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Holsters: your number 1 add-on sale.

first customer through the door on Saturday morning: "I'm going shooting this afternoon and I need some ammo. Could you give me three boxes of .40 S&W? That's all I need."

Second customer, a young fellow who's planning to shoot in the local IPSC match next month. "I'd like to buy a few targets so I can fine tune my shooting before the match. You can never be too ready."

The third customer is an off duty police officer who said he came in to look at the new high-capacity auto pistol which his department may soon approve for duty use. "Sure would feel more comfortable with one of those at my side. Until the chief gives his okay, I'll just have to make due with my old revolver."

Can you think of one question that might have made a high-profit sale in each of these low-profit situations? How about: "Would you like a new holster today?"

Holsters are the one item you can be sure each handgun owner will want -- and if they already own one, you can be sure they'll eventually want another. A new style of holster makes an old handgun seem like new, and shooters are always searching for that one holster that combines concealability, comfort, and ease of access.

New technology, too, is constantly opening new markets for holsters. It wasn't too long ago that when a customer asked for a holster, they meant they wanted leather. Today, you're just as likely to find a pistol tucked in a holster made of nylon on your customers' hips or under their shoulders.

As holster manufacturers pay more and more attention to ergonomics, customers want holsters which not only hold their handguns, but which do the job with comfort, which make the guns instantly and easily accessible, and which secure the firearms as much as possible from drop or theft. The days of the old "widowmaker" leather flap holsters are gone for good.

The rise in the popularity of the IPSC-style action shooting games has also created a whole new market for holsters. Where once the holster market was limited to out-of-the-box handguns, customers now want holsters which will accommodate red dot scopes, compensators, and extended magazines, yet which afford the ability of a split-second draw.

With so many different types of holsters available, are you turning away customers with a limited selection in your store? Here's a run-down of the major players in the holster manufacturing market and the products which you can offer your customers.


When you say law-enforcement or concealment holsters, this name is the first one which will spring to your customers' minds. Located in Temecula, Calif., Bianchi International is one of the premier holster manufacturers on the market.

Newest in the Bianchi line is the Grabber duty holster featuring the Pinch Retention Device. As the pistol is holstered, a flexible claw grips the trigger guard making it inaccessible from any angle other than the specific angle of draw. The PRD does not slow the wearer's draw, but does provide positive retention and weapon control. The Grabber also features a steel sight channel to protect the gun and give years of service.

New to the Bianchi line this year is the Speed Leader, a revolutionary new IPSC competition holster which features the ultimate in adjustability and speed. Multi-position adjustments allow the holster to be altered to the shooters needs.


For a complete line of leather and nylon gun holsters, firearms retailers across the country turn to Safariland of Ontario, Calif., for the products that customers ask for most. Safariland offers holsters for the police duty and concealment markets as well as the sporting and competition customers.

Safariland holsters are constructed of high-quality leather or extra durable Pro Pex III nylon. All holster products feature suede lining for maximum comfort and weapon protection.

One of the hottest new items on the market is the Paddle holster, Safariland's Model 518. The Paddle solves many of the problems which have always plagued the outside-the-pants "clip" type holsters. Rather than relying on a small steel clip, Paddle holsters are secured against the body by a wide, curved paddle which naturally fits against the hip bone.

The paddle is made of a thin polymer covered in soft suede and features a locking clip to hold the holster down when the gun is drawn. The Paddle holster can be used with or without a belt, and can be removed easily in the office or away from the firing line without any amount of undressing.

For shooters who want versatility, the 518 is available with a belt loop conversion, turning it into a standard mid-ride holster. The 518 can accommodate most popular pistols and revolvers -- for both right and left handed shooters -- and comes with a thumb break strap. The Model 5181 is a high-ride Paddle holster without thumb strap available for most automatics.

Tex Shoemaker & Sons

One of the oldest and best-known names in gunleather is Tex Shoemaker of San Dimas, Calif., which has been supplying holsters to the shooting industry for more than 50 years.

The newest addition to the Shoemaker line is the QF (for Quick Front) holster for both pistols and revolvers. The QF features spring tension to hold the gun in place and provide for an extremely fast draw by pushing downward on the weapon. When the grip is depressed, the spring pops the gun muzzle through the front of the holster, bringing it up into action much faster than a conventional draw. With the QF holster, a gun can even be drawn effectively from a seated position.

The QF also features a thumb-break strap, a covered trigger guard, and a welt reinforced hanger and belt lock.

Shoemaker also feature the famous Bill Jordan style Border Patrol holsters for more 4-inch and 6-inch double-action revolvers. This holster keeps the grip at a forward cant for quick draw, and offers a plugged muzzle to keep the gun clean.

Michaels of Oregon

For flexibility, durability, and comfort, the first name in holsters is Portland, Ore.-based Michaels of Oregon, or Uncle Mike's.

Uncle Mike's lists a full line of nylon duty gear as well as dozens of holsters for concealment and sporting customers. The latest in the duty line is the 9800 Series, heavy-duty nylon with a co-polymer exoskeleton to reinforce the nylon holster body while allowing the wearer to adjust draw tension. Also new from Uncle Mike's is the Tactical Holster System to accommodate the needs of the SWAT and ERT officers with an ultra-low ride web holster, an adjustable leg strap, and a top-breaking thumb strap.

For sport shooters and hunters, Uncle Mike's features a full line of magazine and cartridge belt carriers, perfect for a day on the range or in the field. From six to 10 rounds of pistol, rifle, or shotgun ammo can be carried conveniently on the belt, on the buttstock of a gun, or even on the wrist for maximum convenience.

Galco International

With a full line of leather and nylon holsters, Galco of Phoenix, Ariz., offers several holsters aimed at the sporting and concealment customer. One of Galco's newest holsters is the DEA Paddle, made of all-weather Galminate and designed to fit most large-size pistols. The DEA features an open slide guard with dual tension adjustment screws so the ease of draw can be adjusted to the wearer.

What Galco is most famous for, however, is the Miami Classic concealment rig, which was worn by Don Johnson in the television show "Miami Vice." With the Miami Classic, even large handguns like the 1911 are easily and comfortably concealed. The secret to the set-up is the Spider Harness, which allows all the straps to rotate on a four-point pivot. The Miami Classic is available for revolvers and autos, right or left-hand draw, and tan or black finish.

Along with the line of premium leather gear, Galco also offers several SWAT-type web gear rigs for auto pistols, MP5s, M16s, and shotguns made of black ballistic nylon.

Gun Gear

One of the newest players in the marketplace is New York City-based Gun Gear, with a wide selection of leather shoulder and hip holsters. The star of the Gun Gear line is the Model 060 shoulder holster, designed to be adjustable to fit any size shooter, and adaptable to accommodate any pistol or revolver. Unlike most shoulder holsters, the straps of the 060 are lined in soft Velcro, making it comfortable and cool for all-day wear.

Also available from Gun Gear are several pancake-style belt holsters, clip-on inside-the-pant holsters, and ankle holsters, as well as ammo, speed loader, and magazine carriers.


From New Hyde Park, N.Y., DeSantis offers a complete line of holsters and gun holders in both nylon and high-quality leather. With DeSantis, gun dealers can offer their customers a full display of on- and off-duty belt holsters, shoulder holsters, inside-the-pant holsters, and SWAT tactical gear.

Apart from the standard goods, DeSantis also produces several unconventional holsters, like a line of women's gun holsters purses and bags, and concealment fanny packs in bright colors and designer styles. They also catalog an extensive line of police and sport equipment bags.

Mixson Leathercraft

Duty gear is the specialty of Mixson Leathercraft of Hialeah, Fla., specializing in gun holsters for both on- and off-duty as well as any type of concealment needs.

Mixson's high-quality leather holsters and duty belts are rugged enough to withstand even the most intensive tasks, yet comfortable enough to keep a gun secure for a whole double shift. All holsters are available in both plain and basketweave finishes and in either black or brown.

Also in the Mixson catalog is a full line of flashlight and handcuff holders, ammo carriers, magazine holders, and speedloader pouches.

Don Hume Leathergoods

Stocking an extensive line of leather goods, Don Hume Leather of Miami, Okla., is ready to serve you and your customers. Hume offers leather holsters for the police duty customer as well as the sporting shooter. The company also offers several police tools and gun maintenance products.

Holsters are one of the most important accessories you have in your store, and one of the most profitable too. If your customers are happy with the handgun holsters they buy from you, they'll be back for lots of other purchases, including more handguns and more holsters.

Don't forget, along with your gun cleaning products, you should stock some leather (and nylon) care items as well: cleaner, conditioner, preservative, and silicone lubricant. With proper care your customers' holsters will last as long as their firearms, and they'll thank you for selling them both.
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Author:Farrell, Scott
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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