The guns, the holsters, the accessories and the techniques

As one gets older—at least as this concerns guns—what is relatively unremarkable, even prosaic, albeit excellent, may actually be what others call a “classic.”



The M3 Shoulder Holster is a truly classic way to carry a full-sized 1911, such as this Detonics 9-11-01. The holster is from Pacific Canvas and Leather.

My old pal, Sid Woodcock, who passed away in mid-2011 at 87 years old, had carried and used all manner of handguns for serious purposes since World War II. He even designed handguns, pioneering the size revolution in modern centerfire-caliber defensive pistols with the groundbreaking Detonics .45 CombatMaster.

Did Sid carry a Luger or P-38 or even a 1911 variant for his main armament? Maybe a Walther PPK .32 or Browning Model 10 .380 for backup or close concealment? No. Sid was very much the exception to the norm. He carried a perfectly modern SIG P239 in .357 SIG and/or a Kel-Tec .32, equally modern. He was admirably able to keep pace with the times—far better than I am able to do.

I find myself more and more drawn to staying with guns that were all the rage when they were new decades ago and I was decades younger. I’m always interested in trying new firearms, of course, and happier still to possess them and use them.

Nevertheless, the classics haunt me. For example, the one handgun I am set on finding (perhaps sometime in 2012; who knows?) is a C96 Mauser Broomhandle in 7.63mm Mauser that is in excellent mechanical condition, with plenty of rifling and, at least decent looks—all at a price that won’t make me feel like a fool for shelling out a large amount of hard-won dollars. But just what makes a classic? Let’s look.


Holstering is still another means used to keep a classic handgun classic, yet modern. And a classic handgun can certainly benefit from a classic holster.

One holster that is undeniably a classic is the Lawman Leathergoods brand “Original Dirty Harry Shoulder Holster,” now exclusively available only from Wild Guns Leather Company of Texas (

The “Dirty Harry” is offered for an extremely wide range of handguns—not just the S&W Model 29 that Clint Eastwood used in films. It’s a classic carry for the 1911 and its variants. The “Dirty Harry” is meticulously assembled from the finest cowhide. The holster—lined, of course—uses spring steel lips for weapon retention, which, in itself, is a classic design feature. The all-leather harness is fully adjustable. With shorter-length guns such as the 5-inch-barrel 1911 variants, the typical person will need the extension piece that allows for more complete harness adjustment. Jerry Ardolino, the man behind the “Dirty Harry,” makes the point that it is a wonderfully comfortable shoulder holster. That it is.

Under lighter-weight attire, it should be noted that the “Dirty Harry” is not as concealable as it is under something such as a heavy tweed sport coat or leather jacket. Fast and reliable, it is the classic holster for your classic handgun, whether semi-auto or revolver.

By Jerry Ahern


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