Tuesday, August 24, 2010


As an anonymous poster asked in a comment on a previous post, it brings to mind that I need a search function for readers to look through the site for arcane lore about fishing and guns and knives and gun parts and music and musicians and musical instruments and movies and the like.

But yes, Anonymous, I've made some postings before andif you look through the past months of postings, you'll see some topics on revolver holsters. I can tell you that, as I've mentioned many times, I often carry a Model 38 Bodyguard Airweight.

I like a lot of old holsters. I like custom made holsters. I abhor nylon holsters, except for fishing or hunting adventures on a hunting belt in case snakes or hogs are a problem while hunting, fishing, boating or just wandering the woods. There are lots of cool holsters. I have a great Askins Avenger type holster from Rafter S Leather for an auto that just rocks, but it is huge and is a winter concealment item or field carry only. But it's a dandy holster and very, very well made.

I'm a big fan of the leather Bianchi holsters, made long prior to their merger with Safariland. Lots of those can be found on ebay. For example, the upside down snubnose shoulder holster can be found by both Safariland and Bianchi as well as other makers. I wore one of these many years as an officer, and in colder weather with a jacket, it's a great holster.

You can find cool shoulder holsters from the old days at the auction sites I mention in this post. Better yet, go to a gun show with your gun and look in the used holster bins. Or a local gun shop where the owner hits gun shows and gets holsters to sell.

I like the old school vertical shoulder holsters, usually in black, that had the spring mechanism on the holster to retain the gun, and sometimes a strap. An elastic strap went to the non-gun arm, and these holsters were pretty concealable. Bianchi a few years ago made a bare bones single layer leather but very sturdy and cool horizontal shoulder holster for the PPK/S and the J frame that was highly concealable, but the model name/number escapes me. My freind Woody Oaks bought mine from me, after I vowed never to carry anything smaller than a .38 Special years ago and sold him my PPK/S and that holster.

Some of the coolest holsters I have came from gun shop bargain bins. I used to travel to a small town down 59 from Houston a ways just to hit this small gun store whose owner worked the gun shows and always had killer deals on great used or NOS holsters. I once scored a complete custom basketweave competition .45 rig with belt, mag holders and holster from him for under $30. It was like new, and was worth about $300 new.

I've gotten several revolver holsters for literally a dollar each that have been great holsters for field carry or for holding the guns in the range bag. I have some really cool "old school" holsters that are 50 or more years old that always attract attention at the ranges.

The Safariland stuff from the 70's and the 80's, as well as the Jackass Leather Company (now Galco) from the late 70's and 8o's are excellent holsters.

Here's a rule of thumb about snubbie holsters. A J frame or Taurus J frame five shot clone WILL FIT into a holster designed for the six shot Colt D frame (Detective Special and Cobra). But rarely if ever will a Colt Cobra or DS fit into a holster for a J frame. My Chief's Special and 70's all steel Taurus J frame clone fit just fine in most of my Colt snubbie holsters, although the Taurus clones are a bit taller and fit a smidge better than the J frames. But they can work.

Look on Ebay, Guns America, Auction Arms and the other gun auction sites out there. Do searches for the holsters you want, often they are listed in gun forum classified ads, but you may have the peruse the individual forums to hit their classifieds. I've gotten screaming deals on new and used Galco, Bell Charter Oak, High Noon and Bianchi in the recent past on ebay. If you spend a little time online you can save 30% to 75% or find discontinued models either from discount dealers, manufacturers (don't forget seconds and blems) and regular sellers.


There are lots of custom holster makers out there, many who turn out masterful work. You just have to find them. Ken Null and lots of other custom makers. Bell Charter Oak is one such legendary company.

Many of the designs of BCO are inspired by classic Chic Gaylord designs. Look at some of my earlier posts about Chic and his innovative holsters. I particularly like the IWB models that have an offset belt clip, that is the clip is over the trigger and not the cylinder = much less bulk. I have a BCO IWB holster, and it rocks. Again, found it barely used for less than half price on ebay.

I think that BCO now has some stocking items as well, and J frames are sort of their stock in trade. They make holsters for other handguns, but primarily they are a revolver holster company. Old School design with new school quality.

I have about three BCO holsters that I MUST HAVE in the future, and although it's not on the list because of practicality concerns, you must admit that the New York Reload is a hella holster.


My favorite IWB holster is the Bianchi Model 6. I am using mine from 1981 and I have used it equally much with a larger Colt Cobra. I have used this particular holster A LOT, more than any other that I own, for concealed and off duty carry for many years.

The Model 6 Bianchi is a single layer suede out holster with a very reinforced clip. It absorbs sweat well, and has no retention strap. I'll mention I've never felt the need for any sort of strap for this holster, as it molds to the side of your body aound the gun and your body and pants and your belt holds the clip firm. I've never had a problem of the holster drawing when this pistol was drawn, it always stayed in place.

Reholstering while wearing the holster is virtually impossible since the holster is so thin. Much easier to slide it out, reholster and slide it back in.

It's cheap and it should be your first concealment holster. Plenty on ebay used as well as new ones. Might as well get a new one because it is pretty cheap.

I can carry a Bodyguard Airweight with Pachmayr COMPAC grips on it in this holster under a regular sized t-shirt with shorts and IT DISAPPEARS. This is my go to hot weather rig. Additionally, I usually keep an all Steel vintage Taurus copy of a Chief's Special in one of these in my glove box when traveling. One of many backups.


This model came with and without a paddle. The belt holster version hugs tight to the body for excellent concealment, and while the paddle holster is one I wear often in outdoors adventures or when concealment is not an issue, it sticks out a big much to use any time except in cold weather where larger garments can cover it. It's an excellently designed holster and works for J frames with hammers.

Close in design to the Model 56 is the Bianchi Lightning, but it is belt worn and does not come with a paddle. It is still currently in production. If you have a Centennial hammerless variety or a bodyguard style of concealed hammer, you need the Bianchi Lightning holster which has the thumb-break (an excellent one on all Bianchi holsters, I might add) at the rear of the trigger guard.


This is a high ride belt holster that provides excellent coverage for the gun with a hammer. It is a snug fit and hugs the body well. It is far more comfortable than the IWB Bianchi Model 6 since the Galco is a belt holster, but alas the Galco is not as concealable as the Bianchi. But the Galco need only an open dress shirt over a t shirt and it's a hidden gun.

Galco quality is excellent throughout their line, and their site deserves a look. Their paddle holster rides a bit high for me, but the holster is just excellent. It's just the paddle is a bit low for my liking.


High Noon makes a great line of custom and "ready to order" items. I favor the IWB pair of the Mr. Softy and the Bare Asset. They're under $40 each shipped to the USA and are high quality and are the most comfortable and the best riding autoloader IWB concealment holster I have ever used, bar none. They have what they call "stocking items", meaning they're in stock for all guns listed and they have lots of models listed. I don't have a revolver one (I have the Bianchi Model 6, remember), but several of my friends do and swear by them just as I do for mine.

My friend Max was so impressed with my first High Noon that he ordered several more, including a belt slide with thumb break affair that really hugs the body with his seven shot S&W .357 snubbie inside. Great holster and also a stocking item. They have lots of custom items as well but these take a while as they are built to order.


I've only tried the Fobus ankle holster for my J frame, but it's spot on and highly secure. I'd like to try out a Fobus belt holster and a paddle holster, as this is the only Fobus I've ever dealt with. It's not quite as comfy as my 1982 Bianchi sheepskin lined snubby ankle holster, but it's every bit as durable and the Fobus holster is, well, highly cool. I can't wait to try the belt and paddle holsters, but I also think a Fobus would be a perfect under dash or under seat holster for the car. It would provide a secure hold.

Max is a big fan of El Paso Saddlery holsters, which I admit are great handmade quality and in most cases, made to order. I would like a Patton rig, a western rig and some of their Tortilla concealment holsters. There is lots to check at that is cool at El Paso. Takes a few weeks, although Max says they always say 8 weeks but it's always less.

The best thing to do is go to some gun shops and try on some holsters. When you find some you like, ask for a gun to try out the holster. I'd recommend a Bianchi Model 6 to start, easily found new and used on ebay, amazon and the usual suspects. It's a great holster and a great place to start. Once you see how you like this one, it'll give you tips on what else you might want in a J frame concealment holster.

Let us know what you get or if you find anything really cool that I have not mentioned.

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