David Livingston has been a friend and fellow Fast Draw shooter for many years. He is a former chairman of the World Fast Draw Association (WFDA). Also, he hosted the World Championship shoot for five or six years at the Durago, Colorado, Train Depot. I used one of these shooting events as an excuse to travel by narrow-gauge train to Silverton with my wife, Kay, and it was a beautiful ride. I highly recommend it.
David is a dedicated fan of the classic 1953 Western film Shane. It starred Alan Ladd as Shane and Jack Palance as the evil Jack Wilson. As such an enthusiast, David traveled to Wyoming just to visit the location where the movie was filmed. He also spent 17 years searching for a copy of the belt and holster Ladd used in the film. He purchased a replica but wasn’t very happy with it.
Having purchased a copy of the rig used by Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) in 1993’s Tombstone from Will Ghormley, David asked Ghormley to make a correct Shane rig. Ghormley describes himself as an “Old West saddle maker.” Further, he is well known for making Russell Crowe’s rig in the remake of 3:10 to Yuma. He also produced the distinctive double rig used by Crowe’s evil second in command, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster).
In researching the rig, David Livingston had gone as far as contacting Alan Ladd’s son, David. David Ladd still had one of his father’s Shane gun belts, but no holster. Ladd graciously allowed Livingston to photograph the belt with its unique silver conchos and buckle.
Ghormley became interested in the project and agreed to make the rig if he could obtain the correct silver belt buckle and conchos. He went so far as to make the wax masters used in the “lost wax” casting process by hand, which enabled him to obtain the correct silver pieces.
The Shane Holster
The Shane holster is a simple unlined, Mexican double-loop holster for a 5½-inch-barreled Colt Single Action revolver. Ladd’s 7½-inch-barreled Colt had no front sight. Also, the last 2 inches of the barrel were left exposed when the gun was in the holster. The holster is believed to have been made by Rodd Redwing, who was the technical adviser for the movie.
While the size and shape of the holster were easy to duplicate, Ghormley’s extensive study of the Shane DVD showed that the rear edge of the holster pouch had a repeated “S” stamp, and there was an unusual hammer thong that laced horizontally through the face of the pouch’s lip. Ghormley created a special stamping tool to duplicate the repeated “S” border stamping as well as a special stamp to add texturing to the gun belt, as on the original. The unusual hammer thong was also included.
The original gun belt is believed to be made by an unknown Native American craftsman and is of thin leather. Additionally, the top edge often curled down under the weight of Ladd’s long-barreled Colt. Ghormley chose to use a thicker leather for his copy.
Livingston’s relentless 17 years of research, combined with Ghormley’s own research and insistence on the highest quality, led to this perfect copy of Alan Ladd’s Shane movie rig. David, congratulations on the successful end of your quest!
The Paladin Holster Rigs
Richard Boone starred as the gentleman gunfighter Paladin in the TV series Have Gun, Will Travel, which debuted on September 14, 1957. Also, his gun rig was a plain black Arvo-Ojala-made holster with a silver chess knight mounted prominently on the side. Further, this holster was seen close-up in the opening scene of every episode as Paladin drew his 7½-inch-barreled Colt SAA revolver and pointed it directly at the camera.
The original Paladin holster had a higher front lip and a wider skirt than later holsters from the Ojala shop. Several holster makers offer Paladin rigs today, including Alfonso’s of Hollywood and John Bianchi’s Frontier Gunleather. When a customer asked Chisholm’s Trail to produce a Paladin rig, I advised the staff in producing a correct holster pattern. Additionally, the prototype they produced did not include an expensive sterling silver knight figure. So they sent it to me, and I made a version out of leather, painted it white and securely glued it to the side of the plain black holster. And before we take a closer look, it should be noted that all production Paladin holsters will include the sterling silver chess knight. Also, you can only get the complete rig, not just the holster.
The Paladin is a long-drop, Western-style holster with a full skirt. And like all of Chisholm Trail’s holsters, it’s made of top-grade cowhide. Also, the standard Ojala holster had a ½-inch-wide strap encircling the pouch to secure it to the full skirt. Additionally, this strap would be right across the silver knight. So it has been replaced with a screw-post binder on the back of the pouch. The holster is fully lined and has a hammer thong to secure the sixgun when needed as well as a leg tie-down. The steel insert—the reason for Ojala’s patent—has been replaced with one made of rawhide to reduce the cost.
The Paladin holster features a glossy black finish with all of the stitching being straight and tight. Further, all of the edges are neatly finished. While some Fast Draw holsters have a forward or rearward rake, like the original, this Paladin holster is for vertical carry. And, in another nod to authenticity, the Paladin accepts a 7½-inch-barreled Colt. Also making it special for me is the “#1” stamped onto the back, just below the Chisholm’s Trail mark. Above all, it’s a keeper.