Shoulder Holsters in Iraq


April 23, 2004, 11:22 AM
Lately, most every time I see a US Middle to High Ranking officer on tv they are wearing some type of Shoulder Holster over their uniform.

The pictures usually dont show the actual holster and gun, just the staps.

Is there a "standard Issue" shoulder Holster for our GIs in Iraq or is it more like personal choice from more or less comercial stock??

Didn't they used to call these rigs "Sam Brown" something or another or am I thinking of something else?


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April 23, 2004, 11:41 AM
This doesn't really answer your question, but I know some units have a lot of leeway on how they can carry their sidearm.

PvtPyle sent me some pics of him and his guys in Afghanistan. Lots of them were wearing their Berettas on their chest. Strapped onto their body armor. The gun was horizontal, with the muzzle pointing off to the left. He said that this was pretty common if you needed to drive alot, you could draw your gun easier than from a thigh rig while seated, and shoot out the window if you needed to.

Strange looking to me, but he said that it really worked well for them. I've never seen any pictures of any other unit doing this, so I imagine that there is going to be a lot of leeway in some units, and less in others.

April 23, 2004, 12:03 PM
I believe the holsters were originally designed for tank crew members.


Sean Smith
April 23, 2004, 01:15 PM
There are a bunch of old black leather shoulder rigs still floating around, but the standard "holster system" is a green synthetic job that you can set up as a shoulder holster, or just clip to body armor or a LBE/LBV. I think Bianchi makes it. And a fair number of folks do buy and use their own holsters.

April 23, 2004, 02:12 PM
From some footage I've seen, mostly before/after press conferences, it seems the Galco Miami Classic are popular with REMFs. From footage of line units, most seem to have tactical thigh rigs. FWIW.

April 23, 2004, 02:28 PM
The Sam Browne belt was something entirely different (please see: I believe the Army discontinued their use decades ago (after WW II), however Marine Corps officers still use a type of Sam Browne belt to carry their Mameluke swords.

April 23, 2004, 11:34 PM
This is the type I saw most while with the Marines:

Seemed like any officer could get them as well as senior NCOs.

April 24, 2004, 02:24 AM
I went to order a Galco SSII, the miami classic with wider shoulder straps, they were on backorder from the military...that was about a year ago. Checked in with them 3 days ago...they are still back logged.


April 24, 2004, 04:16 PM
Funny enough, Ayoob has an article on this very subject in one of this months gun rags. "Guns," I think.

A buddy of mine is in a NG tank unit. They always used "tanker's holsters" shoulder holsters for their 1911's. When they re-equipped with the M9, they had to turn in their old leather shoulder holsters and were issued the new nylon holster, which they were ordered to wear at the waist. No one liked it, because the gun gets in the way more in that location in a tank, but the command wouldn't budge.

Abominable No-Man
April 25, 2004, 12:32 AM
In my unit, unless it's for some type of ceremony or something, no one really cared how you wore your pistol. Only thing was you had to have a lanyard on it after someone dropped his out of a helicopter:what: !

FWIW, thigh holsters are more popular with the pilots and aircrews. I had a shoulder holster for a little while, and it was a PITA to get dressed for a flight. A thigh holster kept the pistol out of the way of the survival vest, body armor, and the other gear we have to wear.


April 25, 2004, 02:08 AM
FWIW, when I was in the military, at one point I was issued a 1911 and a shoulder holster. Yes, at least at that time there was a GI Issue shoulder holster like the one pictured by Destructo6 only mine was tan leather. I have seen a few of them being used in Iraq. One of them in the picture of the Colonel in command of the guys that captured Saddam.

Johnny Guest
April 26, 2004, 10:48 PM
M3 holster, 1942--1945. Russet leather - - Some later dyed black. Almost triangular-shaped body with heavy post-and-ring strap to hold pistol in place. Lift-the-dot strap at bottom to secure to belt. Single strap sewn to rear passes over the right shoulder down to a D ring on front of holster, and back to a Conway buckle for adjustment. Provided for the 1911 pistol and certain revolvers.

M7 holster, 1944--present (??) Russett leather and later black. (As illustrated by Destructo6.) Similar to M3 but main strap runs over left shoulder, adjusting with laces through punched holes. Secured around chest with strap running from rear D ring and adjusted with a Conway buckle, around to front D and secured with a snap hook. Provided for 1911 pistols - - Possibly for revolvers as well, but I've never seen one. In the past few years, I've seen some new M7s, in natural, undyed leather, sized and marked for the M9 Beretta.

M12 combination holster, 1984 -- present. The current nylon hip holster is designed to be easily field modified by removal of the flap, a thumb break substituted, and the whole fitted to the M13 harness for underarm or chest wear.

As noted above, small orders of commercial and custom built holsters have been, and probably will continue to be, procured for special uses/units.


Hal Romberg
April 27, 2004, 03:28 AM
Most everybody here wears theirs in either an aftermarket shoulder holster or a low rider rig. The local bazars sell them It's about $40 for a nice brown leather shoulder rig with a mag pouch on the other side.

April 27, 2004, 07:26 AM
My old unit at Ft Lewis (now in Mosul) had a stash of nylon shoulder rigs made by Tactical Tailor. Holster on one side, and an attachment point for two GI mag pouches on the other. If you did things right you could wear the holster harness over your BDUs, and shove the holster and mag pouches through the arm holes when you put your body armor on. This allowed you to keep your weapon with you when you went into a building without having to remove the holster rigs, take of the body armor, and then put the holster back on. Nice an convienient.

April 27, 2004, 09:14 AM
I have a buddy that is an officer in the National Guard, he had given me a Uncle Mikes shoulder holser that he used in Bosnia (sp?). He didn't own a hand gun so he gave the holster to me. About a month ago he shipped to Iraq, and asked for the shoulder holster back, he said he liked it better than the thigh holsters they were issued because it gave it quicker/easier access.

Johnny Guest
April 27, 2004, 03:57 PM
- -by renaissance. Didn't they used to call these rigs "Sam Brown" something or another or am I thinking of something else? Yes, I believe you are. The Sam Browne belt (note the final "e" ;) ) was originally a military dress/duty belt with a diagonal shoulder strap, attached to D rings on the left side, and with additional D rings on the left bottom edge, to attach a sword or sabre. Width was usually 2-1/4 inches, with a full width, square button, and the tag end of the belt held down by a brass stud.

You see a lot of 'em worn by various police agencies even today, almost always sans the attached D rings and shoulder strap. Heavy, hot, uncomfortable, especially until well broken-in, but there is plenty of "body" to support sidearm, ammo, radio, baton, cuff case(s), and wot not.

Sorry, I have no idea WHO the original Sam Browne was. Probably some cavalry officer (what infantry guy would want to wear all that extra weight?) with family ties in the leather business.:p


April 27, 2004, 05:25 PM
IIRC, Sam Browne was a British cavalryman who lost an arm at some point and invented the rig that bears his name to bear his saber.

April 27, 2004, 06:19 PM
We had them too.
Their issue didn't have as much to do with rank as it had to do with your job.
Drivers of armored vehicles were issued them and we just had alot of them around because we were mechanized so that is what we used.

April 28, 2004, 01:52 AM
If you look at photos from the 1930s-1980s of police officers wearing Sam Browne belts 99% of them are wearing them upside down.

The D-rings were sewn onto the belt for attachment of the shoulder strap to better support the weight of a sabre. Police officrs reversed them so the strap went over the left shoulder and attached on the right to support the weight of the revolver. Even after the shoulder strap was dropped most officers wore the belt with the "tab" extending to the right instead of to the left like a mans belt is supposed to be worn.

May 1, 2004, 04:29 AM
Lou Alessi and Kimber have been sending a bunch of stuff to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida in the last year.

May 1, 2004, 10:09 AM
I think what you see the most of is a mish mash of what's on at the haji mart, the px, and what the guy you replaced was willing to sell, vs what you brung with.

May 3, 2004, 10:33 AM
yup, one sees all sorts of holsters in Iraq. Apparently there is a lot of leeway now on holsters (and also on what you can bolt to your M4, but that is another thread). Also it seems like everyone has an M9 pistol as well. I have also seen exactly two M11s, one 1911, and one brigadier with a Taurus of all things. One sees a lot of issue UM84 (M12) holsters worn all sorts of ways and a LOT of Eagle or Blackhawk thigh rigs. Shoulder rigs tend to be tankers or some kind of horizontal rig, like the Galco SSII or one of the many nylon rigs. The horizontal makes sense because one may or may not be wearing armour at any given moment and the rig does not necessarily need a belt. Also, a lot of people have been using the locally made stuff, which is often made of scrounged up materials, I have seen zipper tabs used to back thumbsnaps, and components that look like they were taken from backpacks. One also sees a lot of a certain brand that AFEES (the people who run the PX these days) sells that is total crap. It is well constructed but a very poor design (like the type you use for capguns), and they are not cheap either. Also, no one seems to wear their holster properly either.


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