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Old 03-14-2018, 07:40 PM
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The Threepersons Style holster has been ill-defined since 1931 when it first appeared in a Myres catalogue.

S.D. Myres, 1931: “No. 614 Tom Threepersons Style, full hand carved, trigger set high for easy draw” . . . No. 640 Tom Threepersons Style holster full hand carved, heavy seamed filler, trigger set high for quick draw”.

H.H. Heiser, 1939: “No. 457 . . . belt loop on back, there is a welt down the side but does not extend clear across bottom, welt permits a snug fit. A small hole is left in bottom to permit any dirt to sift out. Gun sets high exposing trigger guard and trigger. This holster was designed for the FBI of Washington DC who require holster for fast draw. Made for revolvers only”.

Chic Gaylord, 1960: “. . . Tom Threepersons designed a fine holster. He took the old Skintite holster, raised it higher on the belt, and canted it butt forward to a marked degree. This holster, as made by the late Tio Sam Myres, was perhaps the best holster of that era. With minor modification it is the issue holster of the FBI today.”

Sandra Myres, 1961: “Tom Threepersons, a former Canadian Mountie and deputy Marshall in El Paso, designed a holster which is still popular today. Adaptable to both gun belt and shoulder rigging, the Threepersons was designed to allow the trigger of the weapon to set high for easy and fast drawing”.

Charlie Askins 1954: “At any rate Threepersons developed the most famous holster in the Southwest today . . . This harness is simplicity itself. It is made only for revolvers and consists of a holster-well which accepts only the barrel and cylinder of the gun. The secret of the rig is that the weight of the weapon rests on the trigger guard, which strongly bears on the rear seam of the holster . . . The holster-well itself does not touch the barrel, the hammer is free and stands well above the holster. The stock of the gun is likewise far above the leather . . . Beyond this the angel at which the harness swings is another highly important feature. The holster does not hang straight down the leg but is angled to the rear most noticeably.

BATFE, 2009: “Threepersons designed a holster that exposed all of the trigger guard, hammer and grip frame of a Colt Single Action Army . . . The holster rode high and tight on the belt with a rearward cant and the grip frame, hammer and trigger placed above the belt where nothing could interfere with quick gun handling.”.

Bob Arganbright, 1986: “The Threepersons holster . . . trimmed the holster of al unnecessary leather, setting the holster high on the belt with hammer and trigger guard clear of leather and above the belt. The gun butt was tipped slightly forward for a faster draw (the FBI cant).”

Roger Combs, 1984: “The top of the holster was cut low to expose much more of the gun butt than was heretofore popular. The trigger and trigger guard were completely exposed.”

John Bianchi, 1978: “The design was spare, minimising the amount of leather needed to support the gun. The holster top as cut low to expose the gun for quick-draw grasping and early muzzle clearance. The trigger guard was completely exposed . . ..”

Packing Iron, 1993: Neither Tom Threepersons nor his holster are mentioned.

John Bianchi American Legend, 2010: Neither Tom Threepersons nor his holster are mentioned.

Bill Jordan, 1965: Neither Tom Threepersons nor his holster are mentioned (though the style is illustrated).

I'll propose to you all, that if one used any or all of the above as a specification to a factory in China, you would not receive samples that looked or worked anything like a Threepersons holster :-).

We can explore what a Threepersons holster REALLY is, by examining the several iterations of it that have achieved some fame:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-scabbards-myres-24-degs-measured-jpg Myres since circa 1930

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-brill-saa-11-jpg Brill since circa 1910

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-x-smalls-5-jpg Heiser since circa 1940

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-4-jpg Lawrence since circa 1950

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-wolfram-1-jpg Wolfram since circa 1960
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Old 03-14-2018, 07:44 PM
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P.S. The example descriptions, are filled with historical and technical errors 'of omission and commission'. I'll bet crazyphil can find them all, and turnerriver, too, it they were so inclined. Otherwise, quite impossible.
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:23 PM
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Good stuff Red. I didn't see that Lawrence before. It is a beauty.
Looks kinda like the same carving style as this one on mine.
Do you know anything about his carver. Or I guess they called
them leather engravers back then?
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:27 PM
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No proof he was ever a Mountie . Says "The holster well itself does not touch the barrel " , both of mine appear to touch . Have read he based his holster design off of an England holster , not sure what a Skintight is .
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:32 PM
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No proof he was ever a Mountie . Says "The holster well itself does not touch the barrel " , both of mine appear to touch . Have read he based his holster design off of an England holster , not sure what a Skintight is .
Chic Gaylord tells us how to make a Missouri Skintight in his
HANDGUNNER'S GUIDE. I gave it a try and proved to myself
that I am no holster maker.
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Old 03-14-2018, 10:58 PM
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No proof he was ever a Mountie . Says "The holster well itself does not touch the barrel " , both of mine appear to touch . Have read he based his holster design off of an England holster , not sure what a Skintight is .
Indeed Tom Threepersons, American lawman, was not ever a Mountie. That notion came from the RCMP scout service of his namesake, Tom Three Persons of Alberta, Canada; which was an identity that the lawman assumed to join the Army in 1916. He and especially his wife Lorene continued to promote that legend until early 1928 when the real Tom Three Persons found out.

Which reminds me, even John Bianchi gets that legend wrong (the Canada reference) on his website and catalogue; the rest is 'kinda true':

Tom Threepersons, (1889-1969) was a part Cherokee, legendary and controversial lawman and soldier of fortune of the 1920’s. During his long and colorful career, from Mexico, Texas and Arizona to Canada, Tom Threepersons survived many gunfights both on and off duty. He is credited with designing a streamlined new belt holster that was ahead of its time. The holster rode high on the pants belt with an exposed trigger guard and slight forward cant. This style allowed a quick draw while being concealed by a suit coat. It was originally designed for a Colt single action
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Old 03-14-2018, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by crazyphil View Post
Chic Gaylord tells us how to make a Missouri Skintight in his
HANDGUNNER'S GUIDE. I gave it a try and proved to myself
that I am no holster maker.
You are more of a holster maker than I'll ever be . I've seen those but didn't know that was what they were called. I completely miss any connection between this style holster and a Brill or Threepersons .
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:13 AM
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Good stuff Red. I didn't see that Lawrence before. It is a beauty.
Looks kinda like the same carving style as this one on mine.
Do you know anything about his carver. Or I guess they called
them leather engravers back then?
He is believed to have been Jim Buffaloe, who later worked for Baker, for Mixon, for G&G, and himself (he invented the bandolier shoulder holster); and for a short time revived the Lawrence brand after its owners G&G closed it. Died early this century.
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:14 AM
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You are more of a holster maker than I'll ever be . I've seen those but didn't know that was what they were called. I completely miss any connection between this style holster and a Brill or Threepersons .
Eddie, here's the connection from the Skin Tight to the Threepersons:

After the Civil War veterans would cut the flap off
their Cavalry holsters, to give them quicker access,
but the gun would fall out.

They found that soaking the holster in water and
leaving it in the hot Sun all day, wrapped around
the gun, created a more secure fit.

So, I believe the connection was the beginning of
holsters being form fitted to the gun.

Previous to the Skin Tight, the gun would rattle
around in the flap holster like a bb in a boxcar.
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
He is believed to have been Jim Buffaloe, who later worked for Baker, for Mixon, for G&G, and himself (he invented the bandolier shoulder holster); and for a short time revived the Lawrence brand after its owners G&G closed it. Died early this century.
Several years ago I was on the hunt for a Lawrence Special
Agent pigskin holster and, according to my notes, the name
of Jim Buffaloe came up, in connection with the North Carolina
plant, but I don't remember the outcome. At that time I also
became acquainted with Bill Lawrence, George's great-grandson,
who ran the company at the time it was sold to G&G.
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Old 03-15-2018, 08:56 PM
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Chic Gaylord tells us how to make a Missouri Skintight in his
HANDGUNNER'S GUIDE. I gave it a try and proved to myself
that I am no holster maker.
The Missouri Skintight:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-gaylord-skintite-1-jpg

Somehow, in the transition from Myres and Heiser to Chic's day, the understanding that the welt inside the Threepersons as its true 'magic' was lost, and Chic came to think that just exposing the full trigger and guard 'qualified'. But as mentioned, guns had trouble staying in Chic's holsters (as pointed out by Keith) and my expert opinion is that the plain leather wrap around exemplified by the Skintite and other Gaylord holsters, is why: the leather only had to stretch a bit.

Holster makers don't spend much time speaking with each other about their designs :-).

Early Bianchi holsters (1960s) of the Threepersons style (not a phrase John ever used with me) were not only strapless, but also show the 'crush fit' of the frame inside against the welt. Ditto Myres and Heiser. Bianchi began fitting safety straps by 1970ish and the purpose of the welts was forgotten (never mentioned to me 1970-1988; I was told its purpose was to strengthen the seam, which indeed it does; look down inside a Summer Special sometime and you'll see the exposed stitching).

By 1969 at least Don Hume was using the term Tom Threepersons holster; but not by any other significant maker in the 20th century.
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Old 03-17-2018, 05:36 PM
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So -- we haven't yet defined, in simple terms, a Threepersons Style holster.

First, it doesn't seem appropriate to use the word 'style' in this case, to mean 'similar'; because Sam Myres used the word 'style' for all his Threepersons holsters. Instead it would seem more correct to say the word 'style' means 'authentic'.

Second, folded at the sightline and the free edges joined with a substantial welt inside from trigger guard to front sight; with the trigger guard resting on that seam; and the welt inside applying substantial pressure against the pistol frame.

Third, "to front sight" means a closed muzzle and the welt extending to there.

Fourth, with the trigger guard and trigger fully exposed.

Fifth, worn on a belt with the loop folded from the body to form it (yes, I know, Sam had a shoulder holster that used the name, too) with the complete grip above the belt itself. Tom's own holster has only most of the grip above the belt; but Sam Myres' and all that followed including the Heiser 457, do.

Other limitations that have been imagined, such as the entire hammer exposed or a low cut front, or a minimal amount of leather used -- don't appear to be relevant. So a Brill is still a Threepersons Style; and indeed Sam called it that (his 666). Ditto the 'high ride': Tom wore the entire belt and holster down his thigh so the pistol did not 'ride high' on him. Even 'rides high on the belt' assumes a lot: where is the belt? Trousers didn't always have loops, and holsters certainly weren't always carried on a trousers belt.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-myres-numbered-8-jpg It's a Myres and it's still a Threepersons Style despite the hammer being shielded. Tom took a pen knife to his there, though I reckon it was to clear his unusual rear sight treatment rather than fast draw.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-myres-numbered-11-jpg Its backside. The folded loop is typical of a Threepersons Style. The carry angle indicated here, varied a lot in practice and Tom's own holster has only the slightest grip-forward carry angle.

Anything else, then, is a 'modified Threepersons':

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-style-1-jpg This unmarked holster has no welt inside, and has an open muzzle: modified Threepersons.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-modified-1-jpg This Safariland is not folded at the sight line but otherwise has all the elements (even Myres added safety straps): modified Threepersons.
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Old 03-17-2018, 06:03 PM
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The way Tom wore his Threepersons Style holster (not 'high ride') on a wide scout belt, could be said to 'ride high on the belt' but certainly not 'high on Tom':

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-3p-3-jpg

Tom's own holster actually carries the bulk of the grip above the belt but not all of it; and only at the slightest carry angle.

And the way the Texas Rangers wore it (on a narrow trousers belt although pants were only just getting loops for a belt when the Brill was created circa 1907):

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-ranger-hickman-1925-1-jpg

That holster, from a 1925 pic, is nearly identical to Tom's own holster.

A Threepersons Style for the auto -- well, that adds a whole 'nother layer of complexity to the situation because neither Sam's, nor August's, for the auto fits the definition of exposing the entire trigger guard; although all the rest is a 'fit'. It has been argued that a Bianchi No. 2 is a Threepersons; but at most it is a 'modified Threepersons' not least because it has an open muzzle. And that method was not contemplated for the auto in Tom's time; so it's "something else", just as a cold and the flu appear the same, but are very different in fact.
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:00 AM
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How important is the little hole in the muzzle, and what do you call it?
Myres and Heiser both have it. Brill does not. Would lack of it disqualify
the holster as authentic? Probably not if you include Brill in the list.

Indeed the Safariland is not folded at the sightline. In fact it has a welt
all the way down the front.

Now Red, you have caused me to make a checklist and grade all of my
Threeperson appearing holsters. And that is a monumental undertaking.

The Lawrence model 34, that they called their FBI holster, does appear
to be an authentic Threeperson. What say you?

More good stuff. Thank you.

I went back up to your #1 post in this thread and looked at that beautifully
carved Lawrence again. Although you don't show the backside, I believe
it is a model 34? So that answers my question.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:04 PM
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How important is the little hole in the muzzle, and what do you call it?
Myres and Heiser both have it. Brill does not. Would lack of it disqualify
the holster as authentic? Probably not if you include Brill in the list.

Indeed the Safariland is not folded at the sightline. In fact it has a welt
all the way down the front.

Now Red, you have caused me to make a checklist and grade all of my
Threeperson appearing holsters. And that is a monumental undertaking.

The Lawrence model 34, that they called their FBI holster, does appear
to be an authentic Threeperson. What say you?

More good stuff. Thank you.

I went back up to your #1 post in this thread and looked at that beautifully
carved Lawrence again. Although you don't show the backside, I believe
it is a model 34? So that answers my question.
Yes, of course, the Lawrence's are Threepersons Style. I see that even when laced the Keith has a welt inside! Unusual in that regard. The little gap in the welt at the fold of the holster: Heiser makes an issue of it, in their catalogues. I dunno that anyone else but Heiser thought anything of it; it appears from time to time in all Threepersons holsters except the Brills because it's a natural result of placing the welt so it doesn't interfere with folding the holster. But Brill went to the trouble to actually round the end of the welts (there are three thre!) to fill that gap.

The back of that beautiful Lawrence, which holster was equally beautifully photographed by its seller:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-4-5-jpg

Oddly it was re-sold not long after and didn't photograph nearly as nicely for that auction.

The earliest I find the 34 is in Lawrence's 1952 catalogue; whilst the Keith 120 in the 1945 catalogue (turnerriver might weigh in on this). Elmer claims to have 'designed' both holsters for the company; but I reckon his contribution was to tell them to add something that would compete with the Myres 614. Both the Myres and the Keith appear with the long safety strap that has been attributed to Elmer.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:19 PM
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I'll just mention, that the true Threepersons Style holster can't have been any faster than the earlier ones, as long as the grip is above the belt:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-rt-frazier-1-jpg An R.T. Frazier.

These were created to provide more protection for the pistol itself, so covering the hoop of the trigger guard would have seemed the obvious thing to do.

As long as the grip is fully exposed, and the mouth of the holster no higher than the rear sight, and there is no strap that must be unsnapped (sometimes known as a 'retreat strap'), what more would be needed?

In the end the style was made famous as a Threepersons by Sam Myres; but it was created for the Texas Rangers as a concealment holster on a narrow trousers belt; and popularised by the FBI who wore it the same way. Much has been made by other historians about the Threepersons being created for the automobile; seemed logical in retrospect but the evidence it was created for another well-known reason: by then it was no longer p.c. to carry a pistol and ammo exposed (which is ironic given today's milieu).

As we see from Tom's pic, gunmen of the time placed the belt to position the grip just where their gun hand would fall to it.

Little known fact (now I DO sound like Cliff Claven vs. Sheldon Cooper): the Threepersons, best illustrated by the Jordan, provides huge leverage against the stitching in the welt, when lawmen leaned on the pistol grip; as they did. Jordans were also known for breaking ribs when the lawman jumped down into something and caught the holster muzzle: the full-length metal shank that the original Border Holster (Askins) didn't have!
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:58 PM
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That R. T. Frazier is very snazzy.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:45 PM
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That R. T. Frazier is very snazzy.
Amen to that .
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Old 03-20-2018, 01:57 AM
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The first of the Threepersons holsters appears to have been the Brill.

Recently I learned that not only was legendary FBI agent Doc White serving under Capt J.R. Hughes as a Texas Ranger in Austin when the latter commissioned the Brill, but Doc later was teamed with Tom Threepersons at Treasury just before Doc joined the FBI.

I was especially surprised that I appear to be the first historian to have worked that out (Doc's direct link with Tom).
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Old 03-21-2018, 07:05 AM
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Omigoodness. Now I realise why the effort by some authors, to tie Texas Ranger Lee Trimble into the legend of the Threepersons holster (probably coming from interviews with Bob McNellis Jr, founder of REM Industries DBA El Paso Saddlery): there WAS a Texas Ranger involved -- but it wasn't Lee Trimble. Nor was it Capt. Hughes, despite his endorsements of Myres in later years. And it wasn't 1920.

Yet it did involve the Brill.

It was J.C. 'Doc' White, who was partnered with Threepersons (as mentioned earlier) 1922 whilst both were at Treasury as Prohibition Agents. Doc was a Texas Ranger with Capt Hughes when the Brill was created in 1907 so would have been wearing one ever since; that would have created the opportunity to 'compare notes on holsters' as the legend goes, Tom having his Egland.

This fits with Sheriff Jim Wilson telling me that he knew Trimble for the last ten years of his Trimble's life and he did not ever mention the Brill or Tom in that time. I couldn't see how this Unknown Ranger fit into the story; Tom was pleased that he was not a Ranger; why would he hang out with them?

The story went that each man had invented a holster; the Ranger a Brill, and Tom his own. And Tom went to Myres with his and the Ranger went to Brill with his. Which always was troubling because the Brill already existed at the claimed date of 1920.

Myres ended up making both holsters by 1930 and appears to have hired Arno Brill to do it for him, with a hookup courtesy of Doc, who 'was there'. Sonofagun.
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Old 03-21-2018, 07:52 AM
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Oh what a tangled web they weaved,
for Red to unscramble. God Job!
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Old 03-21-2018, 01:08 PM
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Yes, of course, the Lawrence's are Threepersons Style. I see that even when laced the Keith has a welt inside! Unusual in that regard. The little gap in the welt at the fold of the holster: Heiser makes an issue of it, in their catalogues. I dunno that anyone else but Heiser thought anything of it; it appears from time to time in all Threepersons holsters except the Brills because it's a natural result of placing the welt so it doesn't interfere with folding the holster. But Brill went to the trouble to actually round the end of the welts (there are three thre!) to fill that gap.

The back of that beautiful Lawrence, which holster was equally beautifully photographed by its seller:

Attachment 331451

Oddly it was re-sold not long after and didn't photograph nearly as nicely for that auction.

The earliest I find the 34 is in Lawrence's 1952 catalogue; whilst the Keith 120 in the 1945 catalogue (turnerriver might weigh in on this). Elmer claims to have 'designed' both holsters for the company; but I reckon his contribution was to tell them to add something that would compete with the Myres 614. Both the Myres and the Keith appear with the long safety strap that has been attributed to Elmer.
The model 120 Keith holster first appears in the 1940 catalog, it wasn't listed
in the 1937 catalog. The 1947 catalog notes " For Frontier Model Only ". The 1949 catalog states " For revolvers only, 5 in. barrel and over." The same catalog introduces the model 34, here's a scan of the first page.

As usual, a thought provoking post, Red.
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Old 03-23-2018, 01:04 AM
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El Paso Saddlery, circa 1987.

IIRC, it was known as the “1920s-style” back when I ordered it.



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Old 12-26-2019, 03:59 PM
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Perhaps three of the best examples of authentic Tom Threepersons,
left to right:

Model 614 by Myres.
Model 457 by Heiser
Model 34 by Lawrence
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Old 12-26-2019, 06:56 PM
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Great information and a tribute to Red Nichols' exceptional research.

My holster making career was from 1972 to 2015, during which time I made hundreds of "Threepersons-style" holsters. I can see now that my choice of that description was at least as accurate as the historical record allows.

I will bow to the superior knowledge of the "holstorian" on this topic. Very well done, sir!
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Old 12-27-2019, 03:11 AM
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Great information and a tribute to Red Nichols' exceptional research.

My holster making career was from 1972 to 2015, during which time I made hundreds of "Threepersons-style" holsters. I can see now that my choice of that description was at least as accurate as the historical record allows.

I will bow to the superior knowledge of the "holstorian" on this topic. Very well done, sir!
Amen to that Ray.
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Old 12-27-2019, 03:16 AM
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Amen to that Ray.
By the way, you were no slouch when it came to Tom Threepersons. Here is one you made for me, slightly
modified with a "dog ear".
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Old 12-27-2019, 03:37 AM
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By the way, you were no slouch when it came to Tom Threepersons. Here is one you made for me, slightly
modified with a "dog ear".
I remember making that holster. Probably about 2011 or so, if my old rememberer still functions (my fergitter is working a lot better these days).

The "dog ear" is actually a hammer shield, intended to protect the user's arm and clothing from contact with sharp edges of the hammer and rear sight. Based on the designs popularized by Hank Sloan, and frequently referred to as a "Hank Sloan-style" holster. Popular with plain-clothes cops back in the 1960's and 1970's. I first saw this style holster while attending a brief training program at the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA in about 1971 or 1972. I found it to be quite useful for keeping the linings of my suit jackets from being torn to shreds by the hammer and rear sight, and I made quite a few of that style until the latter 1980's when semi-auto pistols started displacing revolvers in cops' holsters.

Your Herrett's "Jordan Trooper" grips are another blast from the past! Very nice!

My avatar photo shows a very similar holster made for my old 6" Model 19 with a very nice hand carved floral pattern. One of my personal favorites.

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Old 12-27-2019, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
I remember making that holster. Probably about 2011 or so, if my old rememberer still functions (my fergitter is working a lot better these days).

The "dog ear" is actually a hammer shield, intended to protect the user's arm and clothing from contact with sharp edges of the hammer and rear sight. Based on the designs popularized by Hank Sloan, and frequently referred to as a "Hank Sloan-style" holster. Popular with plain-clothes cops back in the 1960's and 1970's. I first saw this style holster while attending a brief training program at the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA in about 1971 or 1972. I found it to be quite useful for keeping the linings of my suit jackets from being torn to shreds by the hammer and rear sight, and I made quite a few of that style until the latter 1980's when semi-auto pistols started displacing revolvers in cops' holsters.

Your Herrett's "Jordan Trooper" grips are another blast from the past! Very nice!

My avatar photo shows a very similar holster made for my old 6" Model 19 with a very nice hand carved floral pattern. One of my personal favorites.
We had quite a little discussion on this forum 4 or 5 years ago
about the origination of the little leather tab that I call a "dog
ear" and you call a hammer shield. Tex Shoemaker probably
described it best. He called it a clothing protector.

John Bianchi told me that Wally Wolfram designed the hammer
protector for small revolvers....and doubted that there were any
commercially succesful models before Wally's.

Actually the so called "dog ear" came along in the 1940s. The
first may have been by Myres. Wally was in the Air Corp during
WWII, so his probably didn't come along until later.

Here, on the left, is an old model 624 by Myres. I don't know
how old it is.

2nd from left is an old one by Wally Wolfram when he used
the Wolf brand name in Albuquerque. Probably late 1940s.
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Old 12-27-2019, 04:09 AM
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We had quite a little discussion on this forum 4 or 5 years ago
about the origination of the little leather tab that I call a "dog
ear" and you call a hammer shield. Tex Shoemaker probably
described it best. He called it a clothing protector.

John Bianchi told me that Wally Wolfram designed the hammer
protector for small revolvers....and doubted that there were any
commercially succesful models before Wally's.

Actually the so called "dog ear" came along in the 1940s. The
first may have been by Myres. Wally was in the Air Corp during
WWII, so his probably didn't come along until later.

Here, on the left, is an old model 624 by Myres. I don't know
how old it is.

2nd from left is an old one by Wally Wolfram when he used
the Wolf brand name in Albuquerque. Probably late 1940s.
Excellent post! Thank you.
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:26 AM
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Red has often referred to me as luckyphil, and I guess I am, because I
have my own specimens to illustrate the lineage of the famous Tom
Threeperson's holster. Shown from left to right:

It started with the A. W. Brill holster that I got from John Witty. It is
a "late" model made by Newt Rabensburg for an S&W M&P with 4"
barrel.

Tom Threeperson's personal holster as replicated, and given to me, by
Red Nichols. Made for Colt's Single Action Army with 5.5" barrel, but
Tom used it for his 4.75" barreled SAAs.

S. D. Myres model 614 Tom Threepersons holster, made for an S&W
N Frame with 4" barrel.

Heiser model 457, made for an S&W M&P with 4" barrel.

Lawrence's model 34, made for S&W K frame with adjustable rear
sight and 4" barrel.
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Old 12-29-2019, 04:16 PM
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Yes, it's conventional wisdom that the hammer guard was created to protect coat linings. In fact its primary benefit is keeping the elbow from cocking the sharply checkered hammers, especially the long and broad 'target' hammers of Pythons and M27s. It's a rude awakening to draw and expect the long double-action trigger takeup and get the hair trigger of a cocked Python. More than a theory, this is a real-life problem solved by so many folks switching to autos since the mid 80s! In the '70s a crim wearing a Bianchi holster decided to show off his Python to his crim buddy and thinking he could point it then touch the trigger -- bang, dead buddy. I was at the trial.
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:17 PM
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Here are a few more examples of Tom Threeperson's holsters,
Left to Right:

Black basket weave with dog ear by Tex Shoemaker.

Little Mexican carved with dog ear by S.D. Myres.

Black basket weave with snap strap by El Paso Saddlery.

FBI style by Crump.

Many, but not all, of my "dog ear" holsters are made in the Threeperson manner.
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The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-sam_1177-jpg   The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-sam_1182-jpg   The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-sam_0595-jpg   The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-sam_0890-jpg   The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-sam_0993-jpg  

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Old 01-02-2020, 04:22 PM
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A myth was spread first by Milt Sparks and then the current owners, that he and Elmer Keith devised the hammer guard. Here's Elmer with his Gaylord in 1960:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-1960-jpg

In fact what Milt did was combine a Sloan that Elmer had (he actually had several in his estate when it was auctioned in 2016) with that Gaylord to create a holster for Elmer. Because Chic didn't understand welts so didn't use them, his holsters didn't necessarily grip the revolvers in Threepersons styles very well; notably Elmer's! In "Hell I Was There" Elmer complained that his big N frame kept falling from it. So he got Milt, new to making holsters in 1972, to put Sloan's adjustable welt into a copy of Chic's holster. By then neither Sloan nor Chic were going to be able to help Elmer and he didn't know a patent from a hole in the ground anyway. Nor Milt.

So both the Sloan and the Gaylord had hammer guards; but somehow Milt and Company managed to claim its invention-after-the-fact, just as they were able to claim the invention-after-the-fact of the contoured gunbelt on behalf of Andy Anderson (who they copied) when it was Heiser that was first with it.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:46 PM
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I like the look of heavy carved Berns-Martin wide contoured belts I’ve seen pictures of. They look very comfortable and practical, though maybe too wide for some people. When did they start making those after Heiser?
Jack Palance’s rig in Shane had two Heiser holsters on a belt that I think was said to be Heiser, too, in old posts here or elsewhere. the way that belt fit him always gave me the impression it was contoured, it looked that good.
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Old 01-02-2020, 08:17 PM
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The first Heiser mention of a curved cartridge belt is in catalog number 30, circa 1937. The S. D. Myres 1931 catalog shows a slightly curved Buscadero belt. That’s as early as I can find, I suspect that contoured belts were being made before that.
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Old 01-02-2020, 08:52 PM
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I’m not an expert in much of anything, but I think this O Ball with a dog ear that I got from Kansasgunner for an N Frame (28 no dash shown) fits the description.
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:37 PM
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Wow! You get our illustrious leather artists involved in a discussion and we all stand to learn a good history lesson. Thanks all for your craft and your knowledge!
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:00 PM
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I always thought of the Threepersons as a holster for a single action. Not that it can't be used for other actions, but given the SA as a starting point the relevant criteria for me is the exposed trigger guard, exposed hammer, forward cant and a high-ride.

The Wolfram pictured would not qualify as the hammer has too much coverage. I picture a Threepersons as exposing a great deal of the revolver at the top.

My hands-down favorite would be the Lawrence 120. The Myers is right there with it.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
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I like the look of heavy carved Berns-Martin wide contoured belts I’ve seen pictures of. They look very comfortable and practical, though maybe too wide for some people. When did they start making those after Heiser?
Jack Palance’s rig in Shane had two Heiser holsters on a belt that I think was said to be Heiser, too, in old posts here or elsewhere. the way that belt fit him always gave me the impression it was contoured, it looked that good.
Personally I would make a distinction between the boomerang shaped Buscadero by Berns-Martin (answer: about 1940) and the Myres Buscadero that was actually straight; and the gently arced gunbelts that were claimed for Andy Anderson.

Here's a Myres that they actually called a buscadero in print:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-1931-myres-5-jpg

Here's the Berns-Martin that they, too, called a buscadero in print:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-1940-ish-calhoun-city-1-jpg Ironically the holster is held to the belt with an overlying strap -- which was the original design of the Buscadero for Capt. Hughes. Myres did not use this method.

Here's the Ojala that shouldn't be called a buscadero but is (Dale Myres and he having apparently argued the point):

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-1960-colts-7-jpg

Here's the Heiser that's simply a curved belt, as turnerriver says from the late '30s:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-heiser-before-anderson-1-jpg

Here's the Anderson from 1969:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-heiser-before-anderson-2-jpg

Notice, please, that all but the Berns-Martin have a lowermost, extended edge that is slotted to accept the holster fender being slipped through it. Technically then it is not a Buscadero without the slot (yet see my note above about the B-M and Hughes).

Gunleather makers' "memories" get real fuzzy when they make claims that help their current sales. And Milt's memory was fuzzier than most because he had not been immersed in gunleather 'holstory' when he got his start; he simply took advantage of Andy Anderson's very recent strokes (and the causative L.A. earthquake damage that closed his shop) and jumped in with direct copies. Then more recent owners at Sparks have pretended that 'paying homage' to Andy made that all OK (it doesn't).
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glenwolde View Post
I always thought of the Threepersons as a holster for a single action. Not that it can't be used for other actions, but given the SA as a starting point the relevant criteria for me is the exposed trigger guard, exposed hammer, forward cant and a high-ride.

The Wolfram pictured would not qualify as the hammer has too much coverage. I picture a Threepersons as exposing a great deal of the revolver at the top.

My hands-down favorite would be the Lawrence 120. The Myers is right there with it.
Oooh, kinda right. The Threepersons is indeed always described that way, beginning with his shooting buddy Charlie Askins. But it's not a correct definition; but rather an unintended result.

Follow me: the first 'threepersons' was developed from the basic holster design of Texas' famous King Ranch, which was trimmed to a minimum and raised high on the belt and tilted with the rear sight ahead of the front sight; called 'positive caster'.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-2-kingsville-1-jpg Notice the large 'cuff', the large belt loop tunnel, the wide fender behind the holster body, the very long drop. It's not yet a Threepersons: to big, too wide, too deep.

The result of all that trimming was what we know today as a Brill although August Brill did not create it.

This was done so that the Texas Rangers assigned to Austin in 1906ish could fully conceal all of their arms and ammo. The result was the exposed trigger guard because the pistol grip was above the belt line; and that belt was only a 1" wide trousers belt now; no gunbelts allowed and certainly no ammo on the trousers belt.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-1-brill-earliest-1-jpg This one is from Brill's earliest period. A second Brill era began in 1932 and they are distinctly different. Now notice all the leather that's been cut away, and that the revolver will ride very high and angled.

When Tom Threepersons' maker, believed to be in Douglas AZ, got done with it the difficult cuff and fender were gone, too; and it looked like this (this is actually Tom's prototype):

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-restoration-3-jpg

He licensed Sam Myres to use his name -- i.e., he 'endorsed' the new gunleather range of 1930 -- and when that appeared it looked like this:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-early-3p-20-jpg

And by the time it got to become FBI issue, and used by the likes of D.A. Bryce and Jerry Campbell, it looked like this:

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-early-3p-1-jpg

Gunleather makers have been copying that last design ever since; including Lawrence.

What IS a Threepersons: for a revolver it has a mighty thick welt inside that grips the frame. For an automatic the welt is there, too, but the guard is INSIDE the holster still. It is MOST common for the DA yet that very short frame ahead of the guard makes it problematic to actually grip much; and by this century every gunleather maker including EPS had forgotten the purpose of the welts so rarely are they functional except by accident of construction.
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FANTASTIC information fellers.......This should be a sticky.
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FANTASTIC information fellers.......This should be a sticky.
At the very least it deserves a few stars. Have you voted?
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I’m not an expert in much of anything, but I think this O Ball with a dog ear that I got from Kansasgunner for an N Frame (28 no dash shown) fits the description.
LPD256, like you, Oliver Ball was a lawman. He was a
Lt. (homicide detective) on the Ft. Worth PD from
1940 to 1976. He passed away in 1983.

He made holsters for graduates of the police academy
and for many Texas lawmen.

He also had a reputation as a boxing referee.

Here is a photo of my O. Ball holster with my Model 67
Combat Masterpiece in it.
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Old 01-03-2020, 10:55 AM
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OK so is this the definition?: "What IS a Threepersons: for a revolver it has a mighty thick welt inside that grips the frame. For an automatic the welt is there, too, but the guard is INSIDE the holster still."

Given the history and the knowledge of those that posted it above I won't disagree with that, but it's awfully broad. It could be a full-flap holster, shoulder holster, cross draw...really anything. It's hard to call that a "style" it's so broad. Or is that all y'alls point?
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There are different perspectives represented here- Red is a designer and maker as well as a historical researcher. I’m a collector of holsters, catalogs, ephemera and related items. I might characterize Phil as a collector/user, other posters offer their own perspectives.
Here are some catalog cuts depicting Threepersons holsters.
Myres 1931 catalog.

Myres mid 1950’s.


1931 catalog showing a Threeepersons shoulder holster.

1940 catalog showing a different Threepersons shoulder holster. By the 1960’s holsters that were cataloged as Tom Threepersons styles were referred to as Quick Draw holsters, reference to Threepersons was largely discontinued.

A cut from a 1949 Lawrence catalog showing “ entirely new postwar designs “, the model 34 holster is their version of a Threepersons style. The Keith model 120 holster is also a Threepersons style, originally described as being primarily for single action revolvers.

A cut from a 1950’s Heiser catalog showing their FBI style holster, their version of a Threepersons.

S.D. Myres and the actual Tom Threepersons who wasn’t really Tom Threepersons had an agreement to use the name in promoting Myres’ holsters, other manufacturers didn’t use the name in describing their offerings.
Confusing ? Yes, but to me at least entertaining.
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At the very least it deserves a few stars. Have you voted?
Been here 19 years. Was here before Handejector took over. Never heard of voting on a post.
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This old gal is on her way to the range. Heiser 457, once again from my friend Tim (kansasgunner) accompanied by a Model 13-3 4 inch. I have a hundred rounds of .38 Special that needs to punch some paper bad guys.
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Old 01-03-2020, 05:55 PM
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Turnerriver's post is great but I'm unwilling to use the 'quote' button and duplicate its length!

The devil is in a detail: he, and I, and Phil, and heaps of others willingly cite the Heiser 457 as a Threepersons -- and it absolutely is. The significance of the design is in its description in Heiser's 1939 catalog; and that this is just a few years after the BOI became the FBI in 1935 (and cue the .357 Magnum that killed off the 38 Super of 1929 (Hoover was buying the latter in '35):

". . . there is a welt down the side but does not extend clear across bottom, welt permits a snug fit."

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-32-heiser-1939-2-jpg

Today we say, 'oh, a welt, of course' but instead welts were not used in any significant way until the Threepersons. First to use them, as mentioned, was the King Ranch of the turn of that century (both Doc White and Frank Hamer are pictured while wearing them then) and they were used in the Brills and copies by the Rangers after that. But welts didn't find wide use until Sam Myres' Threepersons Range of 1930 and onwards.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-myres-welt-1-jpg

A post-1932 Brill for a DA revolver can have THREE welts in it and were sewn by hand (we have photo evidence of them being hand sewn); and Tom's own holster has two in it and is also hand sewn (I have the holster itself).

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-brill-da-rev-7-jpg

By my Bianchi days end of the '70s, JB's Threepersons had one or two because the second welt was used to make the K frame blank fit the slightly larger Python frame. When I make a Threepersons today I use a hybrid of the Western School and the Eastern School (why not) in which there is a pair of thick welts at the frame only (my machine easily stitches them) and after tapering them there is NO welt in the rest of the seam along the barrel.

The true definition of a Threepersons Style holster-replica-autopsy-1-jpg A replica of the inside of Tom's own holster, showing the rather fearsome 'welt stack' inside.

Looks like I failed to describe the 'attached thumbnail' image and it is floating off by itself: a Threepersons for the automatics by Brill (this one) and by Myres, in that era, accepted the entire pistol. I expect because their makers feared the pistol would simpy fall out. This one is RARE and belongs to a forum member: it's by N.J. Rabensburg so made 1932 to 1961 (his death); it's open-muzzle instead of closed; and it has a hole through its backside to prevent the mag button being pressed. The Sessums version, made by Bedell Rogers and his father Robert, used a loop of leather under the lining to create a well to protect this button.

Who knows all this useless ****?!
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