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Old 11-19-2010, 02:47 PM
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Default A blast from the past

A recent thread on this forum featured pictures of custom holsters and rigs and got me to remembering my youth and the men around me as I grew up.

As a kid, I remember seeing fleeting glimpses of belt guns in high ride tooled holsters containing what I would later learn were S&W and Colts of different flavors.

These were carried by detectives, investigators, federal, and state agents under suit coats and led me to day dream about what those rigs had seen.

At other times I would see old time sheriffs, uniformed patrol officers, game wardens, range detectives, and just plain cow hands with holsters bearing 38/44's, Registered Magnums, Troopers, Pythons, and such.

These rigs were the predecessors of the beautiful BBQ rigs we often see in various threads today and in the albums of the guru's on the S&W forum.

Those men in suits were using high ride holsters that came down from the design of Texas Ranger Tom Three Persons. Tom took his idea to S.D. Myres in El Paso Texas and the holster is still produced by many holster makers today. They are still popular today as shown in the picture thread on the forum.

Another Ranger, Lee Trimble, came up with a transition from the old Mexican loop holsters of the days of the Rangers patrolling on horseback to a duty holster better suited for riding in cars. He took his ideas to Art Brill in Austin and the rest is history. These two styles of holsters are still popular with Texas lawmen today.
Both the Three Person and the Austin holsters styles are made today by El Paso Saddlery, and some members of this forum.

Dave Keith, a regular denizen of the S&W forum and one of the posters on that thread featured rigs that he has made for his own use over the years, and continues to make today. Throughout his career, Dave has followed in the tradition of those old time Texans and carries the same guns in the older style equipment he has made and modified to his own needs.


These pictures led to my visiting with Dave about his rigs, and comparing notes about our times behind a badge and the equipment we used.

Dave is hanging up his badge and shootin' irons at the end of the year, but he isn't quite ready to settle back in a rocking chair just yet.

He won't be going into any kind of full production, just a few special orders in hopes of earning enough money to keep him in ammo.

Dave sent me some holsters to try out and comment on when I had put some miles on them. I have been sharing the duties with Jeff (WYO), a fellow member of the forum over in Laramie.

Dave's been a rancher, a hunting guide, and in law enforcement over the last 30 years. I haven't been in LE for over 30 years, but he said he wanted the opinion of an "ol hoss that had wore harness for a while." To say that I was flattered is an understatement.

Here is a pair for N and K frame S&W's among others he sent me to try out. I let Jeff get hold of that holster for a 31/2" N frame and never saw it again.

When they first arrived I was surprised how light they were. I am accustomed to belt holsters made of skirting leather that are thick, rigid and heavy. These holsters are light and trim and easy to carry. I guess a good analogy of the finished product would be to compare a heavy work boot to a dress "Roper" style boot. Light, strong and dressy.

Dave says,“ By selecting and using the best part of each hide. Using only the shoulders and the back to make one of the toughest and sturdiest holsters for each ounce of leather weight possible. Not one ounce of flank or belly hide goes into one of my rigs, period.”
He glues the layers together with the grain going in different directions which gives it additional strength on the same principle as plywood.

Dave uses the thinner leather but does it in an efficient way. The back of the "pocket" and the back flap are two layers of leather laminated together. This creates a smooth side out surface for both the gun and the back of the holster that is in contact with the wearer.
The front side of the "pocket" is two or three solid layers of leather depending on the style, which provides a smooth side out surface against the gun which reduces wear on the finish of the gun. This also provides a smooth side out surface for tooling or stamping to give the holster that ol timey style that harkens back to the good ol days. It also provides the same rigidity as a holster made of heavier leather without the additional bulk or weight.


As an option, Dave will cut a slot in the back flap so you can run your belt through the pants loop thus preventing the typical belt sag if you don’t use the loop. This alleviates the need to skip a loop or move the loops on your pants to make the holster ride right on your waist.

When Dave makes the holster he can adjust the muzzle angle and how close to the body you want your gun to ride by the shaping of the back flap. That's why these holsters will be custom built to the buyer's desires.

Here a Ranger rig he has been packin' around for a while.


As these will be built to the individual’s needs, the price will vary, but I can tell you this. The prices he estimated are less expensive than the ones being mass produced in Texas today. The stitching and stamping on his holsters is on a par with the best of the custom holster makers working today and beats the socks off of a lot of the mass produced holsters that are available today. Dave takes an extra step and tools in a depressed line in the leather so that when he stitches things up, the stitches are below the surface of the leather, thus preventing the stitches from wearing out due to abrasion. His designs also do not allow any stitching to come in contact with the gun. This can leave stitching tracks in the finish of your gun. There is always a leather between a gun and stitches or snaps. He also incorporates tension screws in many of his designs so you can adjust the holster tension to suit your needs and tastes.

The price he quoted for border stamping or basket weave was just plain cheap by my estimate. Floral tooling will naturally be more expensive, but durn sure worth it in my opinion.

Dave also makes holsters in either the Brill (Austin) or the Three Person style holsters for 1911 Automatics too. I suspect you could talk him into making a matching belt and spare ammo carriers if you talk nice.




I received this just this week and I am plumb tickled with it.


Jeff and I have been wearing Dave's rigs now for a couple of months. Jeff used one of Dave's holsters to pack a 1911 on a hunting trip in northern Wyoming recently. He suggested that I emphasize the fact Dave will put retention straps on his holsters for those that anticipate wild and woolly activities outdoors.


I have one of Dave's holsters with a retaining strap and found it to be totally secure bouncing around on the ranch on a horse and an ATV. About a month ago, I was packing a S&W model 58 and cow decided that she and I should go through a barb wire fence, and she insisted that I go first. I'll put that little squabble up against any wrestling match I ever had with a drunk back when I packed a badge. Even in that little tussel, my gun remained secure in Dave's holster.


If you are interested in a purty fine looking BBQ rig, or a darn nice traditional everyday totin' rig, you might want to contact Dave at [email protected] and get your name in the hopper for when he settles down and starts putting out some dandy rigs.
To keep from using too much bandwidth, I have created a photo album featuring more of Dave’s work. Please take the time to check it out.
http://s130.photobucket.com/user/Igg...?sort=3&page=1

Dave's got a web site now, Check it out.

http://www.redrivercustomleather.com/index.html
Seeya down the trail,
Iggy

Last edited by Iggy; 01-31-2014 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:55 PM
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Words can't express...

Those are beautiful works of art, and yet working rigs!
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:04 PM
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Chip,

Thanks for the history lesson, and those are some fine holsters...I keep hoping that he might share some patterns with me so that I can try to duplicate some of the old style rigs for myself.

Great leather Dave, and thanks for the pics Chip.
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:26 PM
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I love Dave's work. He rounds off the bottom of his holsters a lot which looks great. I tried rounding the bottom on a Brill style holster and I almost blew it and kind of crowded the front sight area. Maybe the trick is how he sews an entire piece on the front with stitching up the front, too. And I'm glad to here his holsters aren't real heavy. Mine are lighter than they look and it's good to here the lighter stuff is durable.
One of the best thing about hanging out on these forums are all these talented people on them. Dave's posts and turnerrivers albums, among other people, really got me back into leather work once I retired.
It's great you guys gave his holsters such a workout. They ain't just pretty. They work!
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:29 PM
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Great post and beautiful leather!!
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Old 11-19-2010, 04:25 PM
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I have been lusting after Dave's rigs for a while. Maybe if my economic state gets better before he gets too long in the tooth I can get him to make me one.
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Old 11-19-2010, 04:51 PM
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I love that stuff!
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Old 11-19-2010, 05:08 PM
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More beautiful leather work. There are some very talented people on this forum.
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:26 PM
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those are some fine looking rigs for sure!
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:31 PM
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Great write-up and photos. Man, it's going to be tough to decide what to get from whom, with so many talented leathercrafters on this forum, once I decide to start buying nice holsters. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-19-2010, 07:35 PM
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Great work and photos! I suspect Dave will be busier in retirement than when working judging by the quality of his work.
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Old 11-19-2010, 08:13 PM
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Whoa! That is some seriously beautiful leatherworking! Wow! Nice photography and write up, too, gents.
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Old 11-19-2010, 11:03 PM
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Wyatt Burp,
That western belt and holster you made is really nice. You have made some wonderful rigs.

Keep it up.

Last edited by Iggy; 01-30-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 11-19-2010, 11:12 PM
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Take my word for it, boys, Dave is doing some seriously high-end leather work here. I've used some of the best over the last 30 years or so, and his is as good as any I've run across. Best yet, you tell him what you want and he'll build it exactly that way. Don't know any big makers that do that!
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Old 11-19-2010, 11:17 PM
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There are several guys here who are setting the bar very high for us novice leather workers. Thanks for sharing. I can't get enough of good craftsmanship.
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Old 11-20-2010, 01:59 PM
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A bump for a friend
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:53 AM
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Yep,
It's true, I'm gonna be foot loose and doing my own thing here in a month or two.

Thanks for all the kind words and reports. I always enjoyed turnin' out my own gear and rigs for my friends.

The old classic designs just plain old work day in and day out.

Between tuning on the pack mules and planning the next wilderness trip,
I'm gonna build a few custom rigs, not so much as a commercial venture.
But, it's really about the leather.

Those one of a kind outfits for that special S&W N or K frame revolver or that 1911 pistol
that harkens back to the last century. I find those kind of things of real interest.

Thanks again for all the emails and interest, a special thanks to Iggy & Wyo for putting a rig or two to the test.

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:33 AM
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Some real talent and experience go into making a piece of art like that. I'd love to swing one myself some day.
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:35 AM
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As mentioned, very nice craftsmanship. Nice to see the tradition continued.

wyo-man
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:31 AM
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WOW! I practically drooled into my keyboard over those pictures.

Those are some of the very finest 'working' holsters and belts I've ever seen!

Real works of 'working art', they are!

I sure wish I could afford one for my M29-1 3"....or my 1911....or my 4" 29-2...!
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:54 PM
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I have seen his work in leather and lust for it.
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Old 11-22-2010, 01:15 PM
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A couple months ago I contacted Dave about making me a holster and let me tell you it is a damn fine piece of work!!! And Dave is a great guy to work with in creating what you want.

I couldn't relegate it to the "only on Sunday and special occasions" wear, I wear it every day and am proud to show it off. I carry my 3" 24-3 in it.

I'm already checking how full my penny jar is so I can get another one.

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Old 11-23-2010, 11:54 AM
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Bump for a fine craftsman.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:11 PM
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Boys and Girls,

I've got a rig on the toolin' slab right now ought to finish out by end of week.

It's kinda like one of them artist feller's deal...The all orginal "one of a kind" no prints available
and then it's on to the next steer hide for another forum members custom rig.

I may be takin' 10 or 12 or so a year, it's not about quanity or being a commerical kinda thing.

It's about sharing with like minded folks.

And y'all being somewhat presentable at the local Church Socials, Ice Cream Suppers, BBQs, Fandangos and all such as those.

At ya'll Service,

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:22 AM
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I am so pleased to see some of the old style leather rigs re-gaining popularity and someone keeping the traditions alive.

Way to go Dave.
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:53 PM
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bump for a great guy...and a really nice product
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:06 PM
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All I can say is "WOW!"!
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:18 PM
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They're beautiful, Dave!
Makes me feel good just looking at the pictures!
Dick
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Old 01-09-2011, 04:46 PM
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Hi, Iggy:
You might have seen JimmyJ wearing a Don Hume made Jordan River Belt with a Border Patrol Holster containing a Colt Trooper.
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyj View Post
Hi, Iggy:
You might have seen JimmyJ wearing a Don Hume made Jordan River Belt with a Border Patrol Holster containing a Colt Trooper.
You might have seen ol Ig packin' his 58 in a Border Patrol holster too.

He's got a Ranger belt and a Brill style holster on order for that fancy Model 27.

We're workin' on the dearth of BBQ's here in Wyoming so's we got a place to wear the durn things.

Last edited by Iggy; 01-09-2011 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:34 PM
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I thought I would share a pic. of my 5"1930 HD & Hunter Holster. I don't know much about the Hunter brand but, It fits my old HD like a glove, and I like the floral pattern.

Chubbo
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyj View Post
Hi, Iggy:
You might have seen JimmyJ wearing a Don Hume made Jordan River Belt with a Border Patrol Holster containing a Colt Trooper.
Reading stuff like this reinforces my belief that this is the right place to be. I hope that Colt was wearing a set of Herrett Jordan Troopers.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyj View Post
Hi, Iggy:
You might have seen JimmyJ wearing a Don Hume made Jordan River Belt with a Border Patrol Holster containing a Colt Trooper.

Hey Jimmy & Iggy,

What's up with the those old Jordan rigs anyway?




Got my first one 37 years ago...Stuck a Pre-27 3 1/2" .357 in 'er and never looked back...Still got one (.357) and the rig.

Wore it to court a few times last year...Just remembering the ol' times, ya know.

Like gettin' outta the car on a BOLO kinda stop.

One that makes your belly kinda knot up and you unsnap 'er and
swivel that strap outta the way and maybe snap it back....

The pups these days, ain't never seen nothing like it.

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:32 PM
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Dave,

That rig sure does look familiar. I carried the old 58 in the 'zact same rig including the sap.

I sure know what you mean about unsnappin' that strap and the "pucker factor" goin' up several notches.

These modern 3 step retention rigs woulda got me killed.

Chubbo,

That is a classy set up. Great old timey rig.

Last edited by Iggy; 01-11-2011 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 01-28-2011, 05:39 PM
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I just received my rig from Dave this week and I could not be happier. Prior to shipping, Dave sent me some photos of the finished rig:



The attention to detail is evident in this close up:

Even the back of the holster, the side that rests against your hip, has the borders worked/stamped!

This holster was designed, it is said, by Lee Trimble, an associate of Tom Threepersons. Trimble took the design to a holster maker in Austin, A. W. Brill, so today it is known as a Brill or an Austin. (An intersting piece of historical trivia posted elsewhere by Kevin Williams is that Brill had a daughter who grew up to marry John Connelly, the governor of Texas who was wounded when JFK was assasinated.)

Dave's holster is surprisingly light, the leather very thin and high quality, and I do not think that the full flap on the rear makes it bulky at all. I am pleased with this as I think the style more attractive to the eye for the gun I had in mind for it, below, than the Threepersons, but was a bit worried about bulk. While the inside is not lined, it is not rough either. It has a smooth finish that feels like lined except it is not soft and hence won't pick up dirt and grime to scratch the gun.

There's a hidden tension screw as well.

I have been wondering for a couple of years what holster to get for my most prized revo, a special 38/44 HD 45 Colt that I had customized by Hamilton Bowen, Paul Persinger, and Dan Love. David Keith belongs with those three. I am glad I waited for this thread by Iggy before I made my decesion.

It is extrodinarily fine leatherwork. Thank you, Dave! (And I'll be back!)

Here's the gun its for:

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Old 01-28-2011, 07:36 PM
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So you're the guy that's been holdin' up the progress on my rig!!

Dave is going to be building one for me some time this spring.

Yours is a beaut and has got me doin' the bug on a hot rock dance in anticipation of the arrival of mine.

That fancy S&W will be right at home in that rig of yours.

Thanks for posting.

Last edited by Iggy; 01-28-2011 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:15 PM
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Hi, Iggy and Keith44spl:
These were for patrol (4") and court (6").

http://i677.photobucket.com/albums/v...oliceGearA.jpg
http://i677.photobucket.com/albums/v...oliceGearB.jpg
http://i677.photobucket.com/albums/v...oliceGearC.jpg
http://i677.photobucket.com/albums/v...oliceGearD.jpg

28Shooter the Colt Trooper was used with Franize oversized stag grips

Jimmy

Last edited by jimmyj; 01-28-2011 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:08 PM
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Whuppin' sticks??? You nasty nasty man!!

Now me and Dave we carried that leetle bitty sap you could palm and not be seen as a nasty nasty man, when you applied a little "attitude adjustment."

Not that I would ever do that, but I wore out a bunch of sap pockets packin' that thing.

Last edited by Iggy; 05-21-2015 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:34 PM
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Good Morning Boys!

I'm jest glad to be here...

Jimmy,

Man Oh Man, that 6" rig is all that and more.
All ya need to finish that out is a pair of Motor Patrol boots.

I never carried or used a baton...Oh, maybe a few times.

But, did get one of them little expandable ones to carry when in dress clothes...That little steel nub will sur-nuf bring a tear to their eye,
if ya give 'em a little peck on the ankle with it for tryin' to bite or kick at ya.

Now in days it's, "The rat catcher is to tough on the rats..."


*
Iggy,

Ol' Onomea's rig came out alright right there.

I've had to move the leather bendin' deal to a bigger location...I'll be back in production soon.

So, I'll maybe have 'er out to ya by spring break-up.


Always at y'all service,

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Last edited by keith44spl; 01-29-2011 at 01:38 PM. Reason: Edited for Language...English
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:44 PM
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Sounds like a plan to me.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:57 PM
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Sir that is some of the most beautiful gun leather I have ever seen!! I will be mailing you shortly. I am picking up a 3.5 27 no dash very soon for my son. His birthday is in August. Would love for you to make a rig to go with it. He will be 10. But already weighs in at 120 and comes to my neck. I'm 6ft 3in. That would make an extra special birthday gift to have a comfortable and old school holster to put it in. Thanks for your service and enjoy retirement.
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:58 PM
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Beautiful leather work, I'm thinkin I might need to get in line. Not sure if you can stamp leather from a rockin chair but you might as well give it a try.

Keith
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Brown View Post
Beautiful leather work, I'm thinkin I might need to get in line. Not sure if you can stamp leather from a rockin chair but you might as well give it a try.

Keith

Keith,

Well now, don't tarry to long

BTW, I'm gonna need a new pair of stocks for a 'Special' project 44 I'm working on...I'll be in touch.

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:47 PM
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Absolutely stunning! Certainly brings back some memories of what is almost a lost art! THANK YOU....
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:51 AM
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Dave, how about telling us the story of how you learned to work leather so well, who your teacher was, etc.

Doesn't seem the kind of thing a fellow would just pick up and teach himself, but if that is the case, that would be interesting, too.
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Old 02-11-2011, 03:30 PM
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Onomea

Well Sir,

I don't recall for certain how many hours I spent watching ol' saddle makers ply their trade...It was a bunch to say the least.

I guess I come from a long line of 'Makers' and everyone seemed to be a building or makin' something all the time.

My Mother was a dressmaker, she sure turned out some fancy ladies dresses and such.
Dad, was forever working on some special project or mending a saddle or harness.

Ya just couldn't run to town everytime something needed fixin'. We were a do-it-yourself or do without - kinda bunch.

Made myself a fancy gun belt when I was first allowed to carry a handgun around the place there for doing chores and riding fences.
Just for sport you know. The holster was a hand-me-down, but fit and wore good enough for a kid.

After I 'aged' some and was big enough to hang around the corrals whenever
my Dad and his cronies were shooting or just passing the time of day.
I studied every man's holster and belt rig in every detail...
Why some of them there old gents would pull their fancy outfits off and let me examine their leather
shucks up close.

One thing leads to another...



Be it snuffy cowponies or broncy mules bustin' up the equipment, ya got fix it. (BTW, that pony right there was fixin' to get eared down...
He was a good 'n' but sure could bog his ol' head and jar ya to the gills the first thirty or forty yards. Ya'd better be purdy salty.)



My old saddle I still ride and a new one I built for ol' Cookie, a fine feller that we had slingin' hash in our mountain hunting camps.

Then along came...The Rodeo Days,
(Spur'n one out at Ol' Cheyenne)


Nah, not me...Much to his Mother's great dis-pleasure, our Son became a Bronc rider in collage
and rode the PRCA circuit, till a little blonde headed Texas gal came along...



During the rodeo years I made an untold number of 'leggins' for all his pards.
Some were plain and some were just 'plain ol' ugly' like the Bull Riders Special above.
Then, there's my bull elkhide Chinks when they were new. (The same pair you see in some of my firearm photos.)

Well that's about enough of that there...

One of My favorite rigs for the hills


or just goin' to town...With a 3 1/2" N frame


Just making 'em really good and stout. And sometimes purdy too.


Su Amigo,
Dave
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Last edited by keith44spl; 02-11-2011 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Edited for Language...English
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:32 PM
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Thanks for the stories and the photos, Dave.


Bullseye
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:30 PM
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Dave,
When did your son ride broncs at Cheyenne?
I've been out of those chutes a few times my ownself.

I drove old Casey Tibb's purple Lincoln Continental out in the arena and picked him up when he won the Champeenship one year.
The local Gendarmes and the Frontier Committee had some harsh words for me and Casey over that little deed.

Last edited by Iggy; 07-27-2011 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:58 PM
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Iggy,

I don't rightly recall the year that photo was made...But it was the 100th Daddy of 'em All.
We motored up to watch him ride that time.

I like them Canadian chuckwagon racing and the muggin'/wild horse race. Pretty wild & wooly.

Oh yeah, single steer ropin' too


Dave
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:15 PM
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For you trivia experts, Art Brill's daughter is better known as Mrs. John Connally,(Nellie), who was with John and the Kennedy's in Dallas in the same car in 1963.
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