Product Tests : Horseshoe Leather Holsters

Well, it looks as if the M-1911 Pistol Page, apart from taking up quite a bit of my time, has had some other (quite good) side effects. Recently, Andy Arratoonian stopped by my site, and he liked it enough to send me a couple of his holsters to try out. As we all know, Andy is the owner (and creator) of Horseshoe Leather Products, a very famous holster-making business. Andy's products are some of the best in the market, I knew that all along, but I was still surprised to see the quality of the holsters he sent me.

Andy was kind enough to send me a model 22H and a model 62L holster. The first is a special version of a pancake holster, while the second is a traditional IWB (inside-waistband) model. Both holsters are made of cowhide. Although Andy's company is named Horseshoe Leather, Andy himself believes that cowhide is preferable to horsehide, and you can read why by following this link. Below, you can read more details about each of the two holsters.

Model 22H

The model 22H (click on the image at left to see a bigger picture) is cut in a low-profile, pancake style for maximum concealement, while the holster's mouth is of a wrap-around design and reinforced for easy re-holstering. The holster I received was in a beautiful dark brown color, which Andy calls Cordovan, and cut for a 1 1/4 belt, which is more or less the size of a dress belt in this country. This holster model comes in two variants, 22H and 22HS, the difference being that the latter model does not have the leather protective tab at its rear (read below).

When I received Andy's package and opened the plastic bags containing the holsters, I was immediately thrilled to see that the leather was precisely blocked and boned to the gun it was designed to carry. Actually, you could tell that the holster was for an M-1911 just by looking at it it. All gun details were visible on the outside of the holster, and some were even visible on the inside, like the cocking serrations of the slide. The imprint of the top part of the stocks were clearly evident on the inside of the rear protective tab which extends upward to cover all the protruding parts of the pistol. The rear of the slide, hammer, thumb safety, beavertail are all well shielded from the body by this leather protective flap. This helps in increasing wearer-comfort. The very detailed blocking and hand-boning is very tight and is the feature that secures the gun in the holster. There are no safety straps or other retention devices except for this meticulous molding.

The lines of stitching were impeccable, running completely parallel to the edges of the holster. Amazingly, the stitches even followed the slight step up from the dust-cover to the lower part of the slide! This is what I call "attention to detail".

The belt slots are cut in such a way as to create a pronounced forward rake, which facilitates quick drawing of the holstered pistol. The built-in sight track effectively protects the front sight and aids in drawing and reholstering. The belt slots are cut quite far apart, helping to keep the gun closer to the wearer's body and firmly in place. I tried the 22H for several days in a row, sometimes wearing it for more that 14 hours, without the slightest discomfort. The holster stayed exactly where I put it and spread the gun's weight evenly, so that I forgot about it completely in a very short time.

I did try some fast presentations from this holster, and although the gun-to-leather fit was very snug (the holster being brand new and a very tight fit), the draw was nevertheless always smooth and fast. After the initial resistance of the molding was overcome, the gun always came out in one swift movement.

All in all, an excellent concealement holster, which keeps the wearer's comfort at the highest possible level, securing the gun close to the body, while at the same time allowing for a fast and swift presentation.

Model 62

This is a traditional IWB holster, made of thin cowhide, with the rough side of the leather on the outside. This stabilizes the positioning of the holster, as the friciton between the rough leather and clothing helps to minimize holster movement.

This holster model comes in four variants, depending on the method used to secure it to the wearer's belt and the existence (or the absence) of the protective leather tab on the rear of the holster. You can have it with either a metal clip (model 62C) or with leather loops (model 62L). If you do not want the protective leather tab, then add an "S" to the model number. The one I received from Andy was the 62L, the model with leather loops and protective tab.

I received this holster with two sets of leather loops, one for a 1 1/4 and one for 1 1/2 belt, thus allowing the holster to be used with both dress and sport belts. The loops are fitted with one-way or uni-directional snaps as a security feature. This helps to prevent drawing the holster together with the weapon, a common fault in cheap, clip-equipped IWB holsters. The loops are secured to the holster body by a wide screw, allowing the holster to be given any desired angle of rake.

The mouth of this holster is reinforced to prevent its collapse when the gun is withdrawn. This facilitates one-handed re-holstering which, tactically, makes a lot of sense. The body of the holster is blocked to the pistol it will carry, but as the user's belt helps to secure the weapon, this blocking is not as detailed as with the 22H.

I tried this holster for several days, mostly with a 1 1/4" belt, and it proved to be totally unobtrusive, offering excellent concealement and comfort. I haven't had the chance to do any of the presentation excercises with it as yet, but I am sure it will offer the level of performance one expects from such a holster.

I would like to thank Andy for his present. I always dreamed of buying a Horseshoe holster but never quite got around to doing it. Thanks to Andy's generosity, I am now the proud owner of not one but two!

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