History of Leather Holsters

Until the rise of new materials like kydex, leather was the material of choice for a pistol holster. Even today, there’s a strong contingent of firearms owners that will swear by their leather holsters. There’s plenty to love about them – otherwise they wouldn’t have survived into the present day. We’ll look at the history of leather holsters and gun rigs in this post.

Holsters and Leather: a Background

On some level, humans have always used leather holsters as a way to carry their weapons. Regular and irregular troops alike used scabbards and sheaths in antiquity to carry weapons like swords and axes to and from battle and for personal protection. These types of carriers nearly always included leather as a key component. Other materials used for scabbards and sheaths include wood and fur.

After the rise of firearms, we designed a variety of holsters made to protect and transport them. Early armies employed leather gun holsters to transport and protect their firearms while on the move. This was particularly true of mounted troops, who would often carry a small carbine in a leather holster while on horseback. This tradition would carry on for centuries, with troops using leather rifle holsters in regular combat between national armies all the way through the American Civil War.

Brown Leather Holster

Rise of the Leather Gun Rig

Speaking of cowboys, that brings us to the next generation of leather holsters. The rise in popularity of a leather gun rig as we know it today – the kind intended for personal protection – traces its origins back to the American Old West.

During this time period, a huge percentage of average men and women carried firearms for personal protection. The handguns of the time were heavy and cumbersome, but travelers between towns still needed to be able to access them quickly in the event of an attack. This led to the creation of the pommel holster in 1830. This type of holster, placed near the pommel of a rider’s saddle, gave them the ability to draw quickly if they encountered danger.

The pommel holster eventually morphed into a variety of different leather holsters. These could be worn either under the shoulder or at the hip. The US military continued to issue these kinds of leather gun rigs throughout the Second World War, Korean War, and War in Vietnam. These eventually morphed into the myriad holsters you can find on the market today.

leather 1911 holster

Pistol Holster Leather: What to Look For

When it comes to setting up a modern leather pistol rig, there are a few things to keep in mind. Primarily, you’ll need to consider what you’re going to use your leather holster for. If you want to carry a concealed weapon, you’ll need some kind of rig that you can hide under your clothes. Leather holsters offer ample passive retention, allowing you to use one without a thumb break or other active retention measures. If you sit down or drive a lot for work, consider using a shoulder holster.

Regardless of which type of leather holster you choose for your gun rig, let the Southern Trapper help you find it. To learn more, check out all of our leather holsters here.

holster with thumb break

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