Shoulder Rig

A shoulder rig, with holster and magazine carrier, takes considerably more leather and time than just a holster.  Here are some photos of the process…

The above photos already have some dye applied.  The holster’s main design is a winged shield, above a gear, the owner’s name is engraved on the belt loop, and both pieces have their edges stamped.  Holes are already punched for sewing.  You will also see a few of the tools used in making these parts.

In these photos, the arrow-shaped pieces will attach the holster and magazine carrier to the rig, and the round piece attaches the four straps at the upper back.  In all, 22 parts are created to assemble a shoulder rig.  The picture above does not show the 3 additional parts that comprise the magazine carrier.  A combination of lighter tan and darker brown dyes were used for this project, which provide a great contrast!

A retaining device is normally needed with a shoulder holster, particularly when the pistol is mounted horizontally.  These photos illustrate placement of the adjustable strap and snap.  You can also see that the strap is sewn on below the belt loop.  Both the holster and the magazine carrier are sewn with strong hemp thread and coated with a sealer to further protect both the thread and the leather.  The bare metal of the snap, on the inside of the holster, is covered by a small piece of leather to prevent wear on the pistol.

In this first photo, you will see the shoulder rig assembled without the magazine carrier.  The second photo shows detail of that side, including the strap that attaches to your belt.  Photo three has the magazine carrier in place.  This was a retirement present, so initials of the company, years of service, and a star for a Texas jobsite are engraved.  Then, several photos show the shoulder rig, fully assembled.  Name and year of presentation are engraved on the belt loops.  The final picture displays a Springfield XDS 9 in the holster.  The tightly wet-molded, hard shell common to a custom belt-mounted holster is not necessarily desirable in a shoulder holster, so although this holster is specifically designed for a Taurus 40, it will function with a number of similarly-sized pistols.

Here are photos of the shoulder rig on it’s new owner.  It was shipped, already setup, anticipating his size and needed only a couple of minor adjustments to be fully fitted.  He tested both the intended 40 and a 45, reporting that both pistols and magazines work well with the holster.

This next example is a shoulder rig designed for my own carry pistol, an XDS.

The primary difference from the last holster is that this pistol has a longer barrel.  It also has a bit different placement of the trigger guard.  Otherwise, we are making the same rig.  These carvings each represent part of my past…a Navy Chief’s fouled anchor, California redwoods, sunrises in the Far East, mountains of California and Japan, the moon over heavy seas in the Indian Ocean, birds and clouds as seen from an aircraft.  In the end, this is a very personal piece.


Magazine Carrier.

I soon found that I also wanted to carry my Taurus PT92 with the shoulder rig.  Here are the results…

The Taurus 9 would fit in the XDS holster, sort of.  It did not fully seat and the barrel still extended 1.5″ beyond the holster.  When drawn, the tall front sight would often catch on the bottom of the holster.  Testing also revealed that the pistol would be too long to carry horizontally and conceal, meaning a second holster and a vertical carry were needed.  For this holster, I chose soft, thick Water Buffalo leather.  It would have no carving or embellishment, just the natural grain of the already-dyed leather.  With a belt loop that matched the first holster (turned 90 degrees and sewn in place), all I needed to do was remove two Chicago screws and pull the arrow-shaped mount from the XDS holster in order to attach the PT92 holster.  Changing holsters takes about 5 minutes.  The PT92 has a “beaver tail” below the hammer, so instead of a strap, I used an “O” ring with a tab to hold the pistol in place.  The pistol fits comfortably in this soft leather, but I added a Chicago screw just forward of the trigger guard, so that the fit can be tightened.  The only extra treatment to this leather was to seal the edges and to seal the stitching.

By the way, did I mention that my holsters and magazine carrier are Left-Handed?  Did I mention that they can easily be removed from the shoulder rig and worn on a belt?