued, “Our holsters have made quite a few big appearances, such as in American Gangster and Law & Order. Many celebrities have worn our leather, like Chuck Norris in Invasion U.S.A. and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator.”
After a little more history, we briefly walked through the factory. Chad showed me the more than 70 sewing machines alongside countless molding, grinding, riveting and inspection stations; it made it clear just how big this company really is. As we made our way through the factory floor, he took me to the engineering room where some of the biggest ideas have become tangible prototypes.
This is just a little of the entire DeSantis story. Watch our exclusive video on DeSantis Holsters above. Also, read the entire story in the March 2020 issue of Tactical Life Magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.