In the last 7 months or so of writing ATRG I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to many people within the Airsoft community, Mostly players… Some shop or manufacturing business owners and more than my fair share of fellow content producers.
On the whole it’s been a great experience and has given me an appreciation of how many people we have that not only play but also contribute a massive amount into the Airsoft community.
One such business which is uncommonly quiet on social media (Save for the essential Facebook and Instagram accounts) but a household name nonetheless is TacBelts UK, A one man operation under the stewardship of Andy… Who also happens to be a regular at my home site and all round nice bloke.
His business has developed rapidly from making the occasional little bit of gear for friends and fellow players to an established, International business delivering to customers and organisations around the globe.
It’s highly likely you’ve seen his work even if your didn’t know it’s origin, I’d place money on seeing some of his handiwork at the majority of sites in the UK… Certainly his patches are a common sight at Milsim and themed games up and down the country, Certainly if I’m attending!
Here’s some (And by no means all) of the other products he’s made in the past and continues to offer;
- Lower face protection
- Suppressor covers
- Admin pouch zips
- Earpro headbands
- Laser Cut Patches
- BB Bags
- Custom tailored gear and pouches
With his eyes open for opportunities and his heart close to the beat of what’s hot and what’s not in Airsoft, Andy has been able to stay very much at the bleeding edge of Airsoft cool.
The Knife Making scene being another staple of Andy’s customer base, with makers such as Jimmy Pie giving his customers a TacBelts manufactured patch alongside the knives he sells, It surely goes to show how much his workmanship is praised…
So without further ado, On with the questions….
ATRG: Andy, Many of the readers will know you as a custom patch manufacturer, Tell us more about how the business started and where the name came from…
Andy: Tacbelts UK is a one man band “me”
I started making BB bags about 7 years ago after seeing one of my team mates had got one from eBay and I thought great idea but I’m sure I can make it better and in a camo colour that I wanted, not just a basic colour. From that moment it just snowballed from a handful of colours to approximately 20. I then made a few belts for guys and that’s where the name came from.
ATRG: Following on from patch manufacturing, we’ve personally discussed at length about what goes into creating a patch and what can and cannot be done… can you break down the process from concept to finished product?
Andy: When I get a patch enquiry I ask if they have an image in mind or have one that’s done. Most people have PC’s with design programmes so they usually have a go at some designs. Some designs are amazing and very detailed (not great for laser cutting) some are very basic and perfect for laser cutting. I do spend a lot of time chatting with customers on Facebook and instagram to get the design finalised. The process of converting a submitted image into a vector line image that is suitable for cutting. Most images also need altered into a stencil image again time consuming. Doing the graphic work can be very quick or a long time. I pride myself on a very fast turn around as I know when an order is place people what the patches fast so I try and accommodate them. When I’ve created the image and cut the cordura fabric I then get to build the patch, different coloured backings are available, Cyflect GITD is popular and black IR reflective for the mil simmers. The hook backing gets sewn on as the patch gets completed, after a final check over and a micro burner melts the corners and ends of the thread, the patch is ready to send.
ATRG: You’ve had some interesting custom jobs over the last few years, Are there any that stand out? Something unique or unusual such as your personal custom built plate carrier?
Andy: The custom builds are a very tricky part of the business to administer as it’s the time it takes to create custom kit for people is of the higher price point and that’s not to everyone’s affordability. I’d say making custom sling mounts for a few of the Spartan Airsoft regulars is always fun, ha ha if I had to put a price on my personnel plate carrier it would be close to Crye Precision prices so I don’t really market it, it’s more of a personal indulgence.
ATRG: Moving away from nylon, you’ve also become quite familiar with the Systema PTW platform, Not something I know a great deal about if I honest! What kind of work do you offer and is this something your interested in growing or simply something you do for local players who fear opening their pride and joy?
Andy: When I started Airsoft I had the usual G&P AEG, then after joining the smoking aces and teaming up with the Reptile house I took the plunge and got a Systema PTW challenge kit. The platform is very user friendly so I got stuck in and built one. I offer servicing and motor rewinds mainly to people that know me and all the Spartan regulars as it’s done for the next game. I’ve had quite a few PTW’s, DTW’s and CTW’s sent to me when the owners contact me and are willing to send it. I’ll always be happy to do builds, servicing, motor rewinds etc for people that need it. I don’t shout about it too much as the training weapon fraternity seem to be very loyal to there preferred techs.
ATRG: Speaking of Spartan regulars… You happen to be one of the more active airsofters out there, hardly a fortnight goes by when your not at Spartan’s woodland site. Have you ventured elsewhere or are you happy to keep playing at Spartan?
Andy: I do love Spartan Airsoft Bristol, it’s run to a very high standard and the site is excellent. I’ve been to a few different sites over the years. My other favourite was the Asylum in Kidderminster but that has sadly closed. I’m a woodland and outdoor player if I’m honest, the CQB aspect of Airsoft doesn’t real appeal to me. Spartan has always been my home and for the foreseeable future that’s where you will find me.
ATRG: Onto the final question, a two parter… What do you like most about Airsoft and what would you change if you had the chance?
Andy: Airsoft gets me out of the workshop and socialising with my friends. There’s nothing better than walking around the woods on a Sunday chatting and having a laugh, that’s the main reason I like it so much. I’m not sure I would change anything about Airsoft, I’d like to simply ban assholes from playing the game as it’s those kind of people that spoil it for many.
Hopefully that’s shed a little light on the man behind the machine… One thing you’ll only learn through being a TacBelts UK customer is the attention to detail and sheer speed of service offered. Without wanting to put him under more pressure than he puts into himself, I’ll go as far as to say that 24 hours from concept to door step has happened for more than a few customers… There’s not many businesses that can boast that!
You can find more information on what TacBelts UK offers and his previous word on the below accounts;
Facebook: Tacbelts UK