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OWB Holsters (Outside the Waistband Holsters)

OWB holsters, or outside the waistband holsters, have evolved over time and there are many versions available. Without going back in time too far, consider the hand-made leather holsters we grew up with on TV westerns. Some were authentic to the time. Some were created just for the movies and TV.

A Brief History of Outside the Waistband Holsters

OWB holsters mounted on a belt started showing up around the 1840's. They were made for small single-shot pistols, pepperbox and revolvers. Most were made in the East and brought West until local leathersmiths in the west began producing gunleather in the 1850’s. At first, they often had flaps, but makers soon offered them without flaps for easy access.

One of the more popular designs was the “Mexican Loop” outside the waistband holster. It had a long, wide belt loop, one piece of leather folded over and sewn to make a holster that would fit over the very wide gun belts worn at the time. If you recall Roy Rogers of the Hollywood Western era, he wore a “buscadero”. The rig combines a carved leather belt and a holster.

In the late 1800’s pocket holsters shoulder holsters became popular in “civilized” towns so the guns could be concealed. Law enforcement officers and the military continued to carry on the belt. Civilians grew to use outside the waistband holsters somewhat, but they were hard to conceal.

Skip ahead to more modern times, and we began to see OWB holsters that look like what we wear today. They were belt-mounted and usually worn behind the hip about 4:00 on the clock code (with the belt buckle being 12:00).

The Askins Avenger belt holster is one of the classic OWB holsters, based upon a Bruce Nelson design called a tunnel and loop. The loop is built into the body side of the holster combines with a rear belt slot that tucks the butt of the gun into the body for concealment. It doesn’t conceal quite as well as “pancake” style holster with belt slots fore and aft which pull the entire holster in close to the wearer. Until now, the pancake holster has been the most concealable.

Considerations for OWB Holsters

Tucker Gunleather came along and combined the best aspects of the Askins Avenger and the pancake holster, but placing a “tab” or “overflap” on the outside front of the holster which becomes the front belt slot. This design has nothing (like a belt loop) between the holster and the belt so it rides very close,plus the front and rear belt slots pull the holster close like a pancake as well.

In addition, the front tab cantilevers the opening of the holster so it can never collapse while it really stabilizes the holster on the belt. It’s amazing that a holster shaped like a taco can conceal as well as a pancake while offering easy re-holstering for the life of the holster.

Tucker’s HF1, HF2 and HF3 (for revolvers) are all built upon this principle and they are, far and away, our most popular of OWB holsters.  Another great aspect of these holsters is the wide variety of options available for function and appearance. Why should your holster look like everyone else’s?

Let Tucker Gunleather build one for you – just the way you like it!