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Old 04-23-2017, 02:25 PM
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Default Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??

The classic upside down shoulder holster. I stupidly let some one talk me out of my Bianchi 9R. Had it for years. So I had Rusty Sherrick build me a Berns and Martin for my S&W 342. Very nice holder and I'm very happy with it. Even better than the old Bianchi 9R
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Old 04-23-2017, 02:29 PM
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How about some pics?
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Old 04-23-2017, 04:30 PM
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What an odd juxtaposition of the facts. The holster shown on Rusty's page IS a Bianchi 9R, and not a Berns-Martin; and what this means on his page (Patrick Johnakin Brown Shoe Corp. Muzzle Up Shoulder Holster) is beyond me because it is irrelevant to the creation of the Bianchi 9R; I was there.

When rating the upside down holsters (which is what the OP's title suggests) one needs to realise the the original B-M is not as secure as the final Bianchi which was the 9R2.

These styles are all easily evaluated with the 'snap test' that we used at Bianchi to gauge our prototypes after the original #9 started losing guns: empty revolver holstered, and held over a bed by the centre of the leather harness, SNAP the holster HARD towards the bed. If it stays in after two of those, you've got a winner :-).
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Old 04-23-2017, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
What an odd juxtaposition of the facts. The holster shown on Rusty's page IS a Bianchi 9R, and not a Berns-Martin; and what this means on his page (Patrick Johnakin Brown Shoe Corp. Muzzle Up Shoulder Holster) is beyond me because it is irrelevant to the creation of the Bianchi 9R; I was there.

When rating the upside down holsters (which is what the OP's title suggests) one needs to realise the the original B-M is not as secure as the final Bianchi which was the 9R2.

These styles are all easily evaluated with the 'snap test' that we used at Bianchi to gauge our prototypes after the original #9 started losing guns: empty revolver holstered, and held over a bed by the centre of the leather harness, SNAP the holster HARD towards the bed. If it stays in after two of those, you've got a winner :-).
Thanks for the tip! I have a 9R purchased some time in the mid 70s. I put a lot of miles on that rig with my 2'' 60 (also purchased mid 70s!

Saw your test and tried it, its still working well!


PS I also have one of those leather ISWB pouches for that 60 and 1 for a 1911. You guys did well!
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:20 PM
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Here is my old, well used Bianchi 9-R. It is marked 2 1/2" 357
I have used it for my S&W Model 10 with 2" barrel, and with
Colt's Agent shown in the photo below.
I tried the snap test just now and the holster clung to the gun
like a dog clings to a bone.
I believe I read, in Chic Gaylord's book, a long time ago that
you should put your gun in the holster, hold it over the bed or
some other soft surface and shake pretty good.
If it shakes out, bad holster!
PS Those are Craig Spegel's extended boot grips.
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:10 PM
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Why not have both ?
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Old 04-24-2017, 03:44 AM
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Elmer Keith, in his book SIXGUNS, credits John Berns with the idea for
an upside-down holster. Berns was working in Alaska at the time, the
1930s, and he wanted to keep the muzzle of his Sixgun out of the snow.

Of course Elmer claimed he helped Berns in the design of the
"Lightning" upside-down holster. Skeeter, Bill Jordan, and Askins
all heaped praise on the "Lightning".

Jack Martin built the holster. Berns-Martin Company endured until
the 1960s when they ceased operations.

John Bianchi acquired Berns-Martin's patents. In early gun magazine
ads, Bianchi's version is first called the "Special Agent". A little later
it is called Model 9 Special Agent.

Another while later the 9R was advertised as doubling as a belt
holster with belt slots on both sides.

Mine, shown in previous post, is marked as a 9R, but it does not
have the belt slots.

It is difficult to get a handle on the chronology and the various names.

Perhaps Red or John can add some insight?
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
Of course Elmer claimed he helped Berns in the design of the
"Lightning" upside-down holster. Skeeter, Bill Jordan, and Askins
all heaped praise on the "Lightning".
Is there anything that Elmer didn't claim to either have thought of first or at least helped design?
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:29 AM
crazyphil crazyphil is offline
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Quote:
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Is there anything that Elmer didn't claim to either have thought of first or at least helped design?
I don't think he was involved in the Manhattan Project,
but He might have been?
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:26 AM
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Here's mine.
It's marked #9R 1
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Old 04-24-2017, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
Elmer Keith, in his book SIXGUNS, credits John Berns with the idea for
an upside-down holster. Berns was working in Alaska at the time, the
1930s, and he wanted to keep the muzzle of his Sixgun out of the snow.

Of course Elmer claimed he helped Berns in the design of the
"Lightning" upside-down holster. Skeeter, Bill Jordan, and Askins
all heaped praise on the "Lightning".

Jack Martin built the holster. Berns-Martin Company endured until
the 1960s when they ceased operations.

John Bianchi acquired Berns-Martin's patents. In early gun magazine
ads, Bianchi's version is first called the "Special Agent". A little later
it is called Model 9 Special Agent.

Another while later the 9R was advertised as doubling as a belt
holster with belt slots on both sides.

Mine, shown in previous post, is marked as a 9R, but it does not
have the belt slots.

It is difficult to get a handle on the chronology and the various names.

Perhaps Red or John can add some insight?
I don't have a copy of Keith's Sixguns, but I do have a copy of his Hell I Was There and of his 1930s article in American Rifleman about the Berns-Martin Speed holster. The "muzzle out of the snow" tale is about the Speed holster and not about the Lightnin' shoulder holster; which also came much later in the B-M history. The revolver pictured in the AR article is an SAA; Keith was quite fond of slip hammers in the SAA.

John Bianchi bought the company's trademarks but told me then that there was nothing else but unfilled orders. In his catalogue of around 1974 he then used that acquisition to claim "50 Years in Business" since his own company had only been in operation since 1966. The patent (there was only one) had long ago expired as it was issued in the mid 1930s to Berns (and promptly was engulfed in trouble with a prior patent by Ohlemeyer, and both numbers had to stamped into the back of early B-M Speed holsters; Ohlemeyer is most famous for building General Patton's famous holster set while working for Sam Myres).

The 9R already existed when John bought B-M. We called it the 'Baby 27' while it was being developed because it had the features of the Model 27 police holster (that itself emulated the B-M Speed holster) incorporated into it: cylinder recesses, spring type. We immediately had to add the post and screw, with a rubber grommet inside, to keep the gun in: it turned out that leather wedge that is hand stitched into the B-M next to the muzzle is absolutely essential to retention!

The belt-slot version (ambidextrous) of the 9R-1&2 also shields the hammer spur which allowed us to stiffen that area behind the recoil shield of the revolver. It was called 9R-1 and then 9R-2 with the latter I think having a spring redesign. Of course having a belt slot on the upside down holster was created first by Berns-Martin.

The B-M being SO different from the Speed holster especially the spring, and yet its spring and assembly being so like the Hoyt; and both being made by A.E. Nelson but not the Speed holster; I wonder who really came up with that one.
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Old 04-24-2017, 04:46 PM
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Thanks for this history, Red. I have had several of these holsters since the 1970s, for the J frame amped K frame Smiths, and one for the D frame Colt. I still have a couple of them, but haven't actually used them recently.

Fascinating history (or Holstory....)

All of mine have the belt loops, even though I don't know anyone who ever actually used them. I am still on the lookout for one like Phils which does not have the loops. Looks cleaner, I think.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:34 PM
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I am wearing a 9R with a cut-down Colt OP. right now. It is the most comfortable shoulder holster I have worn. Very secure and easy to use. The whole Berns Martin systems really fascinate me. I tried to make a Speed Holster but could not make a spring strong enough. I still need to find good pictures of the toe plug. Old Bear gave me one, without a plug. I took it apart to figure it out. I just have to replace the latigo spring covers and re-build a toe plug to get it up and running again. So many projects to learn new things and so little time. Still need to do Brill's , and Spark's and belts oh my!
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
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I am wearing a 9R with a cut-down Colt OP. right now. It is the most comfortable shoulder holster I have worn. Very secure and easy to use. The whole Berns Martin systems really fascinate me. I tried to make a Speed Holster but could not make a spring strong enough. I still need to find good pictures of the toe plug. Old Bear gave me one, without a plug. I took it apart to figure it out. I just have to replace the latigo spring covers and re-build a toe plug to get it up and running again. So many projects to learn new things and so little time. Still need to do Brill's , and Spark's and belts oh my!
I've some great pics of the B-M plugs; I'll PM you with my email address (though we've emailed before I've lost track). Way to 'make' a Speed holster is to take apart a ruined one that has a good spring; you can even make the leather patterns from it. Happy to help with Brill, too; I set about replicating it and couldn't get interested in copying it; every simplification of it for modern times turned it more and more into a Threepersons-style.
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Old 04-25-2017, 07:41 PM
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Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??-bianchi-74-75-1-jpg

Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??-bianchi-74-75-4-jpg

Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??-screen-shot-2017-03-09-3-58-03-pm-jpg

Likely more than anyone wanted to know about the B-M to Bianchi transition. Also Frank Martin wearing the Lightnin' in its various positions. It was proposed to Ian Fleming by Boothroyd precisely because of these positions, and Boothroyd refers to know Martin and being quite impressed with him (John Emmett Berns is the inventor listed on the Speed Holster patent).
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:53 PM
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More great information, Red!! I know you've talked about writing a book, and I've read the sample chapter that you graciously linked us to, but there are a lot of us here that are really thirsty for the knowlege that folks like you and crazyphil and Turnerriver could put together in a great book!!

Best Regards, Les
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:20 AM
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More great information, Red!! I know you've talked about writing a book, and I've read the sample chapter that you graciously linked us to, but there are a lot of us here that are really thirsty for the knowlege that folks like you and crazyphil and Turnerriver could put together in a great book!!

Best Regards, Les
Thanks for that Les, we do have a publisher now. To me that was the hard part :-).
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Old 04-26-2017, 12:14 PM
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I used to advertise " I buy holsters " in the Shotgun News and elsewhere. In 2001 I had a call from a business man in Elberton, Georgia asking if I'd be interested in buying his collection of Berns-Martin holsters. It turned out to be the man who bought the company from J.H. Martin and moved it to Elberton. I subsequently bought his collection, some of it has been shown here. He had purchased a S&W .44 Magnum that came with the holster and belt below, he said he was so impressed with the rig he called the company and ended up buying it.
He sold the company to the woman who managed it for him, he was primarily a real estate investor. She I believe sold it to Blackie Collins who sold it to John Bianchi as Red states above. The earliest dated price list for Elberton I've found is 1963.

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Old 04-26-2017, 02:08 PM
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Beautiful rig John. Doesn't look like it was ever worn.
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Old 04-26-2017, 07:49 PM
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Turnerriver, have you one of these?

Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??-1-calhoun-notched-1-jpg

Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??-1-calhoun-notched-2-jpg

This notched version, where the strap comes 'round the front, is as Keith shows it in his 1930s article. Rarely seen and I would have expected this version to be from the Bremerton period but as you can see from the pic, it bears the Calhoun City mark.

Berns and Martin or Bianchi 9R ??-1932-ar-elmer-keith-1-jpg
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