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  • Red Nichols, Holstorian

The Threepersons again -- but for the 1911

Updated: Feb 28

A post on a forum causes me to make mention, that the Threepersons for the revolver and the Threepersons for the automatics are not only different, but the latter isn't what you think it is.


What it's NOT is this that is properly called a Donihoo:



And it also is NOT this Myres, because it has an open muzzle:


No muzzle plugs are installed in the Threepersons. If one chooses to put a muzzle plug in place (why, though, they're a bitch to install and it must be done with hand sewing and the added bonus of likely sticking the awl through one's thumb) then one would call such a holster a 'modified Threepersons'.


A Threepersons for the auto is THIS, and Sam Myres said so in 1930. We purists on the one hand are reluctant to admit it is a Threepersons because it has a fender behind the pistol pocket; but then there's that Myres guy who said it was.



What's the diff? The welt incorporated into the main seam has been continued around the muzzle to create a closed muzzle end for the holster, vs either hand sewing in a plug or simply leaving the muzzle end open. That it has a cuff and even a fender does not prevent it from being a Threepersons.


The 1911 being new in, well, 1911, gunleather for it appeared quickly. W.H. Shelton who founded El Paso Saddlery and ultimately put it out of business by selling to third parties but forming Shelton-Payne Arms to compete with it in that same city, filed his patent to keep the mag button off the inside of the holster, in 1916. There is a 'mirror' leather shape inside the seam:




The best-known style for the 1911 in that time was by A.W. Brill, who did not design but did make the version of the famous holster that looks like this one for the automatics. It has a cuff, it has a fender -- and yet it is still a Threepersons, for the auto.



Arno Brill briefly worked for Sam Myres circa 1929. Like the Brill, the Myres version created by Arno had a closed muzzle that was a continuation of the welted main seam which welts, at that time, were unique to the Brills and the King Ranch holsters they were based on. It is at lower right:



So a Threepersons Style holster for the automatics did not look like this one with three massive welts inside the seam (made by Becknell who also was a Texas lawman), much as it appeals to our understanding of one as described by Charlie Askins:



I bring this up because some of today's makers that include the modern El Paso Saddlery company that is not related to the original that failed 1902, refer to the 'not' version as a Threepersons. I blame JB for this because he's mistakenly called it that; I suppose, because it fits with Charlie Askins' overly-simple assertion that a Threepersons is summarized as 'rides high and exposes the trigger guard'. A very early Bianchi:



But there's lots more to what makes a Threepersons special than just that, and I've written altogether too much about it, previously. Tom's own revolver holster belwo embodies what a Threepersons really is including the pair of welts that grip the frame of his two Colt SAAs:



What complicates matters is that what is really a Donihoo designed only for the 1911, and also named for a Texas lawman but not Tom Threepersons, does fit the true definition of a Threepersons for the revolver. But because it simply didn't exist in the early 20th century and the one that did, and was called a Threepersons for the automatics, was very different. Maybe not 'suspension bridge' different if you know your Big Bang Theory episodes, but different in the kinds of material ways that matter to gunleather makers and to holstory. This one is by O. Ball also a Texas lawman:



It's further complicated by the Donihoo rarely being made as its designer envisioned: with two and three welts and with two rows of stitching -- because, it turns out, the second row is what creates the clamping effect on the 1911's dust cover, not the friction from the welt. The first of the Safarilands that was replaced by one with one welt and one row of stitches:



I learned this the hard way, building my own Donihoos in horsehide as Jack meant them to be in his dealings with Paris Theodore; he wanted the same horsehide that Chic Gayord used located and used in his design for Seventrees:



JB and NP didn't grasp this and so made their Donihoos with only a single welt generally, and with a single row of sewing; so both men eventually found themselves compelled to add the safety strap: what made it strapless was the clamping of the two rows.


Notice also that a Donihoo did not always expose the trigger guard and its trigger. Not to worry, Donihoo himself eventually used safety straps and covered the trigger, too:



So: a Threepersons as defined by Tom and by Sam, for the automatics, is very different from the styling and physics of the one for the revolvers. Made 40 years earlier -- Donihoo's appeared in the '60s and even Seventrees made it but without the welts that Paris didn't understand -- it could have been a Threepersons for the autos. But it wasn't. Made that way in 1930, that is.

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