Holster Fun

NYC Fast Draw RIG

Note this Gaylord high cavalry draw sharkskin rig obtains its holster angle from the
shape of the gun belt. That’s Jess Dodge, the original holster owner, in Chic’s book.

The great new reference book on 20th century holster development entitled Holstory by R.E.D. Nichols and John Witty introduces us to the NYC school of holsters. Originated by NYC holster maker Chic Gaylord, they differed from the Western school in using thinner leather, replacing the thick welt down the rear edge of the pouch with double stitching and a reinforcing rivet, and more detailed molding. Gaylord actually wet-molded the holster to the actual model of handgun it was to carry.

Gaylord also wrote an excellent book on handguns, holsters and gun fighting techniques titled Handgunner’s Guide. In the book, Gaylord says the high cavalry draw is the fastest possible for revolvers with barrels longer than 4.75″. He also says the fastest holster possible would be one lined with heavy industrial sharkskin as it’s the hardest leather known and it would provide a fast and friction-free surface.

Elmer Keith, father of the .44 Magnum cartridge, said, “Chic, make me one.” After producing Keith’s sharkskin lined holster, Gaylord swore he would never make another, as the sharkskin was difficult to work with and nearly impossible to mold.

Enter Jess Dodge. Page 92 of Handgunner’s Guide is a full-page photograph of Jess Dodge demonstrating a Gaylord Gun Hawk SA fast draw rig. Pages 138 and 139 show Dodge demonstrating the low cavalry draw using a Gaylord reverse draw Gun Hawk rig.

Missing the boat when Gaylord was producing holsters, I’ve searched for years for a Gaylord holster for a Colt SAA revolver. Recently I found the “Holy Grail” of Gaylord holsters, a unique sharkskin gun belt and high cavalry draw holster for a 4.75″ barrel Colt SA.

As the seller tells the story: “In the years 1958-1959 I was assigned to the Armed Forces Police in NYC.” Through fellow MP Tom Loughlin, who is shown in Chic’s book demonstrating a fast draw using a Colt .45 auto pistol, the seller met and became friends with, and shot with, Gaylord and Dodge. “Jess Dodge wanted a sharkskin rig but Chic told him he would not make it, and quoted a price if he ever should make another, far above what Jess could afford. The bottom line is Jess built Chic a new bathroom in his apartment and Jess got his holster. Some years later I acquired the pistol and holster from Jess.”

Here we see the unusual buckle system, adjustable on both ends of the gun belt.

Holster Belt

That’s a Gaylord Outlaw holster on the left and a Missouri Skintight on the right.

The Rig

The holster is what Chic called the Outlaw, a high ride version of his Missouri Skintight. It’s a left hand vertical carry holster constructed of Tiger sharkskin and lined with industrial sharkskin. The top rear edge of the pouch is reinforced with Chic’s signature rivet. The tunnel belt loop is unusual in extending the full length of the pouch. It’s securely double stitched in place and adds extra solidity to the pouch. The revolver’s trigger guard and hammer spur are fully exposed and the grip is placed above the gun belt.

The extreme left hand cross draw angle is provided by the unusual gun belt. Rather than being straight or cut on a curve, it has an extreme drop where the holster sits. This extreme drop in the belt places the holster correctly for a high cavalry fast draw. The gun belt is constructed of matching sharkskin with a heavy cowhide lining.

Chic always thought outside the box. The result is the unusual buckle system on the gun belt. Both ends of the 2″-wide belt taper to 1.5″. Both ends have adjustment holes. The unusual buckle slides on the left end of the gun belt and is secured by a center post passing through the desired hole from the rear. The right end of the belt passes through the buckle and is secured in the desired hole by the same center post.

I treasure this unique sharkskin high cavalry fast draw rig from the hands of Chic Gaylord.

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