Friday, November 6, 2009


Rick says it better than I. Here's a short piece he wrote on this, at this link:

After his portion, I pontificate on the holster as well. It's one of my favorites.

Bianchi Askins Avenger

BY: Rick Breneman

This style of holster, with a belt loop and trailing belt slot, is so popular that almost all major manufacturers have a variation. The original holster of this type was perhaps the Milt Sparks 55BN; the BN being Bruce Nelson, who also designed the Summer Special made famous by Sparks. Called the Vertical Scabbard by Kramer, the Sport by FIST, the Avenger by Galco, Bianchi's version was developed with input from famed pistolero Charles Askins.
What makes the Askins Avenger distinctive is its fairly extreme "FBI cant". While most makers put the slot, designed to pull the butt of the gun into the body, behind the trigger guard, the Bianchi version has the slot beneath the guard, making the gun ride quite high, and (in my opinion) better-concealing a large gun.
I've been using my holster for three and a half years in IPSC Limited competition, and it is still looking good. The stitching is still tight, and the leather has not stretched or sagged out of shape. Matched to 1 3/4" Bianchi belt, the holster is tight and secure.
My one complaint is that the unlined interior has no formed sight channel, which meant that the first few dozen draws revealed a blob of leather fuzz on the front sight. With use, this trait has disappeared; but it is perhaps this problem that caused Bianchi to drop the #4 holster from the line, and continue with only the lined #4L version.
The Avenger is truly a behind-the-hip design, the cant requiring that the holster be worn over the hip pocket to maximize both concealment and draw speed. If you're looking for a high quality holster for range or concealed carry use, that comfortably and discreetly accommodates a full-size pistol, try the Bianchi Askins Avenger.
What I say:
Well, what Rick said, mostly. Although I actually didn't read his piece until after I had written mine.

The holsters pictured above are different length holsters of the same model, the now-discontinued Bianchi "Askins' Avenger" holster named after famed handgun writer Col. Charles Askins, who was also an army officer and lawman. He passed on in 1999, but led an exciting and apparently, often rough and illegal life. He was a gunfighter, and probably the last generation of that unique American creation.
Notwithstanding the controversy about his life covered quite in-depth here by veteran police officer, expert witness and handgun writer Massad Ayoob. If you've read some of the more law enforcement oriented gun magazines in the past three decades, you know well who Ayoob is.

The main attributes of this design, when executed properly, are thus:
1. Concealability: With a 4" barrel length semi-auto, the holster design wraps the back of the gun grip towards the back of the body, lending greatly to not having the gun "stick out" or "print" or be visible.
2. Cant: The forward cant design of this holster is what is commonly called an "FBI Cant", and means a slight forward tilt of the holster. Also, a holster of this type with a forward cant often lends itself to being "off label" used as a crossdraw holster.

He was well known as a gun writer, and I particularly remember reading lots of his articles in my teens and twenties. Like Jeff Cooper, Skeeter Skelton and Bill Jordan, the things Askins wrote about firearms and his observations of using firearms for self-defense were words to be taken seriously.

I don't recall if he designed this holster himself or if Bianchi holsters named it in his honor and designed it in his style. I have several that are nearly 30 years old, still in excellent condition despite heavy use. I now need a couple of more to go with some other guns, and although many gunmakers do market an "Askins' Avenger Style" holster, I have found out that none that I have tried come close to the originals.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What holster makers do you know of that make a holster in this style?

I've checked all over the web. Last year, I ended up ordering a custom made holster of this type for a Glock 36. Although the holster was very well made and makes an excellent field holster, a concealment holster it is not. I won't say the name of the smaller custom holster maker I bought it from, because I don't want to disparage him. It's a great holster, and the craftsmanship and materials are second to none. I had it made from leather, with the reinforcing strap made of an exotic leather.

Problem is, the leather the fellow used to make the holster is at least twice as thick as that on the original, meaning that the holster sticks out quite a bit. Also, the fellow curved the main beltloop seriously, to where it sticks out a great deal. If you notice the botton picture above, the back loop of the holster under the gun is tight against the gun. This is where the repro holster I bought fails.

Many Askins clones fail because the crucial back loop, which also acts to pull the gun grip close to the torso and thus conceal it better, is either too far back or more commonly, is located too high. It needs to be under the trigger area of the gun and not too far back from the main belt slot in the main part of the holster.

I'm trying to find one for a Glock 36 and for a 3" compact 1911 auto (Such as a Kimber Ultra CDP) and for a S&W J frame revolver. I'd even take one that would fit a Detective Special.

I've printed pictures of several of the custom made models I've found, and the ones that come closest seem to be the Milt Sparks model. Kirkpatrick in Laredo makes a model as well. Again, looking at the one I bought in a picture on the internet, you'd think it was almost an exact match as well, but the thickness and the strange curvature of the main belt slot on the back of the holster doom it to field use or under a big jacket.

I have made holsters and knife sheaths before, and I'm seriously considering purchasing some leather making tools and building a version of this holster. Using the Bianchi as the template.

I wonder why Bianchi stopped making this holster? More importantly, I wonder who makes the most legitimate copy of this holster now?
Finally, in searching the web regarding this holster, I find that the one pictured at the top, located at is gonna be on the very short list that I have compiled thus far for my next purchase. Of course, I'm checking online auctions as well, looking for used types of holsters that interest me.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Have you found a good match? Please update.