Draw Like Doc Holliday

Put the iron on the pool table boys—can’t wear no guns in town no more…” The next time you hear this from some law dog you can comply with pride—if you’re packin’ a rig from Wild Guns Leather.

The company that turns out these handsome leather goods is headed by founder Jerry Ardolino, who is no stranger to gun totin’. Jerry’s designs are the result of his extensive street experience as a Chicago cop patrolling the infamous city’s most dangerous areas. For him, quick gun access was a life-or-death situation.

Many was the time that Jerry found himself in his patrol car needing a gun in hand without the street punks knowing that he had drawn his weapon. With his issue holster this was not possible. Drawing a strong-side mounted pistol while seated necessitates the raising of the shoulder, which “telegraphs” the draw to any observer. Not acceptable—not to Jerry! Solution? Cross draw. Whether seated in a cop car, card table, barstool or horse—or standing for that matter, the cross draw makes a lot sense.

Rig Details

The cross draw holsters of Wild Guns Leather offer a 60-degree cant which places the hand on the gun’s grip naturally, without any flexing of the wrist. The resulting draw is effortless, instinctive, efficient and quick.

Jerry’s enthusiasm for this configuration resulted in the line of holsters and belts you see here. During a phone conversation I realized that I wanted the black (“Arizona Dandy”) for my 4¾-inch SAA, the tooled (“Galveston Gun Hand”) in 5½-inch and the original finish (“Texas Throw-Down”) in 7½-inch. The antiqued finish of the “Throw-Down” is a time-consuming operation. Natural processes involve hand application of many steps to produce the desired finish. The hand-tooled items are a wonder to behold. There are only a couple of workers at “Wild Guns Leather” qualified to do this and they produce simply outstanding results!

The leather chosen for these rigs is quality single ply and the holsters do not have steel liners. The design permits easy rotation of the cylinder while in the holster without the need or weight of steel. The single ply belts provide a close fit, which accommodates any western fashion without bulk. I found this to be a welcomed complement to my “dude” outfit.

Doc Holliday

Before the products arrived I had some time to recall the cross draw shooters of TV and movies. Ain’t many. The first I remembered was Gene Barry from the 1950s TV show “Bat Masterson.” But the cross draw shooter whom we are all thinking about is Val Kilmer’s haunting “Doc Holiday” from the 1995 blockbuster Tombstone. Of all the many depictions of this character that have been cast, Kilmer’s has to be considered the most compelling.

“Doc” is seen in many different holsters in this film but I’d like readers of this article to recall the chilling showdown between him and “Johnny Ringo.” As the contest begins Doc begins to circle backwards in a counter clockwise motion forcing Ringo to engage in this deadly dance. This gives Holliday, wearing a cross draw rig, a tremendous tactical advantage. Doc is now offering his opponent a near profile target while Ringo, who draws from the strong side, must position himself almost straight on.

As the two men continue to move, another advantage of the cross draw becomes beautifully obvious—Doc’s holstered gun is already pointed towards Ringo. Once his 4¾-inch SAA clears leather, the muzzle only has to move a few inches before it comes on target! The strong side Ringo must pull his gun, then push it towards his opponent before he can fire. Sorry Johnny. A brilliant scene from a fantastic movie!

Doc Holiday is not the only character in this film who understands the advantages of a cross draw set up. In the scene just before that showdown, Wyatt Earp calls at the sick bed of Holiday. As he and Doc contemplate the malevolent Johnny Ringo, Wyatt is seen wearing his 10-inch barreled “Buntline” in a cross draw. Western movie or modern pistolero, is there any other way to carry a long-barreled handgun?

Full Line

This brings me back to the options offered by Wild Guns. Jerry made it known to me that he’ll make his fine holsters for any gun. He already accommodates black powder revolvers with his “Sam Houston” line and will custom make whatever you’d like—at a very reasonable price. Having some experience with these products I have some personal recommendations.

These rigs are individually made to measure to insure proper fit. To provide the desired high rise of the holster, the belt goes through it so there’s no keeper. Careful measuring of your belt length will insure a custom appearance as well as ease of use. Also, the rake of these holsters makes it a good idea to retain your revolver with the hammer thong when not ready for draw—especially with shorter barreled guns.

Now it’s time for you to get excited about your next rig. You already know about the advantages of the 60-degree cant. You know which guns you want to carry this way. So just decide on whether you want the original finish, black or a gorgeous tooled rig and pick up the phone.

Be sure to visit “Wild Guns Leather Co, of Texas” to check out their entire line of fine leather holsters including their “Original Dirty Harry” shoulder rig. The selections will impress and their prices will please. Find out more by calling 361-389-4566 or by visiting wildgunsleather.com.