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Thread: Leather Holters for packing/hiking revolvers, you like

  1. #21
    Boolit Man Castaway's Avatar
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  2. #22
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Snaps fail more easily than Sam Brown studs
    I've not found this to be the case. I'm not sure what is meant by failing anyway. Snaps are faster and more secure. Metal-to-metal is very consistent depstite temperature and moisture differences. Leather-to-metal is not. Sometimes a stud that comes out easily enough at a normal humidity will be loose in a swamp and stiff to the point of nearly unusable in a freezing condition.

    And snaps are far easier to replace. The leather that interfaces with a stud wears out, and needs a break in to work well. I like the quietness of studs, but prefer snaps for all other reasons. They are also far cheaper. A riveted stud is like $2, a screw type even more (but these are easier to replace). The snap is about 20 cents.

    The truth is that while a solid brass stud will last longer than a snap, both will outlast leather and stitching.

    Studs are more historically accurate, and have their place. I do think that they match the character of that holster better than would a snap!

    I really like that holster design...it does a lot of things well for a SA. It protects the hammer, retains the piece, allows a loose enough fit for a quick draw, and that nice big tab on the end of the flap gives plenty of purchase for that stud. The stitches are positioned away from wear areas. The drop is going to make for a comfortable draw and the wide loop will allow for some rocking in a seated postion. Up to a 4" barrel this is a winner! That is clearly a design that has been evolved and refined from lots of real world use. Thumbs UP!

    Castaway, do you have a picture of the area of the rear sight and where the flap attaches?
    Last edited by curioushooter; 03-21-2020 at 02:36 PM.

  3. #23
    Boolit Man Castaway's Avatar
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ID:	258890Holster is in two pieces. Flap is integral to the holster.

  4. #24
    Boolit Man Castaway's Avatar
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    Rintinglen. In the pic at upper left, at top front of the holster, is that a tab to capture the firing pin? I made such a holster, allows secure carrying and if desired, a 6th round in the cylinder

  5. #25
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    I carried a Ruger NM Blackhawk 6 1/2" bbl in a Safariland #42. It has the same holster shape as the Bianchi #1, with 2 exceptions. It has a larger belt loop, that in it is, not sewn to the holster body but has a strap running thru it that buckles on the outside of the holster. And I never experienced a problem with the hammer thong. I spent many hours & many miles trudging thru the SoCal Chaparral with never a problem concerning the security of revolver & holster.

    That being said I have Bianchi #1's for all My other Blackhawks/Super Blackhawks/Bisley & Single Sixes. I have the EL Paso Saddlery "Tom Threepersons" style for Colt SAA with snap straps. The EL Paso Saddlery Holsters have the bottoms sewn shut.

    If I were to buy a New Holster today, I think it would be the EL Paso Saddlery, because of the sewn shut bottom.
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  6. #26
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    because of the sewn shut bottom
    Why do you prefer this? I've made them both ways, but the closed bottom has two problems. One, it can accumulate debris and water. Another is that it tends bind front sights and wear the finish more rapidly near the muzzle, particularly a SA with a full length plunger-ejector shroud.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Yea, it's once piece, cast away. Good thing is that it is strong. Bad thing is that when that leather wears out on the stud hole it's throwaway unless a stud-snap can be shoehorned in there. Name:  snap.JPG
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    This is one of the reasons why I went with snaps on my flap design.

  8. #28
    Boolit Man Castaway's Avatar
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    Curiousshooter, figure I can take a stitch to tighten the cut below the hole. I’ve made many bracelets for my kids, grandkids and their friends using snaps. My be my technique but I’ve had a problem with the belled post straightening and pulling free from the snap, leaving a closed snap not attached to one end of the leather. I have an assortment of studs and maybe should use a medium size to start with so if the hole wallows out I can insert a larger stud.

  9. #29
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I think it may be your tool not being sized properly, or you are using the wrong size snap for the thickness of the leather. Could also be a low quality snap. I use Tandy tools and snaps...which are good and made in Taiwan. I cannot vouch for others. If you are using a hardware store bought tool or snaps I wouldn't be surprised the are not working.

    I am not sure what you mean here. There are four pieces to a snap. There is the male snap, the female snap, the male snap retaining post and the female snap retaining post. The retaining posts should never pull off the snap; it should roll over plenty so that the female-male part of the snap. The amount of roll over is determined by the length of the post in relation to the thickness/comprehensibility of the leather.

    That stitch fix you suggest will only be temporary at best; I've attempted this fix on several old hoslters. If the leather is worked/deteriorated to that degree the stitch will pull through. This still doesn't solve the inherent slowness of studs and their vulnerability to change through moisture and temperature (though being in Florida you have neither of these problems...always humid...never freezing). The best solution I've found is to put one of those stud snaps in. Usually there is plenty of good leather left and those things are really great. They are quiet like studs but fast and predictable like snaps. But they are steel, which rusts. So if you use one with a brass snap it will wear pretty rapidly. A steel stud is usually used instead. I try to steer everyone towards snaps when I make hoslters for them, but for those that insist on studs, I go with this. It's also an effective repair. It's a pity Tandy charges about 5 bucks for them!

    Putting in a larger stud will buy you some time, but if it is riveted is not so easy. Nothing lasts forever you know.

    Look at police rigs. They use studs in one place...on the belt where speed is of no consequence and the stud works great. Nowhere else are they found...snaps are found instead. This isn't just because they are cheaper. It's because they are better in these roles. The Bianchi thumbsnap is the the fastest retention system unless you consider just an open top using friction/gravity a retention system. Studs are nowhere to be seen at any sort of competition where speed is a factor (admittedly snaps are pretty rare there too).
    Last edited by curioushooter; 03-22-2020 at 02:48 PM.

  10. #30
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    Why do I prefer a sewn shut bottom on a holster?
    Both the Safariland #42 & Bianchi #1 are made to EXACT bbl length. If you sit down in the dirt your holster bottom goes down into the dirt, Revolver muzzle too.
    Since the holsters are wet molded to the shape of the Revolver, I've never had crud go down inside my holsters. And if it does happen to rain in So Cal? I carry a light weight poncho. Weighed a 10oz.
    The closed end of the holster protects the muzzle from crud.
    If I'm carrying a Handgun in the field, I'm not going to worry about blue wear. If blue wear did matter for a particular Revolver or
    .22LR Auto-Loader, then I would Not carry it in the field.
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  11. #31
    Boolit Man Castaway's Avatar
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    Gentlemen, we have just discovered what makes the world go around. If it weren’t for personal preferences, one size would fit all, without any variance. I still like studs, curiousshooter likes snaps and even have holsters that are closed at the bottom like Walks. Sometimes I even carry a 9mm on my hip!

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Castaway View Post
    Gentlemen, we have just discovered what makes the world go around. If it weren’t for personal preferences, one size would fit all, without any variance. I still like studs, curiousshooter likes snaps and even have holsters that are closed at the bottom like Walks. Sometimes I even carry a 9mm on my hip!
    That looks like a practical holster ! I like the studs on flap holsters , the studs for where and how I have used them are more trouble free than snaps , and I like how silent they are to open and close . I also prefer open bottom holsters , if the holster extends past the muzzle enough it can fold around the end and leave just a slot that can be pulled open to get twigs and junk out of the holster without removing it. But I hunted in a lot of thick woods and brush . I don't want to give up snaps but I like studs to.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    Yea, it's once piece, cast away. Good thing is that it is strong. Bad thing is that when that leather wears out on the stud hole it's throwaway unless a stud-snap can be shoehorned in there. Name:  snap.JPG
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    This is one of the reasons why I went with snaps on my flap design.
    You can also trim the leather off above the hole and sew or rivet a strap to the inside of the flap and have fresh leather to mate with the stud. Some old holsters were made this way to start with.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    There were also some designs where there was a separate piece for the strap. The stud was on the flap and as the leather piece wore out it was easily replaced...see the WWI and earlier Webley revolver holsters for example. Unfortunately this was an EVEN SLOWER means of getting at the revolver.

    If you sit down in the dirt your holster bottom goes down into the dirt, Revolver muzzle too.
    Maybe if you like sitting down in quicksand or hog wallow filled with soupy mud...and if you decide to sit down in such a place...well what can I say? The only way I can think of getting this to happen is if you drive an ATV without fenders through mud at high speed and some flings off the front tire upwards into the bottom of the holster. If this is on the menu, then I guess you should close the bottom.

    I've never experienced any debris or mud coming in from the bottom. There should ~3/8" of relief. Closed bottom holsters are found in designs like front breaks where there is no other way to stop the forward motion of the revolver in the holster. Typical designs will stop on the front of the frame or on the cylinder. The worst thing about closed bottoms in my opinion is that they add about an inch. That inch is of great importance if you don't like the holster banging into a chair ground. Why make something longer than it needs to be?
    I have had plenty of crud accumulate inside closed bottom holsters. Oily saw dust being a great example. Give me hole big enough for the crud to fall through...at least most of it.

    Al Stohlman specifically notes to leave a "drain hole" in the bottom of closed bottom holsters for exactly this reason. He also advised spacers so that it wouldn't pinch the muzzle or front sight...which is a functional matter. The blackness of the top of the front sight is of the upmost importance to good shooting. When you close bottoms and don't pay attention to the details you get shiny tops to your front sight. Some commercial makers went to using a plastic sight channel (Don Hume) insert to solve this problem. It can also be solved by a proper "bell-bottom" given to the end of the holster. The galco phoenix, which is very expensive, has this feature. Most holsters are made with a zinc die casting clone of the actual gun. Often these have non regulation sights on them and in any case it will not be apparent that you are getting rubbing in that area if you are. There are holster makers who know this stuff and take precautions. But not all.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 03-25-2020 at 08:44 PM.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I liked that flap design so much I made one...with some improvements. Oh, and I figured it would just be wrong to make it with a snap, so I used a stud. Which works like a stud does. I made it so the stud could be removed and up-sized as the hole wears. Rivets make this belt loop stronger, stitching is away from cylinder, and the holster can be worn high ride if desired. I think if I were to remake it I would shorten the drop loop.

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  16. #36
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Here's a good hikin' and packin' holster/combo I just made. Never used a double hammer safety strap before...this is sweet system. I like it even better than a Bianchi as it is nearly or equally fast and it can be operated with the thumb OR the forefinger. It also can be sized to work with DA/SAs and SAs just as easily.

    Lots of hidden features here. I molded the sight channel around a chopstick so it is completely drag-free. The French-curve profile holds the yoke corner of the revolver tight and along with the cylinder and tight ejector rod molding makes for a perfect stop. Withdrawal is slick and smooth with not banging. The tapered inner strap will not snag behind the hammer. The double stitched trigger guard provides some support to the back. Wet-burnished edging is smooth and almost glassy. No stitching or rivets contact gun metal at any point Stitching is minimally stressed. When I sit down there is a good inch of clearance. The rear sight is fully protected and relieved. No touching of the leather to the metal.

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  17. #37
    Boolit Master
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    curious, where did you get that holster? It is a good looking rig. I myself do not need or want a "safety strap" on my concealed holsters but that is a personal preference. A very good write-up on its features and merits but no maker/contact info. Would you mind sharing that with us? I am in the "thinking process" for a new concealed carry holster. james

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Castaway View Post
    Rintinglen. In the pic at upper left, at top front of the holster, is that a tab to capture the firing pin? I made such a holster, allows secure carrying and if desired, a 6th round in the cylinder
    No that is actually a sight protector designed to cushion the rear sight of my Ruger Flattop. The gun in the pic is a Ruger Vaquero.
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  19. #39
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    TN sailorman:

    Here's a good hikin' and packin' holster/combo I just made.
    I am the maker/designer/owner. And frankly it represents what would be considered only an apprentice level of quality (for example you can see that I punched the hole for the snap slightly off center and my hand faltered when I boned the ejector rod shroud). It's just that commercial holsters are of such low quality today that it looks good by comparison. It was out of frustration with a certain custom holster maker that sold me a $175 holster that worked poorly and looked like it was the product of a high school shop class that I decided to figure out exactly what makes a holster good or bad.

    Furthermore, it is not a concealment holster. IMO visible holsters should have a retention system. I've experimented extensively with open top OWB holsters (initially they were all I made since I ignorantly assumed they were the fastest..they are also the cheapest and easiest to make).

    My testing has time and time again confirmed that friction (how open top holsters retain the handgun) is a poor system. To begin with if the friction is sufficient to retain the handgun when inverted (a minimum standard...a galloping horse or tractor going over rough land will require more) it will be so tight that it will wear off the finish. Also, over time the friction is reduced as the firearm "burnishes" the inside of the holster. This can be partially overcome with tension screws, but that still doesn't solve the problem with finish wear.

    Secondly, open tops are not necessarily faster. The necessary friction to retain the handgun is so great it slows down the draw somewhat. Super fast draws with open top "speed rigs" are invariably done with such loose fitting holsters that they offer "gravity retention" only. Looser holsters with good retention systems can be just as fast. They also wear the finish less, are easier to re-holster, and do not need very tight belt loops to to work. Often with friction retained holsters (like most pancake designs) the belt loops are cut so they will accommodate up to a 2" belt or larger. If you wear the typical 1.25" or 1.5" belt then there is .75" - .5" of "play" where the holster will move up with the firearm before breaking free due to the extreme tension. With large loop holsters like the one I made here, which will accommodate anything from a slender 1" suit belt to a beefy 3" sam browne that amount of play would render the holster incredibly clumsy.

    I take design inspiration mainly from 1960s-1980s police holsters, as these represent the apogee of practical performance for revolvers. I take some styling and functional cues from historical military designs and some styling cues from hollywood westerns. Someday I want to learn how to stamp and carve leather, but I feel that I settling on a solid design foundation is a necessary first step, and I am still learning.

    One of the things about most holsters these days is they are designed to minimize the amount of leather used as leather is expensive, and good leather is rather expensive. A typical grade of Mexican or South American drum tanned 9oz bend is ~$90. The high grade Belgian pit tanned 9oz bend from Scandinavian cattle is ~$140 which is what I use. Making holsters from a single piece (as I prefer) results in a lot of waste leather. The reason why so many holsters today are made in the pancake style or from multiple pieces of pretty squarish leather is because the result in very little waste and drive down the costs. I could probably make 10 glock pancake holsters from the amount of leather it use to make two 4-6" barreled standard revolver holsters. Cost savings are the priority for most makers these days and everything is made at a price point. This is why you see so few flap holsters or tanker type shoulder holsters or skirt holsters---they use a lot of leather relative to what you can charge for them.

    Virtually all commercial makers employ a vast array of "tricks" that allow them to disguise their essentially low quality. The use of high pressure hydraulic presses to "mold" the holsters makes a very detailed and impressive look but it is not functional. The truth is that more pressure needs to be applied in certain areas (on revolvers at least, not so much with most autos) and less in others when boning a holster. A hydraulic press cannot do that and a typical ignorant holster purchaser would look at a properly hand boned holster and think it was less well done because the impressions are not as sharp. Virtually all of them use edge coating finishes that look very nice when a holster is new but will all inevitably wear off and are functionally inferior to using a quality fine-grained leather and then wet burnishing the edges by hand with a slicker, but again an ignorant holster buyer will find the edge coat to look more visually appealing. Another one that really gets me is the near universal use of machine stitching with nylon threads. It is true these threads are very strong but they all will cut through the leather long before they will wear out. The truth is that a thicker braided cord made of hemp or linen is stronger, and saddle stitching doesn't leave ugly presser foot marks on the surface and that punching a diamond shaped hole (rather than the round hole produced by a needle machine) is less likely to stretch out over time.

    Another thing is the widespread use of zinc die cast molds instead of real firearms. Many firearms, especially revolvers, have different sight heights, different hammers, different triggers (S&W for example use three different sizes across their line in the same model number from about 1955 until the MIMs, not to mention different grips which can matter). My M19 has in fact a non-factory configuration that I prefer--a target hammer with a combat trigger. Most commercial holsters with a hammer retention type device will be set for the standard "combat" hammer, not the wide target hammer or the bobbed hammer. The zinc die casts are pretty good as to the shape of the firearm but usually miss the mark when it comes to hammers and sight heights.

    Also, I like to maintain a certain geometric motif when I make a holster. I really like french curves which meld perfectly with the shape of a partial underlug DA/SA revolver. I will retain the motif in other features like the sight protector, the tabs for the safety, the cut for the cylinder...etc. I use me wife's sewing templates. These are the details that make a holster look "right" to me.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 04-01-2020 at 01:11 PM.

  20. #40
    Boolit Master scattershot's Avatar
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    Here are a couple of mine. The DeSantis can be worn either strongside or crossdraw, and the El Paso Saddlery holster is a strongside pancake. I haven’t worn either of these hiking yet, but just thought you might like to see some other options. Good luck!
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