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Old 05-14-2018, 09:00 PM
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Default The unseen simplicity of holster design

I need to correct a statement I made earlier about interchangeability of pistols within a single holster; in fact it is the Commander (or M39) that fits S&W 4" N frame holsters (I had said Government model, in which case it would be the 5" N frame).

I bought this Bluemel specifically for the purpose, of asking my co-author John Witty to photograph this holster, or another, using real pistols.

Worked this out early '70s, quite by accident, messing around (they called it work but I would work all day then stay late; then go home and forget my paycheck and have no money all weekend) with an M39 in a Border Patrol holster for the M29. Remember LEOs didn't use autos at all then (one department here, another there, doesn't really count) so this was all new to us.

Anyway, as these pics the two pistols fit into the identical holster without any changes including the safety strap. Yup, there is grip interference on the auto, at the knuckle of the second finger; but the Bianchi revolver holster was/is relieved there (for a surprising set of reasons).

The unseen simplicity of holster design-20180515_090813-jpg The unseen simplicity of holster design-20180515_090741-jpg

One would have problems with the mag button's clearance if done with this particular Bluemel holster because there is not metal inside the shank, and so the shank can't be bent away from the button. A relief could have been cut into it; or a 'well' as done on Sessums holsters; or a second welt as done on Myres holsters; point is, don't do this at home, kids, unless you're watching for your mag button.

I suppose the point of mentioning this at all, is to say that if holster designers were really paying attention back in the day they were using the same pattern except -- back in the day the trigger of the auto was expected to be exposed; in which case cutting out a 'U' relief over it was the solution. This essentially is what was done on the Brill though it appears N.J. did it the hard way anyway.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:51 PM
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Very interesting. I recall relatively few offerings of police duty holsters for automatics prior to the early-1980's or so. Even then the selection was pretty limited for several years. By the late-1990's everything was turned upside down, with revolver holsters becoming harder to find and semi-auto holsters far more common. Yes, there were exceptions, some companies offering more or less, etc. The 1970's and 1980's were also years during which a number of makers offered "one size fits several" holster designs, with less attention to specific applications and fitting than has become common now.

During my service in Vietnam (1969-71) I observed the use of a limited-issue holster, primarily in Army aviation units, leather construction with snap-strap retention, open bottom, usually seen mounted on air crew members' survival vests, which would accept either the 4" S&W Model 10 or the M1911A-1 .45 pistol. I don't know the manufacturer or other particulars. Aviator's survival vests were open-weave nylon mesh with multiple webbing pouches for carrying survival gear, and holsters were frequently sewn directly onto the vests at, or just forward of, the left armpit area. Most of our air crews were issued the .38 revolvers (Model 10, round-butt or square butt, 4" standard, but a few Model 12's were also inventoried), but some of the older guys seemed to prefer the .45 pistols. A lot of the vests were "highly personalized" by individual aviators. Personally-owned side arms were seen very seldom, but some units did permit officers to carry their own handguns.

Anyway, my point is that some holsters could be used for either revolvers or semi-auto pistols, and I suspect that there was quite a bit of "one size fits several" marketing going on through the 1970's and 1980's, as US law enforcement agencies transitioned from a preponderance of revolvers to the semi-autos we see more commonly today. Some large makers catalogued their holsters as being for "Small Frame 4"", "Medium Frame 4", "Large Frame 4", "Small Automatic", "Medium Automatic", "Large Automatic", etc, with much less attention paid to close fitting or forming work than has become more common in recent years.

Thanks for an interesting post.
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Old 05-15-2018, 06:09 AM
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Enjoyed the posts by both of the experts above.

I tried my full size 1911 Colt in both Myres and Humes Border Patrol
holsters. They would fit fine except I have the Ashley Outdoor Big Dot
sight up front that makes things kinda tight.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:31 AM
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Op very interesting post!--

Way back in the 70s I had a Bianchi shoulder holster for my full size 1911. 45. Decided to get rid of it and advertised for sale at my gun club. Now do not remember all the details but priced it to sell. From what I heard it got bought and sold a few times, and just by a coincidence years later found out some of its history after I sold it

Somehow it ended up with a rookie in the city police force and he carried a K frame Smith 4'' (off duty time) in it for years.

That PD required its officers to be armed at all times in the city area and he did not want to spend the money to get a smaller carry gun so his issued sidearm was all he had!
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Old 05-15-2018, 10:44 AM
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My 'Sunday go to Meeting' rig carries what ever I'm carrying......

1911 Commander


S&W N frame



It's jest one of those thangs.........By design, eh?


.
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Old 05-15-2018, 10:53 AM
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That is two fine looking handguns.In a beautiful piece of leather.
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Old 05-15-2018, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
Some large makers catalogued their holsters as being for "Small Frame 4"", "Medium Frame 4", "Large Frame 4", "Small Automatic", "Medium Automatic", "Large Automatic", etc, with much less attention paid to close fitting or forming work than has become more common in recent years.

Thanks for an interesting post.
The point of my post, though, wasn't about 'one size fits several'; that's been going on since the Heiser days. It was about how the one pattern is right for both pistols; except during that era it was inconceivable that the trigger would be covered, and therefore 'wrong'. The ancient Brills then could have been, but weren't, the same pattern for both pistols but with the 'U' cutout for the trigger.

Regarding the 'large auto', it simply had to be done that way. John Bianchi didn't invent the holster but he did invent the 'stocking dealer' and it was the latter that wiped out his competition except his old mate Neale at Safariland who followed the same model. Confronted with thousands of inventory containers, each holding a different holster 'sku' such as 2" Chief right hand tan basket weave 1-3/4" loop, and the one next to it 2" Chief left hand tan basket weave 1-3/4" inch loop -- well, you get the picture; you mould that one to the Chief but you don't then mould another one to the Charter Arms and another to something else: the stock won't be on hand to deliver against a dealer order within a few week's time (called 'good customer service').

Also, why put Colt 45 on the back of a 1911 holster when there was a Colt 45 revolver, too; plus many makers of the Colt 1911 even then (jeez, how about now; how did Colt not realise they had 'configuration trademark rights' and absolutely prevent anyone from copying its non-functional appearance?!). So we used 'large auto' in such a case. But it was moulded, first in presses that were used by no other maker before John (instead they were block moulded, the phrase used by both Heiser and by Bucheimer: wetted and a mould inserted then removed for drying) then later the hand boning (we used the ball end of a motorcycle brake handle).

Bianchi actually popularised today's 'close fitting' moulding; prior it was not done by anyone except Theodore and Gaylord; and Paris was out of business almost as soon as he launched in '66 and Gaylord was quite ill by then. All Bianchi's holsters were hand moulded to the individual pistol, as shown below, beginning in the '70s, and kudos to John for thinking of making it a production process:

The unseen simplicity of holster design-witty-bianchi-9-jpg

The 'modernistas' including Sparks did not invent this process; and today Sparks, for example, uses a press first then a hand moulding exactly as does (did? who knows what shortcuts they take now) Bianchi whilst Milt was still making steel-reinforced competition holsters. Nelson's own M&P for Bianchi was simply a clone of a Seventrees; he also did not create hand moulding. It was Chic.

Cart before the horse; Bianchi did it first, today's players simply followed on.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:32 AM
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Rednichols is correct, of course. The concept of 'stocking dealers', coupled with 'floor plan' dealer financing, had a huge impact on the holster business. Bianchi deserves much credit, not only for his approach to the business, but for excellent designs and product development over the years.

Between Bianchi and Safariland the US market was effectively dominated. Roy Baker (Roy's Original Pancake) moved in a similar direction, with displays of his products in stores all over the US. Bucheimer-Clark worked hard to establish a similar market position. Don Hume advertised widely and was successful in maintaining a significant market share via catalog sales.

Red's points about a single pattern being applicable to multiple handguns (both models and types), as well as his observations about covered trigger guards being "inconceivable" and "wrong" speak volumes about the evolution of the holster business over the past several decades.

Again, thanks for an interesting post.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:04 AM
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Simplicity is nice. I carry a 642, an SP101, or a Model 10 2" ; all cross-draw in this same old Hunter holster.

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Old 05-16-2018, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
Red's points about a single pattern being applicable to multiple handguns (both models and types), as well as his observations about covered trigger guards being "inconceivable" and "wrong" speak volumes about the evolution of the holster business over the past several decades.

Again, thanks for an interesting post.
Very good as always. Which brings me 'round to an oddity that is exclusively today's ('unheard of' a hundred years ago): striker pistols without external safeties.

Somehow, and I blame Bill Rogers for this and not his predecessors who were dealing with revolver holsters, holster makers were conned into taking responsibility for pistols safety, to the exclusion of the pistol makers themselves.

By building his fortune (he is quoted as saying "the money was in duty holsters") on so-called 'security holsters', Bill's approach completely stalled any (perhaps imagined) efforts by pistol makers to make their pistols safer. And by that I mean, there is no feature on pistols specifically placed there to keep the pistol in its holster. There is no feature (any more, for which we can blame Gaston Glock) to keep the pistol from being fired after it is taken from its holster -- there even is no feature to keep it from being fired IN the holster!

It is an incredible con. And the covered trigger guard is complicit: it keeps an SA hammered auto from being fired in the holster AND so does the grip safety and thumb safety. The Glock is being fired in the holster regardless because nothing more is required than the natural instinct to pull the trigger. So even children are firing these pistols in holsters. And keys. And loose clothing. What a stupid idea and all Glock's competitors followed suit.

A local copper shot himself holstering; which all local coppers use the Glock and Safariland holsters. Has happened plenty before this combination. Yet the unyielding, rigid construction of a Kydex holster only makes it worse; and creates the large opening that is present when it's moulded to a rail-mounted sight. Not realising that was also stupid.

Another local copper responded to a burglary at my wife's offices and was happy to show her his Glock, and the 'safety' in the trigger. It's not a safety! It is a 'fix' or 'bandaid' to keep the trigger from moving to the rear when the pistol is dropped, at which point it could/would fire without the little blade in the trigger against the frame, because it is a striker carried at half cock position.

When I worked out that it was impossible to secure a striker pistol of today, as we did/do with the ancient 1911, I stopped making holsters for the former. And oddly, it is the covered trigger that 'exposes' the con: can't safely cover it, can't safely uncover it. Whereas a 1911 can be carried safely with the trigger covered or uncovered (think the famous Bianchi No. 2).
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Old 05-20-2018, 07:22 PM
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Default The unseen simplicity of holster design

I never even thought to put my Colt Commander in a holster made for something else, but after reading this thread;
I had to dig out some old 4 N Frame holsters and try it.
Wow, I actually like the way it fits.


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