Handy Holsters

For Hunting Handguns.

We live in the greatest nation on this planet. As firearms enthusiasts we enjoy an incredibly remarkable country with a solid foundation of gun culture. The sheer plethora of quality firearms, optics, ammunition and every imaginable accessory desired is available — well almost. As a dyed-in-the-wool handgun hunter, carrying my favorite sixgun all day takes on a special challenge. Luckily for us, we have some of America’s most talented leather craftsmanship known to mankind. These gifted leather stretchers are capable of taking a piece of cowhide and accommodating any type of handgun, in a variety of styles and configurations. From the less expensive models to highly embellished, custom leather featuring impressive, beautiful designs, there is something for any and every taste. Some handgunners view holsters as a utilitarian object while others lean toward a more personal consideration. No sweat — there is something for everyone.

Like fine leather, quality handguns have a special meaning to its owner. Let’s be honest, these superb hunting handguns aren’t cheap. When we pack them around all day or for several days, they need to be safe and secure in a respectful home. First and foremost, holsters should keep the firearm safe. There are not many things more frightening than a loaded handgun falling out of a holster. Safety should always be our utmost concern. Secondly, the comforting factor is another high priority. Nobody enjoys aches and pains after packing a handgun around all day. The holster should be like a well broken-in pair of boots, comforting all day and for as many days as you wear one.

Since we are all made differently, what works well for one person may or may not be a charm for another. The specific activity may also have a bearing on the type of holster that bests suits our situation not to mention our personal likes. Some hunters chase hounds while others may ride horses, drive around in their UTV, walk to deer stands, climb mountains, climb tree stands or participate in a laundry list of other circumstances. Whatever the need, comfort is always welcome and necessary.

Lastly, the aesthetics have an appeal or put another way, the cool factor. With so many fine holsters on the market, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it with all the toppings you can pile on.

You could easily write a book on the current supply of quality holsters available. Unfortunately I am not able to adequately list all the fine leather-stretchers who produce quality gun leather. I can however, share my experience with several holsters I have had the pleasure of wearing in the field. Obviously there are many other options out there but here are a few I’ve carried one or more of my hunting handguns in a safe and comfortable fashion.


Thad Rybka has been making fine gun leather for many years. This
crossdraw holster is a favorite for many handgun hunters.


Thad Rybka doesn’t have a website but he’s been making fine holsters for as long as I care to remember. I’ve been wearing his rough-out, cross-draw holsters for at least 30 now. From Africa to Alaska, Thad Rybka’s holsters have been on my side carrying some form of sixgun. These practical holsters provide a safe, comfortable way to carry a revolver for days without fatigue. The somewhat radical cross-draw design allows you to bend over, sneaking through the brush, and perform a multitude of tasks without interference. You can also get in and out of vehicles, climb on a horse, or climb the ladder to your tree stand without issue. Mine have been worn countless days in Africa and elsewhere. I’ll probably give them to a younger hunter when I hang up the handguns for good. Believe it or not, the rough-out feature looks as good today as when I first bought them 30 years ago.


7X Leather makes a chest rig perfect for carrying large, scoped revolvers.
This holster keeps the gun close to your chest and readily available.

7X Leather

7X Leather (www.7xleather.com) offer a neat chest holster. I’ve been carrying a scoped Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter in one of Wes Daem’s well-designed, across-the-chest rigs during deer hunting excursions. The holster can be made to fit a variety of handguns including every frame of S&W or Ruger. Plus, Freedom Arms Model 83 or a 1911 can also be accommodated.

Both gun and scope ride inside the leather. This holster can be utilized and still wear your backpack and binos. On a recent deer hunt I carried the big Ruger up and down elevated deer blinds with no problem. The holster rides close to your chest with weight distributed evenly. The design is most comfortable and allows for quick acquisition of firearm if needed. It quickly adjusts from T-shirt to large coat if necessary. The chest holster comes with a 6-round cartridge slide, leather maintenance cream and workmanship guaranteed for life! There is even a pouch for your earplugs. The 7X Leather also make some neat ammo carriers, wrist cartridge holders, deluxe gun belts and some other goodies.


From the great state of Alaska, Diamond D Custom Leather offers
their Guide’s Choice for hunters, fishermen and backpackers.
This across-the-chest design is easy to adjust and distributes
weight evenly.

Diamond D

Diamond D Custom Leather (www.diamonddcustomleather.com) makes an awesome across-the-chest rig. It works great when riding the tractor, UTV or hiking across the farm-checking fence. Their Guides Choice holster can accommodate a multitude of handguns including most popular revolvers. I’ve been packing a 1911 in mine and it rides very comfortabley. There is even an extra magazine pouch. This holster is simple, easy to adjust and versatile. The gun rides close to your body, doesn’t bounce around, and is readily available. It was designed, tested, and is handmade in the great state of Alaska. The Guides Choice is perfect for not only hunting trips but fishing along streams with bears present, or hiking the backcountry. Diamond D also makes some high-quality belts and accessories worth checking out.


The fine folks at Simply Rugged provide great holsters for a variety of handguns.
The holsters are comfortable during long days in the field.

Simply Rugged

In a few weeks I’ll be chasing a pack of dogs in hot pursuit of wild boar. One of the guns I’ll be using is a 1911 in 10mm. The gun will find a secure resting place in a Simply Rugged (www.simplyrugged.com) holster. Most of these holsters are a pancake design as the gun rides with your body and doesn’t bounce around. A belt strap helps keep the rig in proper position on your body.

These are rugged holsters, as the name implies, and will protect your firearm when out in the woods or riding around the farm on the UTV. The owners, Rob and Jan Leahy, are great Americans residing in Arizona.

On this upcoming hog hunt I’ll be using their Chesty Puller system, which allows you to carry your belt holster across your chest or under arm. The neat thing about this system is the capability of interchanging holsters. Simply snap one holster for the 1911 off and replace it with another for the Freedom Arms Model 83, which is exactly what I’ll do. It works great and can be adjusted from small individuals to NFL football players. Simply Rugged also provides some practical ammo pouches, belts and accessories. This holster system is very useful for an assortment of situations. It may be rugged but it’s a beautiful holster system.


This elegant holster from Purdy Gear makes a handsome home for a Ruger revolver.

Purdy Gear

When I first met Karla Van Horne of Purdy Gear (www.purdygear.com) I was impressed. She is a sweet lady and remarkably handy making some eye-popping holsters. I wore one of her designs with a Freedom Arms Model 97 and knew immediately she could make holsters. Purdy Gear manufactures high-quality competition, period correct gun leather. Hunters are not left out. This is a full-blown custom shop focusing on ergonomic requirements of demanding shooters and hunters. Karla also makes some interesting western, traditional, shoulder and field holsters with a touch of elegance and beauty. I really like the Hamley Chest Rig, it comes in British tan and is adjustable. This holster is ideal for getting in and out of trucks, UTV’s, tractors, mounting a horse or any number of activities without uncomfortable influence. For hunters, this rig is becoming more popular. Purdy Gear also provides some aesthetically pleasing knife sheaths, belts and more.


The Northwest Hunter Rig from Barranti Leather makes carrying a
large, scoped revolver simple, easy and comfortable.

Barranti Leather

There are not a lot of ways to carry a large, scoped hunting handgun comfortably. Fortunately for handgun hunters, Mike ‘Doc’ Barranti of Barranti Leather (www.barrantileather.com) has found a way with his Northwest Hunter Rig. This unique and beautiful piece of leather comes from the company’s signature series, a premium line of gun leather. The fully lined holster features a suede-lined and padded shoulder strap, brass hardware and cartridge slide.

The holster and shoulder strap are hand carved with a bear track and deer track respectively. Each rig wears its own serial number and signature series stamp. Barranti Leather is a one-at-a-time custom leather shop with focus on quality. I carry a long-barreled Freedom Arms or Ruger Super Blackhawk in mine and love it. It’s perfect for backcountry mule deer hunts or following pygmy trackers in the rainforest of Africa. Mike provides a complete lineup of first class holsters to fit most handguns in a mind-boggling variety of practical, yet elegant styles. Barranti Leather makes so much cool stuff it makes you want to buy a different gun for all the different styles offered.


Galco provides holsters for almost any hunting gun, in a vast array
of designs. This High-Ride Silhouette holster is ideal for carrying
a 1911 on the hip.

Galco International

Once known as the Jackass Leather Company, today’s Galco International (www.galcogunleather.com) was founded back in 1969. They have certainly stretched a lot of leather since then. Galco’s massive array of leather products will benefit every type of gun enthusiast including handgun hunters. Their Kodiak Shoulder Holster was first introduced for an open sighted revolver. After receiving a lot of positive feedback, the Kodiak Hunter, designed for scoped revolvers, was sure to follow.

This attractive rig carries the magnum revolver diagonally across the torso. A padded shoulder strap is utilized in conjunction with the torso strap providing quick adjustments to accommodate a variety of hunting activities. This design allows for easy and expeditious acquisition of the firearm. The attractive holster comes in Havana brown. Cartridge loops for extra rounds are a practical accessory, which I had to add. If you have a handgun, chances are Galco makes a holster designed to carry it afield.

Not Just Guns

I have carried Freedom Arms revolvers in the field for many years. From Africa to Australia, the iron sighted Freedom Arms Model 83 had ridden on my hip. Today my Model 83 wears a scope and Freedom Arms provides holsters to fit their fine revolvers. Their M83 Shoulder Holster is suede lined and will accommodate two or three ring scoped revolvers. This design allows both gun and scope to rest inside the leather. The three-point suspension system holds the revolver securely and safely with leather strap wrapping across the trigger. Weight of the revolver is distributed evenly and comfortable for all day hunting pursuits.

This quality cowhide is available for scoped or open sight models in most barrel lengths. When packing a FA revolver, what I consider the finest single-action made, it’s only logical to provide a well-made holster for it. And this is exactly what Freedom Arms did. This holster comes in a light tan color. Freedom Arms also has some handy leather cartridge holders for big bore cartridges.

I have only scratched the surface when it comes to quality holster makers. My apology if your favorite leather isn’t listed. However, I have positive experience with these holsters mentioned and will be wearing them again and again on future hunting adventures. How you carry your prized handgun is a personal matter. It also remains a very important decision and lucky for us, we have some great options. I have been more than satisfied with the above mentioned gun leather and the fine folks behind every one of the products. I’m confident you’ll be just as satisfied.
By Mark Hampton

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