Friday, March 9, 2012

My New Leather Holsters

Winter in northeast Ohio usually means snow, salt rotting your car and the end of outdoor shooting.  This year was different, little or no snow and very little salt, both of which added another year to your car’s life.  It still meant no outdoor shooting for most of us.

With the promise of warm weather the outdoor ranges are making plans and repairing equipment to re-open.  But what about your plans and equipment?

It’s time to check your equipment.  Let me start with a disclaimer.  I’m talking about sport and competition guns, not your self-defense tools.  Those should be cleaned, oiled, practiced with, batteries replaced, performance ammo refilled and on a daily basis, ready to go.  I recognize that many guns have dual roles.  That .44 magnum revolver you like to shoot at the range ‘cause it’s loud and pushes back could easily become your carry weapon in bear country.  This is the time to make sure it’s ready, not the night before the trip.

.44 mag. It's a step in the right direction in bear country.
Hopefully you cleaned all your guns at the end of the season last year.  I spent a few cold evenings in my garage cleaning guns.  If not then, well, better now than never.  Make sure all your magazines are sorted, cleaned and labeled so you don’t end up with the wrong combinations.  I’ve done that on more than one occasion and ruined my shooting fun.  Check the ear and eye protection as well.  Personal safety is always a concern with a dangerous sport. 

Replace or repair any magazine or speed loader carriers and make sure your holster is in good working order and fits your gun.  It drives me nuts to see actors portraying police hold open their holsters with one hand while re-holstering; it’s so amateur.  It’s even worse in real life.  It’s unsafe, unprofessional and reflects poorly on you.  Shooting your hand at almost muzzle contact distances can disable and cripple you for life.  There are enough bad things out there that are out of our control.  Let’s not add to that list.

So get rid of that junk holster and get a proper holster.

I’ve had an S&W 696 revolver for a couple years now.  It’s a 5-shot .44 special with a 3-inch barrel and it shoots like a dream.  I couldn’t find a holster for it.  A lot people told me about this holster or another holster that fits some other gun, and well, it might fit my gun.  Should, aught, might with a little stretching or Kydex bending doesn’t sound so great to me.  Clearly I needed a custom holster.

I found a custom maker and let me recommend him to you.  Brian Bays is a saddle maker by profession.  After making holsters for friends and himself, he decided to start making custom holsters.  I’m glad he did.

I had him make a strong side out-of-waist-band holster for the 696.  It’s beautiful.   

Front, as if you didn't know.

And back.

 I like the holster’s simple but strong elegant lines.  The seams are even, consistent and in harmony with the finely stippled leather.   Brian does very nice work.

I recently had a chance to get a Sig 229 in .40 S&W and I jumped at it.  I needed a Sig.  Why?  Students show up for classes carrying Sigs and I need to have a better understanding of the gun. 
They aren’t cheap, but fortunately a good friend, who treasures Sigs, was doing a little house cleaning and realized she didn’t really care that much for a two tone gun.  She offered me a deal and now it’s happy in my safe.

Why is it happy?  Well, I could have bought a factory produced holster in leather or Kydex.  I have nothing against Kydex.  I think it’s a wonderful material for sheaths and holsters.  I have several and routinely use them.  But nothing says “CLASSY” like a Sig wrapped in black leather.

Bays Leather made me a black, strong side, pancake-style holster in black.   

top front and the bottom back

 Again I’m very happy with it and look forward to range time.

If you need to replace or purchase a holster for any reason check out Bays Leather at  I think you’ll be surprised and very happy with his holsters.

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