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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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Model 250 Vulcan
John Bianchi’s new 2010 Frontier Gunleather catalog celebrates his 50 years in the holster business. New to his line of limited edition Western gunleather are five field and concealed carry holsters. A totally new holster is an original Bianchi design that may be worn as a high-ride strong side hip holster, as a crossdraw holster, or with the addition of a quick detachable shoulder harness as a shoulder holster—the Model 250 Vulcan. The Vulcan is available for most large frame semi-autopistols and single- or double-action revolvers. I chose a Vulcan sized for a Smith & Wesson N-frame revolver, a 3.5-inch barrel Model 27, for this evaluation.

The Vulcan is a pouch belt slide holster with a unique belt loop treatment. The wrap-around abbreviated pouch, constructed of top-grade cowhide and finished in an attractive saddle tan color, covers the revolver’s triggerguard and has a thumb-break safety strap for security. The backside of the pouch is lined, including the sight channel. Two slots cut in the outer piece on the backside provide a belt loop for a 1½-inch belt that places the holster in a muzzle rake position for wear as a crossdraw holster. The pouch is lightly wet molded for the handgun it is to carry, in this case the N-frame S&W revolver. What makes the Vulcan different is the second method of belt carry. Two heavy-duty synthetic “D” rings attached to the pouch fore and aft, producing belt slots similar to a pancake style holster. This places the holster at an FBI rake for wear on the strong side hip.

An optional heavy elastic “figure eight” shoulder harness, which is fully adjustable for comfort, can be easily and quickly attached to the “D” rings, which place the holstered handgun in a muzzle-up position under the offside arm for concealment. I wore the Vulcan as a shoulder rig for several hours while working at my basement workbench and found it to be comfortable, secure and relatively fast. I cannot wait to see what master holster designer John Bianchi comes up with next.

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