Blackhawk, a Vista Outdoor firm, has been manufacturing law enforcement and military equipment for more than 20 years, but the roots of the brand date back to 1990, when a Navy SEAL’s pack failed while he was navigating a minefield. He vowed that if he got out of there alive, he would make gear the right way.
The company he created has lived that vow every day since launching. An obsession with quality applies to everything Blackhawk makes at its 80,000-square-foot facility in Manhattan, MT, about 20 minutes northwest of Bozeman. There, roughly 90 employees are laser-focused on designing and manufacturing the world’s best holsters and tactical gear.
The latest endorsement of that fact is found in a recent International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recertification audit conducted to determine if the brand was, and is, operating in a controlled and compliant manner. It passed with flying colors, receiving zero “findings” during the audit.
In Blackhawk’s case, the standards are around quality management—how well the firm follows a specific set of procedures and processes from design to production to distribution. The recertification for ISO 9000 (specifically ISO 9001:2015) showed Blackhawk “demonstrated its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements,” and that the brand “enhanced customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.”
“By following those processes and procedures, we’re very consistent in the product we make, from design to the product going out the door to a customer,” said Colt DeCock, quality engineer at Blackhawk. “This is a pretty holistic system.”
ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 168 national standards bodies. The network brings together experts from around the world to develop international standards ranging from IT security to health and safety to environmental management.