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Mounted Shooting Holsters


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#1 Normow

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:55 AM

I have some customers who are interested in Mounted Shooting, and of course, gun retention without hindering draw and reholstering. They have been told that metal lining in the holster is the only way to achieve this. In my opinion, they are wrong. I think a properly made all-leather holster with the proper finish should be able to fit tightly enough to hold the gun at any gait, and still allow for draw and reholster without straps or thongs. Such a holster would retain this ability for years without stretching and losing shape.

Any other opinions on this? I may be wrong, and if so, I'd like to know it.

#2 Frank

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:41 AM

Most of the mounted holsters that I have seen are very heavy....12-14 ounce and have a suede or rough out lining. I see no sense in using metal to line the holsters when they are this heavy. I have seen rawhide used in between layers though. Just an option if they keep on you about it. I think Elton Joorsity on here has built a rig or two for his wife. You might want to talk with him.

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#3 Treed

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:17 AM

The biggest problem isn't if the style that you have works......... but is it the style that the winners are swearing by. I find this a lot with the cowboy action shooters that they want what the guy that is winning with has. I have watched many a competition and boy if only a person could draw a little faster it would cure all the other problems and make them a winner........but only if they can buy it for less than what the leather costs.

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#4 katsass

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:17 AM

I have some customers who are interested in Mounted Shooting, and of course, gun retention without hindering draw and reholstering. They have been told that metal lining in the holster is the only way to achieve this. In my opinion, they are wrong. I think a properly made all-leather holster with the proper finish should be able to fit tightly enough to hold the gun at any gait, and still allow for draw and reholster without straps or thongs. Such a holster would retain this ability for years without stretching and losing shape.

Any other opinions on this? I may be wrong, and if so, I'd like to know it.


FWIW from the grumpy old guy; I gotta agree with you. I make most all of my holsters from double layers of good shoulder leather. My reasoning is that with the two grain layers (where the firmness and rigidity are created when forming) you get a much firmer 'set' to your wet molding, that will last substantially longer than a single thickness of leather of equal weight, you also get a nice smooth interior to the rig. NOW, my experience with that sort of shooting is rather limited to (current) steel challenge shooting and (MUCH) earlier --- the fast draw stuff with the likes and times of Thell Reed and Arvo Ojala, (hell, I expect some of you younger guys may have to Google those names) so I can't speak much to the mounted shooting game, BUT, a well made,all leather holster works and lasts very well in the two areas I'm familiar with. I do know that some of the fast draw games require steel to protect in the case of a little bit too much of an itchy trigger finger. That said, for those games, the steel may protect from a squib or 'wax' load --- but won't do much in the way of protecting one from a standard .44-40, .44 Special, or .45 Colt load. JMHO. Mike .

Edited by katsass, 17 April 2012 - 10:26 AM.

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#5 Russ

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:41 PM

I have some customers who are interested in Mounted Shooting, and of course, gun retention without hindering draw and reholstering. They have been told that metal lining in the holster is the only way to achieve this. In my opinion, they are wrong. I think a properly made all-leather holster with the proper finish should be able to fit tightly enough to hold the gun at any gait, and still allow for draw and reholster without straps or thongs. Such a holster would retain this ability for years without stretching and losing shape.

Any other opinions on this? I may be wrong, and if so, I'd like to know it.


Metal lined holsters for mounted shooters are not popular. What retains the gun for the mounted shooter is a site-lock.

The thickness of the leather is mostly preference of the shooter and the holster-maker. I've made holsters out of 12 oz skirting. I prefer to make them with 8-10 oz leather. They retain their shape just fine. Plus, 12 oz skirting can be a little harder to mold and turn out the top of the #1 holster, to enlarge the opening to make quick holstering easy.

#6 Normow

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:05 PM

"Metal lined holsters for mounted shooters are not popular. What retains the gun for the mounted shooter is a site-lock."

Would you explain further what the site-lock is?

I make holsters from a top layer of 6-7 oz and a liner of 5-6 oz, so they come out pretty heavy. I think the 2 ply makes them stiffer, like plywood. I finish with a very lite oiling and then acrylic sealer, so there should be no reason for them to loosen up.


Thanks everybody who tooke time to respond to my question.

Edited by Normow, 19 April 2012 - 10:06 PM.


#7 Russ

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:58 PM

Would you explain further what the site-lock is?


A sight-lock (I apologize for misspelling it before) is a piece of leather that is about 1.75" by 3/4". I use firm 12 oz leather. I skive one end down to a feather edge. The leather is put in the "fold" of the holster so that the skived end is facing the mouth (up), and grain side facing into the holster. When the gun is inserted into the holster, the front sight passes over the skived end and "snaps" past the pull end of the 12 oz leather. So the sight is sitting below a piece of 12 oz leather. It then takes a pull to remove the gun past the lock; it won't shake out.

The lock goes between the holster leather and the lining. Obviously, if you want to use 5-6oz veg tanned leather for the lining, this won't work. I use 2-3 oz pigskin.

If none of this makes sense to you, I'm not surprised. Hard to explain. If needed, I can take photos for you next time I build a gun rig.

One thing I did not mention before. I put a piece of rawhide between the lining and the holster (only around the area where the cylinder is, and below the mouth by about .75"). You don't need it around the barrel...it's like a fat figure 8. The whole idea is down the road when the holster has been used a lot, to keep the holster open so the gun can be re-holster without looking.

If you use good, firm 8 -10 oz leather, 2 - 4 oz lining leather, and a piece of rawhide in between, you'll have a holster so stiff you can almost stand on it. Remember, with the two pieces of leather plus the welt, you'll be sewing through 22 - 28 oz of leather at the mouth of the holster, depending on how much welt your pattern calls for.

Clear as mud? :rolleyes2:

#8 Russ

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:06 PM

And, looking at your original question, I am still using my original gun rig to compete with. I'm going into my 5th year and it has retained it's shape just fine. I replaced the sight locks this year. My experience is the sight-locks wear fastest. Some folks want their holsters "tightened" and that's an easy fix....I just shave the welt down a bit and resew.

Short answer....stay away from the metal. It's not necessary, and if it wears through the lining for whatever reason it will damage the gun. And, oh......it's not cowboy!

#9 Normow

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 10:46 AM

And, looking at your original question, I am still using my original gun rig to compete with. I'm going into my 5th year and it has retained it's shape just fine. I replaced the sight locks this year. My experience is the sight-locks wear fastest. Some folks want their holsters "tightened" and that's an easy fix....I just shave the welt down a bit and resew.

Short answer....stay away from the metal. It's not necessary, and if it wears through the lining for whatever reason it will damage the gun. And, oh......it's not cowboy!



Good stuff, Russ! Thank you.

I'm thinking there might be another way to incorporate a sight lock. When I build a holster, I use a French edger to carve a channel in the flesh side of the outer layer. I go both across where the front of the cylinder will lie, and lengthwise, to form a sight channel. I think it might work to carve that lengthwise channel a bit deeper where the front sight will rest, and eliminate it about an inch above the deeper spot. Then assemble as usual, wet form, and you should have a sight lock. I'm gonna try it.

Edited by Normow, 20 April 2012 - 10:57 AM.


#10 willow

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:50 PM

We are just getting started in the mounted shooting. We are also novice leather workers. Am interested in making our own holster sets and belts. As metioned above they join two layers of leather together. We are curious as to how this is done. Is the tooling and staining done first and then joined?
Are the layers glued and stitched? Also, we would like to find a pattern for the holsters. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

#11 Tree Reaper

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:31 PM

Stitch a good earth magnet to the back of the holster.

#12 Craig44

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:34 AM

I know the original discussion was settled a year ago but it seems to me that steel linings are used in fast draw where retention is a long distant second to drawing speed. Where the holster is just a bucket to grab from. In 30yrs of using leather holsters, most good designs will retain the gun they're fitted to without retention straps or thongs. The last Slim Jim I made, for a Colt 1860, will hold the sixgun in place even upside down. I almost never use the retention on my Slim Jims, Threepersons, Austin or Mexican loop holsters or the Mernickle PS6 concealment holster but they're only used with the guns they're fitted for. Although the aforementioned sight lock or a sticky lining like pigskin might be a good idea. Definitely wouldn't want to use a smooth lining.

Edited by Craig44, 18 March 2013 - 10:36 AM.


#13 Russ

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 05:49 PM

We are just getting started in the mounted shooting. We are also novice leather workers. Am interested in making our own holster sets and belts. As metioned above they join two layers of leather together. We are curious as to how this is done. Is the tooling and staining done first and then joined?
Are the layers glued and stitched? Also, we would like to find a pattern for the holsters. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


The tooling is done before the holsters are molded, and before the lining is put in. If you are staining the holsters, I usually do it before the holsters are lined and sewn closed, to get a more even staining across the holsters. However, in a pinch I have stained after they were closed up. You just have to be more careful in the staining.

That said, 95% of my holsters are just oiled and suntanned, with white thread to show off the stitching. I tan the leather before sewing the holster together, and then tan it some more once it's put together as some touch up. Obviously, if you are staining and using white (or a different color thread than the stain) then you must stain then sew...no choice.

I don't like to stain and do a lot of colors in my gun rigs, so most of my work is oil tanned.

And yes, you install the lining with glue and stitch the edges, no matter if it's thin lining for mounted shooting or thick(er) veg tanned lining for other holsters. If you don't stitch, the edges will peel back with use. If you don't glue, the lining will wrinkle or bind in the middle of the piece.

I would suggest seeking out a holster maker in one of your local clubs and getting face to face tips. If you ask around your club who made their holsters, you will no doubt find someone close to help you out. There's some art to it, and of course experience helps. You don't need problems with your holsters when you are getting started mounted shooting.

Good luck!
Russ

Edited by Russ, 18 March 2013 - 05:51 PM.






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