History of the Holster


You may be surprised to learn that the idea of creating something to hold a weapon has been around almost as long as the weapon it held. After all, who wants to walk around carrying a sword all day long on horseback? Naturally, when the firearm came along, so did something to hold it — the holster.

In that tradition, Holster Builder has endeavored to make carrying your firearm even easier by allowing you to build your own custom holster with Kydex holster making supplies, leather holster making supplies, and more. In this blog post, we’ll review the fascinating history of the holster. Visit us online today!

Early Weapon Holders

As mentioned above, implements to hold weapons have been around since Biblical times with King David’s killing of Goliath with stones from his pouch technically the first written record of a weapon holder. William Wallace in 1297 carried a sporran, or a pouch, to carry stones and knives. Scabbards for carrying swords have been around for millenia, with small ones being in use in the ancient times of the Greeks and the Romans and on up through the Middle Ages.

As firearms came into use in the form of hand cannons in the early 14th century in Europe as gunpowder made its way from China along the famed Silk Road. Early rifles and hand grenades came along about a century later. However, it wasn’t until the Springfield Armory came into being and released the Springfield rifle in the 1850s that firearms truly took off. Fixed ammunition was invented, which changed the speed of shooting a gun, and you could say changed the course of history. 

The repeater type of guns, the revolver, although invented in 1836, truly did not take off until the advent of fixed ammunition, enabling humans to shoot multiple rounds off quickly. In 1873, Colt introduced “the Peacemaker,” which became hugely popular. Holster Builder notes that this firearm held six rounds of fixed ammunition and sparked the Wild West as we know it due to the speed and efficiency of its bullets.


Ever since the invention of the gun, there have been gun holsters. However, they were popularized by the iconic figures of the Wild West. The styles of those gun holsters are still some of the most popular styles and materials because they are convenient, and they work.

The Pommel Holster or Pommel Bag

The pommel holster was first used by the military in Europe and then came over with the Europeans when they immigrated to the American colonies. The pommel holster is usually a bag with a holster attached to hold a gun while you are horseback riding. However, once more firepower was needed and/or wanted, gun belt holsters took center stage.

The Belt Holster

The popularity of the pommel holster did not last once repeating weapons like the revolver gained popularity. Belt holsters started showing up in the 1840s. These first belt holsters were primitive at best and barely got the job done. They were often just slits in belts just large enough for the pistol to slide through. The Gold Rush in California in the 1850s saw what we would consider the first holsters of the day. Holster Builder notes that several styles of holsters took off:

  • Slim Jim. The Slim Jim holster had an open top for quick access and did a great job at protecting the firing mechanisms from the elements. These were the first holsters to be decorated.
  • Mexican Loop. As the demand for gun belts increased, so too did the size, leading to gun holsters to keep up. Hence, a flexible belt loop with one piece of leather backing was invented to be adjustable.
  • Buscadero. The Buscadero is recognized because it hangs low across the hips of the wearer, allowing the person to easily draw their gun with their arm fully extended. This gun belt can hold one or two holsters. Invented in the 1920s and popularized by TV shows such as Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger, many people still think of these when they think of the Wild West.

As the Wild West began to be tamed, discreteness in gun carry became necessary. Hence, the invention of the shoulder and hip pocket holsters took over the market in the late 1800s.


Holster Builder is passionate about continuing the tradition began centuries ago of building great holsters for firearms and customizing them for you to both carry and protect your firearm of choice. We offer the best holster making materials, including Kydex, Bolteron, and Phantom, as well as the best belt attachments. Gone are the rudimentary belt holsters of yesteryears. Today, the only limit is your imagination and ingenuity. Order online today for all of your leather holster making supplies!