• Red Nichols, Holstorian

The Devil is in the details

Updated: Apr 26

My wife is a radiographer and she can 'see' a person's spine through their flesh -- without her machine. Their posture tells her about the person's skeletal health, and also tells her if the person is a smoker or even a professional swimmer (!). When one is both trained and experienced, acquiring such uncanny abilities is unavoidable.

In that same way, I can see (don't need to look through anything, though) the gunleather that is of either first-class construction -- it's a misnomer to call this 'quality'; every product has a 'quality' even if it's piss-poor -- vs one of ordinary build.

I'll try to make this less a diatribe -- which is in my nature, I'm afraid -- and more a teaching post. I was inspired to mention this at all after an email from an FOH (Friend of Holstory) about a holster and belt combo that I reckon is a '70s S&W field holster with what I know is a Bianchi B7 Border Belt. The difference in construction fair leaps out at you! This image is a cut from a forum; the OP knows what he's speaking of:

The S&W (I think) holster is a style that at Bianchi was called the Model 10 Outdoorsman, that itself was a Wolfram product that Wally made as Wolf, as Blazer, and for both S&W and Colt with their marks on their backsides (oddly he did not ever use the Wolfram name itself). The Bianchi version looks like this one:

The difference in the intersection of the stitching is largely cosmetic. Yet because it doesn't have to be done so carelessly, is a sign of a company that accepts a low standard of quality in its products. One doesn't see them in a Bianchi holster of the 1970s and 1980s because when it rarely happened, the holster was destroyed (not thrown away; slit from stem to stern first).

The little tab at the rear sight is meant to be turned outwards while the holster is wet, so that the adjustable rear sight it was made for doesn't then catch on it; as it did here:

The stitching of the welt stack is meant to be consistent from the edge of the leather. This is not done during sewing, but when the welt is sanded and burnished. Early Bianchi holsters were notorious for the operator actually sanding into the stitching itself in places; actually cuts the threads. Thankfully I've no such images in my collection :-).

Knots showing in the machine stitching are a big indication that the maker does NOT put first quality first; but rather shipping and getting paid. This is genuinely weaker and leads to this (most of those stitches are gone, yet they remain on the backside of the holster; a sign that there were knots that left loose stitches on the surface; and the seam failed):

The molding of the holster is meant to be pronounced. Detail moulding is not required; what is required is that with a revolver one had bloody well better be able to detect the outward bulge for the cylinder; else its moulding was a cursory process. And this will create wear on the high spots of your revolver frame and cylinder; that's what wet moulding is FOR. Not fpr retention, but rather to keep the revolver from moving 'round inside the holster and taking off the blue (in the days before stainless steel revolvers). This is one of Elmer Keith's:

How NOT to do it, is this Threepersons (a Bianchi No. 10 is a Threepersons with a strap added) from Brauer. You've been warned :-).

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