I am considering getting into cowboy action shooting. I have guns, but the leather has me a bit befuddled. I want a decent holster and belt without spending an arm and a leg.
What are the brands and how do they rate for quality and price?
I bought a mexican loop holster from Oklahoma leather, it works, but quality seems to be on par with holsters provided with capguns of the 1950's.
any help would be appriciated.
The pistols I would be using are: 1858 remington conversion, 1862 colt conversion, and a ruger bird head vaquero.
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September 6, 2005, 06:39 AM
I have 3 or 4 rigs, belt and holster with it that may work for the RV. Then all you would have to get is a holster for your other guns. They're extra that are made by other makers. Send me a pm or email if interested.
September 6, 2005, 10:06 AM
Not all make western stuff but enough do to keep you lookin' for a while.
There are a lot of quality leather shops out there turning out rigs for cowboy action shooting. In general, you get what you pay for, but some are more expensive than others for comparable quality. Even at the more expensive makers, though, the price usually varies a lot depending on the style and how much ornamentation (carving, conchos, etc.) you get.
Your best bet is to order a basic, no-frills rig from a reputable maker. I think one of the best values is Circle KB's "Cowboy" unlined rig. A rig with ranger style belt, cartridge loops and your choice of dual straight draw (duelist style) or strong side/crossdraw lists for $249. It's made of heavy leather that holds its shape and will last for a long time. I know -- my first ever cowboy action rig was a Circle KB Cowboy Dualist, and I still use it. I've bought other rigs that cost more and haven't lasted even a full season. Circle KB is also a small shop run by the nicest folks ever. They'll make sure you're happy.
Other makers I can recommend are (in no particular order):
Black Hills Leather. Rudy Lozano is the owner and chief craftsman. He makes some of the finest metal-lined fast draw rigs in existence. He also makes excellent CAS rigs. His leather is absolute top quality, but his prices also tend to reflect that reality. Fortunately for you, he has his annual end-of-summer 20% off sale going on right now.
Old West Reproductions . Master craftsman Rick Bachman has a different philosophy from the others. He doesn't focus on designing competition rigs. Instead, he makes highly authentic copies of real rigs that were used by real cowboys in the real old west. He does extensive research and has one of the world's finest collections of historical gunleather. If you get an OWR rig, you know you have something authentic.
Kirkpatrick Leather. Mike Kirkpatrick runs what is probably the biggest leather shop serving the cowboy action market. He makes fine quality competitive rigs, many of which are named for top cowboy action competitors (a lot of endorsement deals going on here). His rigs are moderate to expensive, but they are very high quality.
San Pedro Saddlery. San Pedro has an almost cult-like following on the CAS circuit. Craftsman "Big Ed" does very fine engraving, and is known for his use of pigskin lining (which is beautiful and pampers your guns, though it also tends to be a little "grabby" for my tastes. Big Ed's rigs are almost as common on the CAS circuit as Mike Kirkpatrick's.
For all of them, figure on 6-10 weeks from order to delivery, as all rigs are made to order. You need to specify the style, color, number and caliber of bullet loops, holster types, gun types and barrel lengths, etc. It's best to order over the phone, where you can talk to them and get advice. If you don't know how to measure for a gunbelt, they can help you (for most men, the size to order is 4" larger than your pant size, but that doesn't always hold true).
September 6, 2005, 11:42 AM
When I went looking for a holster for my 5 1/2 inch stainless Ruger Bisley Vaquero, I searched the web for about a month before finally finding the one I purchased from the Texas Gunslinger in Arlington, TX. My criteria included a single holster with leg tie-down in a dark finish that didn't have all the gingerbread that most have...things like basketweave, conchos, etc. The model I chose is actually called the "Gunslinger", in a dark, walnut brown with 18 bullet loops. It met and exceeded all my expectations...Cost was around $130+ shipping. I've since seen an ad in Guns & Ammo. Here's the link...
Father Knows Best
September 6, 2005, 12:08 PM
One more thought --
Keep in mind that cowboy action shooting is very hard on gunleather. In a typical local match, you'll draw and reholster each revolver dozens of times. If you practice, which you should, you can easily draw and reholster hundreds of times a week. And by practice, I include dry firing in your home.
All that in-and-out puts a lot of stress on gunleather. In addition, your leather will be exposed to sun, wind and rain at the matches. Even if you care for it very well, it will get worn.
Contrast that to a concealed carry holster. A CCW rig is generally protected by clothing, so it isn't exposed to sun, wind and rain. While you may wear it daily, you almost never draw and reholster (unless you compete in IDPA or something similar with it). Therefore, it doesn't wear out very quickly.
The biggest problem with leather not designed specifically for the cowboy action market, or of less than top quality, is that it lacks the durability of CAS rigs. CAS rigs need to be built of heavy, high grade leather that is carefully tanned without the use of chemicals that will harm the finish on your guns. I see lots of inexpensive holsters that get floppy and soft within a few months, because they just aren't capable of standing up to heavy use. A floppy holster is one that you can't get your gun out of quickly, or reholster quickly. It may also require two hands to draw or reholster, which ain't good, and can lead to dropped guns and other bad things that will DQ you from a match (or worse).
So don't think that just because someone makes a good CCW holster, he can make a good cowboy rig. Go with one of the makers who have experience and a track record building for the CAS market. They've learned the hard way what works and what doesn't. You don't need to spend $1,000 on a fancy hand-tooled super-rig with sterling conchos, but you do need to spend enough to get a high quality rig that will work well and last a long time. Personally, I don't think you can find such a rig for less than $200-250, so spend less than that at your own risk.
September 6, 2005, 01:01 PM
San Pedro as has been mentioned makes good stuff. They also have a discount line and Big Ed usually has most models in stock ready to ship. I believe it is called the tombstone territory line. I have one, the holster is unlined, but very nicely fit. It is a "Duke" style. The belt is a single thickness of leather with 24 loops.
September 6, 2005, 11:10 PM
Check out the goods at the following site:
He seems to have a greate selection and some nice designs, also offers design flexibility. I haven't done business with the guy yet, but also haven't heard anything negative on any of the cowboy boards.
September 7, 2005, 12:10 AM
Try www.mernickleholsters.com . Not cheap, but worth EVERY penny. Why else would I be spending 800+ for a fancy double rig?
The last rig he built me has been on every deer hunt in the last 5 years, and still as good as new(exept for some scratches and blood stains).
Talk to Bob personally, tell him you want and what your budget will allow, and I'll bet he can come up with something that will work for you.
Father Knows Best
September 7, 2005, 12:13 PM
Try www.mernickleholsters.com . Not cheap, but worth EVERY penny.
+1. I can't believe I forgot to mention Bob in my first post above. His stuff is first rate, too, and ranks right up there with the stuff from Rudy Lozano (Black Hills), Rick Bachman (Old West Repros), etc.
I cannot, however, second TAG2501's recommendation of Western Gunleather. The maker goes by the alias Grouchy Old Bear. He's a super nice guy who works out of his home, but his leather isn't up to the standards of the pros. I know, because I bought one of his rigs. It's actually pictured on his site. At first, I was quite happy with it, though I did note some detail issues (such as his failure to dye both sides of the hide, and the lack of adequate sealing after dyeing). Unfortunately, the rig didn't last even a full season. The main body of the holsters started to get soft and pliable within a few months. Now the holsters won't stay put on the belt. They ride up when I try to draw, sticking to the gun. The rig is useful only for show now. I learned that there is a lot more to making a good cowboy action rig than just cutting and stitching some leather together. Stick to the real pros and you won't be disappointed.
September 8, 2005, 02:23 AM
I wanna thank everyone for all the help. :D
Is there any one style of rig that is most common?
what are the pro's and con's of the different styles?
September 8, 2005, 08:54 AM
Father Knows Best is mistaken about the products from "Texas Gunslinger". First off...that is the name of the company...not "Western Leather" like FKB posted on 9/7/05. Second...I contacted the owner of the company...Tom Hancock...who informed me that he has never used the alias of "Grouchy Old Bear"...nor had a company name other than "Texas Gunslinger". Third...if you think you need to pay hundreds of dollars for a quality rig...think again. Tom Hancocks' product line is quality at the right price. And finally...I believe it was TAG2501 who posted the western gun leather link...not I.
Just setting the record straight... :evil:
Father Knows Best
September 8, 2005, 11:26 AM
I am embarrassed. You are correct. I got the name of the poster wrong. I know nothing about Texas Gunslinger, and so would have to take Gunnutz's word as to quality. I was referring only to "Western Leather." I will correct my prior post.
My apologies to Gunnutz and Texas Gunslinger.
September 8, 2005, 01:10 PM
You can't go wrong with Rick Bachman at Old West Reproductions.
A) he's a class act who will spend as much time on the phone with you as needed to get you what you want.
B) his stuff is well researched and reproduced
C) the quality is awesome
D) his leather just looks nice. :D
September 9, 2005, 06:37 AM
Why not just go to one of your local matches as a observer?
That's what I did before my accident, when i was thinking ogetting ionvolved.
You'll not find a nicer bunch of people than you'll meet at a Cowboy shoot.
Ask around. See what other's are using.
Quite often you'll find someone who has, er, um, outgrown, their old rig.
And some just plain have too many and are wlling to sell one to finance another new purchase.
Anyway, you'll gain more insight as to what works and what doesn't. As well as who offers what and for how much.
I'll wager you'll even find some folks who will let you try theirs on and take it for a test drive.
Hands on is the best research.
Eyes on is almost as good.
June 23, 2009, 11:33 AM
i know tyhis is an old post, but wanted to mention to whomever may read this that bianchi custom makes cowboy rigs, both buscadero and traditional style. www.bianchicowboy.com
June 23, 2009, 01:32 PM
There are inexpensive CAS rigs that will work, but if you are even halfway serious, you will want a decent rig and that will cost a little more. You can spend a lot of money if you want, but the Evil Roy rig from Mernicle is top quality leather at a reasonable (not cheap) price. I believe it is a great value for quality leather.
June 23, 2009, 02:09 PM
I have a Mernickle rig and have used it at 150+ cowboy shoots -- except for some scuffs/scratches it is still 100% useable.
I agree with you that SASS/CAS is not cheap !!! Having to buy two revolvers , a shotgun and a lever action rifle HURTS the wallet -- BUT -- DO NOT try to cheap out on your holster rig. MANY DO and within a year or so , STILL end up buying a better made rig and get beans when they try to resell the cheaper rig.
ENOUGH GOOD CAN'T be said about Bob Mernickle ---- he is a World Record holder in "fast draw " and really knows what a good Action holster needs to be competitive.
EDIT ---- OOPS , didn't see the org. date of this post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
June 23, 2009, 02:26 PM
No buscadero belts here but this guy is a competitor and makes his own stuff, I've had one of his holster/belt combos for 15+ years or so.