Hiding Those Big Guns

Large-framed autopistols and revolvers can be tricky to conceal, especially…

Large-framed autopistols and revolvers can be tricky to conceal, especially if you don’t have the build for it. We will examine the classic inside-the-pants holster, the Summer Special made by Milt Sparks; look at a new Quick Detachable strong side hip holster from Wilson Combat; and examine a new state of the art holster designed by the master himself, John Bianchi. All three masterfully can conceal the big gun on your person.

Summer Special
The late Bruce Nelson was a superb holster designer and maker. He was also a full-time undercover narcotics police officer for the state of California. When working undercover, his primary weapon was a Colt .45 ACP Commander worn in the original Summer Special inside-the-pants holster. At the IPSC Founding Conference, Bruce wore his Colt in the Summer Special placed just in front of his strong side hip (the appendix position) and used his right forearm to inconspicuously shield it from the bar girls’ “bump frisks.” Milt Sparks, a very popular holster maker with the early IPSC shooters, produced the only Summer Special authorized by Nelson when demand became greater than Bruce could meet. Sparks improved the original Bruce Nelson version by adding sight rails and a second belt loop. So let us take a closer look at the Milt Sparks’ Summer Special, which has became the benchmark against which all inside-the-pants holsters are measured.

The Summer Special is a simple pouch holster constructed of top-grade cowhide with the rough side out, in this case for a 1911 pistol. It places the smooth side against the pistol to minimize finish wear while tending to cling to one’s trousers to stabilize the holstered handgun. The open top pouch is wet molded for a glove-like fit and cut to present the pistol-grip for a full shooting grip with first hand contact. The dual belt loops are an integral extension of a metal-lined top band. This metal reinforcement provides easy one hand holstering of the autopistol. The two-belt loops are secured with one-way directional heavy-duty snap fasteners and positioned so that a trouser belt loop may be placed between them to lock the holster in place on the hip. Leather sight rails are securely stitched in place to form a sight tunnel, allowing the use of sharp-edged high-visibility front sights. The Summer Special rides at a slight FBI rake for wear on the strong side only. The Milt Sparks Summer Special is a superior design showing extraordinary construction from the best material available. Truly a classic.

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