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Vintage Concealed Weapons


Staff member
I would like a vintage or a retro style shoulder holster for my .45. Like this one:



Bartender Note: This thread is for posting about vintage concealed weapons. That's vintage weapons/vintage holsters/vintage methods of concealment. Any politics, pro-gun or anti-gun will be deleted.
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One of the Regulars
Central Texas
MK said:
I would like a vintage or a retro style shoulder holster for my .45. Like this one:

I'll need to keep my eye out for vintage shoulder holsters like that. Not being a fan of one, they all look the same to me. But I guess I outta look into it a little deeper.


A-List Customer
Carry under vintage or carry vintage?

Seems like this is a 2 part issue.

1. Carrying a modern handgun (Glock, Sig, etc.) in a modern holster, like
those illustrated, under your vintage clothing or

2. Carrying "true" vintage (handgun and associated gear) as part of your
vintage clothing. This would likely involve Lawrence or Audley holsters
of various styles, or the famous Berns-Martin, as these were the
concealment rigs of their day.

I have some nice modern gear that works well, the best being a discontinued holster called the "Ghost" by Renegade, as well as some in the second category, which I tend to prefer nowadays (my current carry piece is a Colt's Detective Special made in 1930).

If anyone's interested, I'll take some pictures and post them . . .Tom


One of the Regulars
Hill City, SD
My experience with vintage shoulder holsters has been those from Lawrence and Berns-Martin. The Lawrence I had used a metal clip inside of the leather, it goes around a revolver's cylinder, so you pull the gun through the opening in the clip to draw it. The revolver is carried vertically, muzzle down. The Bianchi X15 shoulder holster is similar in style and carry.
With the Berns-Martin style, a short-barreled revolver is carried vertically, but with the muzzle pointing up. I don't know of anyone who is making this style right now.
For "modern" -- but to me, I prefer leather, not Kydex... for the Kel-Tec P32, a pocket holster from www.jsholsters.com. The holster will stay in your pocket when you draw because of the holster's design. I use one of these every day, all day. After a week, you won't even notice it.
And, for larger firearms, anything from www.miltsparks.com. My favorite is the VM2, which is designed to be used with a shirt tucked over it, though I've never done that. This holster, with a proper, heavy 1 1/2" wide or more belt, works well. I'm a relatively small person, 5' 8" and 165 pounds, and carry a 1911 with this setup. Again, every day, all day.
I have a holster on order from Lou Alessi, another holster maker, which should prove to work as well as the Milt Sparks.
I have used vintage holsters in the past and kind of like them, but I have trouble covering up a shoulder holster, and it is just ingrained in me to have a gun at about 3:30 position on my belt, so that's where I've ended up.
Regardless of what you decide on, you absolutely get what you pay for with holsters (and you'll probably end up with a box of them that you have tried and don't like) -- AND please be safe. When you're trying out a vintage shoulder holster, check the firearm a couple dozen times to be sure it's empty before attempting a "1930s FBI speed draw."


One Too Many
Florida, U.S.A. for now
Since we are talking about holster, I wish to share a quote from Malcolm X, when he dicuses his youth as a hustler. Here it is "...a gun was a much part of my dress as a necktie..."


A-List Customer
Well, here ya go . . .

Pyroxene said:
yea! I would love to see some photos.
A 1930 vintage Colt's Detective Special (square butt) in a Lawrence #7 shoulder holster. The straps criss-cross in back, unlike more recent copies which loop around the shoulder above the holster and have a cloth strap going around the other arm and up behind the neck.

The same revolver, out, with the padded "C-clamp" for the cylinder visible.

A 1933 vintage Detective Special (first year for the round butt) with an Audley belt holster patented in 1914, having the metal trigger latch:

Same as above, illustrating how the latch catches the front of the trigger to secure the gun in the holster.

An Audley concealment holster, 1914 type, for the Colt's Pocket Hammerless.

The same as above, illustrating the belt loop. Pistol is a .380 made in 1921; ideal for meetings with Major Strasser.

Two "rear pocket" holsters, the top one is from Greenblatt's in New York, bottom one is an Audley (1907 patent) holding a .32 S&W Hand Ejector. Guns are held in place by a "lip" of leather which catches the cylinder and have to be twisted, grip toward the body, to allow drawing.

The Greenblatt holster in the pocket holding a Colt's Army Special, where it would be concealed by the suit coat or Police Uniform jacket. The slot just below the top of the holster is for a strip of leather, missing here, which would come down and attach to the button on the uniform pants.

The Colt's Army Special shown above was made in 1922. For any who are railroad buffs, it belonged to the Union Pacific Railroad.

I don't have a Berns-Martin type, but both the belt (the "Speed Draw") and shoulder models (the "Muzzle Up Shoulder Holster") are now made by Rusty Sherrick. His web site is www.c-rusty.com


One of the Regulars
Conceal carry....

I carry a Wilson CQB Compact or the 1911 compact carry Alan Tillman made for me (50th birthday gift from my wife--I'm a lucky guy, what can I say?). My holsters are either the clip-on IWB from Lou Alessi (a gentleman and quality craftsman) or a terrific belt/IWB combo from Matt Del Fatti. You can't miss with either Alessi or Del Fatti or both:

http://www.delfatti.com/New photo series for web site/isp-ssbwrl.jpg

Or I pocket-carry a .32 Seecamp when the weather's too hot in Texas for an IWB--which is much of the year. I carry that in a Mitch Rosen No. 18:


If you're carrying, wear what works best for you--and will work if, God forbid, you ever need it. Vintage wear is great for vintage firearms on display or in the safe. But for working weapons, as much as I enjoy and respect what my ancestors used, I don't want to join them prematurely as a result of less effective tools.


One Too Many
I've never liked shoulder hosters myself. I have one, but never wear it. Not sure WHY I purchased it. A whim once I suppose. I carry my Taurus 605 .357 snubbie in a forward cant belt holster, or my pocket. Regards. Michaelson


One of the Regulars
Hill City, SD
Pyroxene: That JS holster is one of my top choices. Put it in your pocket, carry it for a week, and you'll forget it's even there. That holster, with a Kel-Tec P32, are what I have when I "don't have a gun."
Mycroft: If I remember correctly (not very likely, but possible), the holster that Steve McQueen used was a Bianchi vertical carry - upside down - that had an elastic panel in the front of it to secure the revolver. Bianchi no longer makes them. It was a variation, or copy, of the old Berns Martin holster. It's great vintage stuff, but just that, because when you reach for the firearm, your movement to draw moves the gun back and away from your hand. If you're right handed, you reach to your left, which moves your right shoulder forward, which pulls on the harness around your right shoulder, which pulls on the holster, moving it backward, etc.
The only person I know who makes a current substitute is K. L. Null holsters, he makes one out of some kind of plastic. Sorry, I'm at home and the internet speed is just too low to even search for his website. The holster itself is white, with a white harness. The revolver is held with a pull-through snap. It works and I use it once in a while, but same deal.. it moves away from your hand when you try to draw. Beats throwing your hat at the bad guy, though.

Nathan Flowers

Head Bartender
Staff member
I sometimes carry my Doug Turnbull .45 Colt in one of these quick draw shoulder holsters from El Paso Saddlery.



My Mail is Forwarded Here
Anchorage, AK

One thing that is often missed is that, if you are going to carry and want to dress well (as opposed to always being untucked), you are going to have to dress around the gun.

For me that means my jackets aren't tailored in quite as tightly in the waist as they could be, since I have the gun on one side of the belt and the spare mag on the other. As D-Back mentioned, my pants are either bought sized or tailored to fit me and the gun as I carry IWB.

Tailoring is key and I was surprised at how nonchalant the salesman was when I bought a sportcoat at Nordies and was having it fitted by their in house guy. His only question was, "Do you wear this here all the time?"

When I take suits into other tailors I get much the same response, even did before concealed carry was legal.

I don't care what you're wearing and where, at some point you are going to print a little. As was said, most folks are so blithefully unaware they will never notice. Heck, I open carry semi-frequently (when the jacket is too warm for example) and even then most people don't notice. They go through life with mental blinders on at the best of times.

So, you modify your wardrobe a bit and don't move/bend in certain ways and get on with gettin' on.


In the case of the phone, it is either in a clip-on "holster" on my left hip in front of the mag pouch (which sticks out anyway) or if I happen to need a counter-weight to a mag in a jacket pocket, it balances out the other side. And you're right, it is palpably and annoyingly there.

While we disagree on the weapons part, I definitely agree carrying anything blocky on your person is a pain and forces other changes and decisions. The phrase some of us use is "Carrying weapons is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable." I suppose that goes for field phones as well.


I'll Lock Up
Chicago, IL US
Technonut said:
Personally, I figure if I need to use my weapon, it will be at a short range. Being as such, I am confident in carrying a small 5 shot .22 WMR (Magnum). ;) Teamed with jacketed hollow-points, it is plenty for daily defense carry IMHO... The weapon's hammer rests between chambers in safety, which is a nice feature. :)

A good choice. :)

plain old dave

A-List Customer
East TN
Vintage concealed carry for East TN:

City folk: .32 or .38 top break S&W (either with a hammer or a Lemon Squeezer) or Iver Johnson in the trouser pocket

Farmers: 4" barrel round butt .32-20 in one of the side overalls pockets (et thar 32-20'll shewt rat thru a man, son.)

Toting a small pistol was once as common Around Here as felt hats and pocket watches.


One of the Regulars
Central Ohio
You know, one thing that I have found over the years is that people who carry weapons tend to fall into a couple of categories:

1. Adjust the weapon to suit the fashion. A couple of detectives I know chose to buy smaller weapons to protect the look of tailored suits, etc.

2. Adjust the clothing to suit the weapon. One detective intentionally chose to carry a large sidearm (N-frame revolver, Smith 625, for those in the know), and always wore a shirt untucked over his IWB holstered hogleg.

3. Adjust the weapon and the clothing. Some chose to pick a smaller weapon, but then adjusted the clothing to conceal. Such as wearing a leather coat over mid-sized pistol as opposed to a lighter jacket, or a larger handgun.

Personally, when I was a prosecutor, I chose a couple of options. A smaller gun during the day under a suit or blazer (Smith j-frame revolver). When doing out of office/court work (tracking down witnesses, etc.), it was often a looser navy blazer over khakis, wearing the Glock in the shoulder holster. For search warrants and "dirty" work, it was often the same, but with jeans in place of khakis.

Above all else, remember rule #1 of gunfighting is "Have a gun."

And, if you ever do see me in court, yes, it is a gun in my pocket, and no, there is no "pump" under the bench.

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