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  • Red Nichols, Holstorian

The king is dead

Who knew that we owed, indirectly, the modern holster to a sea captain? Captain King knew prosperity when he saw it and created the huge King Ranch in TX that still stands today. As does its saddlery.


That's a KR at left, showing off its bulk vs a late-era Brill. The book? Oh yeah, absolutely, buy the book :-)


The King Ranch holster is the first we know of to use a welt inside its main seam, and it is the welt that holds a revolver into a Threepersons holster -- and the Threepersons holster's predecessor was the Brill -- and the Brill was a cut-down King Ranch holster.



King Ranch and the Texas Rangers were a hand-in-hand operation. Plenty of literature makes it clear that the Rangers protected the Captain's ranch and cattle, and it's understandable that they would also have used his saddlery's holsters.



It was "Doc" White who wore a King Ranch; and he was Captain Hughes' offsider (second in command); and the two of them strode into the LaGrange Saddlery and persuaded the very, very young N.J. Rabensburg to trim down a King Ranch until it was as small as possible. We know the result today as the Brill; but Brill was only one of two dozen TX makers who built the 'Sunday' holster for the Texas Rangers until N.J. died in 1961 (worse yet, August Brill's grand-daughter could have been killed with J.F.K. quite soon after, on 22 November '63).



King Ranch made more than just their namesake holster, and they made it under more than just the K.R. mark. Part of the ranch was called Santa Gertrudes, and the ranch also operated the Kingsville (the town was named after you-know-who) Lumber Co. I did a double-take when I first saw that mark on a holster (in the book Packing Iron)!




The Ranch saddlery also made the Threepersons holster, and the Sunday holster. And the Mexican Loop holster:


Notice the trademark muzzle stitching of a Brill in the above Mexican Loop holster by KR.


True 'Sunday' holsters by KR. Same vertical orientation of the basketweave pattern, same beveled borders vs. a border stamping, same muzzle stitching, same fine machine sewing for the half lining (the holster at right, above).


Their true 'Threepersons' holster, above. And below:




Frank Hamer's holster was a K.R. and likely he was wearing it at the killing of Bonnie and Clyde. Because Doc White wore his throughout his career after the Rangers that included Treasury, Army Intelligence, the BOI and the FBI -- and with his own Colt SA inside it (Hamer's was called 'Lucky'):


Hamer's holster and badge, above.


Doc White's revolver:



And we owe it all to a sea captain, Captain King of TX.

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