Monday, January 11, 2010


I grew up reading gun magazines. When I was in high school, they had Guns and Ammo and The American Rifleman in the school library. I liked the magazine especially then, because it had a monthly feature on swat teams and police departments in different parts of the nation. COPS and show like that are kind of common place now but back in the day there wasn't much non-fictional policing going on in the movies or on TV. About the closest was a TV show called Police Story, which had realistic story lines and where the good guys didn't always win.

Over the years, I began to read various gun publications, particularly those dealing with handguns. The fishing magazines I've read since my youth, like Outdoor Life, Field and Stream and Sports Afield always had gun and hunting articles along with fishing and camping features.

And once I started reading other firearm magazines, and going to gun shows and gun shops, I kept hearing the name Chic Gaylord when it came to concealment holsters and shooting techniques.

Over the years, I've read at least one two-part article devoted to Chic, his famous book and his concealment holsters. And at least a hundred references to his name as an influence on either other holster artisans or a particular holster design or with regard to his opinions on shooting, weapons, drawing a weapon, gunfights and combat pistolcraft in general.

The late Lou Alessi was likewise a renowned holster maker and openly proclaimed the influence of Chic on his work. I've been wondering who, if anyone, will pick up the mantle of Alessi, as he made some really, really nice holsters.

There's not too many slouches in the Chic Gaylord fan club and appreciation society that seemed prevalent amongst handgun writers I've read in a mulitude of publications for over 30 years.

Chic must have been some kind of likeable guy.

Chic lived in New York City, and apparently did quite well for himself as a one man holster shop making high quality, handmade, innovative and apparently effective holster designs for law enforcement and government agents. I'm not sure about the duration of his career but I know he was especially active in the 1950's and 1960's.

I've known some ex-NYC cops who own his holsters and wouldn't part with them for love nor money.

I've done some googling and some looking and linking, and I've found a bit of information on Mr. Gaylord. He certainly needs at least his own wiki page, and I might just have to do that myself in the near future. I know he has a daughter who posted some time ago on a handgun forum.

Here's a copy of her post from last May and here's a link to the thread on an excellent handgunning forum:

May 24, 2009, 02:33 AM


Join Date: May 24, 2009
Posts: 1
who was Chic Gaylord?
He was my father. His shop was a leather shop. He made custom holsters,belts and bags. He was a gifted designer. He thought about peoples safety needs and designed to their specifics situation. He invented the ankle holster and many customers were law enforcement personnel.His book actually gives a pretty good narrative about where he was coming from. I think he was pretty sincerely on the side of the law.especially the cop on the beat. The ordinary guy on the beat who needs to make it home at the end of the day to his family.It's all in the book.

Here's the link:

I'll be doing some writing about Chic Gaylord in several more posts. I need to sift through the 75 pages of information I located on the net in a quick sweep. Much of it seems repetative.

I also found a copy of his legendary book, The Handgunner's Guide really cheap and it's on it's way now. Got it for like $3.00. I think you can still buy it new at Paladin Press, and I know for sure there are several sites and several ebay sellers who are selling this book new for a little over $20.

Here's a thread at The High Road that gives sort of a synopsis of the book. I'll see if I agree with it once I've actually read it. Chances are, I will, because I've seen articles about Chic and his opinions on guns and holsters and pistolcraft and shooting and everything I recall seems to agree with what this gentleman says and quotes from Chic's book.

During his career, a lot of very influential handgunners and handgun writers and law enforcement and even some spy types knew Chic was an artisen in leather holsters and the like. I know that times change and that in Chic's day, most crooks didn't normally carry automatic and high capacity weapons like so many do today.

Chic would probably have some strong opinions about the Beretta, Glock and Sig Sauer dominance in law enforcement and military circles, but of course, I don't know what those opinions would be. I'd infer that he seemed pretty damn sensible about law enforcement officers defending themselves, and he'd have some recommendations about calibers and handguns for today's urban policeman.

Back in Gaylord's heyday, NYPD was using Colt and Smith and Wesson revolvers in .38 caliber. We know Serpico and apparently lots of other NYPD officers carried the Browning Hi Power as a second gun, for it's high capacity. I knew patrol cops in Houston in the early 80's who would carry a second gun, often a Hi Power, when it was jacket weather and when they worked a rough part of town where backup might be some distance away (or they carried a hammerless S&W snubbie in the front jacket pocket, where it would be unseen by folks on traffic stops or bad calls. You would have your hand on your gun and no one knew, it just looked like it was cold and you had your hand in your pockets).

In any event, cops everywhere face the same problem. Either off duty or assigned to jobs where they don't need to be obvious that they are the "POH-LICE", A weapon needs to be concealed but be available should the officer need to defend himself. And that is the beauty of the holsters of Chic Gaylord. Simple, they don't print against the clothing of the wearer if worn properly with the proper clothing.

Bell Charter Oak Holsters mostly carries on the mantle of Chic Gaylord. I don't know whether they bought the designs or whether they are under license but they are Chic's holsters.

Here is their wonderful site:

I've recently read one highly critical review online in a forum about one of Bell Charter Oak's holsters but one of my friends is loaning me one of his BCO Gaylord inside the waistband holsters for my Colt snubnose. I've mostly read great things about these holsters and the folks I know who own them truly love them and swear by them. So I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it because I have made a few holsters myself and have an idea what works and what doesn't.

I'm more of a fan of IWB holsters in my older years than I was in my 20's and 30's, and perhaps it's the slight expansion of the waistband that now better facilitates a holster inside the waistband. In other words, my pants are larger and roomier than they were in my younger, more tight britches years.

My friend no longer has a pistol to fit this holster so I'll probably end up trading something for it if I like it. I can't find a picture of it but it is the "Gaylord Hold Out IWB" in the middle of the page. You have to scroll down to find this particular holster.

They make a lot of nice holsters at BCO and I recognize a lot of them as Gaylord designs. They all may be his designs, I'm not sure. I know Alessi made something called The Federal Speed Scabbard that was also a Gaylord Design.

More about Chic later, as soon as I can read his book and the rest of the material on him I'll post more about what I find and how I like his Hold Out IWB holster design. I like the partially offset belt loop, because putting a loop or clip right over the cylinder just makes a revolver that much harder to conceal.


  1. I've enjoyed reading about Chick Gaylord and although I've gottten into guns later in life I've gotten to appreciate not only the impotance of a good holster but the art and skill involved in the making of an excellent holster

  2. I visited Chick's shop in NYC.sometime around 1964. You went up the flight of stairs, rang the bell and over the door was the very first security camera I had ever seen. he made a great holster for my Charter Arms .38 and as far as I know he was the pioneer of the new wave in holster making. great memories for me. you could walk into his shop and find every kind of cop, secret agent, etc just hanging around. I'm sorry I lost my copy of his book somewhere along the way