When the US military transitioned away from sew-on unit patches and flags to hook-and-loop fasteners (velcro®), a whole new ballgame began. Morale patches designed and produced by civilian gun and gear companies exploded in popularity, with some people designing popular (and lucrative) enough patches that they’ve turned it into a full-time occupation. I met with Jason of Golden Tiger Works who’s created some awesome Hawaiian-themed pieces.
No longer limited to embroidered unit patches, many and now made from PVC and their designs often include pop culture characters and references. For exampl,e Doublestar had the following “Guardian Angel” at their booth.
Some trade/sale groups have popped up on social media, like the Morale Patch Black Market on Facebook. It’s places like this that you’ll find out just how valuable some of the patches are. This is especially true for SHOT show exclusives, limited run or damn funny patches. The MPBM’s own patch (below) is never for sold, only given. After meeting with one of the group’s administrators Vince Vega, i was gifted one such.
While most use these patches as a way to promote their own brand, some forge a more anonymous path, producing works that don’t indicate their manufacturer. Two such are PatchesOlHooligan’s Merida and a Domino’s Noid that I saw on a trade wall. Manufacturer unknown.
Speaking of trade walls, they’ve changed a bit over the last couple of years at SHOT. Before, it was “take a patch, leave a patch”. Now, everyone I ran into was “leave a patch, get one of ours from the patch wall attendant”. While this means one can’t raid a trade wall for their favorites, it also means you get to see a much wider variety as nobody gets to snag all the good ones. Below are a couple of my trade wall favorites from this year.
Morale patches are a pretty popular way to expand on America’s gun culture and connect it to many other aspects of our world. A warning to the uninitiated, collecting can be addictive!