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Old 05-29-2018, 08:46 PM
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The first of the Avenger-style holsters came out of the Bianchi stable in 1977 or so, and was followed by a host of copies (at least one of which, Sparks, claimed to have been first with theirs -- ten years later). Here's a partial 'list' in pics, in sequence. They're all marked. Not shown is one I did for Assault Systems in a hybrid fabric/synthetic leather.

Avenge(r) is Sweet-20180530_102517-jpg

Avenge(r) is Sweet-20180530_102551-jpg

Note that only the last one, which is an extreme sophistication of the original Avenger, is the only one with a slide guard -- which was also invented in the '70s (I believe by Gordon Davis). There is a HP there, and a Glock, but the rest are all 1911s.

Avenge(r) is Sweet-20180530_102631-jpg the earliest

Avenge(r) is Sweet-20180530_102645-jpg the latest

All Avengers except mine are very simple beasts consisting of two leather pieces: the body, and something for the belt. Mine are made from 7 leather pieces plus the hardware -- that's called progress.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:53 PM
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There is a myth that Avengers, or the IWB versions, need metal inside the mouth accent to hold the mouth open. The use of metal there by some makers is simply a holdover from when metal was used in competition holsters; it is neither necessary nor even desirable. The metal can be crushed when going prone with an empty holster and wearing forward of 3:00. Instead, it is the tension of the two layers, which is exaggerated by the gluing and the stitching of the layers, that is created when the assembly is folded that holds the mouth open. For awhile I used a thin layer of polycarbonate there 'just because' (it flexes but can't break in that construction) but discarded it as 'no value added'.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:58 PM
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Very nice, Red...as usual we are seeing things that, if we saw them previously, we didn't know what they were...or how they came to be...

Thanks for sharing both the images, and your encyclopedic background information!!

Best Regards, Les
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:28 PM
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Here is one that I kinda like. It is by Kirkpatrick. They call it
their Texas Strong Side.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:21 PM
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I had an old Bianchi Avenger I used with a Colt .45 for decades. Think I sold it some time back at a gun show.
I liked it because it carried the gun very high above the belt line. Some preferred it lower, but it I like 'em high and tight.
My only gripe was that it loosened up over time. Some modern versions have tensioning screws.
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Old 05-30-2018, 03:33 AM
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I had an old Bianchi Avenger I used with a Colt .45 for decades. Think I sold it some time back at a gun show.
I liked it because it carried the gun very high above the belt line. Some preferred it lower, but it I like 'em high and tight.
My only gripe was that it loosened up over time. Some modern versions have tensioning screws.
Both are valid points. This one that I have here for a Commander is loose.

As for the ride height, I think we've learned since then that too-high causes the belt to do more work than it's meant to; perhaps, even capable of. And that was the origin of 'get a good (stiff-as-iron) belt' when a newbie comments he can't get the grip to pull in. But the too-high ride is something that John insisted on.

Long since those days I realised what others knew before us at Bianchi: the ideal ride height for the auto is as low as the knuckle of the second finger can go (so just clearing the belt itself). It's been said before but few makers today have put it together. Not too different, from thinking that a Threepersons 'rides high and exposes the trigger'; instead, what was special was 'entire grip above the belt including that second knuckle'.
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Old 05-30-2018, 03:40 AM
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It's not obvious to any but its inventors, that the Avenger was created to compete with Baker's pancake; which was patented. All the makers quickly worked out how to honour his patent by realising the pancake style in another way.

A fully-realised avenger-style works exactly like a pancake, by keeping one outboard slot, and replacing the other with an outboard loop. Designers make a mistake when they simply 'put a loop on the back' as John Bianchi's does. That method works ideally for a true appendix carry (that is, at 2:00; anything further forward is belly carry) and for crossdraw; and both with the barrel strictly vertical (no caster at all, either positive or negative). Very different when doing a 'strong side' draw with a positive caster of, say, the 24 degrees that I use (which has been used since Myres in the '30s).

My current version (you'll also see it on that Aker from the Nineties in the main images) acknowledges the limitations of the avenger design (which is a tendency to turn the rear sight out) by placing the backside loop well out over the fold of the holster:

Avenge(r) is Sweet-avengers-study-3-jpg Nichols 'Beat the Devil' at left, John's (holster name keeps changing) on right

Avenge(r) is Sweet-avengers-study-4-jpg 'Nichols Avenger' for Aker in the '90s, the Galco 'Avenger' I did for them, prior to the Aker, at right

Both the Bianchi by Bianchi, and the Galco by Nichols, have virtually no camber so can have rear loops that are 'just anywhere'; as long as one wears them at 3:00 or 2:00. To be worn at 4:00 and have acceptable concealment and access, there must be positive caster; and then the basic loop won't permit them (concealment and access) to be acceptable.
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:08 AM
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I've owned a handful of Bianchi "Askins Avengers" over the years. Most of them (maybe all of them) had single male snap on the back and I never really understood its purpose.

Avenge(r) is Sweet-img_2014-jpg

I came across this Avenger at a gun show last winter and had to buy it, even though I don't own a HP that fits it (yet). Now I understand why the retaining strap is usually missing!

Avenge(r) is Sweet-img_2011-jpg

Avenge(r) is Sweet-img_2012-jpg

Avenge(r) is Sweet-img_2013-jpg
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:23 AM
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Red, I have owned several holsters that you designed. This Bianchi Askins Avenger was NOS and cost me $15.00 in 2010. I gave my son this outfit about seven years ago. This BHP was the first .40 S&W I ever bought.

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Old 05-30-2018, 10:04 AM
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My Bianchi Avenger also had the male snap, don't recall if I had the hammer strap to go along with it or not. At any rate, I wouldn't have used it because when the situation is dire enough for me to "whip out my iron" I want to do it with the fewest movements.
Others may have preferred safety and retention over speed, and I guess that's why that option was available.
There was no concealed carry available in NC for anyone but police officers in those days, so maximum concealment was my goal to prevent me from being identified as an LEO in social situations.
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:13 PM
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What was Col. Askins role in the holster, if any ?
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:47 PM
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What was Col. Askins role in the holster, if any ?
As did Myres with Askins, this holster was simply named for him. An understandable way to get it some publicity for the new product.

It appears that Charlie Askins actually gave Myres his "tio" same moniker, calling him Uncle Sam in an early 1940s article. Tales to the contrary (that it was a populous christening by the Mexican locals) came from Sam's son Bill in interviews some 20 years later.

Another poster enquired about the removable strap; be aware that 'cocked n locked' was a new and as-yet unapproved method of carry. So the strap was added simply to help prevent lawsuits when carried that way. Even photographed with the hammer down in '77 originally:

Avenge(r) is Sweet-77-jpg
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:56 PM
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The Assault Systems version (aka Shooting Systems at the time, then Elite, now something else). It was for this range for them in the '90s that I invented my now-trademark 'skeleton slots'.

The gadget on the outside is the patented 'PowerBand' that gave adjustable retention to the soft fabrics.

Avenge(r) is Sweet-5-elite-avenger-nichols-1-jpg

Avenge(r) is Sweet-5-elite-avenger-nichols-2-jpg

Notice, again, how far the backside loop is over the main fold of the holster.
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Old 05-30-2018, 08:58 PM
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I really like the Avenger style holsters. They carry very comfortably. I'd like to find some of the old originals.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:33 PM
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I have a Galco version for my Glock 19.

Carries well.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:45 PM
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Red, as always, thank you for sharing your "holstorical" knowledge and unique perspective. I had wondered about the origin of the "slide guard" (aka "sweat shield") and appreciate your acknowledgement of Gordon Davis as the likely originator. I always find it interesting to know who is credited with originating particular holster design features that we now take for granted. Certainly, you have contributed many.

You note: "...the Avenger was created to compete with Baker's pancake; which was patented. All the makers quickly worked out how to honour his patent by realising the pancake style in another way."

The language, construction and intent of the Baker patent has perplexed me. From my perspective, the true innovation and novelty of the design is the two panel construction with a belt slot forward and a belt slot trailing the pocket. The dual "outboard" slot design was markedly differential compared to the standard, Threepersons influenced, or even the Gaylord derived, plain-clothes / concealment holsters of the time.

From Baker's 1971 patent application: "The holster is made of two identical leather pieces joined in overlying relationship. One belt receiving slot is provided through both pieces at the bottom or trigger side of the gun; while two slots are provided at the top of the gun, one slot being at a level below the other. Stitching in the form of closed loops around the slots joins the pieces and forms the gun pocket. With this structure the holster is adaptable for regular or cross-draw for both right or left-hand use."

US3731858A - Gun holster
- Google Patents


Basically, it appears that the patent attorney adopted a "kitchen sink" approach rather than calling out each of the truly novel features in separate patent applications. Very precise, yet somehow missing the target because IMO the true genius of Baker's design was the simplicity of the combination of the trailing and forward slots.

As for the Avenger, I have owned several. I agree that the ride height and the height of the holster mouth above belt line require considerable shoulder rotation and elbow lift in order to get the muzzle to clear leather, particularly with a relatively long barrelled handgun like the 1911 Government Model. However, the design has proved to be comfortable while seated and, for me, keeps the rear sight high enough to generally avoid inadvertent bumps to my elbow during normal activity. Your Bogart series Avenger does take the style to a another level, both functionally and aesthetically.
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Old 05-30-2018, 09:45 PM
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Thank you for continuing to educate us Mr. Nichols. The Avenger holster appears to be very similar to Bruce Nelsonís Professional model. Where does the Professional fit in the history of this style holster?
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:10 AM
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Thank you for continuing to educate us Mr. Nichols. The Avenger holster appears to be very similar to Bruce Nelson’s Professional model. Where does the Professional fit in the history of this style holster?
The Nelson professional was a crossdraw-only holster, very simple:

Avenge(r) is Sweet-1-nelson-crossdraw-1-jpg

Avenge(r) is Sweet-1-nelson-crossdraw-2-jpg

It was derived from this Clark crossdraw introduced in the Thirties (Clark became Bucheimer-Clark in 1959 after E.E. Clark died in the '40s; his son Earl carried on with Bucheimer and then even Safariland:

Avenge(r) is Sweet-smith-clark-1-jpg

Avenge(r) is Sweet-smith-clark-3-jpg
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:23 AM
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Red, as always, thank you for sharing your "holstorical" knowledge and unique perspective. I had wondered about the origin of the "slide guard" (aka "sweat shield") and appreciate your acknowledgement of Gordon Davis as the likely originator. I always find it interesting to know who is credited with originating particular holster design features that we now take for granted. Certainly, you have contributed many.

You note: "...the Avenger was created to compete with Baker's pancake; which was patented. All the makers quickly worked out how to honour his patent by realising the pancake style in another way."

The language, construction and intent of the Baker patent has perplexed me. From my perspective, the true innovation and novelty of the design is the two panel construction with a belt slot forward and a belt slot trailing the pocket. The dual "outboard" slot design was markedly differential compared to the standard, Threepersons influenced, or even the Gaylord derived, plain-clothes / concealment holsters of the time.

From Baker's 1971 patent application: "The holster is made of two identical leather pieces joined in overlying relationship. One belt receiving slot is provided through both pieces at the bottom or trigger side of the gun; while two slots are provided at the top of the gun, one slot being at a level below the other. Stitching in the form of closed loops around the slots joins the pieces and forms the gun pocket. With this structure the holster is adaptable for regular or cross-draw for both right or left-hand use."

US3731858A - Gun holster
- Google Patents


Basically, it appears that the patent attorney adopted a "kitchen sink" approach rather than calling out each of the truly novel features in separate patent applications. Very precise, yet somehow missing the target because IMO the true genius of Baker's design was the simplicity of the combination of the trailing and forward slots.

As for the Avenger, I have owned several. I agree that the ride height and the height of the holster mouth above belt line require considerable shoulder rotation and elbow lift in order to get the muzzle to clear leather, particularly with a relatively long barrelled handgun like the 1911 Government Model. However, the design has proved to be comfortable while seated and, for me, keeps the rear sight high enough to generally avoid inadvertent bumps to my elbow during normal activity. Your Bogart series Avenger does take the style to a another level, both functionally and aesthetically.
Baker (did you know that he apprenticed to Andy Anderson in AR?) faced many difficulties with that patent but ultimately sold his operation for a lot in 1980; so it all worked out for him. Problem One is that the typical patent attorney we're going to encounter is not really very good at understanding the essence of what is to be patented. Prob Two is neither he/she, nor the inventor, have a breadth or depth of understanding the prior art, which the Patent Examiner will go through with a fine toothed comb. Prob Three then, was the belt slide holsters that already had outboard slots (in my prior post you'll see even a single outboard slot was previously patented). Prob Four is that the claims were drawn so narrowly that they were limited to a reversible holster -- because that's what Baker and his attorney thought had been invented.

All the other makers had to do, was make it 'not reversible'. Or -- not use three slots. Or -- not surround the slots with a complete stitchline. You'll see these solutions in all pancakes of the era.

The Avenger competes with the pancake by being narrower
. Ultimately a pancake is an avenger with a second outboard slot, which takes up space that can be limited, on the waistline. The original pancake, because it is symmetrical panels, also closes when the pistol is drawn, by virtue of the belt pressure. This can be good for retention, bad for holstering especially with the shakes after an encounter.

The modern pancake, made with a larger panel on the outside then the inside, correct this to a large extent. But the panel encircling of the mouth of an avenger holds it open; so some of the current makers whack a slab of leather near the mouth and believe they've accomplished something when in fact they've only stiffened the centre of the outer panel.

Note that the Professional had no reinforced mouth, and the tab on the back is mounted so that it can only be used crossdraw or true appendix (2:00 which Bruce called 'forward of hip carry' even though that's not our hip up there).
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Old 05-31-2018, 09:43 AM
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Note that the Professional had no reinforced mouth...
On two custom made pancake holsters I had crafted for a Glock 19, made by R. Grizzle and TT Gunleather, I specified the reinforcement band be left off the top to reduce the thickness of the rig and thereby make it "print" less. I find no disadvantage to eliminating this band.
My favorite pancake, The High Ride (THR) by Greg Bulman, carried the gun with no cant, and had no reinforcement at the top. Unfortunately, Bulman is no longer in business.


Correction: Josh Bulman was the holster makers name, not Greg.
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Old 06-02-2018, 10:20 PM
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Red, I don't see it often, but saw a copy of the magazine "Guns of the Old West" on the newstand today, and picked it up to look at the pictures, mostly (sort of like Playboy). Anyway, this is the summer 2018 issue, and I noticed that there is an article by Dennis Adler called "The Legend Continues" about your old friend John Bianchi. More or less leading up to what ties in with this particular magazine, his current venture, "Frointier Gunleather". I haven't read it all yet, but thought you might be interested. Dont know if you guys get this magazine down under. If you need a copy, let me know, and I'll send it to you.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 06-02-2018, 10:35 PM
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Red, I don't see it often, but saw a copy of the magazine "Guns of the Old West" on the newstand today, and picked it up to look at the pictures, mostly (sort of like Playboy). Anyway, this is the summer 2018 issue, and I noticed that there is an article by Dennis Adler called "The Legend Continues" about your old friend John Bianchi. More or less leading up to what ties in with this particular magazine, his current venture, "Frointier Gunleather". I haven't read it all yet, but thought you might be interested. Dont know if you guys get this magazine down under. If you need a copy, let me know, and I'll send it to you.

Best Regards, Les
Thank you so much Les, would love to have a copy of the article by email gauntleather@hotmail.com . Adler of course is the author of puff pieces on both John and on Safariland within the last few years. I mentioned to my team mates working on The Book, that it's OK that we can't speak to the oldie makers to get 'the truth' because even in their lifetimes, we makers spin so many tales we begin to believe them ourselves! So how is an interviewer to know better (but geez, I reckon the author of the puff piece on Bill Rogers should've questioned his claim that he invented the paddle holster).

Thanks, think I have some of your pics that I want to run past you for use in The Book :-). I do my best to keep track of image owners and so, any that I can't be sure of, John and I will have to leave out of course.
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Old 06-03-2018, 09:49 PM
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Article received, thanks so much Les :-). And for the permission to use your excellent pics.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:08 PM
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I wonder why avenger style holsters aren't more popular these days? As pointed out above, they take up significantly less real estate on the belt while serving essentially the same purpose.
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Old 06-14-2018, 10:43 PM
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Here's the Alessi version with my full size Kimber:



...and one from Bulman Gunleather with my CDP:





My son carries his Kimber in the Wilson Combat version, my daughter carries her Kimber (can you see a trend) in one made by IHL for Dillon Precision.
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Old 06-15-2018, 06:34 AM
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Red tell us a bit more about Baker working with Anderson in Arkansas.
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Old 06-15-2018, 06:04 PM
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Red tell us a bit more about Baker working with Anderson in Arkansas.
We know surprisingly little about Roy Lee Baker and it took quite a bit of hunting to find out even that -- including that middle name.

B. 1922 and d. 1990, those years are each within 1 of the birth and death of Andy Anderson. (whose name was Warren Ferrell Anderson). We don't know anything more about Roy until he appears with Anderson who has started up his saddlery in Ft. Smith after leaving the Army at WWII's end. Andy married at the outset of the war, Roy at its end.

I worked out the connection between the two men, after a clue from turnerriver to look more closely at Roy's homage to an unnamed master on the back cover of Roy's 1976 or '77 catalogue. To double check I asked my friend, author Bob Arganbright (geez, we've known each other a long time) and he said, "Oh, yeah, doesn't everybody know that? They were lifelong friends and even shared the cost of buying hardware in bulk, and Andy gave Roy permission to build his unique mag pouch". No, everybody didn't know!

In 1960, Roy appears as a heat treater in IL, then files his patent for the pancake from there in '71 and issued in '73. Nothing more until he sells his company in 1980 -- new owners announce he is no longer associated with the company -- and then his death in '90.

Another friend of mine, Jim Buffaloe, worked for Roy and said Roy spent all the money he made on women and booze (for which the punchline is "and the rest of it I just wasted"). Roy takes up just ten lines in my 1800 line reference list.

After all that, one notices when slotting Roy and Andy into holstory, that Roy fits best into the category otherwise dominated by Chic Gaylord and Paris Theodore: flat construction without welts -- the Eastern School. Andy slots into the Western School with a heavy emphasis on Threepersons styling that included significant welts. Andy was a handgun hunter going way back but there are no hints, so far, as to what inspired Roy.
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Old 06-16-2018, 07:14 AM
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Thanks Red. Did Andy produce a version of the Pancake in his Gunfighter line?
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Old 06-16-2018, 05:06 PM
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Thanks Red. Did Andy produce a version of the Pancake in his Gunfighter line?
To quote Shania Twain, "you must be joking, right?" Nope :-).
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:48 PM
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Baker... faced many difficulties with that patent...Problem One is that the typical patent attorney... is not really very good at understanding the essence of what is to be patented. Prob Two is neither he/she, nor the inventor, have a breadth or depth of understanding the prior art... Prob Three then, was the belt slide holsters that already had outboard slots... Prob Four is that the claims were... limited to a reversible holster...

All the other makers had to do, was make it 'not reversible'. Or -- not use three slots. Or -- not surround the slots with a complete stitchline. You'll see these solutions in all pancakes of the era...
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...It was derived from this Clark crossdraw introduced in the Thirties...

Attachment 342652

Attachment 342653
Red, thanks for sharing your insight.

I grew up not far south of the state line between central Louisiana and Arkansas. I have been to Magnolia, AR several times, but, not to the location of Roy Bakerís shop. Although I was too young to personally purchase a handgun in the early to mid 1970s, it was indisputable that Royís Pancake holster was overwhelmingly popular.

It seems to me that the actual "innovation and utility", of Baker's design was a two panel holster with the location of a belt slot "forward" of the pocket. Having researched patents and vintage copies of Gun Digest, American Rifleman, G&A, Shooting Times, etc.; I haven't been able to find similar "prior art." I would be interested to know of any examples.

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Old 06-19-2018, 01:18 AM
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Red, thanks for sharing your insight.

I grew up not far south of the state line between central Louisiana and Arkansas. I have been to Magnolia, AR several times, but, not to the location of Roy Baker’s shop. Although I was too young to personally purchase a handgun in the early to mid 1970s, it was indisputable that Roy’s Pancake holster was overwhelmingly popular.

It seems to me that the actual "innovation and utility", of Baker's design was a two panel holster with the location of a belt slot "forward" of the pocket. Having researched patents and vintage copies of Gun Digest, American Rifleman, G&A, Shooting Times, etc.; I haven't been able to find similar "prior art." I would be interested to know of any examples.
The industry had the belt slide with the fore and aft slots. Thinking of my avenger example, what Baker popularised was having more than one belt attachment point, spaced to provide stability that allowed a super high ride.

Nelson fans will claim his No 1Pro was first. But we only have an old claim that his drsign hit the maket in '67. And Clark had done the crossdraw with outboard slot since at least 1935.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:04 AM
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I suppose this horsehide Kramer Vertical could be
called an Avenger style?
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Old 06-20-2018, 03:52 PM
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I suppose this horsehide Kramer Vertical could be
called an Avenger style?
Right again :-). Bianchi made the Pistol Pocket, which is a form of avenger for iwb, for revolvers but not the Avenger itself.
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