By Mark Hampton
While I was exploring different holster designs lately, looking for an option I needed, our Esteemed Editorship asked me if I’d tried any of Rick Bachman’s Old West Reproductions’ gear. I admitted I hadn’t and after a bit of “Editorship Education” realized I’d been missing out. No wonder I’d never heard about Rick — he’s only been making quality holsters since 1978! Where have I been?
Rick is one of the old school cowboy guys and one of the very first to do high quality cowboy/traditional leather. From an early age, Rick had a keen interest in “real” old west history. He collected authentic Colt revolvers and cowboy gear for years. Rick developed a fascination in the techniques and materials used by leather workers in making gear sold to range riders of the 1870s. It wasn’t long before this Montana hide-stretcher began restoring old cowboy products for dealers and museums. Eventually all this passion turned to producing reproductions and in 1978, Old West Reproductions opened the doors.
Rick uses saddle skirting from Hermann Oak, in St. Louis, Missouri. Quality material is a starting point for what later becomes handcrafted frontier leather using authentic techniques. Old West Reproductions takes patterns from original vintage pieces, along with period-correct tooling designs, providing customers eye-catching gear just like early frontier saddle shops did. Rick doesn’t use nylon thread, edge paint, or alcohol-based dyes. Instead, he hand-burnishes edges and darkens the leather with a formula used by old west saddle makers. Rick’s attention to detail and finish work is superb! His work is top-notch, and he has even provided specific items for several movies including Tombstone and Dances with Wolves.
Many options are available from OWR, including handcrafted leather
for revolvers (left) and 1911s (right), in many designs, styles and fits.
Authentically In The Field
OWR offers several different holsters for most popular handguns, including old west holsters, modern, specialty rigs, belts, magazine pouches and cartridge slides and the accessories needed to round things out. I ordered the chest holster, #135 Outdoors-man, for my S&W Model 686 I was looking to fit. One look at this holster convinced me Rick is the real deal. I can’t find any flaws in tooling or build. The leather is beautiful, with stamped tooling, yet very practical.
The holster can be adjusted to be worn in the middle of your chest or in a horizontal position, low by your side. A safety strap wraps around the revolver between the hammer and sight keeping things secure. An additional strap attaches to your belt at the middle of your back. While doing some shed-hunting around the farm, I wore the revolver for several hours without discomfort. The design is simple and straightforward and about ideal for jumping in and out of the Polaris Ranger while doing chores. It’s also a great choice for fishermen or back-country hikes when packing a revolver. It looks great — and it works! I was hooked on Rick’s work.
After browsing through the interesting OWR website, I ordered item #114. It’s a new addition to his line, holding a 5″ 1911. This is a border-tooled belt holster that can be made as a straight hang, angled cross-draw, or with an FBI cant. Another example of quality workmanship for a “modern” gun, but made in the tradition of the old west. I was beginning to think His Editorship actually knew what he was talking about.
The Outdoorsman chest rig carries S&W’s Model 686 comfortably.
The Model #113, Denver Belt Holster, is a Heiser design from the ’20s-’40s. The Model #113
is a new design for a J-Frame but can be had for other models. The cant makes it a handy
cross-draw rig, but can be modified. Photo: RH
Authentic Old West
Old West Reproductions offers many interesting old west holsters — with authentic designs. Some of the many options include their Shoulder Holster, Buntline Scabbard, The Gambler, The Cheyenne, The Wyoming, Teddy Roosevelt, The Miles City, The Pueblo — you get the picture.
For modern guns Rick provides holsters like the Border Patrol, Belt Slide, Bachman Slide, Ranger, Denver Belt Holster, 1911 Jock Strap, 1911 Bikini, Field Carry Holster and the Outdoorsman like the one I received — plus many more. The belts, cartridge slides and magazine pouches are made with the same quality and attention to detail.
If you’re looking for an impressive specialty gun rig, check out Rick’s #100 — The Border. This is a southwest design decorated with nickel spots and an engraved buckle with a color choice of antique russet (a luscious color!) or black. This one will impress your friends who have an appreciation for the old west. You should also see some of the antiques and collectibles offered.
The company is first class, providing handcrafted frontier holsters with top-shelf workmanship at affordable prices. But the term “reproductions” doesn’t do Rick justice. They are the real thing.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index; OWR Ph: (406) 273-2615, Address: 446 Florence South Loop, Florence, MT 59833