It all started innocently enough. Michael Janich wrote an interesting article for Handgunner (“Origins of the S&W Centennial Revolver,” Nov/Dec 2011) and showcased the custom carry rig invented by Col. Rex Applegate. The Colonel carried his S&W in a remarkable sort of belt holster that actually carried the gun upside down in the location a shoulder rig might. Wearing lightweight shirts in the hot climate of Mexico meant the Colonel couldn’t wear a shoulder rig, hence the custom one. Michael’s great photos of the original rig prompted leathersmith extraordinaire Karla Van Horn to go about re-creating the original design, but with some updates.
We’ve featured Karla’s work in Handgunner before, and for good reason. Doing business as Purdy Gear, Karla is one of a handful of true masters of the craft of working with leather. At the SHOT Show in January 2012, Karla showed me a prototype, and after a bit of fussing with it and discussion, she returned to her shop, following up by sending me these two prototypes. I made a few small recommendations, one being to make a version allowing the bottom of the rig to be worn behind the belt line, like an IWB holster. Consequently, the belt system on the darker brown Applegate rig allows just that, for extra stability.
The lighter Rex rig is a very close rendition of the original, minus the cartridge loops on the bottom. Both rigs showcase the fit, finish and workmanship Karla has become famous for. She told me it’s possible to bend the wire braces helping to keep the platform stiff, in order to better fit different body types. I’ve worn both of these and I’m amazed at how comfy they are. The Applegate holds a Kimber Solo (or other smaller auto or revolver) neatly, putting it right at hand. If you wear a T-shirt under a cover shirt it’s perfectly comfortable. If you get any chaffing, you can gently bend the rig slightly to fix the problem. What’s old is new again, and in the hands of Purdy Gear, it’s impeccably done. They are $190 each. Give Karla a call to discuss a fit for your gun. For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/purdy-gear, (706) 692-5536, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Roy Huntington
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