The Gauntlet's clientele originated from the gay S&M community of Southern California, and during the years that Ward ran his business from his home, many Gauntlet customers came from a group of gay Los Angeles men known as the P&T Group (for Pierced and Tattooed). The Gauntlet became known as a fashionable location for body piercing, and its customer base grew beyond its original roots. At its heyday, The Gauntlet operated a strong mail order business for piercing jewelry, and manufactured its own jewelry. Eventually, manufacturing operations were contracted out to other companies. Not only did The Gauntlet manufacture jewellery, Jim and his team developed a number of the types of body jewellery in use today. This included coining the terms "barbell", "circular barbell", and "captive bead ring". The work done by Ward and others at this studio set the standard for the body piercings most commonly practiced in modern commercial settings.
One of the best known products of The Gauntlet was a publication known as PFIQ, or Piercing Fans International Quarterly. Originally a rather primitive black and white newsletter, PFIQ evolved into a full color glossy with well produced photos, artwork, stories, and tips related to body piercing. During its years of publication, PFIQ was the only reliable source of information on body piercing. A related publication was Pin Pals, a newsletter where pierced people could place classified personal advertisements.
Eventually, The Gauntlet experienced financial difficulties, and the illness of Jim Ward further contributed to its woes. After a run of over twenty years, The Gauntlet closed its doors in late 1998.