Horses… er…

Holsters for courses…

BLUF- You are the one that has to be satisfied with what you’re carrying your weapon in!!!

Ian and I did a live stream yesterday on FB about holsters, so I thought I’d follow up with some clearer pictures.

First, I AM NOT an expert on holsters, but I know what I like and have found to work over the years…

The obligatory box-o-holsters… sigh (they didn’t work after I bought them)

Yes, I prefer leather holsters over Kydex, given the choice, I also prefer outside the waistband (OWB). I have a number of paddle holsters because I was in and out of .gov buildings where I couldn’t carry. From upper left to lower right, Dennis Badurina (Dragon Leatherworks), Bulldog custom, an old Ross (sadly out of business), Don Hume, and a Safariland Level 1. There are probably 100 different custom makers, holster companies, etc. out there.

What works for me may not work for you, or you may prefer different styles or a different custom maker or manufacturer… The bottom line, is IT IS YOUR CHOICE.

Just don’t buy SERPA holsters or nylon holsters (also known as gun sacks because they are so floppy)…

This old JC inside the waistband (IWB) holster was one that my mother carried the little Colt Agent in, stuffed inside a side pocket of her purse. I’ve carried it IWB with shorts and a Hawaiian shirt!

For you ladies, go to my friend Kathy Jackson’s page Cornered Cat, HERE. Go down the page to holsters and read through that section. Kathy has been shooting and teaching for almost 20 years! She knows of which she speaks!!!

There are other types of holsters, including shoulder holsters. Sorry for the lousy pics. This is a S&W Model 29 in an early 1970s clamshell holster.

As you can see, it hangs close to the body and has a strap for the belt on the back side. The issue with these is that you are muzzling yourself (brachial artery), and others standing behind you when you draw. The old Miami Vice semi-auto holsters are even worse for muzzling people!!!

There are also chest holsters in both leather and Kydex/nylon for a variety of pistols. Those are good for field carry when hunting, or on ATVs, motorcycles, or horses.

Moving on to mag/bullet carriers, from left to right, Bianchi speed strip for a .357, Kydex Glock mag, Galco leather Kahr mag, and two sizes of SnagMags for Colt Mustang and 1911.

There are also custom rigs that you can buy. These would qualify as BBQ rigs, although I don’t have BBQ guns to go in them. Both of these rigs were done by Kenny Rowe out of Hope, AR. His website is HERE.

A closeup of the belt and 1911 holster. Note that very little of this is stamped, it’s mostly hand carved. Kenny is not cheap or fast, but the quality is amazing!

For belts, I highly recommend Galco belts, or Kore gun belts.

One last note- Practice dry firing and drawing/reholstering your pistol with no ammunition in the room!!! And don’t buy into the tacbubba’s that say you need to blindly reholster your gun. LOOK your gun back into your holster, that way you don’t end up with a racing stripe down your leg!!!

Now go to the range and practice, since they are opening back up!!!

Comments welcome and I’m sure I’ll get a few correcting me… ๐Ÿ˜€

I bought everything you see in these pictures, nothing was given to me.


Horses… er… — 29 Comments

  1. You have a box of holsters too? Who would have thought! Like you, I have a preference for OWB and leather.

  2. Thanks for the post JC. I also have a few ‘extra holsters’ laying about, some purchased at a gun show on a whim, others which just didn’t make the cut.

    Those custom holsters are handsome devils. Mine are no frills, high budget for me is Simply Rugged (a CUDA for my G30) or Sourdough Pancake for my snub noses. Way back when, Bianchi ruled my world, Lawman strong side – Cyclone cross draw. Simple but well made and you just walked into store and bought them, they were in stock.

  3. My EDC is a Hi Power, and I have an IWB N8^2 holster thang makes it quite comfortable. I just bought a surplus Beretta 81, and while I donโ€™t anticipate making it a daily carry, I WOULD like to find something that fits. No joy, so far.

  4. I have had good luck with FIST and now Phlster holsters for everyday use and Safariland retention holsters for work and games. FIST makes a nice leather kydex lined holster that people at work liked.

    My box of holsters are mostly left or correct handed but I do keep a couple of right handed Bladetech’s for new shooters.

  5. The black leather belt holster on the left of your box almost looks like it would fit a Ruger Security Six, only with a two inch barrel. Too bad mine has a 4″ barrel.

    Wonder if there would be a way to have a trading/giveaway forum. Here’s my box of holsters, here’s what they fit, here’s why I don’t use them, claim your prize.

  6. I have four of Dennis’ holsters from when he was in New York. Still work fine.
    Shoulder rig from A.E.Nelson carries a 1911 very well.
    All the rest live in a ‘box’.

  7. Like everyone I have a box of unused holsters. I’m generally partial to OWB carry but have lately discovered They have a concealable chest or shoulder type holster called the Trump Card which is very conceivable and comfortable. I’m a guy carrying more pounds than I should so comfort and concealability ( is that a word?) are very important to me. The draw is slower, but you shouldn’t be fast drawing as a civilian any way. They also have holsters designed for joggers, but I haven’t tried them. Best part, nothing on the gun touches your skin.
    I have no connection with the business other than being a customer.

    • Dang auto correct! Should read very concealable and comfortable.

  8. I watched you on TV, and you gave a good lecture.

    I’d like a lecture on shoulder holsters, including the different basic types, the dangers inherent in a shoulder rig, and quick draw techniques.

  9. All- Thanks for the comments and the other possibilities! Jack- LOL on the shoulder rigs. I only have one. The two biggest dangers are muzzling yourself and everybody behind you when you draw. The only way to get YOUR arm out of the way is to raise it and put your elbow under your chin. That protects the brachial artery!

    Posted from my iPhone.

  10. The late Bill Jordan in his book “No Second Place Winner,” has a lot of information contemporary to his era of wheel guns in law enforcement. He has a LOT to say about holsters and grips, which I would believe to be still valid today (but I defer to OldNFO for contemporary revolver skills & eqpt) particularly like the thing about sewing little weights into the tails of sport coats so that a lateral shrug of the hips will swing them out like a pendulum and keep clear during the interval that you are reaching down for your grip and draw. (For back when plainclothes men and even some bad guys wore blazers.)
    He also writes of collecting empty brass and re-sizing and reloading them with primers ONLY, arraying them in the carton, laying a 1/2″ thick block of wax atop the array and pressing them together in a vise. The cartridges will cut wads of wax, and you can re-melt the in-between wax into another block. Being CERTAIN to NOT be using other LIVE ammo, you can now practice developing muscle memory of beginning you trigger squeeze during the draw, swiveling up and getting off a one-handed low center of mass before stepping back to pick up your support hand for your second center of mass shot. (Double-action pistol, obviously.)
    Concentrate on being able to get that first one-hand shot in the black without sighting before adding second shots to your drill. You are teaching yourself the natural “point” of your weapon and also learning the skill of making holes in the right place during low-light conditions using only the feel of the weapon and its grips.
    Expect to put in 4-10 thousand rounds of wax plug practice before switching to lead.
    Other great quotes in that book are “speed is fine, but accuracy is final,” and Elmer Kieth’s quotes about ‘anyone who doesn’t enjoy the shooting a mild recoil load like the .44 magnum is a plumb sissy’ – and most in Jordan’s agency shot the .45-70 Remington with a ‘405 grain slug propelled by one ounce of Texas authority…”
    Lastly, in re-reading Jordan, I’d like to put in another thumbs-up for OldNFO’s ‘Grey Man’ series; the line of duty John Cronin’s injuries and the viciousness of his adversaries are commensurate with the actual real-world men and women holding the real Thin Blue Line.

  11. Guy- Good point. I need to go re-read that again! And yes, I drop washers sewn together in the right pockets of my jackets. AND I trim out the stupid strings and adjusters from all my jackets.

  12. Hey Old NFO;

    I watched part of that broadcast, you and Ian do play well off ech other and y’all have a lot of good real world information. I really enjoyed what I did see. It was nice to see some of the guns that people commended about that you had in your collection that you always “lucked” into. LOL

  13. OK. My $.02
    I love leather and wheelguns. At the moment though I’m carrying a Springfield XD in a Fobus paddle with two spare mags, also in plastic. Things are too “interesting” to not carry maximum response options.
    My favorite sixgun holster is the old Bianchi Cyclone; you refer to it as a crossdraw but it is also a strongside, one of JB’s brilliant designs. Until recently they were still available from Frontier Gunleather but a recent request for one left only an “either/or” choice, something about “patterns lost in a move”or some such. Too bad.
    The Diamond D chest rigs are great. I highly recommend them.
    Once again, hoping to buy the old USN Victory holster (replica) from Pacific Canvas and Leather was unsuccessful, so a lesser rig was substituted when equipping a lady friend for mountain work.
    Back to self loaders, while I have Fobus for everything in the inventory (as well as for an M9 when I was saddled with one of those) it has been more difficult to find a “field” holster. I date back to “drop legs” and don’t want to deal with them any more, but I’m not impressed by what I’ve seen as a replacement so far. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
    Got plenty of the M1916’s for the 1911’s, it’s the double-stack polymer guns I need to house.

  14. Boat Guy:
    My Glock and 1911 Fobus paddle holsters have less rake than the typical leather holsters from the big makers. I encountered difficulty drawing at speed due to this. I took a heatgun to the top of the paddle/holster joint and swung the holster toward the rear to match my other holsters. Problem solved.

  15. Old NFO:
    Regarding safe drawing with shoulder rigs, the main problem I see is most people want to swing the muzzle sideways to get it into action. This movement has some built-in potential problems:
    One is muzzling your offside arm.
    Another is having a bystander or other object deflect or impede the gun’s movement.
    The third problem is it tends to be slow to get on target.
    The fourth is you are swinging across to access the target. Difficult to stop the swing accurately when going for speed.

    My preferred movement is to swing the muzzle parallel to your side, so you are bringing the gun up the centerline of your target. A mild lift of the offside elbow to avoid dragging the gun is sufficient for clearance, and this also aids in getting your second hand onto the gun, as that arm is still close to your body.

    This works with both horizontal and muzzle down vertical types. Keep the grips leading the gun movement until the barrel gets near to horizontal, then rotate the wrist to upright and grab with the offhand for the proper two hand hold. This draw is faster and the gun stays in tight to you, but the drawback is that if you fire (one handed) before you rotate to upright, recoil tends to impede the progression to a proper hold and alignment.

    This can be a low profile draw in crowded conditions, and with your arms crossed and hand on gun using a horizontal/angled rig, you can be very discrete until the gun pops out the front of your cover garment.

  16. And we would have to spend some time talking about the different levels of retention.
    And how to break in a new holster and what care to give to an older holster.

    Beautiful leather work, my Dad had taken up doing that and made some wonderful things. That acorn didn’t fall anywhere near me.

  17. > box-o-holsters

    My wife chided me about mine, until she got a CHCL and her own box of holsters, plus a shelf full of purses…

    I’ve carried long enough now, I finally realized it’s better to find a holster you like and then a gun that fits it, instead of the other way around.

  18. WSF- True…

    Boat- Thanks for the recommendation! I agree on the drop leg/thigh rigs. I use the Safariland level 1 for field carry with my G19.

    Will- Thanks, I tried that and it actually works well! Ironically, that’s a technique I’d never heard of!

    John- Oh yeah… Galco has a good leather product I use for keeping the leather ‘supple’ or at least not drying out.

    TRX- LOL on the box-o-holsters… And can’t really disagree on the other, although I’m done buying pistols.

    • I hadn’t heard of it anywhere either, but shoulder rigs are like red-headed stepchildren, kept out of sight and not talked about. It’s the biggest group of holster types I have.

  19. Just a thought for OFs like me who carry obsolete pistols([email protected] 3914-restored to a hammer-style gun). If you can’t find a holster that fits perfectly(here I’m talking about commercial built kydex) get one that is close to a fit and then heat it up to about 300 degrees for about 5 minutes. This will soften the material and then you CAREFULLY slide your pistol into the soft holster and “form” around your gun. And don’t forget o use oven mitts to handle the damn thing when you pull it out of the oven…

    I converted a Blackhawk Glock 26 OWB holster this way for my 39 and it works fine. Did a couple of other IWB holsters the same way.
    Got an original Bianchi X-15 for my 6 inch ’27 and also one his old Agents for the small frame revolvers.
    Alessi, Galco, Bianchi a couple from South Africa; got three 2 ziplock gallon bags of them, ah me.

  20. Will,
    Thanks. I don’t particularly like a lot of rake. The older holsters have it but I’m comfortable with a straight-drop.
    Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch has a special relationship with Milt Sparks – if you’re quick at the TR site you can find good new G19 and 1911 holsters from Sparks. Got a “Summer Special” IWB not too long ago. Bride’s XD rig is from Sparks and it serves well.
    The shoulder draw is a lot like the crossdraw. Heidi Smith cleaned mine up considerably when we were there; I was carrying 625’s crossdraw.
    Still carry most wheelguns that way most of the time.

    • One of the things Heidi had me do was to move the support hand across to the opposite shoulder. It’s a natural blocking move and gets the support hand out of the way. Once the piece is centerline and rotated the the support hand drops into place.

  21. BTW, Mitch has a leather care product for the inside of a holster that really works to allow a gun to move easily when drawn. “Leather Lightning” Highly recommend!

    Also, if you like leather IWB holsters, his ARG model is the best I’ve found for the 1911. Very comfortable and discrete carry, as the belt loop is behind the gun, not over the slide/frame. Bought mine from his first issue in the early 90’s. Get the matching belt. Looks and works very well.

    • I’ll ditto your comments about the ARG and add his mag carriers for the 1911 are the best I’ve found. I can comfortably carry a full size Government Model all day under a loose polo or T shirt with one or two spare mags and have it be pretty comfortable. IWB is more concealable, OWB is more comfortable – but as Heidi’s husband opined before those two became Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a gun is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable. But of course if it’s too uncomfortable, it won’t be carried.
      On shoulder holster and cross draw, if space allows for it, taking a step forward with the holster side foot or back with the dominant hand side foot into a bladed, sideways stance allows for the muzzle of the gun to be oriented toward the threat more easily during the draw. Getting the elbow up out of the way as described above is a good practice, but instead of having the holster side hand come to the dominant side shoulder, I just bring it up to the back of my neck or top of my head (as done by Craig Douglas in his retention position shooting). Crossdraw and should holsters are great in a car, but they both have an elevated risk of a close attacker being able to stuff your draw a bit more easily than strong side holsters.

      OldNFO, no Appendix IWB holsters? ๐Ÿ™‚ And your 1911 in that purdy holster is nice enough to be carried at a BBQ, as is the Python!