There are as many 1911 holsters made as there are variations of 1911s. Let’s examine three holsters constructed of three different types of materials for a full-sized 1911 .45 ACP. First, a cowhide inside-the-waistband (IWB) tuckable concealment holster by High Noon Holsters, secondly a horsehide high-ride strong side hip holster by Kramer Handgun Leather and a synthetic leather-look high ride strong side paddle holster by Safariland.

High Noon Alter Ego
The High Noon Holsters’ Alter Ego is a high quality IWB holster constructed of top grade vegetable tanned cowhide with the pouch having the rough side out. The rough out leather tends to cling to the covering trousers for additional stability while placing the smooth finished side of the leather against the handgun to minimize wear on a blue finish. A slide guard extends upward from the top backside of the pouch to protect the user from sharp edges on the exposed parts of the pistol.

The lip of the pouch is reinforced with a rigid synthetic material to prevent collapse and to ensure easy one-handed holstering of the weapon. The pouch fully encloses the pistol’s triggerguard for safety, while presenting the pistol grip for a full shooting grip with first hand contact. A rigid synthetic sight tunnel prevents high-visibility front sights from snagging and dragging on the draw, while an adjustable tension device provides the desired security with the open top pouch.

The holster is wet molded for a tight friction fit. The Alter Ego attaches to one’s belt with a black steel reverse J-hook belt clip. When worn with a black belt, the belt clip nearly disappears. The reverse J-hook clip is attached to a long leather strap, which is securely sewn to the toe of the holster. This allows one to tuck their shirttail in between the strap and holster, completely concealing the pistol and holster. The holster is positioned vertically (no angle) and one draws the pistol by pulling the shirt tail out of the way with the weak hand. High Noon Holster’s Alter Ego is an excellent deep concealment holster.

kramerKramer Vertical Scabbard
Horsehide is lighter weight and tighter grained, retaining its molded shape under extreme conditions. Kramer Handgun Leather is one of a handful of holster makers that specialize on holsters constructed of long lasting horsehide. I have been using one of their classic strong side hip holsters, the Vertical Scabbard Horsehide model. The original was designed by the late great holster designer/maker Bruce Nelson while working for John Bianchi.

The Vertical Scabbard is hard molded in horsehide. The open top pouch fully encloses the triggerguard to prevent premature access to the trigger when drawing. The lip has what Kramer calls a “reinforced throat band,” which provides easy one-handed holstering of the pistol. The gun butt is presented for a full shooting grip with first hand contact.

In addition to the traditional tunnel belt loop for a 1½-inch belt, the Vertical Scabbard has a trailing edge belt slot to further stabilize the holster. As one would expect, the Vertical Scabbard has a neutral rake with the combination of the belt loop and belt slot positioning the holster high on the hip and tucking the gun butt in close for concealment. The hand-molded pouch includes a molded sight tunnel to prevent front sight drag. Kramer Handgun Leather’s Vertical Scabbard Horsehide is an excellent example of a classic practical design.

safarilandSafariland High Ride Paddle Holster
Nearly 50 years ago, John Bianchi and Neal Perkins founded Safari Ltd. to produce superior holsters. A few years later they split with Bianchi founding Bianchi International and Perkins founding Safariland. Now BAE Systems owns both Bianchi International and Safariland. While Bianchi International’s main product is still their genuine cowhide line of gunleather, Safariland produces a line of synthetic holsters such as their High-Ride Paddle holster.

The High-Ride Paddle holster is an open top pouch holster with a low cut front lip for a fast draw. Constructed of a gloss black synthetic material that looks like leather with a full lining of real suede. An adjustable tension device provides the desired security with the open top pouch. The pistol’s triggerguard is fully enclosed to prevent premature access to the trigger while the gun butt is presented for a full shooting grip with first hand contact. What appear to be “ears” extend upward, are molded to insure that an ambidextrous thumb safety stays in the on position and helps protect the operators’ clothing from abrasion and oils from the gun.

The paddle is large, rigid, and shaped to fit the contour of one’s hip. The front is lined with real suede to cling to the covering garment and secure the paddle in the waistband. Two heavy-duty binders attach the paddle to the holster pouch with stainless steel Lok-Tite screws, and rides high on the strong side hip in an FBI rake position. Safariland has designed and produced a superior paddle holster with their High-Ride Paddle model.

Concealing a handgun at the waist is as dependent on a proper waist belt like it is on a proper holster. The finest designed and executed concealment hip holster is useless without a proper belt. A waist belt that is meant to support a handgun must be constructed from the best leather or synthetic materials. A poor quality belt will stretch, sag, and allow the gun to print through the covering garment. It will also be very uncomfortable to wear while supporting the weight of a holstered handgun.

I have recently been using a synthetic BlackHawk COC Pistol belt with great results. BlackHawk describes their belts as carbon fiber and lizard skin-finished belts with the appearance of any premium quality dress belt, “with the added benefit of a reinforcement spine.”

The CQC Pistol belt is available in plain brown or black as well as carbon fiber, lizard, and brown or black gator finishes. A nice feature is the high quality dress buckle, available in brass or brushed nickel finish. The CQC Pistol belt is a superior gunbelt while it appears to be an expensive dress belt. My sample 1½-inch plain black belt with brushed nickel buckle has proved to be an excellent gunbelt.
Find out more at BlackHawk, 6160 Commander Pkwy, Dept CH, Norfolk, VA 23502; 800-694-5263;

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