Cobras, Pythons And…
The concept of a “barbecue rig” originated in America’s great southwest. Like many good ideas the concept has spread, even up to my frozen north country. Some of my Texas friends tell me anyone with Norwegian ancestry, who lives along the northern border, shouldn’t be messing with barbecue, much less barbecue rigs. But “lutefisk rig” doesn’t sound quite right. My concept of a barbecue rig is a classic handgun with an eye-catching, traffic-stopping holster/belt combination. Others prefer a dressed-up handgun (engraving, shiny finishes, custom stocks) in a basic holster. Those who can afford it want a fancy gun in a fancy holster. I think this is a bit over the top and I’ll go on thinking so until I can afford an engraved handgun, then I’ll think it is okay.
The topic came up one day over coffee with a couple of shooting buds, both veteran law-enforcement officers. One of the fellows was boasting (yes you were Mike) of the custom holster rig he was having built by Jerry Evans of Haugen Handgun Leather. Everything’s a competition, and the upshot was the other buddy and I were soon talking with Jerry about fancy rigs of our own. The result was the three stunning rigs illustrated here.
Haugen Handgun Leather is a familiar name with handgun aficionados. Jerry is a retired cop and his designs are practical and tested. He uses only the best leather available, along with meticulous workmanship. Even his standard production models are all hand made and hand fitted for the specific handgun model. Moreover they are very reasonably priced considering their quality.
This is not a “production line” operation but one man with a lot of talent and a few simple tools. Jerry is an artist as well as a craftsman. What he loves best is to work with individual handgun enthusiasts and build truly unique, custom rigs. My approach with talented people (and this applies to custom gunmakers as well) is not to tie their hands too much. I like to give them a general idea of what I want, and leave them free to put their artistry to work.
Jerry has a lot of options to personalize your holster, from basket stamping and embossing to sterling silver accessories or exotic skins (all of which you may be sure are legally documented from dealers in exotic hides). Though the rigs shown here are showpieces and heirlooms, they are still practical holsters. I’d be perfectly comfortable wearing my rig for personal defense — provided I can wear it openly since it would be a crime to cover it up.
My buddies and I are very happy with the way things turned out, though it’s unlikely we’ll ever agree on who has the fanciest rig (I do, of course). Get in touch with Jerry at Haugen Handgun Leather, and together you can work out the details for a rig uniquely your own. When you get your rig, remember Jerry hopes you will actually use it as well as admire it. You could even wear it to a barbecue.
Part of Mike’s rig. A bit more traditional, but nonetheless, a genuine barbecue rig.
There’s a cross-draw holster for a Colt SAA that goes on the belt, and a matching
shoulder holster for a Colt .32 1903. A nice touch, we thought.
Mike’s rig started out as a two-gun outfit. Since “going too far” is a concept he doesn’t recognize, it evolved into a 3-gun rig. On the right side, the wide black leather belt carries a nickel-plated Colt single-action revolver angled for a straight draw. The belt holds 12 cartridges in loops above the holster. Just to the left of the buckle, a crossdraw holster holds an engraved Browning Hi-Power, along with a single magazine carrier. The holster also fits Commander-length pistols. On an all-Colt day Mike sometimes leaves the Browning in its case and carries one of his Colt Commander or Combat Commanders in the cross-draw holster.
With its beautiful leather, embossing, edge stitching, sterling silver buckle and sterling silver stars this outfit is enough to stop the most jaded enthusiast in his tracks. But it’s a competition, so Mike and Jerry went a step further. They added a matching shoulder holster to carry Mike’s Colt .32 ACP pocket automatic, along with a spare magazine. Everything about it matches the belt rig, the leather, embossing, stitching, and the sterling silver accessories.
Steve’s rig for his Colt Cobra has cobra skin accents. Note the real cobra head
peeking out above, as part of the belt buckle! Barbecue rig indeed!
Steve’s Cobra Rig
Steve came across a Colt Cobra in the used-gun case at the Loft. It was in nice shape, but I know it was the “pearl” grips which caught his eye. I told him what General Patton thought of pearl grips, to which he replied these are fake pearl so Patton’s dictum doesn’t apply. Seems logical to me. Steve’s holster, cartridge carrier and belt are made of top-grade cowhide, trimmed with — you guessed it — cobra skin. There is cobra trim on the holster, the cartridge carrier and a series of cobra “circles” spaced along the belt.
Jerry added several sterling silver stars to holster, belt and the 6-loop cartridge carrier. So far so fabulous, but Steve and Jerry felt it needed one more touch to be competitive with Mike’s 3-gun rig. So they added a cobra head — yes, that is an actual cobra head — on the leather buckle.
Dave’s rig for his Colt Python is made of — you guessed it — real python! Dave feels a“plain”
gun sets off a barbecue rig better than a fancy gun. But if he could afford a fancy gun,
he said may rethink that decision.
I guess I’m not very original, so I picked up on Steve’s ideas. One of my classiest handguns is my Colt Python with 4″ barrel. Did Jerry have any python skin available? You bet he did. All I told Jerry was I wanted a straight-draw right side carry, and left the rest to him.
When I saw the completed rig I all but lost my composure. Certainly I had high expectations but this just blew me away. The entire rig — holster, belt, belt keepers, even the holster safety strap — all were covered with python skin on top of heavy cowhide. Jerry added several sterling silver stars to complement the appearance and to form a common theme with my pal’s rigs. Notice how he arranged the natural skin patterns to align with the belt. The cartridge loops on the left side are integral with the belt, with each of the 12 loops trimmed with python skin. The buckle is sterling silver since I guess the head of a python would have been a bit too large. Darn. Words fail me. Just look at the photos.
By Dave Anderson
More Barbecue Rig Photos!
If you enjoyed Dave Anderson’s column on fancy Barbecue leather rigs in the Jan/Feb 2012 American Handgunner, then feast your eyes on more photos from Dave’s article. There were too many to print, so take your time and enjoy these!