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Login Name Post: flap holsters for revolvers        (Topic#306460)
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-03-18 06:18 PM - Post#1667543    


Does anybody have a date for when these started being used? Obviously before the WBTS, but how long before?

 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6488
Loyalist Dave
02-04-18 10:02 AM - Post#1667617    

    In response to Native Arizonan

Flaps for pistols go back to the horse pistols, aka saddle pistols (single shots) of the flintlock era.

The "bucket" holsters moved onto the uniform itself from the saddles, some having flaps for weather protection, some not. When the revolver was adopted for military use, the single shot, flapped dragoon holster was modified too. Civilian holsters followed suit. So when the revolver was adopted for military use, the flap holster for it was as well. Civilians seem to have dropped the flap holster long before the CW.

LD

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-04-18 12:35 PM - Post#1667642    

    In response to Loyalist Dave

Okay, so the main revolvers to be holstered were the Walker and Dragoon Colts which were mainly saddle mounted, the Patterson, then the 1851 Colt for the military and the 1849 pocket pistol for the civilians.

Does anyone know of a model number for a pre CW military flapped belt holster? Or were they given model numbers back then.

I guess what I am trying to get at is whether a replica CW holster would be hc for a plains era character?

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7082
02-04-18 01:26 PM - Post#1667652    

    In response to Native Arizonan

  • Native Arizonan Said:


I guess what I am trying to get at is whether a replica CW holster would be hc for a plains era character?



Do you mean a holster with or without a flap AND do you mean one that is worn on the belt rather than slung from the saddle?

Also, for which revolver/pistol do you mean?

Real CW era holsters were sold as surplus after the War to those going West, especially, and often the flaps were cut off by civilians who used them. Also, some cavalry officers and enlisted from both sides either did not turn in all their weapons and wound up taking some revolvers and holsters with them when the War was over.

Gus

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7082
02-04-18 02:28 PM - Post#1667662    

    In response to Artificer

Though I'm sorry it doesn't answer your question about a belt holster with a flap, it seems the most popular "civilian" early holsters were without a flap. Here is an example:

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/0c/be/b8/0cbeb81f10f83b7f9e23954c3...

Here's one for a Walker:
http://www.liveauctionworld.com/California-style-carved-Slim...

Gus

Edited by Artificer on 02-04-18 02:35 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-04-18 03:44 PM - Post#1667670    

    In response to Artificer

  • Artificer Said:

Do you mean a holster with or without a flap AND do you mean one that is worn on the belt rather than slung from the saddle?

Also, for which revolver/pistol do you mean?

Gus



I mean a belt holster with a flap. As far as which revolver, I wanted to keep that open to discussion, but we can assume Colt or similar revolvers.

Here is a direct question, that fits the discussion, but by no means to I wish to limit the discussion to this one question:

Was the 1851 Colt revolver originally issued with a CW style flap holster? This would set the date back 10 years before the CW, for that style of holster.

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7082
02-05-18 12:40 AM - Post#1667728    

    In response to Native Arizonan

Sorry for taking so long to answer as I had to check some of my Hard Cover Books. Unfortunately, while some books go into great detail on production models and variances, holster information is sparse to non existent.

For the earliest examples of flap holsters in civilian use in the West, I soon figured it was better to check out the M1847, M1848 and M1849 revolvers as they were used there first, even before the M1851.

FWIW, it seems much of the Colt Civilian Production Revolvers went to California and then were brought back eastward from there to Colorado, etc.

The following link doesn't provide much original documentation except for documenting two firms in San Francisco that made belt holsters in the very early period and they originally included/started with flap holsters then on to Open Top holsters.

"Having set up shop in the bawdy and bustling city of San Francisco, pioneer saddlers such as Main & Winchester (est. 1849) and L.D. Stone Company (est. 1852), along with other “Yankee” artisans of the California Gold Rush, saw firsthand, the need for such gunleather."

https://truewestmagazine.com/the-first-western-holster/

At least this gets it back into the period you are asking about.

Gus

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-05-18 02:56 PM - Post#1667827    

    In response to Artificer

Thanks, Gus.

I did come across some info and photos, that can't be linked to here, of 1851s with flap holsters around 1855-6. One was of an 1851 w/flap holster, that was bought by the Canadians, as part of over 800 such revolvers. issued with flap holsters, in 1855. The other photos were of British officers wearing such holsters in 1855, in Crimea, though very few officers are pictured that way. I came across one drawing of a Captain wearing a flap holster in Crimea and the caption said it was not a regulation issue holster, but one of his own choosing or design.

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7082
02-05-18 03:26 PM - Post#1667829    

    In response to Native Arizonan

Happy to help. Since they began with Flap Holsters before they went on to what became the Open Top "California" Slim Jim holsters, it gets you into the period with a civilian impression. Also since Flap Holsters were known and made there that early, it is possible other saddle makers made Flap Holsters in other regions, but I just can't document it.

What I'm not at all sure about is others who carried the revolvers in fitted pommel "bucket" holsters or pommel "bag" holsters and when they changed to wearing the revolvers in holsters on their belts.


Gus

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-05-18 04:49 PM - Post#1667834    

    In response to Artificer

A walker or dragoon would have been a lot of weight to carry around on a belt, but the 1851 was almost certainly made to be belt carried, I would think. Being that it was named the Colt Navy Revolver, it was never meant to be carried on a horse.

The 1849 was also called the Colt Pocket Revolver, and was most likely expected to be carried in a pocket, which had recently come to be in fashion. In fact, I wonder if the pockets on men's clothing starting to show up about the same time as hideout guns such as Derringer's, may not have been coincidence, and Colt just provided his version of pocket filler. It certainly would fit fine in a large coat pocket.

I noticed on those photos of British officers, some of them seemed to be carrying their holster on a strap over the opposite shoulder rather than on a belt; similar to a Sam Brown cross strap, but not going all the way to the belt, just holding the holster at shoulder holster height. That was on a flap holster, so not really a shoulder holster as we know it, but not a belt holster either.

There were some photos of pommel holsters as well.

Here are a bunch of Crimean War photos from 1855 to enjoy:

http://allworldwars.com/Crimean-War-Photographs-by-Roger-Fen...

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-05-18 05:07 PM - Post#1667838    

    In response to Native Arizonan

Here's a pommel holster, maybe one side of a set, from that site:



Here's a fellow with a belt holster:



There are more obvious pommel holsters than belt holsters in this group of photos, but not many of either, really. A pistol obviously was not considered a requirement at that time and place.


 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7082
02-05-18 10:28 PM - Post#1667910    

    In response to Native Arizonan

Wow, what a great set of daguerreotypes! Thanks for sharing.

Gus

 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6488
Loyalist Dave
02-06-18 07:18 AM - Post#1667944    

    In response to Native Arizonan

There's another pommel holster in the photo of "Quartermaster Hill, 4[th] Light Dragoons, the horse taken immediately after the winter season. LC-USZC4-9268", and in "Officers of the 90th [i.e., 38th] Regiment, Captain Hume and Captain Snodgrass with with horses and groom. LC-USZC4-9393", and on "Reverend Mr. Butler & officers of the 47th Regiment. LC-USZC4-9339", and "Captain Lilley, field train. LC-USZC4-9181", and "Viscount Kirkwall, Captain 71st Highlanders. LC-USZC4-9195", and "Nubian servants & horses. LC-USZC4-9233.", and I probably missed a few.

I think this sample, though is a problem because there is a distinct lack of sidearms in the British military among the officers at this time. So might not be at all a good sample for your question about the plains territories.

Did such holsters exits, yes, so why would they not be available? You documented Canadians having them...., so I don't think you'd be "off" if you are portraying a man at a frontier fort on the plains in 1855 having such.

LD

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-06-18 09:08 AM - Post#1667962    

    In response to Loyalist Dave

I used the word "Plains" as it is used on the forum, to represent a period between the RMFT and the CW, although in the Western US it also includes the CW era, without the troop engagement, so it still seems a bit iffy for someone in 1850s to carry one, unless someone can come up with a bit more evidence of it. I don't rule out the existence of that evidence, but am still seeking it.

The 1860s, of course would be a no-brainer. Of course they existed, as firearms and accoutrements, being spoils of war, were rapidly heading west with deserters, draft dodgers and anyone else that needed armed before heading west. A veritable flood of such items headed west at the end of the war, carried not only by individuals, but by both legal and illegal merchants of surplus equipment.

 
Ringel05 
45 Cal.
Posts: 754
Ringel05
02-07-18 10:53 AM - Post#1668208    

    In response to Native Arizonan

Been researching early "gun belts" online which invariably results in nothing but holster history.

Found this reference blurp on the Cochise Leather Company web site. Granted it's not a academic site but it could have been copied from an academic site.

The Evolution of Belt Holsters
Holsters mounted on a belt started showing up around the 1840's according to historical period photographs. The handguns in these holsters were the smaller single-shot pistol, pepperbox and revolvers. Before and during this period most gun leather was made by eastern manufacturers and brought into the west by immigrants, settlers and traders. These belt mounted holsters were rare as they were made for the lightweight expensive guns of the time. These first holsters came in a few different forms. The first couldn't really be considered a holster as it was made of an open-ended loop or sleeve fixed onto a wide belt. This gave ready access to the single-shot or pepperbox pistol but offered no protection for the gun itself. The standard holster or pistol case were mounted by making a holster with vertical slits on the back that slid through a belt. The open-topped belt holsters appeared to popular with the eastern manufacturers in the 1830's and 1840's. They usually had deep bodies made of extremely stiff molded bridle leather and didn't necessarily fit the contours of the gun as many were basically a version of the pommel holster minus the bag. The early versions were both open-toed and open-topped. 1880's Style Gun HolsterToe plugs were added later when softer, more pliable leather started being used which gave the added benefit of protecting the barrel of the holster from debris. In the frontier the wearer often squatted down in snow, mud or sand so this was an essential improvement on the design. In many areas of the west these eastern holsters weren't readily available and many times just weren't made tough enough to stand up to the extreme rigors of the rough and ready environment that it was subjected to. This is the era where the original saddlers of the west really came into the scene. Located in the scattered remote settlements and growing towns of the west they started producing gunleather from the early 1850's onward. By the mid-1850's many of the belt holsters had full cover flaps which was usually made by leaving the back of the holster longer and folding it down over the gun. This enabled the use of not only the smaller guns but also the larger Walker and Dragoon Colts in the holsters with the added benefit of protecting the cylinder from the elements that could foul it. The eastern made commercial flap holsters were similar to the military form that was used widely in the Civil War and thousands were manufactured during the war between the states. These eastern made holsters fit a variety of handguns from personal sidearms to various military guns. The western custom made gun leather came into being and the first western holsters came onto the scene during the Gold Rush days of the early 1850's. This first truly western holster was the "California" pattern. The eastern holsters were made of a lighter weight leather than those made by the western leather makers and by the early 1870's were offering "transitional" styling with a half-flap cover, this also when the "Mexican Loop" came into being. In the mid 1870's some holsters appeared with some decorations on the edging. In the early days of using this style of holster the frontiersmen would make the gun more accessible by folding the flap over into their belts or pants. Western saddlers started making these holsters with flaps but since most westerners preferred their guns to be more accessible by the 1880's the flapless belt holster dominated the market so much so that the eastern manufacturer's started offering copies of the western patterns such as the "Mexican Loop" in their gunleather lines and catalogs. The Buscadero belongs to the "new" old west.
They do reference three books at the bottom of the page.

Evolution of holsters

I also learned in my reading that during the gunfight at the OK Corral the only two participants that wore holsters were the two Mclaury boys, everyone else had them stuffed in a coat pocket or waistband.

 
Native Arizonan 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1433
02-07-18 12:37 PM - Post#1668225    

    In response to Ringel05

@Ringel05,

Thanks for that info. As for the OK Corral fight, Hollywood has had a real hard time making that one realistic. Though they have tried and tried again, many times. I'm afraid the legend and the myth have gotten so large that no attempt at reality could ever be well accepted.

There was the real old west, and there is the Hollywood version, and never the twain shall meet.

 
Ringel05 
45 Cal.
Posts: 754
Ringel05
02-07-18 12:46 PM - Post#1668226    

    In response to Native Arizonan

  • Native Arizonan Said:
@Ringel05,

Thanks for that info. As for the OK Corral fight, Hollywood has had a real hard time making that one realistic. Though they have tried and tried again, many times. I'm afraid the legend and the myth have gotten so large that no attempt at reality could ever be well accepted.

There was the real old west, and there is the Hollywood version, and never the twain shall meet.






 
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