American Tomahawk

US Cav Files Chapter 11

Long before the Tactical Bubble, US Cavalry dominated the military outfitting business. As a kid in the early 80s I remember my father bringing home the Cav Store catalog from the orderly room and looking in awe at all of the cool stuff for sale. Over the years it grew and grew into an empire, at one point featuring storefronts outside of several military posts in addition to the strong catalog business. US Cav has changed hands since Randy Acton was at the helm and it always seemed to me that as the war went on, they became less effective at running the business. Maybe it was because it was too retail oriented at first and then didn’t go all in once the military wholesale market boomed. At any rate, as we understand it, US Cavalry Store, Inc, and its parent, Cavalry Security Group, LLC, have filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in the Western District of Kentucky. It’s too bad because that retail market where Soldiers will be purchasing much of their own kit is coming back, and fast.

Turns out, Cavalry Security Group, LLC loss is ERMC’s gain as we understand that they have made an offer to purchase the company (out of Chapter 11) and keep it intact. Soldiers will still have their Cav Store catalog and website but it sounds like the vendors who supplied them might be just a little nervous.

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37 Responses to “US Cav Files Chapter 11”

  1. Chris says:

    Really liked their catalogs back in the late 1980s’. Also Brigade Quartermaster. Gear porn for kids!

  2. Stefan says:

    No wonder with all the “tactical” junk peddled these days. seems everything is “tactical” from bacon to apron to flip-flops. My US CAV catalogs back in the late 80’s used to be locked up in a wall locker to keep it from getting lifted.

  3. bulldog 76 says:

    wow i didnt think this day would come

  4. Jon OPT says:

    End of an era, they will always be a true industry icon.

    Jon, OPT

  5. david lyons says:

    this is not the first time for U.S. CAV. Under the orginal owner Randy Acton he too filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy. And sold to the current owner who is now filing.

  6. Reverend says:

    Times they are a changin’.

  7. Sgt B says:

    It’s unfortunate because they were a great company and very competitive. I’ve bought several things over the years from them with no issues. It’s sad to see this happen, especially when it appears there is such a high demand for product.

  8. Palehorse1 says:

    Anyone else remember all the oddball and weird stuff they would have on sale in their Radcliff store? I remember my wife bringing home a hundred brand new East German wool scarves once and after the head scratching was done she told me that they were ten cents a piece.

    • Mateo says:

      Did they smell like mothballs? All of the NVA surplus wool I have bought did.

      • Palehorse1 says:

        To be honest, they all smelled like great gifts for friends and family. I can say that once when meeting family members for a winter holiday we were outed as there were more than twenty of those “luxury wool” scarves there.

  9. Matthew Kime says:

    Wow. That’s a drag. I too, grew up with their catalogs. Compared to Brigade QM theirs was like cranking it to 11.

    Hopefully they can do right by their vendors and salvage what they did well.

    On a purchaser level, maybe we could have done more. Looking through their catalog only to eventually try to find it cheaper from a “vendor” that has nothing invested in inventory, customer service, or… catalogs.

    I’ll be over here not casting any stones.

  10. PaulD says:

    I got introduced to brands like Gregory and Eagle Industries as a kid thanks to their catalog. Anyone remember the Harris Assault Vest?

  11. Jim SOTECH says:

    I think their “gear porn” catalogs served a great purpose in our industry. True, it was a marketing move by Randy Acton to mass mail them to every corner of the “man gear buying” world, but in doing so, he reminded every soldier, officer and decision maker that there was better gear out there to be acquired. And as a designer of gear once I got into uniform, the effect of seeing alternate designs on US Cav’s pages while I was a school boy surely had an affect on how I saw gear, and how it could be better design.
    In the US CAV headquarters conference room they have a chronological wall of all the catalog covers. They ought to put it in a museum somewhere. It took me back all the way to 7th grade!

  12. straps says:

    Wow. Like many here, I was a pup back in the 80s poring over the BQM and US Cav catalogs. I built my first sleep system (Thinsulate Woobie and Gore Tex Bivvy) and tricked my gear with stuff like the Eagle belt pad and the side release buckle retrofit kit for ALICE packs from the pages of those catalogs. And on from there.

    I also remember when US Cav tried to make a go of it with brick & mortar locations–like that one outside Bragg. That, more than anything, shows what they were missing when you compare it to what folks like Lightfighter and Grey Group did with their merchandising. Taking an old grocery store and not even waxing the floor before you move your merchandise in ain’t cutting it. The store outside Knox is even more proof of this. I’ve gone to ‘Knox more times as a tourist as I have on TDY, and that’s a PERFECT opportunity to do some flagship merchandising. Nope, old grocery store with only half the lights on. Direct opposite of their web store and order fulfillment, which save for some “confusion” about shipping L-ion batteries, has never failed me.

  13. Jared says:

    Who is “ERMC”? The supposed company purchasing them?

  14. Thor H. says:

    Who is ERMC? I have never heard of them.

  15. Ben says:

    Don’t color me as suprised. US Cav has fallen a far way in terms of service in recent years, especially when you have upstart company’s that offer a wider selection of stuff at better prices. I’ve just had too many dealings with them that were bad to give them anymore chances. I’ll stick with one of the many other local company’s around Fort Campbell like ATS.

  16. Adco says:

    In other sectors Catalog companies that invested in inventory have sadly been decimated by drop shippers who have no investment in anything and just play MAP pricing games. I’m not sure if that is the case here, but its pretty rampant throughout most products. The good side and bad side of a wide open ecommerce age. These situations usually end badly for vendors, often forced to take pennies on the dollar even in the event of an ownership takeover.

  17. Matt says:

    Anyone remember Kaufman’s or Paralex (spelling?) catalogs from the early/mid 80’s? I’d kill to see a Paralex catalog again. Straight out of SOF Mag…

    • Matthew Kime says:

      Kaufman’s was phenomenal! Great horizontal format catalog with some really unique stuff in it.

      I clearly remember a page of t-shirts from hole-in-the wall bars in the 3rd world that always impressed me.

      And back to US CAV, there was an arrow gun on the cover of one cover in the early 90’s, I wish I knew who made that.

      • Don P says:

        What do people think of the following companies

        Tacticalgear.com
        Patriot outfitters.com
        Uspatriottactical.com
        Tactical distributors.com

        • Aardvark says:

          BQM is still active, I bought a pair of the new belleville’s online last week, already here and on my feet. Haven’t tried the companies you list, but will look.

  18. Anibal Perez says:

    I’m actually surprised they are still in business, back in 93-97 when I was at Ft. Campbell all they sold was crap, and there was word in all orderly rooms to be aware that the uniforms they sold were crap and not authorized because of shoddy materials and craftsmanship, and most of the the trinkets and stuff they sold was over priced compared to the surplus store less than a mile away

  19. fmfbest says:

    I remember catalog covers with Rangers still in OG107s. Seems like the were in a zodiac if I remember correctly. As far as the business model goes you have to wonder why General Jacksons made it and US Cav failed at Bragg. Across the street from each other and virtually the same inventory for a while. Then I think back to the old catalogs. You could order a DRASH shelter out of them. I sure hope they were drop shipping those and didn’t have them in inventory. I have had an order in with them since before Christmas. No CS calls or we are sorry for the delays. I guess now I know why. I will be cancelling it while I can.

    • jrberk says:

      I’ve had a pair of danner boots ordered since 1/2/13 no word on those either.
      every time I check they push the back order out two more weeks

      I guess I know the reason why now. would have been nice to tell me. I will get my money back tomorrow

      • jrberk says:

        *update*

        just called US Cav and they are reading all callers a statement explaining the late orders are do to them dealing with the chap 11 issues. all of their backorders were do to this and they have reached an agreement and settle their chap 11 issues. they told me that their suppliers will be shipping to them in 3 weeks and they will be back in full business.

        I still may get my boots this year yet.

        by the way their customer service rep was amazing and very nice and extremely helpful. thanks Brittany.

    • Reverend says:

      General Jackson’s is still open? WOW! That brings back memories! Got a set of boots from them decades ago, and they’re STILL holding up!

      I dunno if it’s the companies, or the manufacturers… there is no pride in materials, and production anymore… Things used to last.

  20. Dan Dantzler says:

    Before the rise of the internet, Randy Acton ran the world’s best mail order catalog service. Orders were filled accurately and quickly. He expanded to three larger local facilities near
    Fort Knox. As email and web based fulfillment grew, Randy opened a brick and mortar store at Fort Hood and within a few years bought existing stores at Forts Campbell, Benning and possibly Fort Bragg. He took on an enormous mortage debt load when competitors were building their web sites. Eventually he went into Chapter 13 bankruptcy and, over time. sold off all the stores and repaid everything he owed.
    Since then US Cavalry has gone downhill, including fraud convictions of several of its key officers.

    • Uknown Sentry says:

      Except there have not been any convictions of any key officers for any reason. I can only assume that you are referring to the Las Vegas bust that went down. It was clearly stated that ONE person was implicated and later proven innocent of any wrong-doing.

  21. Haji says:

    The bottom line is that they didn’t adapt with the changing market. The reputation of their store at FTCKY is that it’s THE place to go if you want a 101st AAD coffee mug.

    • Cardiac says:

      Bingo. On top of that, recently it seems a lot of the old “powerhouse” national retailers only carry imported junk or a 50/50 mix at best. I beat the hell out of my gear – it’s a result of the job. When I buy it, I rely on not only the quality, craftsmanship and enduser input of their designs, but knowing that if I have any issues with their products (especially nylon) the companies bend over backward to immediately repair or flat-out ship a brand new replacement.
      Not to mention I wouldn’t even consider asking most of the national retailers’ sales associates questions beyond whether or not they have an item in stock. Most of them have never used or otherwise had experience with anything they sell, thus they provide no value added for the customer aside from being able to sell it. On the other hand, stores like ATS and Grey Group inherently have a “by shooters – for shooters” approach because they continue to staff with individuals that have a vested interest in knowing their products, use and have experience with the products they sell, and provide the absolute best quality solutions to the end users.

  22. Keld says:

    “It’s a great day at US Cavalry”
    Heard that line many times phoning in my orders from Denmark, before the internet.

  23. Firewalker says:

    I stopped buying from them when their shipping cost almost the same as what I was buying. I could find what I was looking for elsewhere for a “more expensive price” but nearly a quarter of the shipping costs.

    I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one in this boat. Love the store, love their selection, just hated their shipping options. I bought most of my first big purchases there too, then their shipping went bonkers.

  24. Chris U5 says:

    Any updates of this situation?
    I have quite an expensive item on back order with them and they are not replyig to my emails, very frustrating!