This feature is dedicated to my friend Paul
who helps me walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
Western Star Leather
I have always been interested in cowboy
holsters, guns, and history. As a peace officer I soon learned
that many of the tales of the Old West rang true. The gun
battles, fights and petty jealousies over business matters,
soiled doves and horses (cars today) were played out in much the
same fashion as today. The only real difference was in
technology. Human beings did not change at all. Nor am I certain
the means of snuffing out the other's life has improved either.
The quality of modern thugs is not better than that of western
bandits and modern peace officers remain for the most part
respectable individuals attempting to do the best job they can.
When I first became an armed officer, the
revolver was king. A few times early in my career I carried a
single action Ruger Blackhawk .45 on duty. It was the
only good revolver I owned as the Model 29 Smith and Wesson
.44 Magnum I usually carried had been damaged in a brawl. While
I was waiting for the rear sight and hammer of the Model 29 to
be replaced the Ruger rode in a DeSantis scabbard on my
belt. I do not recall having a ballistic inferiority complex.
But for the most part my single action gear was for recreation.
I have hunted with single action revolvers and found they will
take game. When hunting, the demands of a good holster are
different than when we are looking for a personal defense
holster. Speed into action is secondary to retention. The
handgun must remain secure but speed matters but little. Comfort
for long periods in the field is important. It is no surprise
that holsters intended for use by men who spent long hours on
horseback are also good holsters for use in the field.
I have adopted Western style holsters for many
reasons. I love the look, feel, and even the smell of quality
leather. They work for me and the are appropriate for the task
at hand. Recently I have been able to test and use two holsters
from Western Star Leather. These holsters are handmade
one at a time by John Costanza with tanned American
leather. He uses the famous Hermann Oak and Wickett
and Craig tanneries. Costanza prefers to use the original
patterns to preserve historical integrity but he also has
produced a number of fresh designs. Durability is an important
Many different patterns are available, and
variations on the theme. Border stamping and basket weave is an
option. The most practical choice for the author proved to be
the Ely. I often carry my long barrel single action revolvers in
a cross draw rig in the field. Among my favorite revolvers is
the Navy Arms Deluxe Model. This is a modern single
action with excellent fit and finish. The color casehardening is
very nice and the backstrap is of German nickel silver. The
internal springs are premium WC Wolff, so you do not have
to rush to modify this revolver as you might others. My example
is in .44-40. I often recommend the .45 Colt but I have enjoyed
experimenting with the .44-40 very much. Recoil is light but the
power is there for anyone who knows their way around a loading
bench. I have loaded the Magnus 200 grain flat point to
well over 1,100 fps with a stiff charge of Alliant #2400
powder. For practice and general shooting chores, the Black
Hills cowboy action load is a good choice, breaking just
under 800 fps with good accuracy. I often carry this revolver in
the field in the Ely crossdraw. This is a comfortable rig that
carries a very friendly revolver.
I often carry a 1911 automatic in the field. The
rules are different and I often wish to have good retention with
a fast draw the last thing on my mind. Just the same, The Border
is a holster that would give good results if you try to develop
a rapid draw. The Border is a comfortable holster that is a
development of the Mexican Loop type holster. It is well suited
for field use. It rides low and comfortable the retention loop
is more than adequate maintaining security. While The Border is
a good holster for field use with any
1911 automatic, I find it especially well suited to my Wilson
Combat custom .38 Super. This is one of my favorite show
holsters. I keep it clean and occasionally rub it with Neetís
foot oil. I think that if you
enjoy quality leather goods, especially holsters, you will enjoy
Western Star especially.
Leather, PO 61137, Boulder City Nevada 89006
Phone (702) 293-3397
Mike Harlow Holsters
A new maker to the author is Mike Harlow.
When searching for an appropriate holster for my new Wilson
Combat modified .38 Super, I wished to deploy a good holster
with excellent speed and retention. Since the pistol is a bit of
a show pistol, I wanted something with some show. But I wished
to avoid something with all show and no go. The Harlow holster
is a good scabbard with excellent fit, finish, stitching and
retention. The holster offers just the right angle for a sharp
draw. Shoot your elbow to the rear and scoop the pistol out of
the holster and you are in business. A speed cut in the front of
the holster is a welcome addition. This is a man who obviously
knows what he is doing with leather. The tunnel belt loop is
secure and the fit on a good holster belt is excellent. Overall
I am impressed. I often deploy my .38 Super and while the .45
needs little introduction a pistol spitting out a Cor Bon
loaded JHP at well over 1,400 fps should get the attention of
those who misbehave. Penetration and expansion are excellent.
Overall, I am well pleased with both the pistol and the holster.
Phone (970) 324-2059
Saguaro and the Monster 1911
Tom Dyer is a hard bitten westerner who
designs holsters tough enough for real cowboys who sometimes
take a spill off their mounts. His work is featured in my book, HOLSTERS
FOR COMBAT AND CONCEALED CARRY, from Paladin Press.
A few months ago, Tom saw one of my articles on the .460 Rowland
decided the holster illustrated was far from satisfactory. He
decided that a modern upgrade of the Tanker holster would do
just fine. Now, the end product was nothing that would be
expected from such a humble beginning. Remember, many of us have
come to realize that when hunting with a handgun, chest carry is
ideal. This is also a preferred military carry. Carrying under
the arm is good for concealment with a lighter handgun but chest
carry is ideal when you are carrying a long barreled hunting
handgun. The 1911 with a .460 Rowland conversion certainly
qualifies as a heavy long barreled handgun. When you are pushing
a 230 grain JHP at well over 1300 fps you are getting enough
horsepower to really take down large game or to protect yourself
if need be. The 185 grain 1400 fps personal defense load
supplied by Georgia Arms is also a fine choice.
When the chest holster arrived I was amazed.
This is a first class holster with real security. The heavy
pistol is carried securely. Since hunting involves deliberate
shooting at long range speed of draw is not vital, but just the
same from a seated position or in a stand the draw is smooth.
These western style holsters have given the
author great enjoyment and pride of ownership. Along the way,
they have also performed well in the field leaving nothing to be
HC 32 Box 2538, Kingman
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