FROM THE CONTROL BOOTH
By Steve Tracy I Editorial director
Your Career Is Too Short To Carry An Ugly Holster
My first holster was a cheap, nylon unit with a cumbersome snap strap. It was a universal-fit model for medium-size pistols and it was difficult to draw from. Looking back with hindsight, it was a waste of money.
My first real holster was a handsome Tom Threepersons-style crossdraw made by El Paso Saddlery in Texas. My parents retired to a log cabin in Wisconsin and I carried my S&W 624 .44 Special around on their property. My dad and I both had these crossdraw holsters and we shot our revolvers on his makeshift range.
The nylon no-name holster frayed away to pieces and is long gone today. I considered it a lesson well learned. My .44 Special’s holster was handmade by true artisans from the best leather available and it will continue to last a couple more generations. El Paso Saddlery has made quality leather holsters since 1889 and they still craft excellent modern concealment holsters for today’s law enforcement. If it was good enough for Wyatt Earp, it’s good enough for me.
When I began my career in law enforcement, I was already aware of the custom holster makers out there. I was shocked at the prices police supply stores commanded for poorly made and executed black leather concealment holsters. At the range, I saw our detectives struggle to draw their duty weapons from these ill-fitting contraptions. Re-holstering was a nightmare that required three hands and caused a sore neck from the contortion needed to keep their eyes on their muzzle as they attempted to guide it back into the holster. I tried to convince fellow officers that just a few extra dollars would net them an heirloom-quality custom holster. One that would function as good as it looked.
I’ve used fine-quality, custom handmade holsters for off-duty carry my entire career. While some officers are content to make due with common, run-of-the-mill products, I’ve leaned toward that which is a bit more one-of-a-kind, individualized, and special.
The number of custom holster makers turning out high-quality rigs these days is amazing. Internet sites have allowed one-man shops to sell their wares online through simple Web stores. The only trick is that many of their wait times range from several months up to a year. Patience is a virtue when it comes to getting a high-quality holster that is custom made exactly how you want it. The long time exemplifies the fact that customers will wait in line for high quality. Try an Internet search with the terms “custom leather holster” and you can spend hours perusing handsome works of art from more makers than you can name.
Due in part to the competition that has risen from the small custom shops, the larger name-brand manufacturers now offer high-class holster systems that look as good as they function. Many will even do semi-custom work as a special order. These superb holsters keep your sidearm secure while carried off-duty. They protect the gun and provide you with a fast draw and one-handed re-holstering. They do it while looking good too.
Plain Jane holsters for the mass market may work OK or they may actually be a hazard to your job and your life. You get what you pay for and sometimes you get less than what you pay for. The Police Marksman readers are officers with an enthusiasm for firearms, training, and competition. I think you also appreciate quality equipment that performs and looks good doing it.
Today’s holsters for inside or outside the waistband come with sweat guards and with or without thumb break snaps. They’re usually lined to protect your handgun’s finish and they’re available in high, medium, or low ride heights. They can be made canted forward, neutral, or to the rear. Some have a built-in extra magazine carrier. Off-duty holsters can even be made for guns with tactical lights and lasers. Carvings or stampings along with different colored finishes can dress them up even more. Exotic materials like alligator, shark, and stingray hides are offered for the true enthusiast.
Your career is too short to carry an ugly holster. Quality leather outside or inside the waistband holsters will easily last beyond 30 years in police work.
I once worked for a midnight shift commander who wore a floral-carved leather shoulder holster to court. When he took off his suit coat at the station while returning his court files, I told him how much I admired his rig. He thanked me and then I added, “It’s a shame you have to cover it up with your jacket. No one can see how sharp that rig is.”
He smiled and replied, “That’s OK. I know how sharp it is.” PM
Here are some resources for holsters: