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The Genius of Richard H. Hoyt

Updated: Sep 28, 2023


Dick Hoyt was a biplane pilot during WW1, flying over Mexico when America joined the War in 1917. "I was shot down twice", he said in an interview. "By me, both times!" His 'timed' machine guns had shot of his propellor blades. And no parachute! Obviously he landed or there would've been no such image as this one in 1989 California:


Dick Hoyt didn't contemplate his forward draw holster when he filed his patent issued 1935, because it is not described there. Instead it is a spring shoulder holster, that can also be worn as a crossdraw on the belt, that is outlined there.


His forward draw -- and that's precisely what he called it -- didn't appear until the 1950s. I say that because none have been sighted with either the earlier Los Angeles or El Monte (suburb of L.A.) marks: Of course EVERYONE called their holsters 'speed' holsters beginning with Berns-Martin (my trademark today) in 1932. Below a 1950s Hoyt brochure:


As outlined in the Second Edition of Holstory, Hoyt holsters can be readily identified by their maker's marks. In this particular era, which I call "Coupeville First", Didk had moved from El Monted after L.A. to Coupeville WA -- the first time. Returning to the L.A. area a decade later his holster mark changed more than its city: the central word 'MAKER' was replaced by 'HOLSTER' and 'R.H. Hoyt' by simply 'HOYT' all in caps.


Why even mention this? Because for Coupeville first he appears to have continued with his El Monte stamp but tilted the stamp to prevent the city from being imprinted into the leather; then stamped his patent number over the blank area where the city had been.


That odd basketweave also is associated only with Dick's eras. He retired from the biz in the 1960s while handing off to his grandaughter (step) and her husband-to-be (once their divorces were completed) who ran Hoyt until the end of the 20th century. My era of admiring the Hoyt began in the late 1960s while I was enrolled in the local JC's police science program and on its PPC shooting team. Having borrowed a giant (to me) Colt 'Shooting Master' .38 Spl from a very, very old neighbor, I made my own copy of the Hoyt including its spring! Alas I left that holster behind with the company when I resigned after JB sold us out to vulture capitalists.


Speaking of springs, Dick Hoyt knew his stuff. Unlike Lewis and Clark (two holster companies and not the explorers) he understood his wireform springs to the extent that the 'legs' of the spring were crossed as were the much later Bianchi 27 and 2800 springs. This is the way to get maximum power from a spring of minimum piano wire diameter. Both Lewis and Clark generally relied on a screw post to force pairs of straight-legged wireforms to act like springs.


The completely unique thing that Hoyt did was to insert the main bend of his spring into the rear fold of the leather, between its twin layers. First he sewed the interior rows of sewing including the cylinder cutouts (of which his were the very first), then having left the leather layers unglued (unlike all Bianchi holsters including especially the 2800), he inserted the spring into the uppermost lips of the holster then turned the holster upside down while feeding it through the Campbell/Randall saddle machine; to close the holster. That 'pink thing' (naughty, don't go there) is a reinforcing 'welt' inside the layers and above the cylinder recesses, to increase the recesses' grip on the cylinder's recoil shields.

The yellow-painted item is the spring itself, showing you exactly how it lay inside the assembled holster.


Then he trimmed off the excess of the true, full-length fold in the leather to created the now-familiar profile to the Hoyt forward draw. These are from his 'Coupeville Second' era:


I put my three revolvers in it -- castings, no real guns available to me here -- that are K frame, L frame, and N frame -- and they all fit handsomely. By 'fit' I mean that the revolvers all snapped into the holster pocket and its cylinder recesses and with NO wiggle fore and aft -- because the forward arc of the trigger guard acted as a block for the revolver being pushed downwards from behind by its grip. Genius!


JB decided that Dick's construction was 'not suited to production' but I reckon he was mistaken. Certainly the 2800 was a bitch to assemble until I worked out a (clever if I do say so) tool and method to connect the two-piece but otherwise Hoyt-like wire form springs. The 2800 with cylinder cups that JB persuaded me were his innovation but I later found out were originally used in the Lewis crossdraws (but ours were reinforced with a molded plastic cup):

Read more in my book titled "Holstory -- Gunleather of the Twentieth Century -- the Second Edition" that is available at www.holstory.com and printed for you/shipped to you in USA.

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