In 1958 I was a sophomore in high school in Washington, Kansas. At the same time a young police officer in the Los Angeles, California, area was looking for a better duty rig, and ended up making his own. With the result being of better design and quality than the department issue leather. It wasn’t long before some of his fellow officers were asking him to make holsters for them. So began Bianchi International, first known as Combat Action Protector Brand Holsters, out of John Bianchi’s garage. At first Bianchi’s holsters were sold mainly by mail order.
I was just getting involved in competition Fast Draw at the time, and I remember seeing small advertisements in the gun magazines for the new Protector Brand Holsters made by John Bianchi. Bianchi, initially concentrating on mail order marketing, always had a high-quality catalog, and I remember anxiously awaiting the newest version to see what new holsters John had added to the line. Among his many innovations (John has over 200 patents, trademarks and copyrights in his name) were the popular X15 Shoulder rig as used by Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer on TV and the Model 5BHL with its new thumbbreak safety strap, both introduced in 1960. The vertical carry X15 was the first shoulder holster to use an updated and comfortable harness system. The X15 and Model 5BHL have withstood the test of time and are still in the Bianchi line today.