Red Nichols

The ‘Yoda’ Of Holster Designers

By Roy Huntington

When I retired from the San Diego PD in 1998, I slid sideways into our industry, going to work for Bianchi Intl. as their law enforcement sales manager. This was before it was bought by Safariland. The ghosts of the “old days” still haunted the place. One name popping up all the time was Red Nichols. Red left Bianchi in the 1980’s but during the previous two decades had been the foundation for many iconic designs for the company. “Oh, Red did that,” was heard all the time in response to my questions. He teamed with John to design the ground-breaking Askins Avenger, designed the Pistol Pocket, worked with Ray Chapman on the Chapman Hi-Ride, designed the Cyclone Cross Draw Field Holster, the Black Widow Slide (still in production), the famous 9R upside down shoulder rig, designed the famous M12 military holster (with John) and even the “Judge” duty holster, a staple on cop’s hips in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s (I carried one for years).

Red has over 100 significant designs to his name with dozens of patents, and has worked with key holster makers like DeSantis, Aker, Assault Systems, Galco and others. A few years ago, Red decided to move to Australia and start fresh. His workmanship is, frankly, without peer, and his 50+ years of design knowledge, build and market experience shows in his work today. He makes every item one at a time, by hand, cutting each bit out by hand and even hand polishes — for that sensory-overload beautiful finish.

Red’s turn-around time is four weeks — guaranteed. You order, he makes it, emails you when it’s finished (along with a photo), then, if you approve it, he emails a bill and you pay with Paypal. Four weeks or less and it’s in your hands — and the holster or accessory is guaranteed for life. No fooling.


The “Beat the Devil” (L) and “Maltese Falcon” stand in front of Red’s “Sidewinder
Triple Curve” belt. They represent the high quality Red is famous for.


Virtuosity Meets Function

Four items are shown here and each is significant. The “Sidewinder Triple Curve Belt” (shown laced through the brown “Beat the Devil” holster) indeed has a “triple curve” built into it. I didn’t have room to show it, but it’s a bit of magic coming from making things like this for over 50 years. It feels like the curvy leather belt you’ve worn for 30 years — but it’s new.

The “Beat the Devil” is a sort of Askins Avenger but upgraded. Made of cowhide, it and Red’s other holsters can be had in a limited range of fits but a wide range of leathers. Holsters are for guns Red feels most likely to be carried by professionals. GLOCK’s, 1911’s, Beretta 92 family, SIG 9mm and .40 models, Hi-Power and the S&W Shield are fits so far.

The “Maltese Falcon” (the black rig) is for a railed 1911. My Officer’s shown doesn’t have a rail, but you get the idea. It’s horsehide for all the reasons horsehide is good. The amazing thing about these holsters is how light they are. The “Devil” is 3.4 ounces, while the “Falcon” is right at 4.0 ounces. A strong breeze might blow these off my desk here. But they are sound, strong and beautifully done. Anybody can rivet 14-ounce cowhide into a one-pound holster, but refinement like this takes time, experience and talent. They work, in a word — superbly.
Oh, and the names? Think Humphrey Bogart films.


Red’s handmade reproduction of his documented original Tom Threepersons holster
is a stunner, here with a nickel/ ivory 4¾” Colt like Tom’s original gun.
This is living history, if you ask us.


A stamped rendition of Tom Threepersons Prohibition Agent
badge is on the back of the rig. The marking (3P1) means
this is the first of the series to be made.

Tom Threepersons

In a future issue we’ll be running a feature on this iconic lawman from the early part of the 20th century. But Red (who wrote the feature) has the only documentable original Tom Threepersons holster, and this is his first-ever copy of it. To call this design a classic is to understate the obvious. Red was able to track down the original maker (not S.D. Myres, by the way, even though Threepersons authorized a version for them). This replica even has a copy of Tom’s Prohibition Agent badge stamped on the back. This first one is marked “3P1” on the back, for “Threepersons, Number One” in the series. It’s substantial, with the original welting and carving, yet retains the lightness Red seems to magically manage. It’s living history — yet as modern as today. The concept still works as perfectly now as it did 100 years ago.

Red is now offering this holster for $200 plus $20 postage, including the four-week delivery promise. Don’t resist. He who hesitates is lost. I warned you.

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One thought on “Red Nichols

  1. Arlen Wortinger

    do you make these holsters for the 1911 45 ? I am interested in ordering if you do. thanks.

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