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Old May 24, 2018, 10:23 AM   #1
Model12Win
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How to Wear a Gun Belt?

Well howdy, cowboys!

Gang I've got a new leather holster and western style gun belt coming for a Ruger Blackhawk six gun.

Now I see some cowboys and cowgirls wearing there rigs "well sagged" to the side, hanging way down low like. Then I see others with their rigs not much sagged as there normal belt.

Guys what's the best way? How'd they were them in the old days? Just looking for how to wear it once I get it and not look like a jackwagon. Thanks!

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Old May 24, 2018, 11:50 AM   #2
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This pic of Billy Bonney is a good example. They were worn high but not quite level.

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Old May 24, 2018, 11:59 AM   #3
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Howdy

First of all, forget about the Buscadero or 'quick draw' rigs that you see all the time in the movies. They simply did not exist in the Old West, they were created for the movies.

Generally speaking, if a man made his living on a horse, and owned a revolver he wore it riding high, so it would be out of the way. Like this. Notice this cowboy is wearing his revolver butt forward, which was not all that uncommon.






Here are a couple of Texas Rangers. Notice they are wearing their revolvers high. One has an extra pistol jammed into his belt.





This photo was obviously taken in a photo studio. These guys are probably real cowboys, and not dudes from back east.






This is Will Rogers as a young man, back when he was a working cowboy.






Future President Theodore Roosevelt from his ranching days in the Dakotas.






The cowboy on the left is wearing his belt slung down a bit, his friend is wearing his high.

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Old May 24, 2018, 12:45 PM   #4
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"...see some cowboys and cowgirls wearing there (THEIR) rigs..." If that's at a CAS game, it has nothing whatever o do with history.
"..."well sagged" to the side, hanging way down low like..." That is pure Hollywood. So is the idea that everybody carried a firearm at all times.
A Colt SAA was a very expensive firearm in the 1880's. About $16.75. A real cowboy would never have been able to afford one at $20 or $30 a month. Most real ranchers at the time did not allow firearms in the bunk houses anyway.
He likely didn't own a horse either. They ran around $100 for a riding horse. A cow horse was specially trained.
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Old May 24, 2018, 02:30 PM   #5
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That cowboy way on the left in the Johnny Baker photo wears his piece pretty much exactly where I wear my 6 1/2" barreled NM Blackhawk when I have it with me on my daypack's waist belt. My holster is a Bianchi #1, "Lawman" form-fit for my Ruger. I can swing my arms freely while walking with no interference from the butt, and while sitting down, kneeling or going in to most any position, the pistol really is quite out of the way, and even moreso, quite handy. I can also slide the rig back further on the waist belt if need be. I also have a leather cartridge belt I can use with the holster if I want to use it that way, but the rig still rides the same as with my day pack. Works very well for me.

Even back in the days when my wife and I had saddle horses, that position of the holster kept the Ruger comfortably out of the way even while "sittin' the saddle." It was pointed in a safe direction, it was handy, and it was out of the way and quite comfortable, generally.

BTW, for those who don't know, Johnny Baker was Bill Cody's foster kid and did trick shooting in the show. He was good friends with Annie Oakley, too, who helped him (Johnny) hone his skills. I might imagine the cowboys in the picture where probably with the Wild West Show, too.
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Old May 24, 2018, 03:21 PM   #6
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Wow, thanks gang! Neat pictures!!

I see it appears some of them old fellers don't have buckles in the front for their gun belts? Did they where them with buckles faced back or something??
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Old May 24, 2018, 05:33 PM   #7
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The US Government paid $13.00 each for the first shipment of Colt Single Action Army revolvers in 1873. In 1875 and 1876 a consortium of distributors were charged $10.50 each for 12,000 Peacemakers.

Source: A Study of the Colt Single Action Revolver by John Kopec.

I have a S&W New Model Number Three that cost $13.00 in 1882 and I have the factory letter to prove it.






Of course this too was a great deal of money to cowhands who generally only made a dollar a day. But there were plenty of Cap & Ball revolvers available that had been surplussed out after the Civil War and they cost considerably less.

When I attend a CAS shoot, very few wear low slung rigs. We are on our feet all day, and most of us know that it is awkward to walk with a Buscadero rig. Most of us wear high riding rigs.

A few more photos. Notice the Cap & Ball revolver stuffed into the waistband of the cowboy on the left. Notice too that he is not Caucasian.






Another African American cowboy.






Buck Taylor, a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.


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Old May 24, 2018, 07:54 PM   #8
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Google the movie clip " Shane teaching joey how to shoot " watch it....
that way is as good as any and better than most , be sure and learn how to spin the six gun so it goes back into the holster....Like Shane does in the final shoot out...that move is soooo cool . I never could pull it off with my Ruger Blackhawk...and I doubt the real shootist ever did it.....still looks cool as heck.
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Old May 24, 2018, 09:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
I see it appears some of them old fellers don't have buckles in the front for their gun belts? Did they where them with buckles faced back or something??
Some did or to the side.
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Old May 25, 2018, 05:55 PM   #10
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Biscaderos were not "created for the movies." In the early hollywood mocie years a couple producers or studio people went to Texas to gwt equipment for western. The buscadero was what some, including some Texas Rangers, were wearing their guns in at the time. They decided the Texas rangers were the closest thing to western gunfighter around and had some similar holsters made. These holsters were recycled through various movies for some time until it was set in popular culture. There are some pictures with gunfighters using lower holsters from the late 1800s, but not the norm. This subject has been covered in multiple old threads. I linked to some documentation in one a while back.
A buddy told me I like the rig for my single six because I have a short torso. Don't see why he couldn't say long arms.

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Old May 25, 2018, 08:17 PM   #11
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While I love these old photos, they are posed, and commercial photographers likely had prop guns to prominently display tucked into the front of a belt, without the security of a holster.

If a cowboy only gets photographed once in a lifetime, he'll want a cool peacemaker in the open, even if he only carried a little pocket pistol and a single barrel shotgun on the trail.
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Old May 26, 2018, 09:44 AM   #12
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I wear crossdraw on weak hip similar to Roosevelt and the last picture. More comfortable, can sit and out of the way but easily accessible anytime.
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Old May 26, 2018, 10:08 AM   #13
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I thought the low, fast drawer holsters were an invention of Hollywood.
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Old May 26, 2018, 02:26 PM   #14
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Consider also that the men lost weight in the field and that their belts had but a few holes to tighten them up and no elastic!
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Old May 26, 2018, 11:00 PM   #15
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Go find actual pics of men working and you wont see very many guns. Guns were tools like a hammer and only brought out when needed. There weren't many so called gunfighters. Gunfights were usually conducted with a shotgun from a dark alley. There was no need for a fast draw holster. There may have been a few buscadero styles in the late 1880's or 90's but they would have been very few and far between. High noon style gunfights are a Hollyweird fantasy.
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Old May 27, 2018, 03:10 PM   #16
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If you want to dress up like an authentic cowboy of the old west, dress like a homeless person.
They didn't have Hollywood cowboy movies to tell them what to wear.
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Old May 28, 2018, 07:36 PM   #17
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Great photos and they ae the best reference to answer your question. Just remember that there is a difference between "reality" and "Hollywood". Kind of reminds me of the old Gene Autry movies we watched as kids . . . . he had the only sixgun that never needed to be reloaded! :-)
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Old May 28, 2018, 09:25 PM   #18
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There was very little candid photography in those days. Taking a picture was an involved affair done by professional photographers and so most of the photos of that period were posed for, likely in their Sunday best.
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Old May 30, 2018, 03:55 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Model12Win View Post
Wow, thanks gang! Neat pictures!!

I see it appears some of them old fellers don't have buckles in the front for their gun belts? Did they where them with buckles faced back or something??
It was bling back then, you know kinda like today with the hats at an angle.
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Old May 30, 2018, 04:25 PM   #20
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After studying the photo's of the gentlemen that have positioned their buckles to the side it appears to put some bullet loops up front instead of behind their back....the bullet loops up front would sure make reloading easier.....maybe the offset buckle did have a practical purpose....ammo in easy reach for reloading. Looks cool regardless , enjoyed the vintage photo's .
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Old May 30, 2018, 07:17 PM   #21
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A Colt SAA was a very expensive firearm in the 1880's. About $16.75. A real cowboy would never have been able to afford one at $20 or $30 a month. Most real ranchers at the time did not allow firearms in the bunk houses anyway.
I see plenty of soldiers bringing home less than $2K a month go out and buy $1500 rifles. Cops too. Didn't say they were smart, just that they could. Soldiers are not allowed guns in the barracks either.


Quote:
Guys what's the best way?
High and out of the way enough so that it does not interfere and move up when you take a seat. You will want to attach the gun belt to an inner belt that goes through your belt loops to keep it from moving around. The holster should have little/ no movement when drawing the pistol. This will require an attachment point fore and aft of the actual holster to the inner belt and one or two on the opposite side, likely near wherever you holster your knife.

Quote:
Just looking for how to wear it once I get it and not look like a jackwagon.
Not sure, my 19th Century Style sense is not so good.
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Old May 30, 2018, 08:46 PM   #22
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High and out of the way enough so that it does not interfere and move up when you take a seat. You will want to attach the gun belt to an inner belt that goes through your belt loops to keep it from moving around. The holster should have little/ no movement when drawing the pistol. This will require an attachment point fore and aft of the actual holster to the inner belt and one or two on the opposite side, likely near wherever you holster your knife.
Never heard of such a thing.
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Old May 31, 2018, 09:00 AM   #23
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Hawg - that sounds like a cop thing. We used to use keepers in front and behind the holster to keep it from shifting and to keep the holster in the same position. Don't think the cowboys had keepers though.
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Old May 31, 2018, 11:37 AM   #24
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Hawg - that sounds like a cop thing. We used to use keepers in front and behind the holster to keep it from shifting and to keep the holster in the same position. Don't think the cowboys had keepers though.
Part of it does but he's talking about attaching it to a regular belt but belt loops weren't popular until the 20's and before that pants didn't even come with them unless it was sportswear. That's why everybody wore suspenders. And yeah I know he's not trying to be historically correct. I'm just sayin.

Last edited by Hawg; May 31, 2018 at 11:51 AM.
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Old May 31, 2018, 04:06 PM   #25
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Hawg - that sounds like a cop thing. We used to use keepers in front and behind the holster to keep it from shifting and to keep the holster in the same position. Don't think the cowboys had keepers though.

Cowboys had no such thing because belts were not commonly worn in the US till the 20th Century. Pants had a higher waist line and people wore suspenders. People also tended to run with a BMI well under 20 allowing for high waist to the pants. These days a cowboy shoot average runs well over 25.

He asked "best way"; I gave "best way". Like I said 19th Century Fashion is not something I know much about.
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