John “Duke” Wayne was an icon. Over 30 years after his death, he continues to entertain us in his many bigger-than-life film roles. My first date with the beautiful young lady who was to become my wife was at the local drive-in theater to see Rio Bravo, which will always be one of my favorite John Wayne movies. The young John Wayne cowboy character carried his trusty Colt six-shooter in a fancy, carved Buscadero-style rig, possibly from the Hollywood shop of Ed Bohlin. But his gun leather continued to evolve, becoming a more practical Mexican loop holster over the top of a fancy, carved Bohlin gun belt by the time Duke starred in Angel and the Badman. By the time we watched him in Rio Bravo, he had settled on his final Duke-style rig, which is copied by many holster makers today. We will look at a magnificent example.
Legendary holster maker and designer John Bianchi of Frontier Gunleather is the only living holster-maker to have personally made a Duke rig for John Wayne. His current Model 100 is a copy of that rig. Now we come to Travis Luz of JTL Leather Works. Travis contacted Bianchi and asked if he could apprentice with him to learn the art of holster making. Refusing to take no for an answer, Travis eventually spent over ten years working under John’s tutelage before establishing JTL Leather Works. At the 2005 End of Trail shoot, Bianchi presented Travis with a Master Leather Crafter certificate. Travis now produces a line of beautifully crafted Western gun leather, including his Rio Lobo, which is his version of the original Duke rig.
JTL’s Rio Lobo:
The holster is of the so-called “half-breed” style. It is a high-ride pouch with a half-skirt and a single large oval loop securing the skirt that rides at an FBI rake. Constructed of top-grade cowhide, the holster is fully lined with smooth-side-out cowhide and has a shallow S-curve top, which covers half of the triggerguard while fully exposing the hammer spur. A thin, leather keeper strap is slotted for the hammer spur for those who want added security…
Read more at Guns Of The Old West .