Shooting Iron: Mexican
Loop Holsters

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Equipment of Laramie, Wyo. Note the slight bulge in the seam of the
holster pouch between the straps to keep the holster from clinging.

My eight-year-older sister told me that by about age four, my warm-weather routine every morning was to put on my cowboy boots first and then strap on my gun belt. I should probably have been called “The Tighty-Whitey Kid” because, in the heat of West Virginia summers, that’s all I wore. It’s true, for I have seen old family photos. Where that cowboy fascination came from is a mystery — we didn’t have television.

The reason I tell this story is because I still have my holster from then. It is real, not a toy. Actually, so was my sixgun. My father got an old revolver, cut or ground off its firing pin and plugged its chambers with lead so it couldn’t be fired. That’s all the family, or I, remember about it. Somehow, through the decades, it just disappeared.

Its holster stuck. Many years passed before I knew the name for its style. It’s a modified Mexican Loop. As such, it was cut from one piece of leather. The holster pouch is sewed together with a back flap doubled over to make a belt slot. Instead of the back being split like traditional Mexican Loop holsters, mine has a strap with a buckle holding the back flap and holster pouch together. It is heavy duty leather carved in a floral pattern and made for a small frame revolver. Although stiff with age, it still holds a Colt Model 1877 DA with a 41/2″ barrel.

This El Paso Saddlery’s variation of a Mexican Loop holster is named Mexican Loop with Texas Jockstrap.

Western Holster Fashions

In my teens, my ignorance caused me to buy a low-slung Buscadero rig for my very first Colt Peacemaker. Later I found out Buscadero-type rigs were mostly Hollywood’s fantasy, so it was discarded. Not until getting involved in cowboy action competition in the mid-1980s did I begin learning about authentic Old West holsters.

Instead of trying to cover all the myriad types for this column, I’m only going to write of the style I have come to favor. Naturally, that’s the Mexican Loop. By the mid-1870s to early 1880s Mexican Loop holsters became the fashion. They could have one, two or even three loops. The most colorful name given to one variation was the Mexican Loop with Texas Jockstrap. As the photo shows, it had a strap from the muzzle end and then spreads crosswise to hold the pouch to the back flap. Mine is from El Paso Saddlery.

Not being a collector, most of my Mexican Loop holsters are modern replicas, although one that came with a 1915 vintage S&W .44 Special “triplelock” was found in a small Montana town. It’s a classic example of a double Mexican Loop holster made by F.O.K. Company with no location given.

Duke’s only other vintage Mexican Loop holster. It came with the S&W triplelock
.44 Special setting in it. The modified Mexican Loop holster of Duke’s youth
holding a Colt Model 1877DA .41.

Flaws

Over the years, I’ve found two flaws with Mexican Loop holsters.

First, the leather can be “grabby” when the revolver is pulled. The holster clings and tries to rise with the revolver. There is a leather craftsman in Laramie, Wyo., named Stan Dolega. His business name is Wolf Ears Equipment. He cured the “grabby” holster problem by giving his Mexican Loop holsters a curve in the pouch seam. It fits between the two straps, locking the holster in place as the gun is withdrawn.
The second flaw I’ve experienced is most Mexican Loop holsters have no hammer thong. That’s simply a piece of bootlace threaded through two holes punched in the leather where the hammer sets. The thong is wrapped around the hammer so the revolver doesn’t also take a spill if the wearer does.

One beneficial attribute of most Mexican Loop holsters is they will fit many different revolver models. For instance, my Wolf Ears Mexican Loop holster for 71/2″ Colt SAAs also accommodates a 7″ barreled Navy Arms 3rd Model .44 Russian and a 71/2″ Remington Model 1875 .44-40.

Age has taken its toll on me. Now I only pack a Colt SAA on my property instead of shooting events or riding horses in Montana’s mountains. But when I decide to have an afternoon’s fun with some of my single-action revolvers, they’re stuck in one of my Mexican Loop holsters.

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