• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 60: Leading by example

Updated: Jun 13

And the example, today, is a limited edition holster made and marketed by JB as the Bianchi Model 19 "Nelson M&P". Below is from Bianchi Holster's 1969/70 (its official cover marking) catalog; Bruce left the company and joined Fillmore P.D. in August of 1969 and legend has it that he started up his CLL operation then, too:

Bruce had joined JB's company in '66 age 18 and on the site of the chap who makes reproductions of Bruce's holsters, JB there tells the story of meeting and hiring Bruce and his sister. Bruce being gone in '69 I showed up in '70 wanting a job there that I didn't know had been vacated by Bruce. We were similar ages and met often at pistol tourneys in the '70s; but he's been gone for 25 years now.

The holster made a big impression on me because it followed the Eastern School of Gaylord and Theodore. No welt, ornamental pattern to the stitchline that replaced the welt, detail molded. And JB told me the secret to the thumbsnap, which FYI had only been used by JB for a few years by then and only on revolvers: the stiffener inside the upright for the thumb was a very large paper clip! I love clever, and one of these was on the R&D bench in the factory when I was given a tour before being hired away from a very humble job as an armed security guard in the SF Bay Area. For a job that didn't pay much more but thrilled me to attend! I would literally forget to take my paycheck home, every other Friday; and have to retrieve it on the following Monday.

About a decade ago one of these popped up, and since then we (the three of us who are the bloggers here) have located several more. Here are several, with the first I'll show you having later been refinished. Notice the heavy influence of Paris Theodore's work on Bruce; Paris had just received massive publicity in 1968 for his new range and Bruce was obviously as impressed with it as I was.

The above holster is unique among our set because it lacks the Model 19 marking and includes the NMP (Nelson M&P) marking; so likely is a prototype. Notice it also lacks the bad stitching of a genuine Bruce Nelson! See another blog post here about that.

Notice that this one above, is marked as a 19 holster and the fitment is marked, too. It's the first we acquired.

Why was it deleted in favor of this one that JB claims is a Threepersons (it's not)? See below. I think JB just didn't want to pay Bruce a royalty, nor have an upstart like Theodore see his design influence in a Bianchi Holsters catalog.

Paris' own efforts first appeared in '68 after founding his company in '66. That was followed by his '69 catalog that was still only picturing prototypes; gun writer Mason Williams created the famous 'bullet hole' catalog for Paris:

Bruce couldn't see the backside of Paris' publicity photos so had to come with his own version. All of Bruce's designs (there were three) were inspired by Paris' publicity at the same time, with Paris' own being substantive improvements over Chic Gaylord (we know how they knew each other -- New York's Broadway stage in which they both worked -- but there is no evidence yet that Paris actually worked with or for Chic at any time). So Bruce's Summer Special was inspired by Paris' "UNS", as the first fully-configured IWB:

His choice of materials for the Summer Special came from Heiser's 1940s IWB:

His crossdraw was a melding of the Seventrees OWB design with the Clark 'winged' crossdraw of the 1930s (below):

Poor old Paris. Nobody made as much on his designs, as the rest of us did by emulating him. Roy Baker did much better. My own efforts are reflected in the Askins Avenger, and in the Pistol Pocket; yet Paris didn't ever make an avenger and neither did his IWB have a patented, adjustable-angle belt loop :-).


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