Classic Gun Leather For The Old-School Connoisseur

Some people don't want to bother with all this new fangled plastic stuff; guns are to be carried with gun leather. A good piece of hide just works, no matter what, so why bother with anything else?

Granted, different strokes for different folks and all that. But with that said, what if a person was bound and determined to only carry with equipment crafted from cows?

Look for these 5 classic types of gun leather, holsters and other gear that are known to work, period, for years on end. A word of warning, though; you may have to spend to get a premium example, but it will be worth it over the long term.

A Good Leather Gun Belt

leather gun belt

Of course, the first bit of gun leather you definitely need is a gun belt. This is the foundation of a carry system, and a very necessary piece of kit for anyone who carries. If you're carrying basically anything larger than a micro pistol, you need a gun belt for the proper support of the pistol and the holster you carry with.

Threepersons Holster

The classic OWB, the Threepersons Holster, also known as a Threepersons Rig. This type of holster was more or less the standard for packing a pistol for many years, and was certainly a staple of police equipment.

It was designed by Tom Threepersons, a Cherokee lawman active in the West during the early 20th Century. After surviving a number of gunfights, he created the design to carry securely but to offer fast access when it mattered, and it was initially offered by the SD Myres Saddle Co. of El Paso, a famed provider of fine fightin' leather.

The Threepersons rig is fairly simple. It rides low, so you can get a good grip easily, with an open top. However, the trigger guard is left exposed, which in his day - single-action and double-action revolvers were the norm and the former are not carried cocked - was not as much of an issue. A strap comes over the top and snaps on the outside of the holster.

While not the best OWB in some respects (the strap is awkward, rides a bit low for some folks) it's a great general carry rig, especially in the outdoors.

Askins Avenger Holster

The Askins Avenger holster design, purportedly invented for gunwriter Charlie Askins, is one of the most popular leather holster designs around. It has advantages that are hard to deny.

The Askins holster rides high on the belt, with a tunnel on the rear of the holster and a trailing loop. The loop pulls the holster tight to the body, so it rides high and tight. Concealment under layers is easy, and a lot of plainclothes police have used this design over the years. The mouth is reinforced with additional leather and/or a steel band sewn into the holster, so you can draw and reholster a lot without issues. Some models have a thumb break added for active retention or a retention screw for passive retention.

It gives good retention and keeps your gun in a natural position for quick access. Not only has that made the Askins rig a good choice for general carry, it's a must-have for many competitive shooters as well.

A Steel Core Leather Gun Belt

steel core gun belt

Running the risk of seeming self-serving, a steel core gun belt is an evolution of the gunbelt. You get the stiffness of quality leather, but with the addition of a steel core gives the holster additional stiffness. For those intending on carrying a compact to full-size firearm, it's all but necessary.

Granted, a good leather belt goes a long way, but leather softens over time. With the steel insert, much more rigidity is maintained as the belt wears in. This gives the belt a longer service life and more rigidity without sacrificing comfort or, for that matter, appearance. It's still a smart-looking belt.

Summer Special Holster

summer holster

The Summer Special holster, originally invented by holster maker Bruce Nelson, was the genesis of the modern IWB. It can conceal a pistol easily and comfortably if made from the right materials. People have used these to conceal pistols as small as the J-frame to as big as a Government frame 1911.

The Summer Special is a minimalist IWB, but is usually made out of suede rather than hard leather. The mouth is reinforced for easy reholstering, and attaches to the belt by two snap loops. The suede makes it soft enough for comfortable carry. Retention comes from the tension between the body and the belt. Some come with a sweat guard, others don't; it depends on whom you get it from.

It's been a perennial favorite of law enforcement and many more. It was arguably the first quality IWB, so it's definitely a good choice of CCW rig.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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