Types of Side Release Buckles
Side Release Buckles and Other Fasteners
Whether you make paracord survival bracelets or other projects which require side release buckles, this article will show you some cool options and some other ideas you may not have considered for fastening your bracelets.
Buckles, in one form or another, are the most common way for fastening bracelets and other gear and there are so many types of buckles to chose from and ways to fasten them. Some of the buckles are metal, but more are plastic (less expensive). There are buckles with whistles built in and of course, they come in many different sizes.
Some people choose to make plain survival bracelets with nothing more than a knot and loop fastener. For the ultra-crafty people or those wanting to do something different, you can weave beads or other toggles on one end of the bracelet and then a simple loop on the other. Here we're going to take a look at some of the more common fasteners that most of us use in our projects. In the end I think you'll find some great ideas here for your next project.
Plastic Side Release Buckles Are Very Popular and They Come in So Many Different Sizes and Designs
For many people plastic side release buckles are their first choice because they are very affordable, and if you're making bracelets and other projects as a hobby, well, you probably don't want to spend a fortune on buckles. Also, if you're making bracelets for a fund raiser or to re-sell then you want to maximize your profit, so again, plastic buckles would be the obvious choice.
The most common size of buckle used for paracord bracelets is 16 - 19 mm (5/8 or 3/4 inch). This measurement is the width of the hole in the buckle through which you place your strap or paracord. Because these plastic buckles are so affordable, you can get a few different sizes and experiment to find out which size, and which type of buckle you like best. While all of those mentioned in this section are side release, they don't all have the same look and feel—some release easier than others, some are more robust (higher quality plastic), and some buckles are more rounded (contoured) and have a generally better feel while wearing.
There are also single adjusting and double adjusting buckles. Double adjusting simply means that there are two slider holes on each end of the buckle. On a backpack, for example, this would allow you to cinch up and tighten a strap from both sides. For a survival bracelet with paracord you don't have the need or capability to adjust, so look for buckles with only one slider hole on each end if possible, for a better look.
Of course we also need to discuss the purpose that the buckles will serve. If you are planning on using them for a gear strap (say on a backpack or day bag), then you might want a larger or at least heavier duty one. If it is simply for looks and on a paracord bracelet, then the smaller plastic buckles will work
fine. On a dog collar, for example, I would use the Wide Solomon bar paracord design (see my other article links below) and a larger 1 inch side release buckle (unless it's a tiny collar).
If you're planning on making a bracelet for a survival or safety use, maybe using some reflective paracord, then it might be a good idea to use buckles that have a whistle built in like the one pictured here. For the most part these whistles work alright, but they aren't the loudest thing you've heard. That being said, for a lost hiker, or a jogger trying to summon help, they will do the job. And they look kid of cool, too.
Metal Side Release Buckles Give Your Project Added Strength
And of Course the Ultra-Tough Look That You Want in a Survival Bracelet
There are many reasons why people choose plastic over metal side release buckles, and perhaps the two biggest reasons are 1) the cost increase by using metal buckles is significant if you use a lot of them, and 2) there's added weight and bulk when using metal. However, there are still applications where metal is the right choice.
There are far fewer style choices when it comes to metal buckles, due to their decreased demand and also because of the relative greater difficulty and cost in manufacturing. In tactical applications you will almost always see plastic being used whenever possible, because it decreases the magnetic presence of the wearer (think bombs and IED's), and also because there are no spark concerns, nor are there any rust related issues to contend with. Finally, plastic buckles rely on the tension created naturally by the displaced connectors when they're snapped into place. Metal buckles, on the other hand, rely on small, internal springs to retain their tension... meaning that they can wear out and fail, while the plastic buckles are much more likely to retain their shape and strength over time.
There are no bells and whistles (literally) on the metal buckles, and your choices are limited to basically the size you want.
Plastic Buckles With Side Release Are Cool
But These Steel Shackles Give You the Ultimate Survival Look
Are you looking for some really cool buckles to make something really unique, or do you have a project that requires something more robust than plastic buckles? There are tons of things to be made with paracord beyond bracelets, and so many ways to make them all (see my articles on different paracord bracelet patterns). More and more people are getting creative and making their products their own. And lot's of people prefer the rugged look of the metal shackle buckles. I admit it, I like them, too!
As you can see, using this type of buckle gives much more strength and reliability than a typical side release buckle. Of course the cost is higher, but the end product is clearly much more appealing. Again, it will boil down to the project. For fund raisers you will almost certainly want to stick with the plastic buckles.
One of the Coolest Paracord Projects With Buckles
Make a Dog Collar With These Large Reflector, Side Release Buckles!
If you have a dog, or know someone who does, you can make a really cool personalized gift: a reflective dog collar. Using ultra-cool reflective paracord colors and this large side release buckle that includes a reflector, you have the makings for something special.
No dogs? These make great luggage straps—the kind you wrap around your luggage to ensure that it doesn't pop open when airport security or those guys on the conveyor belts throw it around. There are lots of ways you can make something really creative with these buckles! Check it out.
What Are Your Thoughts on Buckle Types? Side Release or Shackles?
Ok, now that you've had a chance to look at some of the different types of buckles, including the side release and metal shackle types, here's a question. If you were going to make a paracord bracelet, right now, and had both types in front of you, which would you use?