Dave Spaulding is a 30-plus year law enforcement veteran who has worked in all facets of law enforcement including communications, corrections, patrol, crime scene investigation, homicide investigation, undercover operations, SWAT training and was the commander of a multi-jurisdictional drug task force that worked cases from Miami to Seattle.
He has been involved in hundreds of forced entries and raids and worked for a year in a deep cover operation where he lived under an assumed identity. He is a graduate of most of the better known shooting schools and has taught classes at the major police training conferences such as ASLET, IALEFI and ILEETA. Dave has also taught his own firearms training courses across North America. He is the author of over 1,000 articles for magazines such as Guns and Ammo, Combat Handguns, Guns and Weapons for Law Enforcement, Handguns, Gun World, SWAT, Police, Law and Order and Law Officer.
He is also the author of two best-selling books, Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives. Recently, Dave was named the 2010 Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year by the International Association of Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), the worlds largest police training association and Law Officer Magazine.
Quality leather is always in fashion!
By Dave Spaulding
April 2005 Guns and Weapons
I was walking from booth to booth of the trade expo at the 2004 International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) conference when I was approached by a cop from Arizona. "Hey Spaulding, don't you like leather anymore? All you ever write about these days is Kydex." I laughed it off, as I believed that he was in error. Once the conference ended, however, I went back home and checked back through a number of past issues and discovered that he was right. I have been focusing on Kydex or synthetic holsters way too much. It was time to get back to my roots and take a close look at a few quality leather holsters.
High Noon Holsters has a well-deserved reputation for quality leather carry rigs. Manufacturing high-level concealment rigs from both cowhide and horsehide, High Noon designs are both conventional and non-traditional. They wear like iron, but ride tight to the body without unnecessary thickness and bulk. In other words, they are both concealable and comfortable. Made from only the finest hides, High Noon Holsters are precision molded and stitched. Models are available both lined and unlined as well as in black, tan or natural finishes. Lining is a controversial feature in a holster but the folks at High Noon point out that lining does more than just protect a gun's finish (please understand, even with lining the friction in and out of a holster will eventually wear the gun's finish), that lining will absorb moisture from the surface of the gun and then dissipate it quickly which is a factor worth considering. Due to its already slick inside surface, horsehide doesn't need a lining.
3 Favorite Rigs
High Noon offers an extensive line of belt mounted and inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters. They sent three of their most popular along with an exceptionally well-designed belt. The Topless model was my favorite, but not because it had a superior design over other High Noon models. Quite the contrary, I liked it best because it lacked something--a thumbbreak retention strap.
Having a retention strap on a concealment holster is a controversial topic. Some will say that even though the holster is concealed, it still needs something to secure it from a gun grab or keep it from falling out during a struggle. That leaves the question: if the gun is truly concealed, the threat of having someone try to snatch it is a non-problem. After all, if it's truly concealed, no one but you knows the weapon is there. As far as the weapon falling out during some type of physical activity--well, I have found that a properly fitted holster will more than sufficiently hold the gun in place. I haven't come to this conclusion without experience. I have worn a gun concealed everyday for over 28 years and I have never had anyone try to snatch it—tha't because it was truly hidden. As far as falling out, well, I've fought with an more than a few suspects while wearing an open top holster and I have yet to lose one. The secret is to have a properly fitted holster.
The Topless is one such holster. It is a dual slot, high ride holster that is precision molded. It has a classic 15-degree cant with dual stitching around the belt slots for added resistance to wear. A retention screw is added at the rear of the triggerguard for a bit of additional security. Moreover, I've found such to be particularly useful when the leather wears a bit. Once the leather stretches, this screw snugs up the fit. The Topless comes available in either cowhide or horsehide.
The Slide Guard is an enhanced version of the Topless. Also a high ride, dual slot holster, the Slide Guard has an additional piece of leather at the rear of the slide to protect against sweat that could rust the gun's slide, thus the name. These additional pieces of leather are either loved or hated, depending on the viewpoint of the person wearing the holster. Some feel that this tab of leather gets in the way when reholstering which I admit is something I have experienced. To be fair, this is usually due to the cut and thickness of the leather used for this purpose. If its too thin, it will fold over and get in the way once the gun is drawn. This is not the case with the Slide Guard.
High Noon Holsters offers an impressive array of IWB holsters, ten in all. The holster they sent for review is called the Closing Argument, which permits the one to completely conceal a gun without wearing a vest or jacket over it. For concealed carry, some type of garment to be tucked over it before it's tucked into the trouser waistband. The Closing Argument is ideal for environments were a jacket is outside the norm or where weather restricts wearing the same. A leather extension allows one to tuck the shirt over the weapon, leaving only a black metal clip attached to the belt. To draw the gun, one simply pulls the shirt clear of the holster, giving access to the gun. The Closing Argument is made with the rough-leather-side-out to help hold it is place. A reinforced mouth band keeps the holster mouth open so the gun can be replaced with one hand, allowing the off hand to remain available for other tasks. A stitched-in sight track and a trigger guard retention screw are added features.
Belt holsters are only as good as the support structure holding them in place. A quality belt is essential to proper handgun concealment.Without a proper support structure, the gun will flop around, shift, become uncomfortable
and most important, will not be where you want when you reach for it. Garment removal is difficult enough, adding a constantly moving weapon will certainly make the situation more challenging, to say the least. High Noon's Rock Steady belt is a correctly made concealed carry belt. The model I asked for is a 1-1/2-inch model, black in color and made "as thin and light as possible while still being able to properly support the holstered pistol." The folks at High Noon came through in a very big way.
Made from top quality, premium grade, full grain vegetable tanned steer hide each is individually hand made and made from two pieces of 6 to 7 ounce leather. While this makes the belts a bit thicker, it's still quite comfortable and doesn't "ride heavy" in the hips. For added support, special extruded material, made just for High Noon, is placed in the middle of the belt. Like high end dress belts, the Rock Steady is stitched around the edges to give it a touch of class and a distinctive look. All of the edges are then rounded and meticulously burnished. The belt is then dyed by hand and sealed to a luster that shows High Noon's attention to detail. A silver buckle and belt keeper is added to offset the deep black color.
High Noon Holsters offer High End quality and construction. While Kydex makes a good holster, they will never look and feel like these leather rigs from High Noon. Treat yourself and get a High Noon rig--you will be glad you did!