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Thread: Good holsters for medium to large revolvers

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Good holsters for medium to large revolvers

    I wanted to share my experiences carrying medium to large size revolvers such as the Ruger GP100, S&W N frame, and Ruger Redhawk. I've found it much harder to find holsters for these revolvers that I really like. It should be no surprise that most of the holster market is for small to medium semi auto, and small revolvers. Yes there are lots of options out there that work decent for wandering out to a deer stand. There's not a lot out there beyond multi-fit, hammer strap hunting holsters. About the only multi-gun style holster I've found that actually seems to work good is the Hunter Arms versafit. It is a good design that rides well, but the basic hammer strap is useless for anything other than hunting.

    Getting into it I've found one that I really like, and as of now I consider it the best full size revolver holster on the market. That is the A.E. Nelson #392. On the surface it seems like a basic leather holster, but they have all the right things in the right places. First off they make these things stout. A holster shouldn't be like a fine leather glove, it should be a secure gun locker. These are made of the thickest cow leather, and treated to become semi-hard. They do soften somewhat with use, but not a whole lot. Along with that the belt loop on these is equally stout. the entire back is a separate piece of leather making it double thick. One thing I've found with a lot of holsters is the belt loops sag out quickly. This almost always leads to a gun that moves around, or worse, flops around as you walk. These don't do that.

    Retention is a very personal choice. I love myself a thumb break, and this is a great one. It seems that they use some kind of metal tab in the thumb break so it is like a lever. It breaks easy and quick. This is one issue I've had with a number of holsters. Either that tab is so flimsy you have to push it way over to break the snap, or the hammer strap part is such a poor fit you have to pull that way over before it finally hits the hammer to so you can pull and break the snap. This holster is perfect in this regard, it's really just like using a ALS style holster it is that crisp.

    Pictured below are some of my holsters I have that are comparable. In the first top picture we have from left to right: AE Nelson 392 for a 4" N frame, AE Nelson 392 for a 5" GP100, (lower, middle) Simply rugged flapjack for a 5" GP100, (upper, middle) Lobo leather enhanced pancake for a 5" GP100, Lobo leather enhanced pancake for a 3" SP101.

    I included the SP101 holster because it shows the differences I see from small revolvers to larger revolvers as far as holster designs. In this instance I love the Lobo Leather enhanced pancake holster for the SP101. It rides great, and it is designed so that it hides really well. It forms to the side of your body. My only complaint is that when I first got it, the thumb break was such a poor fit it was nearly impossible to break the snap. They fixed it at no cost, and it works well. I do wish the thumb break was stiffer, but I will say being softer it can ride right against your skin and never dig in.

    Now compare that to the same exact holster but for the 5" barrel GP100. I hate that holster. I hate it so much I've never worn it outside of trying it on. At this size they become so huge that it is no longer concealable. It's like wearing a dinner plate on your side. The design of this holster is for 2" and 3" barrels. They don't adjust for longer barrels, they just make the holster longer. I even specifically asked for it to ride higher, and that's what I got. You will see in the bottom picture about how they ride with the belt loops lined up.

    Also included was the Simply Rugged flapjack holster for a 5" GP100. It too faces the same problems as the Lobo holster, although worse. First off, the idea of the flap for the flapjack is horrible. Don't waste your money on that design. Either get the flap holster, or get the regular pancake. Second, this is also a design that is horrible with longer barreled revolvers. Actually the design is pretty bad all around. The hammer strap is not easy to use fast. The belt loops sack out, and no longer holds the revolver tight to you. Simply Rugged makes a quality holster, but the designs of them are just that, simple. They are at their best in small handguns with no retention at all. I can't speak to any of their other styles such as the cattleman, but their pancake holsters are best with small handguns.





    Note how these holsters ride with the belt loops lined up. The Lobo is slightly higher, but not as much as the picture makes it look like. by my measurements on my pants, the Lobo has the tip of the holster 1/2" higher than the AE Nelson holsters. Both of the AE Nelson holsters have the same protrusion, because I asked for the 5" GP100 holster to be made to ride 1" higher than standard. The downside to that is you loose the cross draw loop, but I only carry strong side. The Lobo holster on the far right for the 5" GP100 rides a full 2" lower than the others. It does look like the Lobo's have more forward cant, but when on a belt they aren't that much different. Higher isn't always better with holsters, but so many are very low riders. The only other so called high ride holster I'm aware of is the Glaco Silhouette. I've never tried that one, but it doesn't look very good to me. i sure don't want my entire barrel sticking out of the bottom, not even if all my guns were stainless.

    In conclusion, I think a pancake holster works great for smaller handguns. When you get to mid size guns there's no way you are going to blend that shape in with your body, it just wont happen. The best thing you can do is get a holster that is trim and hugs as close to your body as possible. I don't think you are going to be fooling anyone when carrying a full size revolver under a T shirt, but you can absolutely conceal one with something baggier such a a sweatshirt. Even as open carry I would never want anything other than a rock steady and well secure hold that the #392 has.
    Last edited by megasupermagnum; 12-06-2022 at 04:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    That's why I make my own most of the time. That way I get exactly what I want (or I trash it and start over). Just takes a few hours.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy wilecoyote's Avatar
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    ...lots of ideas, photos, historical perspectives and inspirations blogged here:

    https://www.holsterguys.com/blog

    ...enjoy !
    ...next thing you know they'll want your pistol and your tobacco...

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    There was a member on the S&W forums that sold original holsters from S&W, Bucheimer, Safariland and others. Weren't brand new and most looked to be in very good to excellent condition. I know as I bought a bunch of them and was very satisfied. Haven't seen a listing nor pics in quite some time. Frank

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by samari46 View Post
    There was a member on the S&W forums that sold original holsters from S&W, Bruckheimer, Safariland and others. Weren't brand new and most looked to be in very good to excellent condition. I know as I bought a bunch of them and was very satisfied. Haven't seen a listing nor pics in quite some time. Frank
    I really like the Safariland SLS and ALS style holsters, but they are not made for hardly any large frame revolvers. Really only those used in competition shooting. They do list one for a 4" barrel GP100 though, so that is an option. These do tend to stick out quite a bit, mainly being for competition, and duty use (such as open carry police officers).

    Which ones specifically were you impressed with?

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub mjac's Avatar
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    I was looking for something for a gp100 but sadly there was no gp100 among those on the drop down menu.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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    "Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." Col Jeff Cooper, USMC.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Great thread, But I got to tell you about my favorites in Holsters , First( been there done that) , have tried a bunch spent lot`s of money on holsters ,Got a big box full of them . For my Ruger`s - Redhawk , gp100, sp1o1, I use Milt Sparks 200AW , not cheap and it takes awhile to to get @ 6 month `s. It truly is the best holster I have tried. I have over 10 of them , from a S&W .63,to my Redhawk`s and my freedom arms 83 and 97 .I think if a person would try one they would be impressed . I wish I could post a picture of them but can`t figure out to.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Believe it or not, the $10.00 Allen nylon holsters for revolvers work really well. Not my first choice, but really good for the price.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
    GOPHER SLAYER's Avatar
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    Making a holster is really not that hard. A man showed me the trick many years ago. I have been making them ever since. The problem is finding the leather. Wearing a nylon holster is a sin.
    A GUN THAT'S COCKED AND UNLOADED AIN'T GOOD FOR NUTHIN'........... ROOSTER COGBURN

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by FergusonTO35 View Post
    Believe it or not, the $10.00 Allen nylon holsters for revolvers work really well. Not my first choice, but really good for the price.
    I've owned plenty of Allen and Blackhawk nylon holsters. Still even use a couple. They are better than carrying your revolver in a backpack, but that's about all that can be said for them.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by mjac View Post
    I was looking for something for a gp100 but sadly there was no gp100 among those on the drop down menu.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    There's only a single holster Safariland makes for the GP100. You have to search by handgun to find it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by fivegunner View Post
    Great thread, But I got to tell you about my favorites in Holsters , First( been there done that) , have tried a bunch spent lot`s of money on holsters ,Got a big box full of them . For my Ruger`s - Redhawk , gp100, sp1o1, I use Milt Sparks 200AW , not cheap and it takes awhile to to get @ 6 month `s. It truly is the best holster I have tried. I have over 10 of them , from a S&W .63,to my Redhawk`s and my freedom arms 83 and 97 .I think if a person would try one they would be impressed . I wish I could post a picture of them but can`t figure out to.
    I'm sure they are good quality, but I'm just not convinced on friction only type holsters. I thankfully never dropped a handgun with one, but I've come close. I've lost far too many knives that were either pocket clip or friction type sheaths.

  13. #13
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    I make my own most of the time, but my favorites are split. For wearing out in the open while walking or hunting, I prefer a thumbreak, but for concealed carry I prefer an open top. Adding a strap to fumble with under a coat or vest just makes for delay and puts one more obstacle between me and my gun.
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    concealment

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    open carry.
    _________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy dogdoc's Avatar
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    Bianchi cyclone is a great holster.
    Wear it strong side or cross draw. I like the cross draw when on my tractor or driving. I have them for k,l,and n frames in different barrel lengths. Galco has one as well that I use for my ruger single actions

  15. #15
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    Great thread. Thank you for posting it, MSM. Not only is it good to have some recommendations, but personal experience with a product is always of great value.

    DG

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